Nothing like that new car smell … and winning
Two weeks ago, Russell Allen was asked how it felt to park a brand new, untested race car in victory lane at Cocopah Speedway.
Saturday night Allen went from interviewee to interviewer and asked Miles Morris, “How does it feel to win the first time out in a new car?”
“Hey, it was a rocket man. You looked good,” said Allen as he shook Morris’ hand.
The scene unfolded in Budweiser Victory Lane at the Somerton oval after Morris had driven off with the feature event win in the IMCA Sport Modified Division in Round 5 of the 2015 Cocopah Speedway Racing Series.
Allen had just finished fourth in the night’s IMCA Modified Division feature event and walked from the post-race tech area to offer his congratulations to Morris in victory lane. On April 11 Allen had come to the track and, like Morris, won his feature event in a car that had never been driven before.
Morris’ win, however, was made even more special by the fact that it was his first feature event win ever in the Sport Mod Division since he moved up from what was formerly the Factory Stock Division following the 2013 season. He won the Factory Stock series championship that year.
“It’s been a struggle, this Sport Mod program has been a struggle for a while,” said Morris.
That may all be behind him now.
Following the April 11 race, Morris and his crew set out to switch the chassis in his car, from an old Jet Racing chassis to the new Jet chassis.
The turnaround was not complete until Saturday. “We were putting the finishing touches on it this morning, like re-checking, nut and bolt checking, putting the skirts on the body panels,” said Morris. “So we worked pretty hard on it.”
And when he hit the track he was a little hesitant to stand on the throttle right away.
“I was kind of babying it around the turns because I just didn’t know how it was going to be,” continued Morris, and in the feature event, “I went backward, geeze, it seemed like I went to the back of the field, that’s what it seemed like.”
Morris started sixth on the grid and faded to 11th in the 16-car field before things started to turn around.
“We got a caution and I decided to start trying the high side, and to run the high side you have to use a lot of throttle and you gotta throw it in there pretty heavy and, I don’t know, it just worked out, it just seemed to work out,” said Morris. He passed car after car and finally caught up with the race leader, Brawley’s Cody Daffern, who was running the bottom line. And Morris used the high line to drive around Daffern and take charge of the race.
“It was just as much a surprise to me as it was anybody else,” said Morris. “He was running the bottom and I was running the top. It was just that simple. It was working. It was as good as I could have ever expected it to be.”
He said he still made some mistakes, however, and got too high where he found himself in the marbles. And each time he did, “I thought for sure there’s gotta be somebody just getting ready to take me on the bottom, but, I don’t know, I just got away with it this time.
“But man, people lose races so much doing that, they lose their head in the turn, and get a little too high or get a little too sideways. You know, we’re dealing with milliseconds out there and you just make one little mistake and …”
Daffern held on to finish second in the 20-lap race with Yuma’s Timmy Reese finishing third, Brawley’s Sean Callens finishing fourth and the division point leader, Holtville’s Chris Toth, finishing fifth.
In other racing action Saturday night, Chandler’s Ricky Thornton Jr. took the IMCA Modified Division feature event win with Imperial’s Lance Mari finishing second, Brawley’s Steven McCollough finishing third, Allen in fourth and the division point leader, Jeffry Sheppard Jr., from Golden Valley, rounding out the top five.
Also, Yuma’s Joey Essary picked up his first feature event win of the season in the IMCA Stock Car Division by also using the high line to get around Brawley’s Steven Daffern, who finished second. Third place went to the division point leader, Yuma’s Manny Baldiviez, with Brawley’s Joey Teague finishing fourth and Yuma’s Jimmy Davy finishing fifth.
And in the IMCA Hobby Stock Division, Yuma’s Leonard Manos became the first repeat feature event winner in the division. Yuma’s Leonard Jones was second, Yuma’s Brent Wofford was third, Brawley’s Amy Teague was fourth and Yuma’s Jim Robinson was fifth.