Saturday night close wheel-to-wheel racing that kept the fans on the edge of their seats for nearly every race seemed to be the theme at Placerville Speedway for the sixth Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort Championship season presented by Hoosier Racing Tires, Coors Light, The Mountain Democrat and Riebes Auto Parts.
Although car counts were slightly lower than usual due to multiple events in the region, the racing was some of the best of the year with a w pair of new faces in victory lane and two repeat winners of the season.
In the Sprint Car division, Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove drove his way to his first win of the year aboard his Dale Miller owned Foothill 7 Television No. 4sa Sprint Car. Matt Tilford of Citrus Heights scored his second straight win in Pure Stocks while Ray Trimble of Auburn earned his second win of the year in the Late Model division. Logan Seavey drove his way to his first win in the Midget Lites.
In the 25-lap Sprint Car feature, DeCaires started on the inside of row three and quickly worked his way into contention for the lead, working his way past Matt Barber, Billy Butler and Mike Benson to trail race leader James Sweeney of Placerville. Sweeney held the upper hand for nearly the entire race, however, when a red flag flew with 22 laps left for a vicious crash on the backstretch involving defending champion Andy Forsberg and Steven Ingraham the race came down to a three lap dogfight that had nearly every fan on their feet once the accident was cleaned up and both uninjured drivers returned to the pit area.
The final green flag saw Sweeney rocket into the lead by a little more than a car length until DeCaires took the middle line of the track and then dove back down to the low groove to pull beside Sweeney and slide his way into the lead. In the next set of turns, Sweeney answered back with the same aggressive move to redeem the lead. This dogfight had the majority of the fans on their feet cheering as the two top runners took their battle into the final lap where DeCaires pulled the checkmate on Sweeney with the final slide job that secured the win. Sweeney earned second followed by Benson. Matt Peterson of Wilton had another strong night with fourth place while Jake Morgan of Fair Oaks muscled his way into a top five.
“Wow it feels really good to put this Foothill 7 car in victory lane for the first time this season and I can’t be more grateful to have them on the car this year. Through all these years Ron Thompson has supported my racing in form or another and what he’s doing this year for me and the track with local TV deal is just awesome,” DeCaires said. “When we had that green white checkered on the restart it gave me the chance to get underneath James and if you look at the mud on the car it shows how Alan Handy had this track perfect tonight to make those kind of moves.”
Last year, DeCaires teamed with local car owner Dale Miller mid season and the duo became a perfect match, fielding a car in tribute Stephen Allard, the competitive driver whom the racing community lost over the Christmas holiday in 2012. Regardless of the quantity of wins that DeCaires has scored since the inception of the team, every victory is emotional for the veteran driver who lost both his friend and his Mother in the same year, both of which were huge supporters of his racing career.
“I think every race we are in there’s a little bit of Stephen in the cockpit of that car with me because I find myself doing things the way he did,” DeCaires said. “Not a day or a race goes by that I don’t think of our good friend and my Mom who did so much for me. This one’s for them, all of them are for them and I thank everyone that makes this all possible.”
In the Limited Late Model feature, Trimble started on the outside of the front row next to one of the region’s most competitive drivers in stock cars and dirt modifieds, Randy McDaniel of Olivehurst. At the waving of the green flag it was McDaniel who shot into the lead while Dominic Stone of Folsom lived up to his name of the flying plumber and pressured his way into second place to join his teammate, McDaniel, for the evening.
For nearly the entire race, McDaniel and Stone drive a car length ahead of Trimble in their identical cars to dominate the event. On lap 14 Trimble found his way back into the second position where he patiently closed in on McDaniel to challenge for the lead. It came down to the final turn of the final lap as the two drivers drove side by side out of the fourth turn towards the finish line where Trimble edged McDaniel by mere inches for the win. McDaniel finished in second place followed by Stone, Jay Norton of Shingle Springs and Matt Davis of Auburn.
“When your racing against Randy you don’t have many chances get into the lead when he is out front,” Trimble said. “I knew I had that one chance there at the end and I put my nose in there and it got us here for our second win and I couldn’t be happier. Most importantly I think we gave these fans a great show tonight out there tonight. This was fun race.”
The clean and close racing didn’t stop there, in the Pure Stock division, Tilford’s route to his second victory was far from a cake walk, but rather a door to door battle for the lead for nearly all 20 laps with veteran driver Kevin Wirth of Garden Valley. A longtime local favorite who somewhat retired from the sport a couple years ago, Wirth has recently returned to his local track in a car which he shares the driving duties with his brother in law John Durrett and Saturday night proved, he is still the clean competitive driver he was known for through the years.
Wirth took the lead at the green flag while Tilford started in the third position and worked his way into second place where the duo raced bumper to bumper and side by side lap after lap in the evening’s third straight nail biter of the night. It wasn’t until the final tow laps that the battle got even closer as the two rubbed doors contesting for the lead and Tilford eventually took the upper hand to score his second straight win of the year. Wirth finished in second place followed by Eddie Gardner of Sacramento, Rick Grunert of Woodland and Lonnie Leonard of Elk Grove.
“That was probably the most fun I have ever had in all our races here,” said Tilford in victory lane. “When we pulled off the track and we both got out of our cars we shook hands and shared some laughs how much fun we had out there. Kevin has been doing this a lot longer that I have and he’s won a lot of races at this place and is a great driver, I’m glad he’s back, we rubbed doors a bit out there and all in fun. I have to thank all my sponsors and family for helping me to another win tonight, I couldn’t do it without them. We’re looking to be back here on the Fourth of July our next time out and see if we can get a win on that big one.”
In the visiting Midget Lites, Seavey drove to his first career win after leading every lap of the 20-lap feature event. Driving for veteran car owner John Taylor of Orangevale, Seavey started on the outside of the front row Saturday night and muscled his way into the lead over pole sitter Marcus Smith of Manteca, a lead he never relinquished all the way to the finish.
At the finish line Seavey was followed by Dakota Albright, Smith, Danika Parker and Steve Brown.
“I’m pretty thankful for John Taylor letting me drive his car here,” Seavey said. “We had a good starting spot tonight to get out in front and stay out of trouble. I’m pretty happy to get the win for his team here tonight, it feels great.”
Racing resumes this Saturday night, May 31 at Placerville Speedway when the Civil War Sprint Car Series rolls into town following the Memorial Day holiday.
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