Wise choices – Anthony picks dirt track over sand drags, takes home feature event win

Wise choices – Anthony picks dirt track over sand drags, takes home feature event win

BY RANDY HOEFT – SUN PHOTO EDITOR

Steve Anthony had to make a choice.

And he chose wisely.

Anthony  showed up Saturday night for Round 16 in the 2011-2012 Cocopah Speedway Racing  Series and drove off with the feature event win in the Factory Stock  Division.
However, Anthony, who is also a sand drag racer, said he could  have just as easily chosen to head out to Dome Valley for a weekend sand drag  event there.
“But we’re trying to stay in the third in the points (in the  Cocopah Speedway Racing Series), keep our points up there,” said Anthony from  victory lane. “We don’t want anybody to catch us before the end of the season,  so we came here to race.”
The win was the Yuma driver’s third of the  season and helped him solidify his position in the championship standings. He  left the track with a 55-point lead over his nearest challenger, Yuma’s Craig  Ebers.
In other racing action Saturday night, Yuma’s Bobby Horton got his  first career IMCA Modified Division feature event win, Brawley’s Brent Ashurst  took the Pro-Stock Division feature event win and Yuma’s Adolfo Noriega notched  his 11th Street Stock Division feature event win of the season.
Some  other drivers probably should have made the choice to head out to the sand drags  as crashes and a fire caused racing to come to a scary halt on three  occasions.
The first Street Stock Division heat race saw the car of  Yuma’s Dave Amos erupt in flames as it entered Turn 1 and coasted to a fiery  stop at the exit to Turn 2. It was the first race for Amos in the new car. He  was not injured in the mishap.
A short time later at the start of the  Factory Stock Division feature event, a multi-car pileup on the opening lap  resulted in newcomer Jason Beshears, from Yuma, going for a wild ride at the  entrance to Turn 1, rolling over side to side numerous times before his car came  to a rest on its wheels. Beshears climbed from the car shaken but  unhurt.
And in the IMCA Modified Division feature, a restart near the end  of that event also saw a multi-car pileup at the entrance to Turn 1, in which  Yuma’s Bill Miller made contact, climbed the outside crash wall and was launched  into the air, landing an estimated 60 feet outside the track. He too climbed out  unhurt, removed his helmet and threw it at his car in frustration.
After  the wreckage in the Factory Stock feature was cleaned up, Yuma’s Jordan White  took command of the race. Anthony was running second and slowly reeling in  White, but was running out of laps. Then a yellow flag flew and afterward  drivers were signaled there would be green-white-checkered finish. Anthony, who  said later that White was stronger on restarts, held the gas pedal down, drove  his car hard into Turn 1, “and I prayed it was going to stick, and it  did.”
He got inside and past White and held on for the win.
White  settled for second, Yuma’s Miles Morris was third, Brawley’s Amy Teague was  fourth and Yuma’s Brian Johnson rounded out the top five.
The first-lap  crash also involved the current point leader, Yuma’s Jimmy Davy. His car,  suffering front end damage, limped across the infield and lined up for the  restart on the back straight under red flag conditions. But when the field got  the signal to start moving again, he discovered he had a steering problem and  wound up parking in the infield.
When the night started, Davy had a  31-point lead over Teague. When it was over, Davy, who was scored in eighth  place, had a 27-point lead with three races remaining.
The IMCA Modified  feature also came down to a green-white-checkered finish, in which Horton  benefited from his competitors’ over aggressiveness. On the first two,  double-file attempts at the restart after a late yellow flag, Imperial’s Lance  Mari and Steven McCollough were both caught jumping the start, which resulted in  the field being lined up single file.
Horton then stood on the gas, drove  two flawless laps and held on for the win.
Afterward, an emotional Horton  had only one word to say: “Finally!”
Mari finished second, Jeff Streeter,  from Madera, Calif., was third, Brawley’s Russell Allen was fourth and Yuma’s  Cody Grabbe was fifth.
McCollough, who appeared to have finished second,  was disqualified after his car was found to be 19 pounds too light in the  post-race weigh-in.
Early in the race Bill Meyer, from Mohave Valley, had  pulled out to an enormous lead, but after a yellow flag erased his advantage, he  twice restarted the race too early and was sent to the back of the field. He  came back to finish ninth.
The restart bug also bit Yuma’s Brett Simala,  who was leading the Pro-Stock Division feature event, and on successive restart  attempts was guilty of violations which resulted in his being sent to the  back.
The penalty broke up what had been a tight race between Simala,  Ashurst and Yuma’s Frankie Rascon.
Simala came back to finish second,  Steve Jonas, from San Diego, was third, Rascon was fourth and Yuma’s Dan  Westbrook was fifth.
In the Street Stock feature event, the crowd saw a  familiar scenario unfold as Noriega and Horton, who was also driving a Street  Stock ride Saturday night, got out front, along with Yuma’s Timmy Reese. Steven  Daffern, from Brawley, in his little brother Tommy Daffern’s car, also joined  the fray.
Horton, however, exited the battle early when a broken brake  part cause him to slide into the Turn 3 wall.
That opened the door for  Noriega to take command, and it also left Reese and Daffern to wage a fierce  battle for second. Their duel turned out to be the race to watch, with Daffern  eventually getting around Reese and pressuring Noriega before settling for  second place at the checkered flag. Reese finished third, Brawley’s Joey Teague  was fourth and Yuma’s Joey Essary rounded out the top five.
Afterward,  Noriega said that when he had a big lead, his crew was signaling the same, “So,  I put it on cruise control. Then I look over and suddenly they’re giving me the  sign that somebody is all over me. So I thought. ‘Wow! OK, it’s time to push  it.’ I kicked it up a notch a little bit and managed to hold on.”

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