By Kevin Triplett
On Saturday August 26 a field of eleven Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) midgets took part in the Stockton Dirt Track’s Salute to Leroy Van Conett in a program together that also included the Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour (SCCT) winged 360 cubic inch sprint cars. One BCRA competitor Cory Elliott from Bakersfield took up the challenge of racing with both BCRA and SCCT entries on the same night on the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds 4/10-mile clay oval.
Michael Faccinto led the field in time trials with a best lap of 16.519 seconds in his CP-Carillo Rods sponsored midget trailed by Alex Schutte in the family #8 midget with a best of 16.625 seconds with Elliott third at 16.655 seconds. Mason Daniels in his family’s #33M and Australian Danny Carroll in Sean Dodenhoff’s #9C rounded out the top five qualifiers.
Nate Wait and BCRA points leader Maria Cofer paced the field for the start of the first eight-lap heat race, and Maria led the field for the first few circuits as Faccinto carved his way through the field from his sixth starting position to grab the lead on the fourth lap. The final finishing order for the first heat race was Faccinto, Cofer, Elliott, Carroll, and Wait while JR Williams, who was battling an upset stomach, dropped out early.
At the start of the second heat race Mason Daniels leapt into the lead while Alex Schutte who started from the tail made contact with another car at the start and immediately retired with a bent shock absorber. A few laps into the race, Scott Pierovich in his first dirt track appearance in a couple of seasons, lost the left front wheel as his midget entered turn three but Scott safely made it into the infield. When the race resumed after the caution, Daniels appeared on his way to victory when the torque tube bolts sheared off the rear end and he coasted to a stop and Brett Felkins of nearby Lodi inherited the win over the ageless Floyd Alvis.
While the crews of Pierovich and Schutte were able to affect repairs to their respective machines, unfortunately the #33M midget of Daniels was too damaged for his crew to make repairs and he scratched from the night’s 25-lap feature event. With the re-draw for starting positions, the team cars of Felkins and Wait were side-by-side on the front row, with Pierovich and Carroll in row two. With Daniels a scratch, the machines of Schutte and Elliott shared row three, Cofer and Faccinto comprised row four and Williams and Alvis shared row five.
Felkins led the first lap of the feature before Pierovich surged by, but on lap four the race had its first caution period when Felkins spun to a stop in turn four. Faccinto was already scored in second place trailed by Schutte, Carroll and Elliott. When racing resumed Faccinto snuck past Pierovich on the back stretch of the 4/10 mile oval and established his lead before the field was frozen by a second spin by Felkins on lap seven which ended his night early.
The ‘top five’ running order under the caution flag was Faccinto, Pierovich, Schutte, Cofer and Carroll but when the green flag reappeared Carroll maneuvered past Cofer to capture fourth position. As the laps wound down, Faccinto steadily built up a commanding lead of nearly half a lap over the field. On lap 21, Faccinto put Alvis a lap down as the engine in Floyd’s #1 midget had gone off song.
With the drop of the checkered flag, Michael Faccinto completed his second “clean sweep” of a BCRA racing program in less than a month, as he set quick time, won his heat race and the feature just as he had at Fernley Speedway at the end of July. Faccinto was followed across the stripe by Pierovich, Schutte, Cofer, Carroll, Elliott, Nate Wait and Floyd Alvis. Brett Felkins and JR Williams both failed to finish and as previously mentioned Mason Daniels did not start the feature.
In a postscript to the night’s BCRA racing action, JR Williams was involved in a serious accident on his trip home when another driver crossed the highway centerline and struck JR’s truck just behind the driver’s door. JR’s truck and trailer were both demolished, but thankfully JR was unhurt although tragically one of the occupants in the other car lost his life in the accident.
The always smiling resilient JR plans to back in action on Thursday September 7 for the next BCRA race held as part of the second preliminary night of racing of ‘Gold Cup week’ at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico California. The program co-sanctioned with the United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States ‘Light Up the World’ midgets will also feature the AMSOIL USAC/CRA sprint cars on their fourth race of the six-race California sprint week