As countdown to Nov. 25-26 races begins, drivers use Saturday night for final preparations

As countdown to Nov. 25-26 races begins, drivers use Saturday night for final preparations

BY RANDY HOEFT – SUN PHOTO EDITOR

It’s test and tune time at Cocopah Speedway.

Specifically, drivers in the Pro-Stock Division in the 2011-2012 Cocopah Racing Series will use Saturday night’s racing program to not only earn series points, but to get their rides ready for the upcoming Turkey Classic, scheduled Nov. 25 and 26.

“We’re 21 days away from the biggest show on the 2011 side of the schedule,” said Greg Burgess, Cocopah Speedway’s director of operations. “The excitement is starting to build.”

Before the Thanksgiving weekend show gets here, however, there is still business to take care of, like points to earn in all four racing divisions.

Heading into Saturday night’s show, which will begin with the first green flag at 7, Yuma’s Ryan Hancock continues to amaze race fans keeping tabs on the Pro-Stock Division. Hancock has come out of nowhere to win two of his first four career feature event starts and climb to the top of the division title chase where he enjoys a comfortable lead — 46 points — over his nearest challenger, Brent Ashurst, from Imperial.

Hancock will be considered one of the favorites to win the Turkey Classic, as will Ashurst, who is the defending Classic champion.

In the Modified Division, veteran Duane Rogers, also from Imperial, continues to lead the series standings, but not by much. He currently enjoys a three-point advantage over Yuma’s Keith Taber, and a five-point advantage over teenager Cody Grabbe.

The interesting thing about this scenario is Taber is a converted sand dragger, who is in his first season of dirt track racing, and fans can count Grabbe’s career feature event starts pretty much on one hand.

On the Street Stock level, Yuma’s Adolfo Noriega continues to build momentum. In four feature event starts this season, he’s won three of them, and consequently the defending champion enjoys a 16-point lead over the field.

Noriega also fields a Pro-Stock on occasion, and will no doubt have it out Saturday for final Turkey Classic preparations.

Factory Stock-wise, things are starting to heat up. Oscar Duarte’s first feature event win of the season on Oct. 22 vaulted last year’s Rookie of the Year to the No. 2 spot in the standings, five points behind the leader, Jimmy Davy, last year’s Most Improved Driver.

On the downside, defending champion Matthew Sharrar, who walked away from a rollover during the Oct. 22 race, won’t be back out Saturday night. His car was damaged beyond repair in that mishap and the driver will be on the sidelines for an indefinite period of time.

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.

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