By Gary Thomas
Placerville, CA – August 19, 2017…Late-race excitement has been the name of the game this season at Placerville Speedway and that was certainly the case during Saturday’s Mark Forni Classic, where Clarksburg’s
Entertaining racing was seen in all divisions on Saturday with point leaders Matt Michelli claiming the Ltd. Late Model feature and Jason Palmer picking off the Pure Stock A-main. Danny Wagner held off the late challenges of Ben Wiesz to grab the Nor-Cal Dwarf Car Association feature. A total of 86 race cars packed the pit area for the 12th annual event paying honor to the late Mark Forni.
The 25-lap Thompson’s Auto Group Winged 360 Sprint Car main event started out with Watsonville’s Justin Sanders jumping into the lead, while Sean Becker climbed to second on lap two. Kingsburg’s Cory Eliason was making his first weekly start of the season and showed his muscle on a lap 10 restart, getting around Becker to grab the runner up position. His strong run then came to an end however, after banging the cushion and tipping over on lap 14.
At that point Hanford’s DJ Netto had charged from 14th to sixth and on the restart continued to move forward like a house of fire. Netto was giving the Tri-C Machine a hard run and quickly sliced his way into third. Soon after though a right rear stop broke and forced him to hang on for the remainder. With the laps winding down and traffic approaching point leader Steven Tiner started to close in on Sanders for the lead and hounded the rear bumper of the 17 machine.
One final caution came out on lap 22 and set up the restart that ultimately decided the race. Sanders got the jump on Tiner, but as they battled for the lead with two laps remaining both washed up to the high-side between turns one and two, which gave Justyn Cox the opportunity to make a wild move, slicing past to scoop up the top-spot. Sanders tried his best to get back by, but Cox took the checkered flag for his first Mark Forni Classic victory. Sanders, Tiner, Becker and Netto rounded out the top-five.
A strong field of 42 Thompson’s Auto Group Winged 360 Sprint Cars were on hand Saturday. Heat races were picked off by Justyn Cox, Shawn Conde, Colby Copeland and Steven Tiner. The C-main was captured by Kirt Organ, while the B-main went to Buddy Kofoid. The ADCO Driveline and Custom Exhaust Fast Time Award went to Justin Sanders with a lap of 10.785 around the quarter-mile.
Ltd. Late Model point leader Matt Michelli continued his dominance of the division, although this time around had to work hard for it with heavy pressure from Matt Davis over the closing laps. Michelli started from the pole and quickly scooted into the lead at the waving of Ron Stall’s green flag. A yellow on lap eight for Ray Trimble set up a restart where Mike Lightfoot challenged for the lead. Michelli was able to hang on, while Matt Davis then began to make it a race for second.
Davis charged past Lightfoot on lap 14 and quickly closed in on the leader. Davis was driving the wheels off his car in a bid to get around Michelli, as the pair put on a great show late in the race. Michelli did a solid job to fend off the challenges and take his ninth victory of the 2017 Placerville Speedway season. Davis crossed the stripe in second to cap off an impressive run in the feature. Tom Tilford, Eddie Gardner and Mike Lightfoot completed the top-five in the feature.
A total of 12 Ltd. Late Models were in action with heat races going to Ray Trimble and Tyler Lightfoot.
The Pure Stock A-main also provided some trilling action for the packed house on hand. Lonnie Leonard got the initial jump on the field, before a lap one yellow for Nick Baldwin. On the restart Scott Grunert fought his way to the outside and scooped up the lead. Matt Tilford also charged to second on lap four, prior to a caution on lap seven.
During the restart Tilford got alongside Grunert to make it a battle for the lead and on lap eight Jason Palmer then joined the mix, making it three-wide for the top-spot down the backstretch. Palmer would take over second on lap 10 and move to the lead the following lap, only to have a caution wave and negate the pass. On the restart however, Palmer got under Tilford to take over the point. At this point Baldwin had rebounded from the early yellow and rocketed back through the field, getting up to fourth by lap 12.
Baldwin continued his exhilarating charge forward and made an outstanding move off turn four on lap 15 to get under Palmer for the lead. The race for the top-spot wasn’t over though, as Palmer battled his way back by with just two-laps left and went on to take the checkered flag for his fourth win of the 2017 campaign. Baldwin’s exciting run ended in the runner up position, with Tilford, Grunert and Leonard rounding out the top-five.
Fifteen Pure Stocks signed into the pit area. Heat race wins went to Sam Bernstein and Nick Baldwin.
The traveling Nor-Cal Dwarf Car Association put on a great main event Saturday. Mike Grunert claimed the original lead, with Danny Wagner climbing into second on lap two. After applying heavy pressure for numerous laps Wagner then charged to the lead with 13-circuits complete. Ben Wiesz was also having a very impressive run and battled Grunert for second, before taking over the spot on lap 18.
A green-white-checkered restart was then seen and during it Wiesz made a bid for the lead while charging around the high-side of the quarter-mile bullring. Rounding the final set of corners Wiesz looked high, but Wagner was able to beat him by just inches at the line in what was a thrilling finish. Mike Grunert, Kevin Bender and Scott Dahlgren rounded out the top-five. A total of 18 Dwarf Cars were in competition on Saturday. Heat race wins were claimed by Ben Wiesz and Scott Dahlgren.
The Placerville Speedway returns to action next Friday August 25 with the final appearance this season by the Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Abreu Vineyards. Also in action will be the C&H Veteran Ent. presents Hunt Magnetos Wingless Tour.
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The Placerville Speedway is operated by Russell Motorsports Incorporated, which can be reached at the track business office at 530-344-7592. Contact Kami Arnold or Scott Russell directly for 2017 sponsorship opportunities at the office. Results can be found at our website http://www.placervillespeedway.com/