When Miles Morris arrived at Cocopah Speedway Saturday night, he wasn't dressed to go racing.
Fresh from the father-daughter ball at his daughter's school, wearing dress clothes and a tie, he quickly put on his driving suit, traded his dancing shoes for his driving shoes, and got down to the business of winning his third Factory Stock Division feature event in the 2013 Cocopah Speedway Racing Series.
How close did he cut it?
“I got there in just enough time to put my race gear on and get in the car,” said Morris. “I didn't have any time to do anything else. They were calling us to staging.”
And without having run a single hot lap, warm-up lap or the heat race, he took the track, lined up eighth on the 11-car grid, survived a mid-race spin, fought his way back to the front and took the win.
In other racing action Saturday night in Round 7 of the 2013 racing series, Casa Grande's Brian Schultz won the first feature event of his IMCA Modified racing career; Yuma's Brett Simala won the Pro-Stock Division feature event; Yuma's Ty Rogers kept his winning streak alive in the IMCA Sport Mod Division; Brawley's Steven Daffern pulled off a dramatic win in the Street Stock feature event; and Yuma's Tara Duarte won the special Powder Puff feature event.
Morris said he has never missed a father-daughter ball at his 10-year-old daughter Madison's school, and he wasn't going to miss one Saturday night either.
And with Morris missing from the lineup early, his teammate, Bobby Horton, stepped in and drove the car in the second of two Factory Stock heat races, and won.
When Morris finally arrived at the track in his going-to-the-ball clothes, “everyone in the pits was laughing at me,” he said.
He answered the call to staging and when the race got under way he was moving to the front of the field when he spun the car between Turns 1 and 2.
He later said with a laugh that spinning has become a common occurrence lately, sometimes more than once in a race, “and the kids ask me if I'm dizzy every time I get done with a race nowadays.”
Undaunted, he lined up at the back of the field for the restart Saturday night and methodically, without making another mistake, made his way back to the front.
“I think we have the car ready to rock now,” he said. “We made some changes to it, and it feels a lot better than it had been.”
Finishing second behind Morris was Yuma's Jason Beshears, with Somerton's Michael Loera in third, Yuma's Rick Hibbard fourth and Alpine's Wayne Rebello in fifth.
When the IMCA Modified feature event was over and Schultz parked in victory lane, his competitors got out of their cars, walked up to Schultz's car and offered their congratulations as he still sat in the cockpit.
“To get my first one here is pretty sweet,” said a smiling Schultz after climbing out, standing on his car and doing a muscle flexing pose to the applause of the crowd.
“I have a blast here. There is a reason why I travel so far to come here.”
Schultz began his racing career in 2006, in Modifieds, and had never won a feature event anywhere until Saturday night.
“I had some wins taken away from me last year, not in a bad way, just good racing,” said a still smiling Schultz. “I think I finished second 10 times last year. I was just right there and it got so frustrating. This is sweet redemption.”
The 22-car IMCA Modified feature event saw Schultz take his time getting to the front. And once he got there, he refused to bobble, even when Imperial's Lance Mari applied some heavy pressure in the closing laps.
“I trust Lance completely,” said Schultz. “He's a good shoe.”
Mari, who was one of those drivers to offer Schultz their congratulations, finished second, Yuma' Bobby Horton, the first to shake Schultz's hand, was third, Brawley's Russell Allen was fourth and Yuma's Johnny Swenson rounded out the top five.
In the Sport Mod feature Rogers won for the seventh time in seven starts, and could only say he wished there were more cars to drive against. Six started Saturday night's feature.
Second place went to Holtville's Chris Toth, Yuma's Timmy Reese was third, Yuma's James Dupre was fourth and Brawley's Cody Daffern was fifth.
A week earlier Steven Daffern saw his friend Mike Harlan bring out a new IMCA Stock Car and take the Street Stock Division win with ease.
Saturday night he saw Harlan get out front again and set sail for what appeared to be a second straight win.
But this time, on the last lap, Daffern was in position to pass Harlan in the last turn and take the win away.
“That was the race of my life right there,” said an exhausted and sweat-soaked Daffern afterward. “That's one of the hardest races I've ran in my whole career. That was everything I had.”
Harlan settled for second, Yuma's Adolfo Noriega was third, Yuma's Joey Essary was fifth and Yuma's Leonard Jones was fifth.
Late-race heroics seemed to be the theme all the way around as Simala held off a determined Mike Lerwill, from Lakeside, Calif., to take his fourth Pro-Stock Division feature event of the season.
“The last four or five laps my dad was giving me the signal to get going,” said Simala, “and in the last two laps I picked it up quite a bit.
“I wouldn't have made it that close if I'd have known, but it all worked out in the end.”
Lerwill, the winner of the last Pro-Stock feature event on April 6, finished second with Yuma's Bob Anderson finishing third, San Diego's Steve Jonas fourth and Ed Bustin, from Campo, in fifth.