PLACERVILLE (9-2-98)- As the 1998 "Thunder in the Foothills" championship season winds down at Alan Padjen's Placerville Speedway, the titles for all three divisions are far from being decided. This Saturday night the 1/4 mile clay oval located...
PLACERVILLE (9-2-98)- As the 1998 "Thunder in the Foothills" championship season winds down at Alan Padjen's Placerville Speedway, the titles for all three divisions are far from being decided. This Saturday night the 1/4 mile clay oval located on the El Dorado County Fairground will host the 16th event of the Budweiser ¥ Coors Light ¥ RC Cola ¥ McCreary Tires racing season. This event, the second to last on the championship campaign will feature Pacific Sprint cars, Pro Stocks and Pure Stocks along with the visiting Midget Lites of the Bay Cities Racing Association.
The closest battle for the season championship remains in the Pro Stock division as two central valley drivers fight for the coveted title. Rancho Cordova driver Mike Moran has remained at the top of the point standings for the majority of the season but some poor luck late in the campaign combined with an onslaught of success by Citrus Heights driver Mike Chandler has narrowed Moran's point lead to just 13-digits.
"As far as I'm concerned there is no point lead anymore," said Moran in a recent track side interview. "That amount of points is nothing when you can make 40 or more in a night and anything could happen. We had a strong lead going into the second half of the season but some bad luck a few weeks ago set us back."
Throughout the season, Moran and Chandler have kept the Placerville crowd at the edge of their seats, often racing side by side with each other whether they start in the rear of the race or up front. During his outlook on the remainder of the season, Moran, a five time winner this season, commended Chandler's efforts.
"I can't say enough about Mike Chandler, he is an excellent driver with a well maintained car to driver every week," said Moran. "I just have to make sure if he's in front of me that I'm right behind him to keep up in the point standings in these last few weeks.
Chandler, who pilots the number five Chevelle owned by Gary Mohr of El Dorado Hills, has scored six feature wins this season. Much like Moran, Chandler is hungry for a track championship which would be the first in his career as well as a first for Mohr as a car owner.
"We're doing everything we can to make this a close battle for the championship, said Chandler. " Much of success we've been having I owe to Gary (Mohr), he does a great job on preparing the car every week and all I have to do is show up and do my job of driving it. Mike (Moran) is a great driver and when we get out in front together you never know who's going to win. I thinks that's going to be the case down to the last race."
Mike Nuss of Pollock Pines trails the two top runners in the Pro Stock point standings by 66-points. Dennis Armstrong of El Dorado has advanced to fourth in the standings with Randy Rigdon of Cameron Park in the fifth position.
In the Pacific Sprint division the track title has not been clinched yet, but David Robinson Jr. of Sacramento is closer to it than anyone else. After posting his third win of the season at Placerville last week, Robinson now holds a 28-point advantage over Sacramento's Billy Sellers.
"This championship will mean a lot to me and I can't really think about it when I'm out here racing. Billy Sellers is one heck of a race car driver and I do everything I can to stay in front of him every weekend and that's what I have to do these next two weeks."
After finishing second last week, Sellers edged his way into the second position by just four points over Mike Benson of Calistoga. Damion Gardner of Concord ranks fourth in the point standings while Gary Morgan of Elk Grove rounds out the top five.
In the Pure Stock division, Orangevale driver Eric Hansard has the largest point lead out of all three divisions at Placerville. As he enters Saturday's event, Hansard holds a 40-point advantage over Placerville's Neil Webster. Should Hansard rack up five additional points over Webster Saturday night, he will officially lock the 1998 track title. A driver can earn as many as 44-points in one night of competition at Placerville.
"We're just trying to finish each race we're end from now on to the end of the season, " said Hansard. "We're not going to quit racing hard though because we're out here for the championship but we're out here to win races too."
Bobby Bankson of Rancho Cordova holds the third place position in he Pure Stock ranks. Bankson if followed in the point standings by Placerville's Matt Keeler and Dan Farrington of Orangevale.
Action is set to begin at 6:30 on Saturday with qualifying for the sprint cars followed by racing at 7. The three track regulars will be joined by the Midget Lites of Bay Cities Racing Association. In this traveling division look for David Goodwill of Napa to lead the field. Goodwill, the current point leader will be joined by last week's winner John Taylor of Antelope, Ryan German of Suisun, Terry Bergstrom of Sacramento and many more.