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Yuma's Haines gets first win at Cocopah
Joe Haines is making a fashion statement.
After winning his first career feature event Saturday night at Cocopah Speedway, Haines said he was so excited that he's going to turn his first place prize into a piece of dirt track racing bling.
“I got my trophy. I'm going to wear it like a necklace,” said an enthusiastic Haines from victory lane after beating Yuma's Brett Simala to the finish line in a near photo finish in the Pro-Stock Division feature event.
“It's going to be going everywhere with me,” continued the Yuma driver. “If I go to a restaurant, ‘Ah, table for two, me and my trophy.'”
Haines' win came after he started his dirt track racing career two years ago in the Street Stock Division and never tasted success, then made the move up into the Pro-Stock Division last season, and again never saw the checkered flag first.
But in Saturday night's 15-lap feature, he drove like he was born with a dirt track steering wheel in his hands, leading the race from start to finish, refusing to make a mistake, which included refusing to flinch when Simala applied pressure in the closing laps.
As a matter of fact, on the white flag lap, when Simala tried to get underneath Haines and slide up in front of the race leader in the final two turns, Haines took what Simala gave him, dove to the inside exiting Turn 4 and stood on the gas all the way to the finish line with Simala alongside.
Haines said he didn’t know who had won the race until he was on the back straight and heard “17Z to the scales, you won,” said Haines. “And it was awesome!”
In other racing action Saturday night during Round 3 of the 2013 Cocopah Speedway Racing Series, Iowa's Jason Briese bid a farewell to the Somerton oval for another year by winning his first IMCA Modified feature event in four years; Yuma's Ty Rogers kept his perfect series record in the Sport Modified Division in tact by winning his third straight feature event; Yuma's Adolfo Noriega drove to the Street Stock Division feature event win in trademark fashion; Yuma's Jordan White picked up the Factory Stock feature event win; and Tamara Jones drove her husband Justin Jones' car to the Powder Puff Derby win.
In the Pro-Stock feature, following Haines and Simala to the checkered flag in first and second, respectively, were Brawley’s Roy Daffern in third, San Diego’s Mike Lerwill in fourth and Yuma’s Bob Anderson in fifth.
The win broke a four-year feature event drought for Briese.
“It's a good monkey to get off my back,” he said. “We needed it. It's been a tough four years.”
Brise, from Cleghorn, Iowa, showed up two weeks early for the just concluded IMCA Winter Nationals presented by Sun Graphics, raced the two season-opening events in the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series, then went to Canyon Raceway Park for the start of the Winter Challenge before returning.
And after the Nationals he tried his hand at a two-day show in Apache Junction.
While most of the drivers who were here for the Nationals headed home afterward, Briese chose to come back for one more show.
“We've got some good friends back here, and it was a good opportunity to come back,' he said. “I like this facility, I knew Greg would have a good track tonight, so I wanted to come back and support that deal.”
But now, he says it's time to start back to Iowa.
“It's time to go back and go to work,” he said. “We've been gone way, way too long. He (crew chief Michael Wetherell) needs to go back and do some farming, and I need to go home and get myself a job so I can come back out here and do this deal.”
After his win Saturday night Briese said he phoned his mother with the good news.
“I've got to give a shoutout to my mom back home,” said Briese. “She's a big reason why I'm here, she supports me in this deal. If it wasn't for her we wouldn't be here. And I have to give a shout out to my dad, he's up above watching us tonight. He'd be proud.”
His father is the late Roger “Duke” Ducommun, who was a respected dirt track car owner in the Midwest.
“I talked to my mom a little bit ago and she's pretty happy. It's probably about midnight back home. She was ready to go to bed, but she might be up for a little bit now,” said Briese.
“She's ready for us to be home. They got seven inches of snow. She wants me to be home shoveling the sidewalk. I said hire the neighbor boy to do it, get him to do that deal, I'm going to stay out here where it's 75 degrees and I'm wearing shorts. It's kind of hard to want to go back and do that deal.”
Jordan White, like Haines, led every lap of the Factory Stock feature and survived a scare.
White's scare, however, was smoke coming from the motor compartment.
At first, though, he wasn't sure if it was his smoke or smoke coming from the car of Somerton's Michael Loera, who White was passing to put a lap down during the race.
“But then after I passed him it was still bad,” said White, “but hey, it held together.”
White also had to hold off a late charge from Yuma's Miles Morris, the winner of the season's first two feature events, who finished second Saturday night. Third place went to Yuma's Rick Hibbard, with Alpine's Wayne Rebello in fourth and Loera finishing fifth.
The win was White's third of his career.