By Gary Thomas
Placerville, CA – August 17, 2019…With the championship season winding down race fans were treated to the most exciting finish so far this season at Placerville Speedway on Saturday night, where Mather’s Kalib Henry executed a final corner slider to get past Andy Gregg and score his second consecutive victory at the quarter-mile.
Also picking up victories on “Student Night” were Clark Gougliomani with the Ltd. Late Models, John Ewing with the Jay’s Mobile Welding & Fabricating Pure Stocks and Robert Peters with the Nor-Cal Dwarf Car Association.
The 25-lap Thompson’s Family of Dealerships Winged 360 Sprint Car feature came to the line with point leader Andy Forsberg and Andy Gregg sharing the front row. A caution on the initial attempt made for a complete restart and during it Forsberg caught the cushion just hard enough in the first set of corners, sending him sideways and to a stop off turn two. The third attempt at getting the race underway saw new pole sitter Jodie Robinson and Gregg drag race down the front stretch. Gregg then rode the famed Placerville Speedway cushion around Robinson and into the lead off turn two.
A well-prepared surface by track prep specialist Scott Russell saw drivers race high and low on both ends of the speedway during the main event. Cautions on lap seven and 12 kept traffic from being a factor though each time it would come into play, as the fast moving Gregg kept the field at bay with the open track.
Kalib Henry, who captured his first Placerville win the week before, battled his way up to second by lap 12, but when going back green Gregg once again got a great restart to put distance between himself and the field. Paradise, CA’s Kyle Hirst was also on the move from his 13th starting spot and thrilled the fans riding the ragged edge of the red clay bullring.
The final yellow of the race waved on lap 19 that set up a six-lap shootout to the finish. Gregg had committed to the high side while Henry ran the bottom with extreme patience. The 19-year-old son of former track champ Mike Henry stayed right with the leader as the race wound down and when flagman Ron Stahl waved the white flag, he made his move. Henry got a good run off the second corner and as the pair header into turn three he powered to the inside, sliding up in front of Gregg. The duo raced down to the checkered flag and saw Henry narrowly win out as the crowd went into a frenzy after the exhilarating finish.
Henry has shown the ability to perform well driving any car he steps foot in. On this night his victory came aboard the Jensen Motorsports No. 5J machine. Coming down to the checkered contact sent current point leader Forsberg for a ride that saw him come to a stop just before the start-finish-line, resulting in a 16th place finish.
Going into championship night on September 14th Forsberg now maintains a slim 12-point advantage over Henry. Despite not getting the win Gregg should also be commended for a great run as he continues to show speed at each event. Thirteenth starting Hirst came home in third, with Visalia’s Steven Tiner very solid once again in fourth and Jodie Robinson in fifth.
Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan started 15th and finished in sixth, while rookie contender Bubba Decaires had his finest run of the season to earn the Hard Charger Award by carving his way from 19th to seventh in the feature. The 19-year-old continues to get better and better as the year goes on. Calistoga’s Mike Benson, Placerville’s Shane Hopkins and Colfax racer Colby Wiesz rounded out the top-10. A total of 23 Thompson’s Family of Dealerships Winged 360 Sprint Cars were in action at the penultimate point race of the season on Saturday.
With the Ltd. Late Models it was Clark Gougliomani who won the race but Ray Trimble won the war as the 2019 Placerville Speedway track champion. Early on in the 20-lap feature it was a battle between Dan Brown Jr. and Jay Norton. Brown made his return to Ltd. Late Model racing this year and looked very strong until issues arose and caused him to slow to a stop on lap five. Norton then raced hard with C. Gougliomani as multiple grooves of action were seen. Gougliomani eventually made his way to the lead and crossed the checkered flag by 0.490 seconds back to Norton.
Ray Trimble had issues early in the main event but rebounded nicely for a third-place result, which was good enough to give him his first Ltd. Late Model championship at the speedway. Completing the top-five in the final point race of the season for the division were Matt Davis and Paul Gougliomani. Tyler Lightfoot finished sixth and wrapped up second in the final championship standings. Wayne Trimble, Michael Helton and Brown rounded out the field.
With the Jay’s Mobile Welding & Fabricating Pure Stocks it was Kevin Jinkerson and John Ewing who raced for the lead over much of the race. Eight-time winner this season Dan Jinkerson suffered engine issues during his heat race that left him unable to compete in the 20-lapper. Ewing had claimed his first career Placerville Speedway victory on Independence Day and soon solidified the top-spot that he would never relinquish.
The driver known as the “ATM Guy” raced off and took the checkered flag by just over one-second back to runner up Kevin Jinkerson. Kevin Wirth put together his strongest night of the season to finish in third, while point leader Nick Baldwin had issues during the night but fought through them to tally a fourth-place result. Rookie of the Year contender Jesse Bryant put together a fine night to finish in fifth and earn the Hard Charger Award in the A-main. Ted Ahart, Chris Hanson, Aaron Taylor and Dave Silva completed the field.
With the traveling Nor-Cal Dwarf Car Association it looked to be the Ryan Winter show early on until he slowed to a stop on lap 12 ending his night. Robert Peters then inherited the lead and went on to pick up an impressive victory after 20-laps of hard-fought racing. Peters was strong all night and also captured his heat race in solid fashion. The Dwarf Cars showcased some exciting competition in the feature, as several of the front runners ran within inches of each other all race long.
Kevin “Hollywood” Bender ran a great race and picked his way forward to snag a runner up finish at the line. Mike “Spanky” Grenert, Mike Reeder and Ryan Plexico completed the top-five. Rounding out the top-10 were Brian Quilty, Colby Wiesz, Jeromy Blackshire, Dan Geil and Justin Winter. A total of 19 Dwarf Cars competed on Saturday night. The Nor-Cal Dwarf Car Association will return to Placerville Speedway on “Ladies Night” September 14th.
Full results from Saturday night can be viewed at https://speedhive.mylaps.com/Events/1711275?fbclid=IwAR1itqBc7e7dYkF4aJ4bSu_3zvSRgCV9Q2hX7hMdkLgfQMS0QTx5bqKku8c
The Placerville Speedway is right back at it this coming Wednesday August 21st with the King of the West-NARC 410 and POWRi-BCRA Midget “Gold Country Showdown.” The much-anticipated night of racing features the return of NASCAR star Kyle Larson, World of Outlaws regular Brad Sweet, two-time Chili Bowl champion Rico Abreu and many more. Online tickets for the event are available by clicking https://www.universe.com/events/2019-gold-country-showdown-at-placerville-speedway-tickets-placerville-YW8XZF