Cocopah Speedway series drivers ready for Round 6 Saturday, summer break

Cocopah Speedway series drivers ready for Round 6 Saturday, summer break

By Randy Hoeft @YumaSunSports

Shelling out money for entry fees and racing fuel will be a priority Saturday night for race car drivers in the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series.

Picking up some board shorts, sun block and finding a nice place to relax on the beach will be the order of business come Sunday morning.

The 2015 racing program at the Somerton oval reaches the halfway point, also known as the summer break, with Saturday night’s show, which is also Round 6 in the championship series. After Saturday night, the next scheduled event in the series is Sept. 26.

The first green flag flies at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Looking forward to the four-month break the most will probably be Yuma drivers Manny Baldiviez and Joey Essary. Entering Saturday night’s show, the two are tied for the top spot in the race to the IMCA Stock Car Division series championship.

Neither driver has ever won a dirt track driving championship but between the two, Baldiviez has come the closest. He missed winning the 2014 title by two points, despite winning six feature events. He has won three feature events so far in 2015.

Essary, meanwhile, finished fourth in the 2014 title hunt, and although he has won only one feature event so far in 2015, he’s been consistent. In five feature event starts, he’s logged two seconds, a third and a fourth to go along with his one win.

Also figuring into the mix is Yuma’s Jimmy Davy, who is six points behind the two leaders. Davy has logged one feature event win so far in 2015.

The other three championship races are also close, but not as close as the Stock Car Division.

In the IMCA Modified Division, Golden Valley’s Jeffry Sheppard Jr. continues to lead the pack, but is now only two points out front as Imperial’s Steven McCollough applies the most pressure and continues to chip away. The next driver in line is Imperial’s Lance Mari, who trails McCollough by 16 points.

Neither Sheppard or McCollough have won a feature event so far in 2015.

At the head of the class on the IMCA Hobby Stock level, Yuma’s Leonard Manos leads Yuma’s Leonard Jones by four points.

Manos, like Baldiviez, had championship aspirations in 2014. But after winning three-straight feature events, a hard crash ended Manos’ season before the half-way point. This season, he’s won two feature events, and his win April 25 marked the first time a driver in the division has won twice.

The one driver who might already be title bound at the break is Holtville’s Chris Toth, the IMCA Sport Mod point leader.

When Toth arrives at the track Saturday night, he will bring with him a 10-point lead, which may not sound like much, but is a relatively comfortable cushion in the world of point racing.

Toth, like Baldivez, also missed winning a championship in 2014 by two points, despite winning a Sport Mod Division-best five feature events. To date, Toth has won twice this season.

What is most intriguing about the 2015 title chase in this division is the fact that among the other four drivers who make up the top five, the highest finishing driver in 2014 was Somerton’s Joshua Cordova, who finished 10th. This season, he is fourth.

Second place belongs to Imperial’s Corey Clayton, who finished 11th in 2014, while Imperial’s Larry Wyatt is in third place after finishing 18th a year ago. And fifth place belongs to Yuma’s Kyle Smith, who is a rookie in 2015.

Yuma’s Timmy Reese, who finished third in 2014, is currently mired in eighth place, Brawley’s Cody Daffern, fourth a year ago, is now 13th, and Yuma’s James Dupre, fifth in 2014, is seventh in 2015.

 The defending champion is Yuma’s Josh Wood, whose employment out of town has prevented him from racing in 2015.

While Saturday night’s show is the last of the first half of the season, it is also the first for the track’s new concrete fan concourse.

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