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One Cocopah title to be decided Saturday
Break out the bubbly!
Although the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series is still two months away from being over, a champion will be crowned Saturday night.
And it will likely be Duane Rogers, from Imperial, Calif., who will be popping the cork.
The national IMCA Modified season ends Saturday night, and entering the racing program at Cocopah Speedway, Rogers leads the field with 235 points. And unless Rogers suffers a major meltdown, the track IMCA crown will go home with him.
Also on the card Saturday night are the three other racing series divisions – Pro-Stock, Street Stock and Factory Stock.
The first green flag flies at 7 p.m.
In the IMCA standings, Rogers has a seven-point lead over his nearest challenger, Chris Toth, from Holtville, Calif. While that might not seem like a lot, and Toth is certainly within striking distance, racers know seven points is a lot to make up in one night.
Right on Toth's bumper is Brian Schultz, from Phoenix, four points behind, with Imperial, Calif., driver Lance Mari one point behind Schultz and another Imperial driver, Steven McCollough, rounding out the Top 5, seven points behind Mari.
In the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series for Modifieds, which began back in September 2011, Rogers leads that title chase too, with 507 points, 23 points ahead of Yuma's Cody Grabbe.
Counting Saturday night's card, there are still four Modified races left to run in the track's championship series, culminating with Championship Night on Dec. 8.
As much as he deserves it, chances are a lot of the attention Saturday night will not be focused on Rogers, but instead be focused on the Street Stock Division following the finish of the Sept. 19 feature event.
In that race, Yuma's Adolfo Noriega got past Yuma's Bobby Horton on a green-white-checkered finish, after Noriega had stalked Horton for most of the race.
What made the outcome exciting was the fact that the track had just adopted the green-white-checkered finish format, and fans, unaware of the new procedure, cried foul after Horton appeared to have won the race two laps earlier.
A rematch might not be in the works, however, as Horton has indicated he will instead be focusing his attention on his IMCA Modified Saturday night, and might leave the Street Stock home.
But there is still a sub plot. Noriega's win the last time out gives him eight on the season. The record for feature event wins in a season is 13, set in 1998, and he is within reach of rewriting the record book.
That is if he were interested. He says he's not.
“If this season ends and I don't win that record I'm not going to sweat it one second,” said Noriega. “That's a tough record to beat. If we happen to win it, it's because we did a great job.
“But that's a high mark. It was done at a different time. I don't know if it's comparable any more. It's very difficult to win these days with the competition that's out there, with what people are doing to their cars and stuff. So, we are just going to continue doing what we come to do. If we win ‘em, we win ‘em.”
One thing is for sure; Noriega already has the Street Stock championship wrapped up. He enters Saturday night's show with a 70-point advantage over Yuma's Joey Essary.
In Pro-Stock action, Travis Dove, from El Centro, comes to the track with a 27-point lead over Yuma's Frankie Rascon and Brett Simala. And there are enough races remaining for Rascon or Simala to make this title chase close before it's over.
On the Factory Stock level, Yuma's Jimmy Davy, like Noriega, could pretty much put his car in cruise control and take home the season championship, enjoying a 67-point lead over Brawley's Amy Teague.
Saturday night's race marks the first race back for the Modifieds, Pro-Stocks and Factory Stocks since the summer break.
The program will also be the second in which all cars will be equipped with electronic transponders, which enable electronic scoring.
Fans can access all of the information, including lap times and scoring, by going to mylaps.com.
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. For more information call 344-1563 or go to www.cocopahspeedway.com.