Contact sport: Yuma’s Davy survives finish line crash to win Turkey Classic race
Randy Hoeft @ YumaSunSports
Jimmy Davy had to be told he won Saturday night’s IMCA Stock Car feature event at Cocopah Speedway.
That’s because he never saw the checkered flag.
“I saw a lot of fence, and then black sky and that was about it,” said Yuma’s Davy about his trip across the finish line after a thrilling crash with Andrew Altenburg, from Truman, Minn., as the two raced each other for the win on the second night of the seventh annual Turkey Classic.
The two collided after exiting Turn 4 on the white flag lap, with Davy’s car being pushed up against the front retaining wall and getting airborne. Altenburg’s car, meanwhile, also got airborne and flipped over after crossing the finish line.
“I was holding on for life!” exclaimed Davy. “When I landed I looked around and I was in Turn 1.”
It wasn’t until later, when his crashed car was on the end of a tow hook and being pulled off the track that he received word that he had won the race.
Initially, Altenburg was considered the winner, crossing the finish line inches ahead of Davy. But Altenburg was then disqualified for rough driving, giving the win to Davy.
The scene unfolded after Altenburg, who won Friday night’s feature event, took charge of Saturday night’s race, running in the low groove. He survived repeated challenges from Yuma’s Manny Baldiviez before Davy made a hard charge on the high line and overtook Altenburg.
With race lead in hand, Davy said it was, “Hit your marks, hit your marks.’ Then I was kind of scorecard watching and that kind of slowed me down a little bit and he started making tracks on me and I was still trying to not make any mistakes.”
On the last lap, Altenburg made one last, hard charge from the bottom, and pulled up alongside Davy as they exited Turn 4. The only problem was Altenburg’s car never stopped getting higher until the two collided a short distance from the finish line.
“He kept coming from the bottom and kept going and going and going and we were like right next to each other,” said Davy recalling the final moments of the race, “and I was like, ‘Hey dude, are you going to stop?’
“I stayed in it thinking he was going to stop creeping over on me … I was on the top and couldn’t get much closer to the wall … and all of sudden boom, he hits me, I hit the wall and I’m seeing the fence.”
Altenburg’s car rolled over after the initial collision, landing on its roof at the entrance to Turn 1. He was not injured and managed to crawl out from under the wreckage.
Davy said he thought Altenburg had won the race.
“I felt like he had a bumper on me still when we hit the wall, and if they were going to count who was flying where across the finish line then I thought he had me. But I knew it was going to be close.
“It was the craziest deal ever for me.”
The second night of the Turkey Classic also saw Jeff Taylor, from Cave City, Ark., win the IMCA Modified Division feature event, Yuma’s Miles Morris win the IMCA Sport Modified feature event and Yuma’s Craig Ebers win the IMCA Hobby Stock feature event.
Taylor also won the Friday night IMCA Modified feature event.
“We’ve struggled out here in the past and just wanted to keep coming back ’til we got it figured out a little better. We’re a little closer now,” said Taylor with perhaps the understatement of the night after he smoothly weaved his way through lapped traffic to catch and overtake Saturday’s early race leader, Peoria’s Jason Noll.
“I was a little worried there early because them guys were running around the top and I just stayed in that one groove. It’s hard when they’re just driving away from you. I said ‘I’m just going to stay right here,’ and it just started getting faster and faster.”
Morris was one of those drivers who found the top groove to his liking and motored away from the field in the Sport Modified feature, withstanding repeated challenges from drivers in the bottom groove.
“I truly believe I was lucky,” said Morris, who also won Friday night’s feature event.
“There’s a handful of cars and drivers that could have found themselves out front early that can run high consistently. I just happened to get a good starting position.”
Morris started on the pole and led the 20-lap event from green to checked flag. But it was not as easy as it sounds as a number of yellow caution flags resulted in restarts.
“I didn’t think we were ever going to get done having yellows. I was really afraid of blowing it on a restart, especially the last one,” said Morris, referring to a yellow flag that came out on the white flag lap.
“We’ve seen so many leader position changes on a green-white-checker. I knew either 84 (Yuma’s James Dupre) or 57 (Holtville’s Chris Toth) were close and trying the bottom on every restart, but I was just hoping to hit my mark on the high side and not make a mistake. It’s easy to make a simple mistake and give up a position or two in a close race like that.
“And I’m glad we were able to navigate through the lapped cars without getting tangled up.”
Toth finished second on Saturday night while Yuma’s Adolfo Noriega finished second on Friday night.
Noriega, however, won Friday night’s Hobby Stock feature event in the first time out in a new car.