Burn, baby, burn!

Burn, baby, burn!

Bakersfield driver smokes the field on the way to winning 2012 Turkey Classic at Cocopah Speedway

Standing in a puddle of hot fluid in victory lane, with smoke and steam from  his race car swirling around him, and a $3,000 check in his hand, Gary Dutton  said he was only following orders.
“The car had been getting hot all  weekend long, and the car owner told me, he said, ‘If you’re in the front, burn  her to the ground.’
“And I think I did.”
Dutton, from Bakersfield,  Calif., stood on the gas, put on a school on how to drive the high line at  Cocopah Speedway, and went home with the 35-lap feature event win and 2012  Turkey Classic championship Saturday night.
And that’s not all. On Friday  night Dutton ran the same high line and won the 25-lap feature event, which was  worth another $500.
“I just had to keep ‘er wound up and keep on going,” said an exuberant Dutton after winning Friday night’s event.
Running at  the top of the track, inches away from the wall, even tapping it once during  Saturday night’s feature was not a pre-conceived strategy, he said, but the end  result of observation.
“I was just paying attention, watching everybody  run the bottom down here,” said Dutton. “And I just said, ‘Hey, ain’t nobody  going up there,’ and it was my only shot. Whoo doggies!”
Second place in  Saturday night’s feature event went to San Diego’s Mike Corning.
Brian  Johnson, meanwhile, who made the trip all the way from Medford, Ore., ran third  both nights.
“It was definitely worth the drive,” said a smiling Johnson  after Saturday night’s feature. “I just wish I could have got more firsts than  thirds.”
Fourth place Saturday night went to Chris Smith and fifth place  to Tucson’s Daniel Stricker, who ran second on Friday night.
Dana  Boatwright, from Tucson, ran fourth on Friday night, and Yuma’s Brett Simala  finished fifth.
Simala’s effort on Friday was the best showing of the  Yuma drivers entered in the event.
On Saturday Simala’s car hit the front  crash wall hard during qualifying when the steering shaft in his car broke. He  was not injured in the mishap, but he was done for the night.
Also on  Saturday, Yuma’s Adolfo Noriega ran 14th in the 25-car feature event, Yuma’s  David White finished 19th and Yuma’s Dan Westbrook was scored in 24th  place.
Yuma’s Kent Rosevear, meanwhile, had motor problems both nights,  as did Yuma’s Shane Darnell. Neither driver made it into either night’s feature  event.
The third annual event attracted an initial field of 33 cars on  Friday night, with 27 cars making it to Saturday night’s event.
“We’re  growing. Little by little we’re growing,” said Greg Burgess, Cocopah Speedway’s  director of operations. “We aren’t there yet, but we’re getting  there.”
The 2011 event attracted 23 cars.
In the 2012 Turkey  Classic undercard events, Yuma’s Bobby Horton drove to the win in the Cocopah  Speedway Racing Series Street Stock Division feature event on Saturday night,  and Yuma Miles Morris won Friday night’s Factory Stock Division feature  event.
Saturday night’s Street Stock feature event saw a season-high 28  cars take the track.
Brawley’s Steven Daffern finished second, Yuma’s  Adolfo Noriega was third, Yuma’s Joey Essary was fourth and Yuma’s Dave Amos,  who had to go all the way to the back of the field after leaving the track with  a flat tire, came back to finish fifth.
During Friday night’s Factory  Stock feature, Ricky Schnereger, from Escondido, Calif, went for a wild ride,  flipping his car on the back straight. He too was not injured in the  mishap.
Finishing second in that race was Alpine’s Wayne Rebello, with  Yuma’s Matthew Sharrar finishing third, Patti Rebello finishing fourth and  Yuma’s Steve Anthony finishing fifth.
Yuma’s Jimmy Davy, the division’s  current point leader, was leading the race heading into the white flag lap. But  entering Turn 1, Morris’ car, running second, tapped Davy’s car, and both spun.  But Morris kept moving and Davy stopped, forcing him to line up at the back of  the field for the green-white-checkered finish with Morris on the  pole.

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