Entering Saturday night’s fifth Jackson Rancheria championship point race at Placerville Speedway, Justin Sanders was poised to put another notch in his early season win streak aboard his Beverly and Rudy Warrington owned #18 sprint car that recently carried him to the top of the point standings. When the checkered flag flew at the end of the night, Sanders was celebrating once again in victory lane.
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“I had a good starting spot up front tonight and we just have the right set-up at the place now,” said Sanders, who is competing for his first Placerville championship.
For Sanders, all the ingredients were perfect to make it three in a row and capitalize on a rough night for defending four time champion Andy Forsberg to tally up some digits in the point standings. Sanders started on the pole of the 25-lap A-feature and never relinquished his lead.
Chasing Sanders to the line the whole night was Charlie Cagle, who trailed the leader by 1.876 seconds. Colby Wiesz was the third place finisher over Greg DeCaires and Cory Eliason. Entering the night, Sander early season point lead was 2 points over Forsberg. Forsberg started deep in the field and suffered a tough night with a challenging dry slick track and damage to the top wing that resulted in an 18th place finish.
While Sanders’ trio of wins brought its share of fanfare an emotion on Mother’s Day eve at Placerville, the evening was also special for the Tilford family. The Tilford brothers scored duel victories and celebrated with in victory lane. The celebration had its share of smiles and tears as a dedicated mother celebrated with her sons who gave her an early present and the entire team remembered the late Donnie Tilford, the family patriarch who helped all of their generations succeed behind the wheel, who passed away just before the start of the season.
In the Limited Late Model division, Tom Tilford led every lap to drive his way to his first-ever victory in the division in which he advanced to two years ago. In the closing laps he was challenged by fellow former champion Matt Micheli on the wind-damaged quarter-mile that offered very little traction. Tilford finessed his way to the finish line to score the long-awaited win, a tough one that came without the presence of his late uncle.
“There’s no doubt this race tonight is for Uncle Donnie,” said an emotional Tilford as he celebrated in victory lane with his brother Matt with their mother, Carla, embraced between them.
Jason Englund finished in third followed by Dominic Stone and Ray Trimble.
In the Pure Stock feature, Matt Tilford started fifth and quickly worked his way into the front to take the lead on the 12th lap from early leader John Durrett of Pollock Pines. Once in front, Tilford distanced himself by several car lengths over Durrett to drive to his first win of the year.
It was the first time Matt Tilford joined brother Tom in victory lane. Several years ago, Tom Tilford won a pure stock race on the same night as his brother Jon who now dedicates most of his time to wrenching and assisting financially on the family team cars. On this night, it was Matt’s turn to park beside his brother.
“For a long time I have always thought how special it would be to do this and win on the same night,” he said.
In the Nor Cal Dwarf Car feature event, Shawn Jones went to battle early in the race with Kevin Bender as the two dueled for the lead. Jones spun out after taking the lead early in the race and rallied back to the second position behind Bender, who drifted off the track surface on the final lap to relinquish the potential win.
For more information on Placerville Speedway, visit its Website at placervillespeedway.com.