Greg “The Cat Fish” DeCaires hooks 3rd straight Placerville victory


By Bill Sullivan


072013-01PLACERVILLE, CA (7-20-13) - Elk Grove Sprint Car driver Greg DeCaires continued his winning ways at Placerville Speedway Saturday night, winning his third consecutive feature event of the season since teaming with local team owner Dale Miller of Placerville. Although this is now his third win since he took to the cockpit of the popular Tribute to Stephen Allard #4sa sprint car, the veteran wheelman still became emotional in victory lane as he tried to pin point the key factor that is leading him to such success as of late.

“I can’t really say exactly what it is that is pushing us to these wins,” said DeCaires. “Yes it’s a great team that gives me a great car every week but I think it goes even further than that. Stephen (Allard) showed me how to get around the track really fast last year. I think it’s that knowledge combined with a little extra push from him and my Mom from up above or something because this is just amazing to me.”

DeCaires won the $4000 to win Tiner Classic on July 4th at Placerville Speedway. He then backed that up with a win last Saturday as the Red Hawk Casino-Hoosier Racing Tires Championship resumed at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. DeCaires topped it off on this given night almost a year to date to when Allard was amidst a mid season win streak at the quarter-mile bullring.

“Last week this track was dry and slick and that’s the kind of track I usually do well on, I am always pretty confident we will be there at the end for the win on nights like that,” he added. “But tonight they poured a ton of water on this thing to make it better for the fans and I didn’t know what to expect, it’s not too normal to have such a hooked up track in July but here we are again. I have so many people to thank but number one is my family. The support of my wonderful wife and kids in this is pretty amazing. My kids are on vacation with my in-laws and I can’t wait for them to get back and tell them we won again, they are going to be pretty excited their old man did it again.”

DeCaires started Saturday’s 25-lap feature event in the seventh position and started his quest to the front as pole sitter Jake Morgan of Fair Oaks took the lead at the green flag. After holding him off for the first three laps of the race, Morgan fell victim to point leader Andy Forsberg who worked his way around the 2011 Rookie of the Year on the front stretch of the fourth lap just as DeCaires worked his way into the top three positions and eventually took the bridesmaid position from Morgan to set his sights on Forsberg.

With six laps complete a multi-car collision in the first and second turns brought out a red flag as Kyler Shaw of Fresno went upside down following a collision that involved Chico’s Kevin Sharrah who slid sideways in front of Shaw. Forsberg unfortunately got a piece of the action as well and was forced to retire from the race and forfeit his lead position.

On the ensuing restart, DeCaires assumed the lead position with Morgan in his wake along with Placerville’s Andy Gregg, a four time overall winner this season at his home track. Twelve laps into the race Gregg muscled his way around Morgan for the second position and began chasing DeCaires who had worked his way to a healthy lead.

While the track veterans dueled up front, the division’s young guns were faring well within the top five on this given night as Morgan continued to run strong in third with the likes of Elk Grove’s Matt Land, Rookie Adam Walters of Reno and Charlie Cagle of Penryn.

With 19 laps complete, Morgan’s strong night took a wrong turn when he lost traction in turns one and two and slid sideways where he was struck by Land. The incident drew a yellow flag as Morgan needed a tow to the work area while Land was able to continue racing.

In the final stretch of the race, DeCaires maintained his lead over Gregg all the way to the checked flag. Land scored an impressive podium finish with a third place despite front end damage in the previous collision. Walters finished in fourth followed by Cagle.

In the Late Model division, Matt “The Joker” Davis muscled his way to his third win of the season. Davis started on the pole of the 20-lap feature event that hosted 14 cars Saturday. The initial start of the race was quickly delayed when Dennis Ahart of Shingle Springs and Sheridan’s John Ohnmacht collided on the front stretch.

Once the event resumed under the green flag Davis worked his way to a healthy lead with point leaders Tom Tilford and Matt Micheli dueled for the second position. Micheli overtook Tilford for the spot and began setting his sights on Davis in lapped traffic after the 12 lap mark.

As the race entered its final laps, Davis stretched his lead out while Tilford closed in on Micheli. On the white flag lap Micheli exited to the pit area. Davis went on to the checkered flag. Tilford finished in second to take the series point lead. Danny Malfatti of Castro Valley finished third followed by Les Friend of Galt and Bob Thayer of Placerville.

“The car was really good tonight, I put a new super charger on it and it really took off because you know this is just a little six cylinder car I’m running out here against these guys,” mused the always humorous Davis in victory lane. “This was a fun night for us.”

In the Pure Stock division, Les Friend of Galt drove to his seventh win of the year to extend his already healthy point lead. The waving of the green flag in this feature event saw Chris Van Roekel take the lead. Four laps into the race Friend had advanced from the seventh position into second place to challenge the leader.

At the six lap mark the battle for the lead heated up as Friend went to the high side of turns three and four to challenge for the lead and the two drivers locked doors. With sparks flying both Van Roekel and Friend veered to the inside of the track as they approached the front stretch. Friend broke free of the battle to take the lead. One lap later Van Roekel retired with mechanical issues.

Friend was chased to his seventh win by Scotty Grunert of Woodland who started third. Randy Hill of Auburn finished in third place after starting 11th. Clarence Holbrook the finished in fourth place over Jason Leonard of Elk Grove.

“Well Chris (Van Roekel) is pretty mad at me about the deal in turn four I guess,” said Friend. “I don’t really know how somebody gets mad at you when you’re passing them and giving them plenty of room and they decide to turn into me and we take it all the way to the infield. I should be the one that’s mad and yes I am kind of ticked off about it, there was no reason for it. But we got another win and we’re happy about that. Racing two divisions tonight took all I had in me that’s for sure.”

Racing continues next Saturday night at Placerville Speedway with three divisions once again converging on the quarter mile clay oval as the championship continues to heat up. Gates will open at 5 p.m. with qualifying set to begin at 6:30. Saturday’s race got off to a delayed start when a water pump went out that supplies water to the track’s water tender. The staff of the El Dorado County Fairgrounds is to be commended for their quick response to the problem which limited the delay to less than an hour.

For further information on Placerville Speedway check out www.placervillespeedway.com.