Ain’t no stopping him now

Ain’t no stopping him now

Ain’t no stopping him now

By Randy Hoeft @YumaSunSports

Charles Hunt’s retirement plans are on hold.

The dirt track racer at Cocopah Speedway once proclaimed that when he won his first career feature event, he was going to hang it up.

That changed Saturday night.

“Once you get that first win you want more of them,” said a smiling Hunt from Budweiser Victory Lane after he drove off with the victory in the IMCA Sport Modified Division in convincing fashion.

“I had a really good time,” Hunt said. “Kyle (Smith) and Chris Toth, all three of us were racing hard and clean and it was a blast.”

The fact that Hunt got his first win was special, but it was even more special when one considers it came one race after he thought he had won his very first feature event back on April 23, and then failed to pass the post-race technical inspection when his car was determined to be too light.

“I was on a mission tonight,” said Hunt. “After that first win, no-win, I had something to prove. And hopefully we get some more.”

In other racing action Saturday night in Round 6 of the 2016 Cocopah Speedway Racing Series, Yuma’s Manny Baldiviez took the IMCA Stock Car Division feature event in dramatic fashion — he rolled his race car on the third lap of the 20-lap race and then came back to take the win.

Also, Brawley’s Russell Allen won his fourth IMCA Modified Division feature event in his last five starts, and Yuma’s Jim Robinson strengthened his hold on first place in the IMCA Hobby Stock title chase by winning his first feature event of the series.

Hunt’s got his initial taste of dirt track racing the Modified Division, but never made the trip to victory lane.

Then at the urging of Smith and Smith’s crew chief, Timmy Quintero, Hunt made the switch to Sport Modified.

“And I said what the heck, I’m going to try it,” said Hunt. “And I like both of them. I made a lot of friends in the ‘A’ Mods and I’ve made a lot of friends out here since, but I’m really enjoying the ‘B’ Mods.”

Toth, the defending series champion, finished second and Smith was third.

In the race that followed Hunt’s win, Baldiviez, in contention for his second Stock Car title in the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series, was in a tight battle at the front of the 10-car pack when he got out of shape between Turns 3 and 4 and his car rolled over onto its roof, then settled back onto its right side at the bottom of the track.

Baldiviez said while he was inside the car he knew it was a “slow roll,” and “when I was upside down, I was thinking, ‘I just rolled real easy, and I think the car is going to be fine.’”

So when track personnel asked him if he wanted to get out of the car, he said no and instructed them to gently put his car back on its wheels, “and I strapped myself in a little tighter.”

Once right-side-up, Baldiviez fired the motor to the thrill of the fans in the grandstand, and lined up for the restart of the race at the rear of the pack.

He then steadily made his way back to the front where he resumed the battle for the win with Yuma’s Joey Essay, Joe Haines, Steve Anthony and Jimmy Davy.

“I knew it was going to be tough (getting the win),” said Baldiviez, “because there were 10 cars and I had to start at the rear, but I had a thought that ‘I can make this, I have a shot at this.’”

He then drove his way around Haines and set sail for the checkered flag.

The win was Baldiviez’ third of the season.

Davy finished second, Haines was third, Anthony was fourth and Essay rounded out the top five.

In the IMCA Modified feature event, Allen showed just how strong his new car is when he drove past the early leader, San Diego’s Cole Dick and then motored away from the field.

“This car is insane!” Allen said after parking it in victory lane.

Casa Grande’s Brian Schultz finished second, Imperial’s Duane Rogers was third, Phoenix’s Chaz Baca Jr. was fourth and Imperial’s Steven Mccullough was fifth.

In the Hobby Stock feature, the early laps featured a battle between Yuma’s Craig Ebers and Robinson, before Robinson spun.

“I’m learning how to drive,” said Robinson, who began his racing career in 2015. “This is the first time I’ve ever driven a race car.”

He actually got the first win of his career during the IMCA Winter Nationals in February, but had not been to victory lane since.

Still Robinson has managed to climb to the top of the series point standings in the Hobby Stock Division.

“Last year, we had some heating issues with the car, but this year we got it all knocked out and I can concentrate on driving,” said Robinson.

“Tonight was kind of luck,” he continued. “Me and Craig Ebers were really kind of battling it out, and I made a mistake in the beginning and got sent to the back, and it’s just unfortunate that he made a mistake in the end. It could have gone either way.”

Francisco Cordova finished second behind Robinson and Ebers made his way back to third place.

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