By Gary Thomas
Placerville, CA – April 6, 2019…The Placerville Speedway opened its 54th regular season of competition on Saturday and fans were treated an exciting night of dirt track racing, which was capped with Clarksburg’s Justyn Cox narrowly holding off Hollister’s Tony Gualda to claim the 25-lap Thompson’s Family of Dealerships Winged 360 Sprint Car feature.
Also sharing victory lane on “Law Enforcement Night” was former track champion Nick Baldwin with the Jay’s Mobile Welding & Fabricating Pure Stocks, Jake Morgan with the Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Tour and Tom Stanwood with the Mini Trucks.
A strong field of 27 Thompson’s Family of Dealerships Winged 360 Sprint Cars signed into the pits for point race number one and were led down by Roseville’s Sean Becker and Justyn Cox in the main event. Cox charged into the lead at the waving of the Ron Stahl green flag and kept the field at bay while the action was fast and furious. The first 14-laps clicked off caution free until the first slowdown occurred. Shortly after going back green Tony Gualda poked his nose under Becker and assumed the second position.
Gualda then hounded the rear bumper of Cox as fans were kept entertained through lapped traffic. Gualda looked to find a way by Cox, but the two-time Mark Forni Classic champ made all the right moves in traffic. With two circuits left DJ Freitas got upside down to bring out the red. He was okay but done for the night. On the green-white-checkered restart Cox got bound up off turn four and it allowed Gualda to tuck right up behind him.
As the pair rounded the final corner the driver of the C&M Motorsports No. 7c gave it one last shot, but Cox beat him to the finish line by 0.110 seconds for the victory. It marked his sixth career Placerville Speedway triumph and came aboard the Cox Family Racing No. 31c machine. Gualda’s strong night also saw him earn the ADCO Driveline and Custom Exhaust Fast Time Award, plus a heat race victory to go along with his runner up in the feature. Becker, Aromas’ Justin Sanders and Mather’s Kalib Henry rounded out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 were Auburn’s Andy Forsberg, Roseville’s Colby Copeland, Penngrove’s Colby Johnson, Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan and Menlo Park’s Jesse Love. Hanford’s Zane Blanchard captured the evening’s B-main, while heat race wins went to Gualda, Becker, Johnson and Cox. As noted, Gualda earned the fast time award by clocking a 10.722 around the quarter-mile.
Last season, 2016 Jay’s Mobile Welding & Fabricating Pure Stock champion Nick Baldwin raced to one victory on the year. So far in 2019 he is one-for-one after picking up an exciting victory in the 20-lap main event on Saturday. Lonnie Lennard and Dave Silva led the field to green in the feature and the action immediately heated up among the front runners. Four to five cars raced closely together for the top-spot on the well-prepared bullring as Silva led Kevin Jinkerson.
The winning move, however, came after a handful of laps when Baldwin shot from third to first down low in one fell swoop. After that Baldwin had his way out front and went on to take the checkered at the helm of his familiar No. 17 Pure Stock. It marked his seventh career victory at the Placerville Speedway. Jinkerson battled his way around Silva to earn a runner up finish, with Silva, last year’s Jay’s Mobile Welding & Fabricating Pure Stock titlist Scott Grunert and Mel Byers rounding out the top-five.
Lonnie Lennard, Jesse Bryant, Jason Palmer, Jason Lennard and Stephanie Hanson completed the top-10. Baldwin and Jinkerson captured the two heat races held. A total of 12 Jay’s Mobile Welding & Fabricating Pure Stocks competed on opening night.
The Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprint Car Tour provided a thrilling 25-lap main event during the evening that saw Jake Morgan continue his winning ways in the division at Placerville Speedway. Morgan jumped into the lead on the start, but things came to a halt on lap two when Matt Stewart got upside down off the second corner. Luckily, he emerged okay but his chance at victory came to an end. Morgan continued to lead the field when racing got back underway but had a hard-charging Shawn Jones coming after him.
Jones, last year’s Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Tour champion, was rocketing around the high-side of the speedway in exciting fashion trying to snag the lead. The pair proceeded to exchange the top-spot numerous times while battling through heavy lapped traffic. With the laps winding down Morgan found himself out front and ultimately crossed the stripe by just 0.242 seconds for the margin of victory over Jones. Ironically, the two also put on epic show last season with the Hunt Tour at Placerville Speedway in July, which saw them cross the checkered in a photo finish.
For Morgan it marked his fourth consecutive wingless spec sprint victory at the track and came in the Barry Pries Motorsports No. 14 machine. The Fair Oaks driver now ranks second all-time in spec sprint wins at Placerville Speedway to only the legendary Darrell Hanestad. DJ Johnson, Troy Degaton, Alan Miranda, Bryan Grier, Boy Moniz, Scott Chapeta, Angelique Bell and Ryon Siverling completed the top-10. Heat wins went to Morgan, Degaton and Cody Spencer. Billy Aton began the night by setting fast time with a lap of 12.498, topping the 21-car field.
The night’s Mini Truck main event was claimed by Tom Stanwood over Russ Murphy, Ryan Murphy, Thomas Jensen, Aaron Rupley and John LittleJohn. LittleJohn, the defending Mini Truck champion, took command at the start but bicycled and got upside down on lap three. He was okay but his shot at victory was over. LittleJohn won the lone heat race held during the night.
Full results from the night can be viewed at https://speedhive.mylaps.com/Events/1641830?fbclid=IwAR2F8TWKwQviJgXCXChO9yFJJQH6LVIxaEh6tzgVh-8mFfauuXDjMi68yV8
The Placerville Speedway will be dark this coming weekend for the two-night Sprint Car Challenge Tour sanctioned Asparagus Cup in Stockton. Racing then returns to the track on Easter weekend with the Thompson’s Family of Dealerships Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Ltd. Late Models, the Jay’s Mobile Welding & Fabricating Pure Stocks, BCRA Midget Lites and Vintage Hard Tops on Saturday April 20th. More info can be found at www.placervillespeedway.com