Championship battles heating up as season winds down

By From page A11 | July 26, 2013

As the 2013 Red Hawk Casino-Hoosier Racing Tires Championship Season treks toward its final weeks, the bout for the division championships continues to heat up in three divisions at the Placerville Speedway on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds Saturday.

In the Winged 360 Sprint Car division, much of the track talk as of late surrounds veteran driver Greg DeCaires. Earlier in the season, DeCaires parted ways with his former team and joined forces with a brand new team formed by Placerville’s Dale Miller.

DeCaires is a longtime colleague of the late Stephen Allard, but his relationship with the talented driver who passed away last December went much deeper. DeCaires was one of the few close friends who was with Allard in his final moments at a Folsom hospital on Christmas Eve. Just a few months after he was forced to say goodbye, DeCaires is now aboard the black and white#4SA “Tribute to Stephen Allard” Sprint Car that Miller constructed in the off-season.

DeCaires will look to make it four consecutive wins in a row this Saturday here and tie Placerville’s Andy Gregg in the way of overall wins for the season thus far. He has been on success streak since winning the Tiner Classic Civil War on the Fourth of July, followed by well-earned victories in the last two point races.

While DeCaires is 89 points behind the point leader and is gunning for wins without necessarily chasing a championship this season, Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli is a driver on the move when it comes to closing in on the title in the final weeks of the season.

Defending four-time Champion Andy Forsberg of Auburn has led the series standings for much of the season. However it is Trulli who is showing signs of possibly becoming the “closer” as he has capitalized in recent weeks with top strong finishes.

Forsberg currently has seven top-5 finishes and eight top 10 finishes to his name to top the point standings. But Trulli is a mere 34 points behind the leader with four top five finishes and nine top-10 finishes. The only place where Forsberg has managed to distance himself from Trulli’s upward push has been in ADCO Driveline qualifying where he has garnered six top spots alone compared to Trulli’s single fast time award. Forsberg’s efforts in qualifying are worth 30 points alone in the standings.

Another driver to factor in is Placerville’s Andy Gregg, who is third in the standings and 37-points behind the leader. He has three championship wins and a Civil War Series win at the track he calls home and seven top five finishes. Gregg is always a factor in the final laps of nearly every feature event and is surely a championship contender as well.

Mike Benson rounds out the top five. Shingle Springs’ Justin Johnson is one spot out of the top five ahead of Placerville’s James Sweeney.

In the Limited Late Model Division, former Pure Stock champion Tom Tilford of Citrus Heights has taken over the division point lead on July 20. With his father Dean in the hospital recovering from a serious heart attack last weekend, Tilford followed Dad’s orders and suited up for the race.

Ken Micheli is third in the standings by 40 points. Placerville’s Ted Ahard is fourth, as John Ohnmacht of Sheridan rounds out the official top five.

In Pure Stock competition, veteran driver Les Friend of Galt has driven himself to a healthy 40-point lead toward his first career championship. Early in the season Friend was in a tight battle with defending champion Matt Tilford who departed from racing full-time this season to advance into the Late Model division with his brother as his schedule permits.

Behind Friend is Woodland’s Scott Grunert who is having one of his strongest season’s in point racing so far. Grunert is currently 12-points over Chris Van Roekel of Grass Valley. Tim Mack of El Dorado is fourth in the standings, 19-points out of third place. Dennis Armstrong rounds out the top five in this division over Placerville’s Danielle Clauson.

The grandstands open Saturday at 5 p.m. with ADCO Driveline Qualifying starting at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets at the gate are $14 for adults, juniors and seniors $12 and children are $6.

For further information visit Placerville Speedway can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Bill Sullivan

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