PLACERVILLE, CA (4-7-12) – After a weather cancellation one week ago, hundreds of eager race fans packed into Placerville Speedway Saturday on the eve of Easter Sunday to witness the opening round of the 2012 Red Hawk Casino-Hoosier Tires-Coors Light championship series opener. When the checkered flag waved on the chilly opening night, three drivers gathered in victory lane with a jump on the 2012 championship.
Elk Grove's Greg DeCaires, a former Placerville, Chico and Civil War Series Champion, bested the field in the winged Sprint Car division. In the Limited Late Model class, Live Oak stock car ace Matt Micheli muscled his way to victory lane. In the Pure Stock division, Orangevale's Matt Tilford was the victor.
In the winged sprint car feature event, DeCaires took to the track in the fourth position for the 25-lap feature event, starting on the outside of row two behind Dennis Harvey of Orangevale, Nicole Miller of Elk Grove and Sean Becker of Antelope. At the waving of the green flag the veteran driver, known at The Catfish for his characteristic low line driving style, drove his Rudy Warrington owned #18 sprint car to the high side of the track and muscled his way into a lead he would then never relinquish.
Once in front, DeCaires worked his way into lapped traffic to distance himself from the field while Becker worked his way around Miller and Harvey into second place and occasionally closed in on the leader in traffic. When the checkered flag waved DeCaires brought home the win followed by Becker. Eighth place starter Stephen Allard finished in third followed by defending Champion Andy Forsberg and Harvey.
"This is a great little team we have put together here," said DeCaires. "I don't know how many laps I have left in me but this year I'm giving it my best shot to put the Warrington's at the big table at the championship awards banquet. This a team that has a great group of crew members and sponsors and we have the ability to win and we're going to run the entire year here and give it our best shot."
In the Limited Late Model Division, several drivers were absent from competition due to the holiday weekend which formed a seven car field for the evening. Despite the single digit car count the racing was excellent in this division. Micheli started the event in the fourth starting position and worked his way behind early leader Marek Bernert of Orangevale within the first three laps.
After several laps of side by side racing Micheli pumped up his effort with 10 laps complete and pulled to the inside of Bernert in the first and second turns. The two raced door to door through the corner with Micheli powering into the lead as they entered the front stretch. Once in front Micheli maintained the point to take the win over Jay Norton of Cameron Park, Bernert, Ken Micheli of Live Oak and Doug Grandboise of Jackson.
"I just wish we would have more cars here tonight, it seems several guys just haven't finished their motors and some had travel plans," said Micheli. "We'll be back next week though, we're ready to come support this class and help make it strong."
In the Pure Stock division, Tilford started in the third position for the 20 lap feature that had 16 cars take to the grid. The early lead was taken by pole sitter Chris Curtiss of Placerville who raced bumper to bumper with Tilford for eight straight laps. With nine laps complete, Tilford took advantage of lapped traffic coming through the fourth turn and drove his way around Curtiss to take the lead.
Eleven laps later, Tilford took his first win of the season over Curtiss. Woodland's Scott Grunert drove from sixth place into third at the finish line. Tenth place starter Dominic Stone of Folsom finished fourth over Placerville's Danielle Clauson.
"I just have to thank my crew and my family for working for hard to get this car out here, my brothers aren't here tonight because they are on vacation but we talked right after the win and they'll be here next week so I'll see if we can do this again," said Tilford. "It's always nice to come out on the first race of the year and get a win and hopefully we're going to get a lot more in this car this year."
Racing resumes at Placerville Speedway next Saturday night with fourth divisions of racing. The winged Sprint Cars will be joined by the Limited Late Models and the Pure Stocks in the second championship event of the season by the Midget Lites of the Bay Cities Racing Association.
Placerville Speedway will open its gates on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. Adult tickets will be $13, Seniors and Juniors will be $11 and Children will be $6 unless they are five years or younger. The pit gate will open at 2 p.m. on Saturday for competitors.
For further information on the upcoming racing season at Placerville Speedway please visit www.placervillespeedway.com or call the track business office at (916) 783-3478.