PLACERVILLE, CA (6-11-11) – When late July rolls around, Placerville Speedway will host the first ever ASCS Bullring Nationals with some of the biggest stars in the sport gracing the roster. It’s no bull what so ever that when that two day event comes, Sacramento’s Kyle Hirst will be ready to defend the track he now calls home.
“When those national drivers come to this place its going to bring a level of racing here like nobody has ever seen, and I’m ready to beat those guys,” said Hirst, after winning his third consecutive victory at Placerville Saturday night with car owner Steve Smith. “We made a commitment to race here the entire year and be ready for that show and I think we’re ready now and I can’t thank my car owners enough for the great car they gave me again tonight.”
Saturday’s race was the seventh Red Hawk Casino, Hoosier Racing Tires, Coors Light Championship event of the season at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds and Hirst started on the outside of the front row for the 25-lap feature event outside of Sacramento’s Billy Butler.
At the waving of the green flag Hirst powered into a lead he never relinquished for the entire event. Racing on a dry slick race track, the second generation driver drove to a healthy lead early in the event to become the dominating driver in the season thus far, winning three out of the six events he has competed in all year. Although he missed one early season race, Hirst is on his way to chase the 2011 track championship.
While Hirst went without serious challenge for much of Saturday’s race, Roseville’s Sean Becker and point leader Andy Forsberg of Auburn overtook Butler to work their way into the top three. In the waning laps Forsberg closed in on Becker and challenged for the bridesmaid position to no avail, finishing third behind Hirst and Becker while Butler held on to the fourth position respectively over Steven Tiner of Visalia and Shane Golobic of Fremont.
The winged sprint cars were joined on Saturday by the Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets for their second visit of the season here. In this exciting division, it was two familiar faces that stole the spotlight as they raced in two divisions throughout the night; Golobic and Becker.
BCRA top runner Randy Pankratz of Atascadero took the early lead of the 30-lap feature event, trading the position with Bakersfield’s Shannon McQueen in a heated battle that the fans were loving. After honoring the general rule of “ladies first” for then early laps, Becker and Golobic then moved into the top spots to begin a duel that increased the intensity of the race even more.
Becker took over the lead in the Mike Sala #19 Midget he was driving on lap four and appeared untouchable for several laps until Golobic, driving for car owner Doug Bock, advanced from 7th into second place and closed in on Becker beginning on the 11th lap. With 23 laps down Golobic powered into then lead on the front stretch. Maintaining the top spot for the remainder of the race, Golobic picked up his first Midget win of the year and was followed by Becker, Pankratz, McQueen and Matt Streeter of Galt.
“This was a lot of fun running both classes tonight, I’m pretty tired after that many laps but a win and a sixth place in the same night is pretty nice,” said Golobic. “I really want to thank Doug Bock for giving me this opportunity tonight, the car was great.”
The two open wheel classes were joined on Saturday night by the Pure Stock division. In this class Clarence Holbrook III drove off the outside of the front row to take the lead at the green flag. Once in front Holbrook pulled ahead by several car lengths over third place starter Chris Van Roekel and Rick Grunert of Woodland. Defending champion Chris Curtiss of Placerville battled among the top four until the final laps of the race.
On the eighteenth lap, Grunert climbed the backstretch hill and rolled over to draw a red flag. Grunert was uninjured in the damaging accident but was unable to continue as was Curtiss when his car failed to start back up after the pause in the event.
Once restarted, Holbrook continued to dominate the field and drove to his third win of the season. VanRoekel finished in second place followed by Placerville’s Ted Ahart, Tim Mack of El Dorado and Mike McClure of Nevada City.
“It feels good to get another week, we’ve had a little streak of bad luck the last couple of weeks,” said Holbrook. “It’s always nice to get a starting position up front like tonight. I was able to race out front and pull away from all the traffic early.”
Saturday’s event brought 34 winged sprint cars to Placerville Speedway, 22 Midgets and 16 Pure Stocks. Additionally, the grandstands were well populated that is a clear indication that winter is finally behind us and the track that is home to fun all summer long is getting back into the swing of entertaining families from throughout the region.
Among the spectators in the stands on Saturday night was US Army Specialist Andrew Papest who returned from Afghanistan just yesterday on a twelve day leave to visit his family and child. One of the first places the former Union Mine High School Graduate wanted to return to was Placerville Speedway. Papest was given a standing ovation by the crowd when his presence was recognized. Additionally he was invited into victory lane to join Hirst in his celebration.
“When I came home one of the first places I knew I had to come was the races,” said Papest. “This is the first time my wife has come here. We had a great time and I appreciate all the support from everyone here tonight.”
Racing will take a weekend off to allow for fair activities in the coming week. The 2011 season will resume on June 25th with. For information on the 2011 racing season visit www.placervillespeedway.com.
All photos courtesy of Donna Peter of Race Photos By Donna.