No sticker shock here: Essary drives off with win in Cocopah Speedway series Saturday
Joey Essary has a sticker on his front window cowl that reads “Mr. Consistency.”
It needs no explanation.
In three IMCA Stock Car Division feature event starts in the 2016 Cocopah Speedway Racing Series, Essary has notched two wins and a third place finish, the second win coming during Saturday night’s Round 3 action at the Somerton oval.
But there was a time when Essary considered taking the sticker off, when he stumbled during the recent IMCA Winter Nationals.
“We put the sticker on and I had two good nights (winning the Cocopah series opener and the Winter Nationals opener), then I had two bad nights … so I don’t know.
“But I’m very superstitious. I’m not going to (take the sticker off) now.”
Especially after Saturday’s performance moved Essary into a tie for the series point lead with Yuma’s Manny Baldiviez, who drove a three-wheeled car to second place.
“We can do that all year, we can go back and forth, that’s fine,” said a smiling Essary, referring to trading places with Baldiviez, the defending champion, at the top of the standings.
“But I’d rather pull off the win though.”
In other racing action Saturday night Brawley’s Russell Allen notched his second straight feature event win in the IMCA Modified Division in a race that had a wild finish; Imperial’s Corey Clayton won his first ever IMCA Sport Modified feature event; and Yuma’s Bob Horton won his second IMCA Hobby Stock feature event of the season.
When the Stock Car finale got started, the initial green flag start was waved off, but not before Baldiviez made contact with another car and flattened his left front tire. But he chose not to pull off the track and instead raced all 15 laps with the flat.
Ahead of him, meanwhile, Essary stalked the early race leader, Yuma’s Joe Haines and waited until Haines got too high in Turn 4 to slide underneath and take the lead.
The strategy, said Essary, “was to go wherever he wasn’t.”
Baldiviez then wrestled his car up into second place and stayed there until the finish. He had started the night one point ahead of Essary in the standings.
In the Modified feature event, Imperial’s Duane Rogers checked out at the start of the 25-lap race and appeared headed to his first win of the season until Allen and Imperial’s Steven McCollough closed in and applied pressure in the late laps.
Then on the final lap, as the field entered Turns 3 and 4, Rogers stayed in the high groove where he had been all night, and Allen said he saw the slower car of Yuma’s Bobby Horton ahead of them, also in the high groove, “and I thought I could use Bobby to pick Duane,” said Allen.
And it worked for Allen. Rogers, however, tried to get under Horton’s car too late, touched Allen’s car and set off a wreck that resulted in Rogers’ car hitting the front straight crash wall head-on, well short of the finish line. He was uninjured in the crash.
“It was wild,” said Allen.
McCollough followed Allen to the checkered flag in second, and Rogers was scored in 11th place.
McCollough is now the division point leader in the racing series, while Horton, who was tied with Lance Mari for the lead, is now in second.
In the Sport Modified feature event, Clayton, who first began racing during the 2015 season, started the race inside on the second row, passed the early leader, Yuma’s Joshua Cordova on the fifth lap, and drove fast and steady the remainder of the way.
After getting the lead Clayton said his only thoughts were, “to run my race and not worry about anybody behind me, keep it straight and not get mental.”
One of those drivers behind Clayton was Yuma’s Miles Morris who caught and tried to get underneath and past the race leader, but couldn’t get the job done, settling for second place.
The night’s fourth feature event saw Bob Horton come back strong from an incident two weeks ago when the former division point leader was disqualified for rough driving.
He said Saturday night’s win was dedicated “to our buddy, Brice Zeller, because he is an awesome, awesome man.”
Zeller passed away recently.
“Other than that, this is awesome! I want to do this more often!” exclaimed Horton, who was the series point leader but is now out of title contention after his disqualification on March 12.
He said his goal now is to collect feature event win stickers.
Yuma’s Jason Beshears is now the division point leader. Yuma’s Jim Robinson was the leader heading into Saturday night’s show, but he didn’t finish the feature event and is now in second place, two points behind Beshears.