Allen picks up 3rd straight Cocopah Speedway Racing Series win
Russell Allen finally won a race Saturday night.
Actually, it was Allen’s third win in a row, but in his eyes, it was the first one he “really” won.
The driver from Brawley started fifth in a high-powered IMCA Modified Division main event field of 24 cars in Round 4 of the 2016 Cocopah Speedway Racing Series at Cocopah Speedway, made his way to the front by the midway point of the 25-lap event on a dry, slick, technical track, and held on for the win.
“This one, I think I really won it,” said a smiling Allen after parking in Budweiser Victory Lane, again.
“I had to fight for it. I didn’t start from the pole, we had some really good competition out here and I had to fight for it. That was an absolute battle.”
In his previous two wins, he started from the pole of a smaller 13-car field on March 12 and led the race from flag to flag, and on March 26 he picked up the win when the driver who led the race for 24 laps crashed on the white flag lap.
“This has gotta be the best,” said Allen, comparing past wins with Saturday night’s performance. “I mean, I won a lot in the Pro Stock (Division), but it wasn’t always a full field, spectacular car counts or really fast guys.
“Then I moved up to Modified and it’s been a challenge ever since. But this is probably the best three weeks of racing I’ve ever had.”
Saturday night’s win also moved Allen into second place in the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series standings. He is six points behind Imperial’s Steven McCollough, who finished third in Saturday night’s feature event.
Second place Saturday night went to Phoenix’s Chaz Baca Jr., with Ethan Dotson, from Bakersfield, in fourth and Casa Grande’s Brian Schultz rounding out the top five.
Schultz, it should be noted, arrived late at the track, missing hot laps and the heat races, and was forced to start at the tail end of the 24-dar field.
While Allen was winning his third feature event in a row, Saturday was night of firsts for the winners of the other three division features.
In the IMCA Stock Car finale, Yuma’s Jimmy Davy notched his first win of the season as did Yuma’s Kyle Smith in the IMCA Sport Modified Division, and former Yuman David Jones won his first IMCA Hobby Stock feature event in the first outing for his newly converted car.
Afterward Davy laughed and said he was making his “annual” appearance in victory lane, because that’s all he seems to win, one feature event a season.
But he was masterful in doing so, partly because of the track conditions.
“I prefer dry slick any day of the week,” said Davy. “I’m bad on hammer down (tracks), real bad.”
He started the 15-lap race on the pole with Yuma’s Joe Haines on the outside, and said the key to winning the race was to get ahead of Haines from the get go.
“Before the green I thought all I had to do was get by him, and if i could get under him I might be able to hold him off,” said Davy, “because I’m real confident on this type of track condition.”
When the green flew, Haines beat Davy into Turn 1, but slid up high, which opened the door for Davy.
“I was thinking, ‘It’s time to go,’” said Davy when he saw Haines get up too high, “and don’t look back.”
Yuma’s Joey Essary followed Davy to the checkered flag in second, and in the process moved into sole possession of first place in the series standings. Yuma’s Manny Baldiviez, who was tied for the lead with Essary entering Saturday night’s show, finished third.
Yuma’s Paul Pilgrim was fourth and Haines finished fifth.
In the IMCA Sport Modified feature event, Smith, the 2015 Rookie of the Year in the division, said the key to his win was patience after not finishing his last two series races.
“You know, slower is faster and just kinda trying to be patient,” said Smith, who started on the pole and led all 20 laps.
“Tonight, really the goal was to get out and try to get the car to the end of the race. The last two races we’ve DNF’d (did not finish) and it’s kind of been our goal to never DNF, and we DNF’d the last two races, so the goal tonight was you know, try to get a top three, just be real patient.”
Yuma’s Charles Hunt finished second behind Smith, with Imperial’s Corey Clayton finishing third, Holtville’s Chris Toth finishing fourth and Yuma’s Tom Harrison finishing fifth.
The division point leader, Yuma’s Adolfo Noriega, finished ninth, but remains atop the standings, one point ahead of Clayton.
In the Hobby Stock feature, a first-lap collision took out the division point leader, Yuma’s Jason Beshears, who started outside on the front row.
On the ensuing restart Jones, from Chandler, who started inside the third row, went to work early, took the lead and was never threatened.
Afterward Jones explained that his car used to be classified as a Pure Stock for the tracks in the Phoenix area. But because he believes those tracks near his home will eventually all become IMCA sanctioned, he decided to convert his car to a Hobby Stock.
And Saturday night’s race was the first time out for the car, which he said was completed at midnight Friday.
“I thought this would be a good way to convert this car into something we can continue to use in the future,” said Jones, who is no stranger to the Cocopah Speedway oval, having raced on the track when it was known as Yuma Speedway.
He emphasized that while some consider him an out-of-town driver, the Yuma High School class of 1990 graduate said he still considers Yuma home.
Finishing second behind Jones was Yuma’s Brent Wofford, with Yuma’s Jim Robinson in third, Brawley’s Amy Teague in fourth and Somerton’s Francisco Cordova in fifth.
With Beshears unable to finish the race, the lead at the top of the standings saw a shake up with Robinson, formerly on top, moving back into first place, and Beshears dropping into second place, three points back.