Friday, March 31, 2017

Golobic wins USAC midget
Short Track Showdown

The Light up the World Beverages United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States Midget series was in action Wednesday night March 29 at Placerville Speedway as part of Brad Sweet’s “Short Track Showdown” program with the World of Outlaws (WoO) touring sprint cars.
The field of the USAC midgets staged in the Placerville Speedway infield

A huge standing room-only crowd was on hand to watch eighteen midget cars and drivers do battle on the red clay high-banked 1/-4 mile oval. Due to time constraints, in lieu of qualifying, the 6-car lineups for the three 8-lap heat races were set through the draw process. Passing points earned through the heat races were used to determine the evening’s feature line-up.
The midgets of Nate Wait and Robert Dalby await the first heat race

The heat races were only marred by a single caution flag for a harmless spin, but interestingly, the initial starts of all three heat races were called back by track officials. Geoff Ensign started from the outside of the front row of the first heat and dominated to win over rookie Mason Daniel and Courtney Crone.

In the second heat race pole-sitter and 4-time USAC Western States champion Ronnie Gardner led wire-to-wire over Michael Faccinto and Ryan Bernal in Del Morris’ #71R. The final heat race of the evening was captured by Shane Golobic the only midgeteer doing double duty with the WoO over Alex Schutte and Randi Pankratz.

Schutte and Crone paced the field for the start of the 30-lap feature and Schutte in the #28 jumped into the lead using the high groove trailed by Gardner and Golobic.  Schutte held the point for the first twelve laps until Gardner grabbed the lead by using the low groove. Once clear of Schutte, Gardner in the Six8 racing Esslinger powered midget stayed in the low groove with Shane Golobic in the Wood Racing #17R closing fast around the high side of the track.

Golobic grabbed the lead on lap 18 with Gardner and Schutte falling back while Cory Elliott in the family-owned #11E began his late-race charge, as Cory grabbed fourth on lap 25, then two laps later Elliott passed Schutte to take over third place and began to chase down Gardner.  

At the drop of the checkered flag Golobic was trailed across the start/finish line by Gardner, Elliott, Courtney Crone and Alex Schutte in fifth place. The evening’s Esslinger Engineering Hard Charger award went to Anaheim’s Robert Dalby, who started seventeenth in the eighteen car field with his #4D Van Dyne Engineering Esslinger powered machine  and finished ninth.

Two races completed defending champion Ronnie Gardner leads the championship hunt over Elliott with Crone third. The Light up the World Beverages United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States Midgets will be in action on April 8 at the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway in a program along with the USAC CRA sprint cars.   



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