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Saturday show a prelude to upcoming Turkey Classic
Cocopah Speedway might look like Yuma Proving Ground to the uneducated eye this weekend.
That's because Saturday night's racing program is the last before the third annual Turkey Classic on Thanksgiving weekend, which translates to this is the final opportunity Pro-Stock drivers and their crews have to make chassis adjustments and tune-ups before that $3,000-to-win event.
“I expect there might be a lot of tension in the air, if you're hanging around one of the Pro-Stock pits on Saturday night,” said Greg Burgess, Cocopah Speedway's director of operations.
“And that doesn't even take into account we also have drivers in the midst of trying to win a championship in that division.
“So that poses the question for some drivers, whether they run for points or do they go out and focus instead on looking for the best setup?
“I just know I'm glad I'm not in their shoes.”
The part Burgess likes most, however, is the fact that with $3,000 on the line in a few weeks, the number of cars in the Pro-Stock Division field has been growing in recent weeks as more drivers make the trek to the Somerton oval to test and tune.
“The Turkey Classic has nice side effects,” said Burgess. “It's no secret we don't have a lot of cars on a regular basis in the Pro-Stock Division, but when this race comes around, you can count on the car count going up.”
Saturday's program begins with the first heat race at 7 p.m.
Also on the card are the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series Street Stock and Factory Stock Divisions.
The Modified Division, however, which was scheduled to run Saturday, will have the night off. Burgess said he took the Modifieds off the schedule out of respect for the Desert Classic event for Modifieds the same night at Canyon Speedway Park.
“I wanted to play nice and help them, and at the same time give our (Modified) drivers a chance to go up there and give it a try,” said Burgess.
On the local scene, El Centro's Travis Dove is the Pro-Stock Division point leader in the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series. But Dove is no doubt beginning to sweat as he watches a pair of Yuma drivers, Brett Simala and Frankie Rascon, keep chipping away at his lead.
At the close of racing on June 16, Dove enjoyed a 27-point advantage over Simala and Rascon, who were tied for second, going into the summer break. Entering Saturday night's show, Simala has crept to within 20 points and Rascon is 24 points behind.
“In reality, 20 points is a lot of points to make up,” said Burgess, “especially with only two point races remaining on the schedule (the Turkey Classic is not a series point race). But there is also the possibility that Travis Dove could have a catastrophic night, and by that I mean not be able to start a feature event. That would sure change the complexion of that title race when you consider Brett Simala and Frankie Rascon are both capable of winning the feature on any night.”
Entering Saturday night's show Simala has notched five feature event wins and Rascon has won twice. Dove, in comparison, is yet to win a feature event.
“Travis Dove is not over powering,” said Burgess. “He's consistent. He consistently finishes races, and it is very likely he will win the championship without ever winning a race this season.”
In Saturday night's undercard, Yuma's Jimmy Davy might also be expected to be on edge. The current Factory Stock Division point leader continues to have mechanical problems, which have resulted in Brawley's Amy Teague moving to within 27 points.
“This race is going to get real interesting before it's over,” said Burgess. “There is definitely some bad mojo going on with Jimmy Davy's race car.
“What's so strange is we all saw how he can dominate a race early in the season. He's got five wins to prove it. And now, he's doing all he can just to keep from getting lapped.”
On the Street Stock level, Yuma's Adolfo Noriega won his 11th feature event of the season on Oct. 20 and pulled to within two wins of the track record for feature event wins in a season (13).
The chase for the record aside, “this division is evolving into the fan favorite,” said Burgess, “with a number of drivers who are stepping up their programs. I don't have any scientific data, but I'd be willing to bet the noise level in the grandstand tops out whenever Adolfo, Bobby (Horton), Timmy Reese, any of the Dafferns and Joey Teague are on the track together, running at the front and it's anybody's guess who is going to get the win.”
SPARE PARTS: Cocopah Speedway is located at U.S. 95 and County 15th Street; general admission gates open at 5 p.m.; tickets are: adults – $8; adult military with ID – $6; seniors (55 and older) – $6; children 12 years old and under – free; family pass – $25; Fans can get live racing lineups during the races and results afterward by going to www.cocopahlive.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 www.cocopahspeedway.com.