SEPTEMBER 5, 2012
"Gold Cup Civil War Invitational"
Silver Dollar Speedway
Elk Grove's DeCaires wins Pacific Sprint Cup in classic catfish style
By Bill Sullivan, Civil War Sprint Car Series Media Relations
Photo by Donna Peter
CHICO, CA (9-7-11) - For years it has been known as the crown jewel of the traveling Hoosier Racing Tires California Sprint Car Civil War Race Series, the invitational Pacific Sprint Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. This annual event opens the Gold Cup Race of Champions week at the famed quarter-mile speedway and places the top 32 drivers in the point standings in a premier event with a healthy payday.
This year the event changed slightly and a handful of drivers were added to the roster by the management of Silver Dollar Speedway to insure a full field of competitors. In the end, it was a still a well known Civil War Warrior who took home the gold as Greg DeCaires outwitted two of the nation's most talented young guns of open wheel racing.
A former Silver Dollar Speedway Rookie of the Year and track champion as well as a former Civil War Series Champion, DeCaires is no stranger to the likes of Silver Dollar Speedway. As one of the "older" drivers in today's ranks, the longtime Elk Grove resident is one of the most patient and skilled drivers lurking in California who is known for saving the best for last, preserving his equipment and waiting until the opportune moment to make his move. Wednesday night, the driver known as "The Catfish" definitely lived up to his name as his longtime driving style paid off in a very big way.
Now driving for Sacramento car owner Rudy Warrington, DeCaires started the feature event in the fifth place starting position. At the waving of the green flag Mason Moore of Princeton jumped into the lead off the front row. As DeCaires lurked back in the fifth position for the early laps of the race, he watched the two young guns that were added to the roster power past him towards the front, Elk Grove's Kyle Larson who now competes in national midget competition and Grass Valley native Brad Sweet who now resides in Hickoryville, North Carolina racing for Kasey Kahne motorsports, currently sitting in for injured driver Joey Saldana on the World of Outlaws tour.
With three laps complete, Larson was in third place and powered his way to the point with just eight laps down with Sweet in his wake. The two nationally recognized drivers began dueling for position and Sweet overtook the lead on lap 13 of the event while DeCaires moved himself into the fourth and then into the top three with 17 laps down.
For the next seven laps, Sweet, Larson and DeCaires all races within inches of one another swapping positions in a classic slice and dice dogfight style to produce one of the most exciting battles for the lead of the season. With 24 laps down, DeCaires decided he had enough of playing with the youngsters and proved a catfish is ageless when it comes to using the bottom groove of Silver Dollar Speedway.
While Sweet and Larson raced on the high side, DeCaires maintained his low line in the powerful Warrington #18 sprint car. Sticking to his trademark line paid off as he muscled his way into the lead ahead of Sweet and razed the crowd to their feet. Once in front, DeCaires maintained the lower line on the track while Sweet and Larson searched for lines in which they could redeem themselves in the final six laps. At the finish line it was DeCaires picking up the victory followed by Sweet, Larson, Colby Wiesz of Colfax and Brett Rollag of Rohnert Park.
"I've always loved racing at this track and running the low line has usually paid off here," said DeCaires. "I was running there in third place for quite awhile and I just got tired of watching those kids have so much fun up there so I went for it and it paid off. I really want to that the Warrington's for giving me the opportunity to drive this car this year along with Mark and my whole crew, they give me a great car to drive wherever we are at."
In preliminary action on Wednesday, Sweet earned the fast time award with a 12:042. Nicole Miller was second fast with 12:206 and Civil War Series point leader Andy Forsberg was third with a 12:235. Heat races were won by Larson, Brad Bumgarner, Clayton Snow and Wiesz. Forsberg won the B main event followed by Andy Gregg, Kyle Hirst, Jimmy Trulli and Steven Tiner.The Civil War Series will now head to Ocean Speedway on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds on Friday night, September 23rd for the second to last segment. The series will conclude on Saturday night, September 24th at Placerville Speedway. For further information on the Civil War Series please visit the official series website at www.civilwarsprints.com.