Schutte goes back-to-back
in BCRA action at Placerville Speedway
Saturday July 23 saw eighteen of the mighty Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) midgets in action at Placerville Speedway in a joint program with the track’s Thompson's Auto Group 360 cubic inch winged sprint cars on “Big Trophy Night.” The BCRA ‘regulars’ were joined by USAC racer Randi Pankratz, recent college graduate Sean Dodenhoff, 1999 BCRA champion Matt Streeter, Nate Wait and young phenom Michael Kofoid who was pulling double duty.
In the drivers meeting, BCRA Business Manager Linda Manning announced that Chief Referee Karl Hokanson was under weather and that BCRA president Rick Holbrook would fill in for Karl for the evening. Ms. Manning also shared that the tentatively scheduled August 27 BCRA midget race date at the Stockton dirt track will not be held.
The six-car starting lineups for the three 8-lap heat races were set by pill draw, but unfortunately during hot laps, Doug Hunting’s Honda engine suffered terminal valve train damage and Hunting’s #2 Spike entry was scratched for the rest of the program. At the drop of the green flag the first heat race, Sean Dodenhoff in his #9D powered into the lead from his pole starting position to the topside of the race track and never looked back as he went wire-to-wire ahead of Cory Elliott and Michael Kofoid.
Pole sitter Nick Foster took the lead in Dave LaMott’s #24 Spike/Honda at the start of the second heat race and held on for the first circuit before Alex Schutte powered his #28 Spike/Esslinger past into the lead. Schutte’s car sped around the top of the track as Foster and Pankratz staged an exciting battle for second place. Alex took the checkered flag ten car lengths ahead of Foster who was followed closely by Pankratz.
In the third heat race, Dustin Golobic and Wait battled side-by-side around the race track for the first few circuits before Golobic pulled away as he used the high groove while Wait fought off the charge of Matt Streeter. Streeter finally slipped underneath Wait as the pair raced through turn one on lap six to finish second behind Golobic’s Esslinger-powered Spike.
The three Thompson's Auto Group sprint car heat race wins went to Sean Becker, Billy Butler and Greg DeCaires.
Pankratz and Kofoid led the field to the green for the 30-lap feature and Randi used the bottom of the track to pull into the lead as Kofoid’s Mike Sala-owned Spike slid high in turn two. As the field entered turn three, the hard-charging Kofoid ran over the left rear of Foster’s machine and overturned. Behind Kofoid, Brian Gard in the #88 Ellis/Chevy also rolled over as JR Williams and Bill Lindsey came to a stop.
With the red flag displayed, the Placerville Speedway safety crew helped Kofoid from the car and he walked to the ambulance. The Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) took their time and carefully checked over the 14-year old Kofoid as he had also flipped over in a sprint car race Friday night. After a few tense moments it was announced that Michael Kofoid was OK and released to race; he placed fifth in the 360 winged sprint car feature race later in the evening.
The remaining sixteen midgets lined up for a complete restart with Foster on the front row alongside Pankratz, and the drop of the green flag that pair battled for the lead around the bottom of the track as sixth place starter Golobic charged to third place as his the lone car to use the top side of the race track. A few laps later Golobic car’s flipped in turn two. Greg Bragg had nowhere to go car and he hit Golobic’s stalled machine while in the confusion Streeter’s car suffered a flat right front tire and brake line damage. Golbic and Streeter headed to the designated the work area, as Bragg’s Thurston-owned machine was towed back to the pit area done for the evening. Golobic was able to continue but Streeter’s crew was unable to complete the required repairs in time for Matt to rejoin the race.
After the single file restart Schutte shot in the lead with Pankratz in hot pursuit followed by Elliott and Taylor Simas in fourth place. After another pair of caution periods by lap 18 Elliott had snuck past Pankratz into second place as Randi fought off Brian Gard’s charge up from the tail of the field to fourth place.
The caution flag flew again on lap 24 as Maria Cofer in her newly graphic-wrapped #57 spun on the slick track in turn two and was struck head on by Floyd Alvis. Both midgets suffered substantial front end damage, with Cofer’s car towed back to the pits, but the ageless Alvis was somehow able to continue. On the restart, Elliott challenged Schutte for the lead while Gard battled Pankratz.
On lap 28, as Gard attempted to pass Pankratz on the low side, Gard’s car hit one of the tractor tires that mark the inside of the ¼-mile track and the BCRA dirt points leader’s car suffered terminal front end damage. When the green flag flew on the final restart with two laps to go, Schutte pulled away, and Pankratz passed Elliott to claim a hard-earned second place finish as Simas and Dodenhoff rounded out the top five.
Mason Moore captured his third Thompson's Auto Group sprint car feature of the season over Greg DeCaires.
Those teams that suffered accident damage will have time to make repairs as the BCRA midgets take a weekend off from racing before they gather again on August 6 at the historic high-banked asphalt ¼-mile Stockton 99 Speedway. The BCRA vintage division will also be on hand at Stockton in a program with the King of the Wing touring sprint car series. The BCRA midget lite racers will be in action this coming weekend for the annual Wayne Albright Memorial on July 30 at Placerville Speedway paired with the King of the West sprint cars.
Brad Kennedy and Dean Mills contributed results for this report.