Despite the track regulars having the week off from championship competition, a solid crowd turned out at Placerville Speedway on Saturday night to witness the United States Auto Club Western Classic Series Sprint Cars assault the quarter-mile clay oval at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.
The traveling series brought 15 entries to the roster, including a handful of Placerville’s winged stars for a night of exciting racing that concluded with Hollister’s Ryan Bernal celebrating his second consecutive series victory.
“I love racing at this place,” said Bernal. “If we come back here again I’m personally going to work on getting us even more cars because this is a fast track.”
Bernal started on the inside of the second row of Saturday’s 30-lap feature event and chased Max Adams as he took the initial lead. Bernal was able to distance himself from the pack but challenged by Placerville’s own James Sweeney who advanced from the sixth position. When the checkered flag flew Bernal was trailed by Sweeney, Adams, DJ Johnson. Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli rounded out the top five over Marc Mackay of Shingle Springs and CJ Humphreys of Placerville.
In the Limited Late Model division, a new name found its way into victory lane on Saturday night, however, it was a familiar face to Placerville. Upon check in, Auburn’s Matt Davis informed scoring officials that there would be a new driver behind the seat of his car for the night, Donald Keybals of Sun Valley.
For Davis, the self-promoting new name apparently was inspirational as the #54 late-model performed better than before and made its way to victory lane, overtaking two-time championship series winner Matt Micheli, former champion Dan Brown Jr. and 2012 Rookie of the Year Tom Tilford to take the lead.
At the finish line the newly named wheelman picked up the win followed by Micheli, Tilford, Brown Jr. and Danny Malfatti. With the win behind him, now the big question is which name really belongs to the longtime driver as the new alias seems to be fitting and victorious thus far.
In the Pure Stock division, Chris Van Roekel of Grass Valley scored his first win of the year. Van Roekel took the lead after early race leader Tim Mack of El Dorado pulled off the track with mechanical issues at the halfway point. Once in front, Van Roekel maintained the top spot fending off challenges of second place driver Lonnie Leonard of Elk Grove.