Ding ding ding … in corner one we have Auburn’s Andy Forsberg, a three-time defending Placerville Speedway track champion. The winningest driver in recent history, Forsberg isn’t daunted by jeering fans or criticism for consistently winning and dishes it right back at them given the slightest opportunity with his deservingly “in your face” attitude.
In corner number two, we have Cameron Park’s Stephen Allard, a former Silver Dollar Speedway Champion that moved to town this year with one mission in mind. Allard is looking to dethrone the talented outspoken Forsberg and bring the Placerville Speedway title back into the hands of a local team for the first time in 17 years.
Saturday night it comes down to single digits between these two title fighters at Placerville Speedway in what will be one of the most anticipated title fights at the quarter-mile clay oval since 1995. It was then that hometown boy Ray Rust of Garden Valley out drove Elk Grove’s Kevin Urton to the sound of chanting fans to put the coveted championship in the name of an El Dorado County resident. Regardless who comes out on top Saturday night, the battle between “Mr. Excitement” and “Allard Mania” could very well be the race of the decade at the Placerville bullring.
For Forsberg, close championship runs are nothing to take lightly. Last week he entered the final race of the year at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico as the point leader only to have the title stolen from him by Sean Becker in the final laps. In this particular series, he has a driver on his tail that has Forsberg’s “win it or wear it” style which proved true last week when he raced a damaged car with no brakes from 13th to second and nearly took the lead with a crowd razing run on the final lap that resulted in Forsberg celebrating his fifth win of the year before the jeering crowd that has become “Allard Mania” in El Dorado County.
After both drivers showed great emotion last week and shared their comments openly, they remain silent just days before their final bout of the year for the Hoosier Racing Tires Championship title. With only eight points between them and as many as 60 available in one night of competition it’s down to business this week. Put the verbal jabs aside, ignore the heated internet forums and focus on one thing; got out and drive those cars like they stole them.
While much attention will be on the two bad boys of Placerville’s Sprint car division Saturday night, don’t count out the third member of the championship party, Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove who is just 26-points out of the lead and very much still mathematically able to outwit the two front runners should they knock one another out of the ring early Saturday night and leave an open door for The Catfish to spawn to the top. Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli is in the fourth position with Justin Johnson of Shingle Springs in fifth position over Placerville’s C.J. Humphreys, James Sweeney and Nicole Miller of Elk Grove.
The Sprint Car Division isn’t the only place a title war will be on tap Saturday night. In the Pure Stock division a new generation of the famed Tilford family is poised to win his first division championship of his career and join the likes of his forefathers and brothers who have been fixtures to Placerville Speedway in its entire history. Matt Tilford is an 11-time winner this season, but his lead is only 6-points over former champion Chris Curtiss of Placeville and Scott Grunert of Woodland who are tied for second and hungry for Tilford blood this week.
Tilford missed one race this season to forfeit his once healthy lead. Now he enters the final night of the year with more pressure than ever and must keep Grunert in his sights all night long to maintain the point lead to the checkered flag in the sport that carries the common slogan “anything can happen.” Chris Van Roekel of Grass Valley is fourth in the ranks followed by Dominic Stone of Folsom.
In the Limited Late Model Division, point leader Matt Micheli of Live Oak can race without the pressure of point standings Saturday night as he has officially secured the 2012 division championship with a 76-point lead over his father Ken Micheli. Tom Tilford of Citrus Heights has moved up to third in the standings and is the top runner for the Rookie title in this division. Marek Bernert of Orangevale is just 15-points behind Tilford while Charlie Marrs of Yuba City rounds out the top five.
The three track regulars are being joined in the race of the decade Saturday night by the colorful coupes of the Nor Cal Dwarf Cars. This division always offers great excitement on the banks of Placerville and will be racing for their 2012 traveling championship as well.
An early arrival to insure seating is suggested for Placerville Speedway’s final championship race of the year Saturday night. The gates will open at 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $13, juniors and seniors $11, children are $6 and five and under are free.
Saturday night is Big Pepsi Trophy Night at Placerville Speedway as the annual perpetual giant trophies are passed along to the winner of the final championship race night.
For more information visit placervillespeedway.com.