By Bill Sullivan, Handy Racing Promotions Media Relations
PLACERVILLE, CA – Auto Racing returned to the El Dorado County Fairgrounds Saturday night with the seventh Red Hawk Casino championship event of the season. Afternoon winds whipped up a dry slick track surface that brought out the true talent of nearly every driver, but in the end it was Antelope’s Sean Becker who displayed the most finesse to earn his third win of the season in the winged sprint car division.
“When you have an afternoon like it was today with these kinds of winds you know any race track is going to be dry slick,” said Becker. “We came here tonight expecting it and my guys had the car ready for the conditions. It still wasn’t easy, the slightest mistake can cost you when it gets like it did tonight.”
Becker entered Saturday’s event presented by Hoosier Tires, Riebes Auto Parts and Coors Light in effort to secure his eligibility for the July 1, $5000 to win Mark Forni Classic at Placerville Speedway. A driver must start in a total of six events at Placerville Speedway to qualify for the bonus funds. Saturday night, Becker made the mark aboard his Scott Miller owned #2sb.
“That’s what has brought us here so much this season, we want to come back and win another Forni race,” said the two-time Forni race winner. “It’s a good deal the way they set it up this year and it’s given us some extra track time here too.”
Becker started on the outside of the front row in Saturday’s 25-lap feature event next to polesitter and point leader Andy Forsberg of Auburn. Knowing Forsberg was hungry for his first win of the season, Becker was well aware he had his work cut out for him. Forsberg took the initial lead at the green flag and the duo sliced and diced their way through traffic.
Becker took the lead for good on the 19th lap down the backstretch when he and Forsberg exited the second turn and rubbed tires in the exchange. In the closing laps Forsberg gave it his all to redeem the position but was slowed on several attempts by a lapped car that Becker had put between them.
“I’m not a driver that likes using contact to get past someone,” said Becker. “We were really racing close back there and it just happened. It wasn’t intentional at all. Andy and I always race really hard at this place and we just got a little close there”
Forsberg finished second on Saturday ahead of Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli and Scott Russell. Steven Tiner of Visalia rounded out the top five and was the McDonalds Hard Charger of the night. Heat races were won on Saturday by Chad Compton, Carlie Cagle, Tiner and Nicole Miller. Trulli won the B feature and Forsberg was the MotoWear fast qualifier of the night.
In the Dirt Solutions Late Model division Saturday night, Dan Brown Jr. of Grass Valley dominated the 15-lap event without serious challenge. Brown started on the outside of the front row and was challenged in the early laps by Jay Norton of Cameron Park and Tom Arbogast of Auburn until mechanical woes ended his night.
When the checkered flag waved Brown picked up his second win of the season over Norton, Doug Grandboise of Jackson, Dennis Armstrong of El Dorado and Bob Dittmer of Garden Valley.
“We’ve been racing here for a long time now and we know how this place can slick off when it gets hot and windy,” said Brown. “So we were set up for it tonight. It was a good night for us. I really want to thank my Mom and Dad and whole family for all their support and help in this every week.”
In the Pure Stock division, John Durrett of Pollock Pines took command of the 18 car field at the waving of the green flag and never relinquished what became a distant lead in the 20-lap affair.
Durrett started on the pole of the event and was challenged in the early laps by Chris Van Roekel and Bryan Carnett of Placerville. Eventually Durrett drove his way to a lead of more than three seconds. At the finish line Durrett was followed across the line by Van Roekel, point leader Chris Curtiss of Placerville was the McDonalds Hard Charger with a third place run, Kris Wirth of Pollock Pines and Dennis Armstrong of El Dorado.
“This was a good night for us with a good starting position up front and I made sure I stopped at the scales this time,” said Durrett, who bypassed the post race tech several weeks ago and was disqualified from a win. “I think I had about ten different people up there tonight pointing to remind me so I didn’t forget this time.”
The three track regulars were joined Saturday by the Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprint Car Shootout Series. In this event, Billy Wallace of Grass Valley charged his way to victory lane at the track where he has claimed two winged sprint car championships.
Wallace started third in the event and worked his way into the lead by overtaking Arvo Balkhom and Taylor Simas for the lead on the second lap.
Saturday’s event had a scary moment when Marc Mackay of Shingle Springs took flight on the front stretch and struck the flagstand high in the air. The collision rocked the grandstands and totaled Mackay’s #86 sprint car. Fortunately, flagman starter Ed Entz was only shaken and uninjured in the incident as was Mackay.
Just weeks ago Handy Racing Promotions installed a new state of the art cage for the flagging area. The unit constructed by former stock car champion Fred Jenson did its job well, protecting both Entz and the race fans.
When the race resumed Wallace continued to dominate the field and won the event over Simas, Sparky Howard was the McDonalds Hard Charger with a third place finish followed by Terry Schank Jr. and Jay Youngman.
Racing will take a week off at Placerville Speedway to allow for the El Dorado County Fair. Grandstand events will include a destruction derby and the John Studebaker Wheel Barrow races. For information on all of the great events at www.eldoradocountyfair.org.
Racing action returns on June 26th with Windfall Classifieds night at Placerville Speedway featuring sprint cars, late models, pure stocks and dwarf cars. The event will feature a special fan spirit contest by the nightly sponsor. Fans are encouraged to show their spirit in a creative way such as a sign or attire to win various prizes and appear in the local publication the following week.