Turkey Classic features new format
The Pressure is off.
For the pit crews, that is.
Drivers, on the other hand, will still have to find a way to get the checkered flag first when the third annual Cocopah Speedway Turkey Classic gets under way Friday and Saturday at Cocopah Speedway.
The format for the 2012 version of the holiday event for Pro-Stock Division dirt cars is dramatically different than the previous two races, most notably the elimination of the 50-lap feature event on Saturday night. The 50-lap race included stopping the entire field on the front straight after the first 25 laps for cars to get fuel in a timed format. That meant pit crews had to be fast and efficient.
In its place, Saturday's feature event will be a 35-lap race.
Getting there, however, may pose as big a challenge as it was figuring out how to survive 50 laps.
“More than ever, drivers will see the importance of taking care of their cars early so that they can be there at the end for the big show,” said Greg Burgess, Cocopah Speedway's director of operations, who is the brainchild behind the format change.
By “early” he was referring to Friday night's part of the program, too, which will include a 25-lap feature event, with the top two finishers receiving automatic berths in Saturday night's finale.
Friday's program will start with qualifying for the Pro-Stocks, followed by heat races, with the fast cars starting up front. A second set of heat races will follow, with the starting order inverted — the fast cars at the back.
Drivers collect points for qualifying and the two heat races, from which the top six drivers will advance to a trophy dash that will determine the starting positions for the first three rows in Friday night's feature event.
Saturday's program will follow much the same format, with the exception of the top two finishers in Friday's feature automatically entered in the trophy dash. Those two drivers also get to skip Saturday's qualifying and heat races.
Saturday night's dash will include eight cars, with the finishing order determining starting positions for the first four rows of the 35-lap feature.
“I think our new format will be fun,” said Burgess. “With the addition of our electronic transponder scoring, it makes qualifying possible. I think the racers and the fans will enjoy the addition of qualifying to this special show.
“Then add in the double heat races, with that second set of heats being fully inverted — it will be really exciting to watch those fast cars race through the pack.”
While the 50-lap feature event on Saturday was unique, Burgess said he thought it took away from the drivers being able to determine the outcome from behind the wheel.
“Pit stops are nearly nonexistent in dirt short track racing. I like the thought of our races being decided on the track under racing conditions,” said Burgess. “I cannot think of another dirt track event anywhere that features a pit stop. There may be some, but good quality racing is our goal.
“And I believe with our new format, the racers and fans are in for one very exciting weekend of racing.”