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ASCS National Tour sprint car racers shooting for big Cocopah Cup Challenge payday
NASCAR's Stewart to race at Cocopah
Cocopah Speedway is located at U.S. 95 and County 15th Street; the general admission gate
opens at 5 p.m.; first race is at 7 p.m; tickets are: adults — $24; junior (7-12 years old) — $5; adult military with ID — $22; senior (55 and over) — $22; children 6 years old and under — free (main grandstand); adult season pass — $325 (includes all events); senior season pass — $275 (includes all events); pit pass — $35 (per person); fans can get live racing lineups during the races and results afterward by going toc ocopahlive.com; fans can also access live in-race scoring and lap times by going to mylaps.
com; for more information call 344-1563 or go to cocopahspeedway.com.
Jackpots are generally Cocopah Casino's business, at the casino.
But if a driver plays his cards right, he or she could strike it rich, to the tune of $41,000 by winning four races across the street at Cocopah Speedway in the Cocopah Cup Challenge presented by Cocopah Casino.
The big payday is all part of the 2013 Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by MAVTV American Real national tour stop this weekend at the Somerton oval.
The race to all that cash begins Friday night with the first of two full shows, in which the winner will pocket $3,000. And Saturday night's feature event winner will pocket $10,000.
The ASCS National Tour then moves on and will race across the country throughout the year before returning to Cocopah Speedway for its the final weekend of the season in November. On those two nights, Friday night's winner will get another $3,000, Saturday night's winner will pocket $20,000, and if the same driver can sweep the Cocopah Cup Challenge spring and fall events, it will be worth another $5,000.
“We want to build a long, stable history, if not in the nation for sure in the Southwest. We want to be a home for the ASCS,” explained Greg Burgess, director of operations at Cocopah Speedway, while talking about the big payday. “ASCS produces some of the best racing for winged sprint cars and I think our track fits it (ASCS) perfectly.”
Burgess also pointed out that the Cocopah Cup Challenge has the backing of the tribe and Cocopah Casino.
“The tribe is really behind the speedway,” said Burgess in an interview with Brian Hulbert on ascsracing.com. “We live in a real motorsports oriented community and we want to build a signature event that can grow year after year, something similar to events like the Short Track Nationals and Knoxville Nationals.”
“If it were not for the tribe and the casino, we surely could not make this event happen,” Burgess told the Yuma Sun.
On top of the big payout, the race is also being highlighted by the appearance of three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, who is confirmed as an entry for both the Friday and Saturday night shows. Stewart will already be in Phoenix, competing in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, the second stop on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar. That race is scheduled Sunday.
Stewart will make the trek back and forth to Cocopah Speedway to compete in the Friday and Saturday night events, driving the No. 14, Chevrolet Performance Parts sprint car.
“Out there in Yuma is a great facility from what we've heard,” said Stewart during a NASCAR Media Day interview prior to the Daytona 500.
“I'm excited. Something that I enjoy is going to places I haven't been, and that's something I'm really looking forward to.”
Should Stewart win both the Friday and Saturday night features, he said his returning to try and sweep the Cocopah Cup Challenge would depend on how his Sprint Cup season is going in November.
“I hope we're in a position where we're worrying about the Cup car by then, but if not it wouldn't hurt my feelings to be able to come out and race a couple of nights again,” said Stewart.
Standing in Smoke's way of a sweep, or any feature event win for that matter, is a strong field of ASCS National Tour regulars, led by three-time and defending champion Jason Johnson, from Eunice, La., along with Brian Brown, from Grain Valley, Mo., and Roger Crockett, from Medford, who won the National Tour's two season-opening events last weekend at Tucson International Raceway.
Also taking the track will be Dustin Morgan, from Tulsa, Okla., who won his career first ASCS feature event here on Friday night in 2012, and Danny Wood, the “Flying Fossil,” from Norman, Okla., who took the Saturday night win away from Johnson with a last-lap pass.
And there are some new faces headed for the track, including Jeff Swindell, from Bartlett, Tenn., and a report that Brad Sweet, who drives for Kasey Kahne, is also going to be in the field.
In all, a field of 36 to 40 ASCS winged sprint cars is expected to be on hand.
And, both nights of racing will be televised.
Racing both nights begins at 7 p.m.
“This is a huge event with all eyes on us,” said Burgess. “I like to look at every event as important and with equal need to succeed and have things right, but this is a big one.
“We will have some added staff but most of all I will be instilling in everyone how important it is to be on their game and we need to hit our marks at every point. My goal is perfection, it has to be. It would not be fair to my bosses or my staff whom I ask so much from if it was anything less.
“Same with the racers who are all traveling many, many miles to get here; it needs to be obvious that I left it all on the table and gave all I could give.”
Burgess added that the stature of the race is no doubt helped by Stewart's plans to be here, but added that the success Cocopah Speedway has experienced and the reputation it's established in the last three seasons have played a larger role.
“I am proud to say that our speedway will stand on its own,” said Burgess. “I am glad Tony is coming, it's going to be awesome, but I believe our great events last year and the facility improvements are why people are coming back plus a few more. It is going to be a great event and Tony Stewart is coming.”
Acknowledging fans have a choice of entertainment venues this weekend, Burgess used Stewart's professed love of dirt track racing as the reason fans should be at Cocopah Speedway.
“Excitement and atmosphere, those are the reasons that Tony Stewart prefers racing these types of events over his day job,” said Burgess. “We will be working hard to make it great for everyone and I hope they are all here to enjoy it.
“It's for the fans, and if they want a great atmosphere, excitement and competition, there is no place else to be in the whole West, including PIR, than right here at Cocopah Speedway!”