Bring on the turkey
Brett Simala can’t wait for Thanksgiving to get here.
And it has nothing to do with wanting to dive into some roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. After winning Saturday night’s Pro-Stock Division feature event in convincing fashion at Cocopah Speedway, the veteran racer said he’s anxious to get to the next event on the calendar, the third annual Turkey Classic for Pro-Stocks on Thanksgiving Weekend.
As a matter of fact, after winning his division-leading sixth feature event he said he was ready to race the Classic the very next day.
“Let’s do it tomorrow,” said a smiling Simala from victory lane. “We’re ready!”
“Let’s do it tonight!” exclaimed his father, two-time driving champion Stan Simala.
Unfortunately, the Yuma team will have to put its enthusiasm on hold for three weeks with the Turkey Classic not scheduled until Nov. 23 and 24 at Cocopah Speedway.
In other racing action Saturday night, Yuma’s Adolfo Noriega won his series-best 12th feature event in the Street Stock Division, moving to within one win of tying the track record for feature event wins in a single season, and Yuma’s Steve Anthony won his second straight Factory Stock Division feature event.
In the Pro-Stock finale Simala asserted his dominance in a hurry. Starting outside the front row he beat the division point leader, El Centro’s Travis Dove, into Turn 1 and was off and running. According to track officials Simala enjoyed a seven-second lead over the field at one point in the 20-lap event.
“I was just driving the car,” said Simala. “I just did what the car wanted. The car did the work.”
He acknowledged that in the two weeks since the last race at the track, when he finished second, “We did change some things on the car that we have been wanting to try, and it definitely made a big difference.”
But that was not the only difference. Two weeks ago, while leading the feature event, Simala was twice charged with re-start violations, which resulted in his being put to the rear of the field, ending any bid for the win that night.
Saturday night on a late restart, “Just to be on the safe side, I kind of made sure the other car was taking off with me before I fully accelerated,” said Simala.
The hesitation getting on the gas did not bother him though, because “when the car is that good I have so much confidence in it I don’t care who they put next to me, I’m not going to get beat.”
Simala put an exclamation point on his winning drive earlier Saturday night when he passed Dove again, putting Dove one lap down.
“When the season started we had two goals,” continued Simala, “to win the Turkey Classic and to win the championship.”
With only one series point race remaining on the schedule, Dec. 8, Simala is aware that winning the championship is pretty much out of reach. Entering Saturday night’s show he trailed Dove by 20 points, and Simala’s win only cut the margin to 15.
“I just want to win a lot of races,” he said, “and the championships will come.”
Yuma’s Kent Rosevear finished second behind Simala in Saturday night’s feature event, driving the Pro-Stock owned by Joe Haines in what amounted to a shakedown in preparation for the Turkey Classic. Third place went to Brawley’s Brent Ashurst, fourth place to Brawley’s Russell Allen and fifth place to San Diego’s Steve Jonas. Dove finished sixth.
In the Street Stock feature event Noriega started inside the sixth row, and in a departure from what fans have come to expect, he did not bide his time before starting his move to the front.
“I’m not going to waste too much time any more, because you never know what’s going to happen,” said the defending series champion. “On a track like this where it’s tacky, less guys are spinning out so there is a chance the whole thing can go green; we’ve seen it before. And I’d hate to be caught with about three or four laps to go and still have six or seven fast cars to pass.
“So we don’t waste any time.”
That was apparent as Noriega weaved his way through traffic, waged a brief battle with Yuma’s Bobby Horton and Timmy Reese at the front, then took over the lead and was never challenged.
“We were patient enough to not get into any trouble and pick our spots, and it worked out pretty good,” said Noriega. “It was a little crowded there in the first half because everyone wants it, so it was one foot on the brake and one on the gas.
“The track was awesome tonight too. If we could have a track like this every night it would be great.”
Finishing second was Horton, followed by Reese in third, Yuma’s Joey Essary in fourth and Yuma’s Dave Amos rounding out the top five.
The Factory Stock feature turned out to be a preview of things to come in the Street Stock feature as Anthony, like Noriega, started near the back, worked his way through traffic, and once he got out front was never heard from again.
“The car was on a rail tonight,” said Anthony afterward. “The car was running great, handled beautifully anywhere on the track. I just wanted to take my time, I wanted to be clean. I got my chance and I went around and never looked back. It felt good. The car felt great. It was a nice ride.”
Second place went to the series point leader, Yuma’s Jimmy Davy, in one of his best showings lately at the Somerton oval, while Yuma’s Miles Morris was third, Yuma’s Jordan White was fourth and Yuma’s Craig Ebers was fifth.