Tilford clinches Late Model Championship in final race of the season


By Bill Sullivan


By BILL SULLIVAN, Handy Racing Promotions Media Relations830

PLACERVILLE, CA (8-30-13) -Saturday night Placerville Speedway closed the chapter on one of the most successful and memorable season’s in recent history at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. With a capacity crowd packing the grandstands and lining the perimeter of the pit area, there was plenty of action all through the night to please every type of race fan in every division.The evening was bannered as Steve Stymeist Auto Body Big Trophy Night for the night of racing that awarded the winners of each feature event the coveted perpetual trophy that gets passed on to the winner of the final points race each season. Additionally, the stock car divisions had the pleasure of racing for inflated winnings as a number of sponsors collaborated to bring the first event $1000 to win Limited Late Model Showdown to the quarter mile track. Additional winnings were added to the Pure Stock division as well with a full field of cars taking to the track.All but one championship title was locked up entering Saturday’s final points race. While the Sprint Car and Pure Stock Championship titles were determined before the green flag even waved, the Limited Late Model title bout was far from over and went down the to the final lap of the final race of the season

For decades, the Tilford name has been a common entry to the overall winners list and championship titles at Placerville Speedway. Now, Citrus Heights’ Tom Tilford has brought the family name back to the championship spotlight, claiming the 2013 Limited Late Model championship by single digits over defending track champion Matt Micheli of Live Oak.

“There’s so many people I have to thank for their support of me during this season, all my sponsors and especially my family for their support as these past few weeks have been pretty busy and stressful for us,” said Tilford, a 2006 and 2009 Pure Stock Champion that shares title crowns with his brothers Matt Tilford and Jon Tilford.”The amount of cars here tonight really shows what this division has become and I am proud to be part of its growth and to be a track champion in this division.”

Tilford entered the night a mere 10-points ahead of Micheli in the point standings. A driver can earn as many at 45 points in a night of racing. After both drivers scored third place finishes in their heat races it was down to the final feature event where Tilford had to stay within 9 positions of Micheli to clinch the title. Starting on the pole position, Tilford nearly watched his championship hopes turn to broken dreams as Live Oak’s Ken Micheli collided into Tilford in the first set of turns to initiate a multi-car collision. Tilford was able to break away from the melee with minimal damage and maintain his position for the ensuing restart.

“I saw that coming when we went into the first turn and I wasn’t sure how we were going to come out of it,” said Tilford, who finished fourth in the event after battling and trading paint with Micheli for multiple laps. “I was lucky I didn’t cut a tire when he got into me and just went as low as I could to try not and get caught up in it. It was a pretty stressful race all the way to the end. It’s kind of funny that I helped organize a big race tonight that ultimately could have cost me the championship but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I really want to thank Chris McGinnis for putting on this special race. It was a great way to win a championship.”

Dan Brown Jr. of Grass Valley took the early lead from Tilford in Saturday’s feature event and looked to be on his way to the lucrative victory. Brown battled with fellow former champion Jerry Bartlett of Yuba City and Ryan McDaniel of Olivehurst for the win while Micheli and Tilford raced in their wake.

Brown and McDaniel dueled for the lead into the final laps until the two tangled on the 18th trip just enough to send McDaniel into a spin which collected Brown on the 18th lap. The wild collision allowed Micheli to move in for the kill and power himself into the lead to claim the $1000 win and the perpetual trophy. McDaniel salvaged second place over Matt Davis of Auburn. Brown recovered to fourth ahead of Tilford.

“That was a pretty wild finish for sure,” said Micheli. “What a great event here tonight with the added money and cars and I want to congratulate Tom Tilford on this championship. This was a long hard season all the way to the end and he earned it.”

In the Sprint Car division Saturday night, Sean Becker of Roseville drove his way to victory lane to take home the big trophy aboard Dan Menne’s #75 sprint car. Becker took the lead of the race on lap five when we overtook early leader Herman Klein of Sacramento. Penryn’s Charlie Cagle maintained the second position for Saturday’s event behind Becker to the finish line while Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli scored a third place finish over Placerville’s Andy Gregg and Justin Sanders of Prunedale.

“This was a surprise coming here tonight, I wasn’t expecting to be racing,” said Becker. “Dan sent me a text during the week asking me if I wanted to drive his car and.here we are. This is pretty cool to take home the big trophy and now we have a busy week ahead with Gold Cup this week. Hopefully we can continue this success.”

Entering the night, defending champion Andy Forsberg of Auburn had already clinched his fifth Placerville Speedway track championship. Forsberg started 8th in the event and suffered a broken brake component in the opening laps that forced him into an excursion up the turn four hillside. With a quick repair in the pit area, Forsberg returned to drive his way back up to the eighth position at the checkered flag.

“We didn’t get the win tonight but getting back to eighth have I knocked the brake off and ended up doing my Chitwood move up the hill we’re pretty happy with tonight,” said Forsberg. “This is my third year with F&F Racing and I can’t thank these guys enough for putting me in the car and I hope I’m paying them back now. I really want to thank Alan Handy for giving us a great race track and all of the fans that come out here and support this place, even the ones that love to boo me. Now we have Calistoga tomorrow, then Chico for the Gold Cup later this week and we’re back here in the 21st so make sure you get to these final races, they are far and few.”

n the Pure Stock division, defending champion Matt Tilford returned to the driver’s seat Saturday night, racing both in the Late Model class and the Pure Stock division. Tilford worked his way into the lead of the 20-lap feature after the green flag and never relinquished the top spot to bring home the big trophy on the same night his brother won the championship. Clarence Holbrook III of Galt finished in second followed by Scott Grunert of Woodland and Chris Van Roekel of Grass Valley.

“A few years ago when they started this deal with the big trophy I told myself I was going to come out here and win one of those someday,” said Tilford. “We did it and on the same night my brother Tom won the Late Model Championship. I have to thank everyone in my family for their support and a big thanks to Chris McGinnis for towing our car here tonight so I could race both divisions.”

Les Friend of Galt clinched the Pure Stock championship title at the opening of Saturday’s event. An 8 time feature event winner, Friend accomplished his longtime dream of earning a track title. For Friend, Saturday’s celebration was calm as he thanked all of his supported and

“I have so many people that helped me this season and I have always wanted to win a track championship and we finally did it, ” said Friend, who raced both divisions in Saturday’s event and got very emotional in victory lane as he spoke to the crowd that lined the fence to witness the crowning of the champions. “Tonight I’m thinking about my cousin Ronnie and how happy he would be to be standing here with us. We wanted to win a championship together when we started this year. I know he’s looking down and smiling tonight. This is for him.”

The 2013 Championship season at Placerville Speedway was presented by Red Hawk Casino, Hoosier Tires, Coors Light, Thompson Auto Centers and the Mountain Democrat News Paper. Associate sponsors that made the season possible included Stymeist Auto Body, ADCO Driveline, Arnolds for Awards, The Paint Spot, Minute Man Press-Hangtown Printing and Foothill 7 Television.

Action will return to Placerville Speedway one more time on Saturday, September 21 with the Thompsons Auto Centers Tribute to Al Hinds Civil War event that includes a giant fan bbq and sprint car show at Thompson Auto Centers and a $3000 to win Civil War Race that night. The Thompson’s event will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado County.

For additional information visit the track website at www.placervillespeedway.com You can also join over 4000 Placerville Speedway fans and drivers by liking them on Facebook.