Cocopah Speedway to host first race of 2012
This is not good news for Adolfo Noriega's competitors.
The defending Street Stock Division driving champion at Cocopah Speedway says his New Year's resolution is to have more fun with his racing.
So, if the five feature event wins he's already accumulated in the 2011-2012 season were achieved when he wasn't having fun … well, everyone can see where this is going.
“Adolfo is one of our most talented, hard-working, dedicated drivers,” said Greg Burgess, Cocopah Speedway's director of operations, “and if he says he's going to switch gears and start having some fun, well, I don't know what else to say except we probably haven't seen anything yet.
“The way I see it is, Adolpho is a competitor. There is no other way to put it. When he comes through the gate he is serious about why he is here and he won't be satisfied with anything less than a trip to victory lane.
“To me it looked like he was already having fun, but obviously I was wrong.
“And if I was in that division, I think that would be scary.”
The more fun-loving Noriega, riding a two-race winning streak and looking to defend his driving crown, will be in the field Saturday night when the 2011-2012 Cocopah Racing Series resumes at the Somerton oval.
The first green flag flies at 7 p.m., with racing in all four series divisions – NAPA Auto Parts IMCA Modifieds, Pro-Stocks, Street Stocks and Factory Stocks.
Common sense would say that dialing back the intensity level might result in no-so-good results on the track, or translated, fewer trips to victory lane. But Noriega doesn't see it that way.
“I don't see a problem with it,” said Noriega, “as long as we're having fun and enjoying ourselves, and doing what we have to do, which is to set up the car properly and show up at the track prepared. And then if I do my job behind the wheel I think the results will be there anyway, but without the headaches.”
“We want to continue doing well, and with doing well the wins will come.”
Noriega said he decided to have more fun with his racing after spending the holiday break at home, working around his house and having fun with his wife and two daughters, “doing stuff that makes me want to work less on the race cars. I just want to go out and have some fun.”
“When I'm out there, I'm dedicated to it. I'm going to race hard and race to win anytime I'm on the track. But sometimes you get caught up in the competition, and I'm a very competitive person, and you get caught up in all that and you lose focus of why you race, why you have friends in the grandstand watching and your buddies down in the pits with you. You know we do it for fun and sometimes we get a little too excited and it takes the fun away.”
The pre-race regime is a lengthy one for Noriega and his crew, who spend three hours a night, Monday through Thursday working on race car preparations, and all day on Friday when Noriega is off from his job at Yuma Proving Ground.
“That's what it takes,” he said. “It's like I tell my wife all the time when she gets a little upset with me, I say, ‘Not everybody spends this much time on their race cars, but the winners do.'”
Entering Saturday night's show Noriega leads the title hunt, enjoying a 34-point margin over his nearest challenger, rookie Joey Essary.
Although he said while it may look like he's on course to win another championship, “if something happens to me during hot lapping, and I'm done for the night, in a heartbeat I could go from hero to zero.”
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. For more information call 344-1563 or go to www.cocopahspeedway.com.