PLACERVILLE, CA (7-2-11) – Throughout the 2011 Hoosier Racing Tires Civil War Sprint Car Series campaign, Visalia’s Steven Tiner has been a factor in nearly feature event as well as in the championship point standings. Saturday night, the latest driver from the Northern California family that is rich in the history of open wheel racing advanced from the status of factor to winner.
“We’ve been so close so many times this year,” said Tiner. “Tonight was our night. This dry slick track was great for us. It’s really great to finally get a win in the series. The points don’t really matter to me right now as much as winning races do.”
Tiner captured his victory before as standing room only crowd at Placerville Speedway. The event brought the competitive Civil War Sprint Car Series together with the annual Independence Day weekend celebration and Family Blast Fireworks Party at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. Not only was the crowd impressive in the grandstands but in the pit area as well as 46 cars signed in for the division.
The event was round seven of the 14 race Civil War Series campaign. In preliminary action, Tiner did not appear to be a dominant force over the competition. He qualified 18th on the roster and finished fourth in his respective heat race to lock a position in the 30-lap feature event. It was there where a premium starting position and a perfectly set up race car made Tiner the driver to beat for the remainder of the night.
With a ten car inversion for the feature event line up, Tiner started Saturday’s money race in the second positions. Grass Valley’s Jeremy Burt was the pole sitter for the race while Billy Strange of Elk Grove and Johnny Herrera of Albuquerque, New Mexico started in the fourth position. Herrera made the rare local appearance in an effort to test for the upcoming Bullring Nationals at Placerville Speedway that will feature the best drivers in the nation July 29th and 30th with the ASCS Lucas Oil Sprints on Dirt series.
The heavy hitters weren’t limited to the first two rows Saturday night. Addititional starters that were a threat to Tiner included two time series champion Sean Becker of Roseville who started in row three with Fresno’s Shawn Wright. Veteran Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove and Dennis Harvey of Orangevale formed the fourth row and the fifth row was one of the most powerful with three time Placerville winner Kyle Hirst of Sacramento on the inside and Grass Valley native Brad Sweet starting in 10th. Sweet, who now races professionally in the NASCAR Camping Work Truck Series, was aboard a Rod Tiner owned #83 sprint car.
At the waving of the green flag, Herrera muscled his way out of the second row to power into the initial lead. Tiner was quick to rally back to the front, pulling aside Herrera and muscling the King Products #94 into the lead as early as the second lap. Once he was in front, however, the race was far from a cakewalk for Tiner as several drivers challenged him for the lead.
With five laps complete, Becker overtook Herrera for second place. Shortly thereafter Herrera would go to the pit area for repairs. It was then that the battle heated up between Tiner and Sweet who worked his way into the top three with six laps complete. Three laps later Sweet overtook Becker for the bridesmaid position to set his sights on Tiner for the lead and a crowd razing dogfight developed between the two drivers producing fireworks long before the lights even went out.
At the 18 lap mark Hirst advanced into the top three and was searching for a line to catch the two front runners that sliced and diced their way through traffic and raced side by side on several occasions to battle for the lead. When the checkered flag waved, the Tiner name returned to the victory column for the first time in several years at Placerville Speedway. Sweet would cap his hometown visit off with a second place finish while Hirst was the third driver on the podium followed by Becker and DeCaires.
“Brad Sweet and I have been friends for years and this was really a pleasure to race with him again tonight,” said Tiner. “I wanted this win but he was in a sprint car built by my uncle Rodney and I knew he was fast. This is really special here tonight for my family with the win and Brad in second place in that car. Like I said the points aren’t’ really a concern for us right now. Hopefully we can take this win into next weekend with us and do well at Ocean and Petaluma.”
As Sweet climbed from his car on the front stretch he removed his helmet and walked over to Tiner during the victory lane interview to congratulate his longtime friend on the win. Upon doing so the driver who began his racing career at Placerville Speedway and won his very first race here received a boisterous response from the capacity crowd.
“I love coming back to this place, its always going to be home to me,” said Sweet. “I’ve like to thank Rodney Tiner for giving me a great car tonight. It’s always special to race at this place on the July Fourth race and I couldn’t have asked for a better night to be able to do it.”
For Hirst, the third place finish meant another good points night for the Smitty Brothers #14s team. The second generation driver also enjoyed the huge crowd at Placerville Saturday night and continued to speak of the upcoming ASCS Nationals race coming to Placerville Speedway.
“I hope all of these fans really liked this race tonight,” said Hirst. “If they did like it they need to get their tickets for that ASCS race that is coming here later this month because it will be even wilder than anything they have ever seen here.”
Next Friday night the Civil War Sprint Car Series heads to Ocean Speedway in Watsonville for round 8 of the series. From their there the tour will trek to Petaluma Speedway on Saturday night for the ninth leg of the tour.
Joining the sprint cars on Saturday were the Dirt Modifieds of Mini Modified Madness. Only eight cars were in competition in the event but the action was still great door to door racing. In his first race at Placerville Speedway, veteran champion Ryan McDaniel of Olivehirst drove his way to the victory. McDaniel started third in the race and was trailed across the line by Kenny Neu, Randy McDaniel, Steve McGee and Kevin Pendergrass.
Placerville Speedway will go dark next Saturday and return to action on July 16th for the Mark Forni Classic that will pay $5,000 to the sprint car winner. The Limited Late Model winner will take home $1000 on this special night as well as the Pure Stock division. For further information visit www.placervillespeedway.com where you can also learn about advanced resevered ticket sales for the upcoming ASCS Bullring Nationals July 29th, 30th. Additional information can also be obtained by calling the track business office at (916) 783-DIRT.
Photos courtesy of Donna Peter from Race Photos By Donna.