Winter Heat Notebook (Jan. 9)
• As many as 15 drivers entered in the 2016 Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown at Cocopah Speedway got out of town early Sunday, catching flights or rides to Tulsa, Okla., where they will be competing next in the 30th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire. The troupe was led by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Larson (who left after Wednesday night’s show) and Kasey Kahne, along with 2016 Winter Heat series champion Shane Stewart. The Chili Bowl competition begins Tuesday.
• Dale Blaney, from Fowler, Ohio, apparently needs to get out and experience more of of the local restaurant fare. The All-Star Circuit of Champions champion Tweeted, “Taco Bell in Yuma, Arizona is better than most Mexican Restaurants in Ohio.” Blaney won the opening night’s feature event and finished second in the Winter Heat series standings.
• Bud Kaeding can’t get a break. The veteran driver suffered burns to his face when his caught fire during the opening night of racing in the Winter Heat. He then went home to Campbell, Calif., regrouped, came back for Friday and Saturday night’s action, and while leading and pulling away in the second “B” main qualifier Saturday, the right front wheel came off his car.
• Sprint car racing stars dotted the 46-driver roster for the 2016 Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown, ranging in age from Steve Kinser, 61, to 23-year-old Kyle Larson and 21-year-old Christopher Bell. And then there is Michael Kofoid, 14. Yes, 14. Kofoid, from Penngrove, Calif., went to battle with the likes of veterans Kinser, Larson, Bell, Danny Lasoski and Joey Saldana, and held his own. He didn’t qualify for a feature event, but keep an eye on this young, young gun who won the King of the West Lites championship at age 11.
• Henry Van Dam received the Big Al Sportsmanship Award, which was established for this year’s Winter Heat in honor of Al Tschider. Tschider founded the Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation, which was created to provide motor sports trips and racing opportunities for children battling life-threatening conditions and illnesses. Tschider passed away suddenly in August. “He was able to do a lot of special things for kids that were just amazing,” Van Dam said. “To win the award is awesome, because I know how much effort he put into the foundation, and to be a part of that is huge.”
• Shark Racing drivers Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen were awarded $500 for the Long Haul Award for making the trip to the Winter Heat from Hanover, Pa.