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Yuma driver puts it all together for first win
Little by little, piece by piece, Timmy Reese has been progressing as a dirt track racer.
Ever since coming on the scene during the inaugural Cocopah Speedway season in 2010, Reese has driven hard, sometimes too hard, and paid the price. He's endured crashes, including a rollover, and heartaches, having come close to tasting victory only to see a mental mistake take it all away.
Saturday night, however, the driver from Yuma put all of the pieces together and drove a nearly flawless race that included a back-and-forth battle for the lead, to take the first feature event win of his career.
“We finally got it! This has been a long time coming,” said a happy but reserved Reese from victory lane after winning the IMCA Sport Mod feature event during Round 9 of the 2013 Cocopah Speedway Racing Series.
“Step by step we've been making a little bit of progress. We really struggled in the heat today, if you noticed, with our ignition. We were really having problems.
“But we kept trying and worked through it and finally got it.”
In the 15-lap feature Reese lined up sixth on the eight-car grid, made his way to front and then waged a back-and-forth battle for the lead with the division point leader, Ty Rogers, also from Yuma. Holtville's Chris Toth also got into the fray.
This is where Reese has struggled in the past, trying too hard which has resulted in him spinning his car. But Saturday night he maintained his composure, took the lead back from Rogers and held on.
“I was thinking, ‘Don't spin out because I'm not going to hear the end of it,'” said Reese with a laugh. “I've watched those videos over and over and over, and you relive that.”
As the race wound down, “I was wondering how many laps were left, then I saw the white flag and I thought … I thought it couldn't be. It seems like every time I get out in front that's what I do, spin.
“But I was comfortable; the car was working; it all came together. That's all we can ask for.”
Finishing second was Rogers, with Toth in third, Brawley's Cody Daffern in fourth and Yuma's James Dupre rounding out the top five.
In other racing action Saturday night, which was the final night of the first half of the 2013 series, Imperial's Lance Mari drove off with his fourth feature event win in the IMCA “A” Modified Division; Yuma's Frankie Rascon won his first Pro-Stock Division feature event of the 2013 season; Alpine's Mike Harlan won his second Street Stock Division feature event of the season; and Yuma's Jordan White won his third straight and sixth Factory Stock Division feature event of the season.
Mari's win came in a crash-filled 25-lap feature event that saw 19 cars take the green flag and only five see the checkered flag.
“You just had to be patient,” said Mari.
“It was an exciting race, especially the beginning. That looked pretty bad, like Talladega.”
Mari was referring to a crash on the opening lap in Turns 1 and 2 when a spin by pole sitter Bill Miller, from Yuma, wound up collecting eight cars.
But that was not the only time the field traded paint and metal. In the latter stages, with Yuma's Bobby Horton out front, Imperial's Steven McCollough executed a slide job for the lead between Turns 3 and 4, but as the two entered the front straight Horton got into McCollough's car, which set off another chain-reaction crash.
That was not the end of the drama, however. McCollough then drove into the back of Horton in payback fashion on the back straight under yellow flag conditions, parked his damaged car in the infield, walked out onto the back straight, waited for Horton to come back around, and gestured for him to meet him in the pit.
McCollough was disqualified for his actions.
When the race resumed, Mari held off a brief challenge from Casa Grande's Brian Schultz and went on to take the win as the race finished with no further incidents. Schultz settled for second, Imperial's Tom Smith was third, Yuma rookie Charles Hunt finished fourth and El Centro's Nathan Rock was the last car running, finishing fifth.
In the Pro-Stock feature, Rascon, like Reese, said he was focused on being in control and not getting flustered if things started to get tense.
Rascon, starting on the pole, grabbed the early lead and was in control while hugging the bottom groove, until Yuma's Joe Haines, riding the high line, caught him and passed him.
“I told myself, ‘You know, the inside line traditionally is the good line; I'm going to hold onto it until somebody goes by,'” said Rascon. “And when Joey went by I was thinking, ‘I have to be patient when I do see a fender and just do my thing.'”
The traffic at the front got more hectic when Brawley's Jason Hickingbottom and Lakeside's Mike Lerwill got into the mix, which eventually left Haines with a damaged race car. Although he was still leading the race, Haines was instructed to go to the pit to remove the dangling sheet metal for safety reasons.
That cost Haines the lead, and handed it to Rascon, who was now quite comfortable running the high line.
“I was just going to hang onto that high line; I like being up there on the cushion,” said Rascon.
The high line was not kind to Lerwill, however, as he crashed hard into the Turn 3 wall at the track exit, causing his car to flip over twice, landing on its wheels.
Lerwill, visibly shaken, was checked but refused to be transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center.
Following Rascon to the checkered flag was Hickingbottom in second, Yuma's Brett Simala in third, Ed Bustin, from Campo, in fourth, and Yuma's Leonard Jones, driving his Street Stock, in fifth.
The Factory Stock finale paled in comparison as White, starting seventh on the nine-car grid, was already out front, taking the lead away from Yuma' Craig Ebers and pulling away before the cars behind him started beating and banging on each other.
The resulting yellow flags bunched the field but did not slow down White, whose last win on May 4 came as the motor in his car expired as he crossed the finish line.
Saturday, with a new motor, White looked stronger and smoother than ever.
“The Lord has blessed me so much with the support of my wife, my dad, my brother ... it's just incredible,” said White from victory lane for the third straight time. “I'm very, very fortunate.
“This motor that my dad put together is just incredible. This is the fastest the car has ever been, the best it's ever handled. It's just amazing.
“The parts got in Tuesday; we got the block back Wednesday; rebuilt it Thursday; primed it Friday; and came out here and it just ran like a banshee. It was absolutely awesome.
“The car, I almost don't want to touch it. I just want to put it in a box and wait for the season to start again.”
Second place behind White went to Yuma's Rick Hibbard, with Yuma's Miles Morris in third, Alpine's Wayne Rebello in fourth and Yuma's Craig Ebers in fifth.
In Saturday night's Street Stock feature, Harlan worked his way to the front where he found a five-car battle including Yuma's Adolfo Noriega, Chula Vista's Manny Baldiviez, Brawley's Steven Daffern and Brawley's Sean Callens.
Harlan squeezed through and into the lead, and opened a huge gap before Daffern started to reel him in. On the white flag lap, Daffern was so close that he tried to squeeze under Harlan between Turns 1 and 2, but couldn't make the move work and wound up spinning.
“You know they're lurking, they're somewhere behind,” said Harlan afterward. “And sure enough, Steven was behind me but he tried to poke it in under me in Turn 1 and 2 there and he lost it. So that was unfortunate for him but good for me and I held 'em off.”
Following Harlan to the line in the green-white-checkered finish was Noriega in second, Baldiviez in third, Yuma's Joey Essary in fourth and Daffern in fifth.