Over the past month, record crowds have been common place at Placerville Speedway since the opening of the racing season. This Saturday night, that large crowd was more vocal than ever as they cheered one of their locals to victory at the El Dorado County Faigrounds. Placerville’s Andy Gregg muscled his way to his first win of the season in the 25 lap sprint car main event.
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Drivers who joined Gregg in victory lane for the third Red Hawk Casino-Hoosier Racing Tires Championship race of the season included Les Friend of Galt, who won his second feature in the pure stock class. Matt Micheli of Live Oak who scored his second win in late models and Ryan Winter, winner in the visiting Nor Cal Dwarf Cars.
For Gregg, Saturday’s event started off in the grandstands at Placerville Speedway as he took it upon himself to meet and greet the hundreds of fans coming in the front gate, autographing programs, hero cards and visiting with many fans young and old. A driver who believes in supporting his local track and reaching out to the fans, Gregg certainly gave all of them their money’s worth when it came time for the feature event.
Starting in the fourth position on the outside of the second row, Gregg quickly raced in the wake of second place started Mason Moore of Princeton, racing his way past third place starter and pole sitter and point leader Andy Forsberg of Auburn. Once he settled in behind Moore, Gregg dueled with Forsberg for the second position before attacking his prey for the lead and powering past Moore.
Once in front, Gregg began to distance himself from the field until Forsberg closed back in with Sanders, Moore and ADCO Driveline fast qualifier Jimmy Trulli in his wake. Forsberg got within striking distance of Gregg and the duo brought the near capacity crowd to its feet as they raced side by side into turns one and two where Forsberg pushed the limits and drifted off the racing surface, falling back several positions.
Gregg went on to win the race over Moore. Sanders finished in third followed by Forsberg who recovered to finish fourth. Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove rolled across the line in fifth ahead of Rohnert Park’s Brett Rollag.
“Well this isn’t a bad way to finish considering we lost a shock pretty early on in the race,” said Gregg, as much of the crowd remained cheering him in victory lane. “I can thank my crew and all my sponsors for all their support but the people I really have to thank are you the fans. It’s great to see all of you out here filling the stands and cheering us on. That’s why we do this. I encourage everyone to come out next Saturday night and see us again with the 410 sprint cars and the King of the West here, you won’t be disappointed.”
In the Late Model feature event, Micheli drove to his second win of the year to redeem his point lead but that feat was far from simple. Micheli started fifth in the field and avoided a multi car collision that ensued on lap one when Danny Malfatti drove hard entering the first turn and collided with third place starter Tom Tilford. The collision resulted in Malfatti crashing head on into an infield tire barrier and then collecting two additional cars that blocked much of the track.
Once the incident was cleared the race resumed as Micheli moved closer to the front and challenge pole sitter Dan Brown Jr. Micheli would duel with Brown for the lead and late in the race was pressured by Tilford. Driving his way back from the rear, Tilford became a contender for then win in the final laps of the race, overtaking Brown and then racing to the inside of Micheli as they approached the checkered flag for an exciting finish that say Micheli followed by Tilford, Brown, Ken Micheli and Mike Lightfoot.
“That was exciting race not only for the fans but for me,” said Micheli. “I saw Tilford coming up to the inside of me and he definitely was fast tonight. I had to give it everything I had to get this one. It was a good race right to the end. Our cars took a bit of beating tonight, its going to be a sheet metal and pop rivet week for sure.”
In the Pure Stock division, Friend started on the outside of the front row. After taking the lead from pole sitter Chris VanRoekel the Galt resident began to distance himself from the field. Defending champion Matt Tilford raced his way up from the eighth position into the bridesmaid spot as he chased down Friend through lapped traffic.
At the finish line, Friend picked up his second win of the year followed by Tilford, Van Roekel, Scott Grunert and Jason Leonard. The win was the second in a row for Friend.
“What a great night for us, we love this place,” said Friend. “It’s great to get another win but I just want to say this race track is doing one heck of a job promoting up here. To come out here and see these stands packed with fans like this each week is awesome. The track, the kids dash, everything they are doing is great for the sport.”
Earlier in the night, Friend went one on one with Tilford for the Riebes Kids Dash. Tilford won the event and selected a youngster from the stands who took home the trophy and a complimentary t shirt from Placerville Speedway. The event is part of a new tradition at Placerville Speedway.
In the Nor Cal Dwarf Cars, Ryan Winter drove to the win and bested the field of 15 cars on Saturday. Winter was followed across the line by Mike Grenert who challenged the leader in the closing laps for a nail biting finish. Jeremy Blackshere finished in third followed by Kevin Bender and Doug Martin.
“I love coming to this place,” said Winter. “This track has a high line like no other and once you get up there running it, its super fast. We always look forward to coming to Placerville.”
Next Saturday night is big night at Placerville Speedway as the track regulars take a week off to make room for the King of the West Sprint Car Series. Don’t miss the 410 cubic inch powered sprint cars as they return to the bullring with the midget lites of the Bay Cities Racing Association for an open wheel showdown not to be missed. Gates will open at 5 p.m. Qualifying at 6:30. For more information visit placervillespeedway.com.