Fresh off his latest trip to race with the USAC National Sprint Car Series in the “10th Annual Smackdown” at the Kokomo Speedway, Eddie Tafoya Jr. returned to the west coast just in time to compete in three USAC/CRA Sprint Car races in Northern California on Labor Day weekend. His best finish of the three was an 11th at the series annual visit to the Petaluma Speedway.
The first two races of the trek to Nor Cal took Tafoya to the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. They marked the 2019 USAC/CRA and USAC Southwest Series Rookie of the Year’s first appearance at the historic track. In addition, those two races were the 13th running of the famed “Louie Vermeil Classic.” Normally staged on the large ½ mile Calistoga Speedway, this year’s version was switched to the much tighter Chico quarter-mile oval.
The first night of the three-race trip was on Saturday, September 4th and Tafoya qualified 30th. In his 10-lap heat race he ended up sixth and that meant he had to go to the B Main. The Chino Hills, California driver needed to finish in the top six in the B Main to get into the night’s 30-lap finale. He did that with room to spare when he finished fourth in the 12-lapper. A gear issue in the main event saw the #51T finish 20th after starting 21st.
The second night at Chico saw Tafoya only get one lap on the clocks in qualifying. Issues on that lap plagued him all night long as they meant he had to start in the back in all of his races. Coming from the eighth and last starting spot in his 10-lap heat, Tafoya had to get to fourth to go straight to the A Main. He made a late race charge and advanced three spots to fifth. On the last lap, he kept on charging, but when the checkered came down he was one car length shy of taking the transfer spot. Once again, he was going to have to get it done in the B Main.
Starting at the back of the B in the 15th position, things looked bleak. It meant he was going to have to pass nine cars in just 12-laps to get into the A Main. Somebody forgot to tell the young driver that things did not look good. Once the green flag flew, he kept his focus and moved forward. In all, he passed 10 cars and finished fifth! That put him in the A Main for the second straight night. For the 30-lapper he took his spot at the back one more frustrating time. That was the 22nd position and once again, he moved forward. This time he got up to, and finished 16th in the 30-lap finale.
At the final of the three nights at Petaluma Speedway, Tafoya qualified 12th fastest in the 15-car field. For the heat race it was the exact opposite of 24 hours earlier when he started at the back. This time he started on the front row, led the first five laps, and finished second. For the main he started on the outside of row sixth in 12th. There were some stagger issues and he finished 11th.
While the three days did not go as hoped, there were bright spots. Despite battling with some issues, Tafoya moved forward in all three of the A Mains he started as well as in both B Mains. The team learned a lot and will file it for the next time they hit the two Nor Cal tracks in 2022.
Next up for the Specialty Fasteners team will be the September 25th “Glen Howard Memorial” at Perris Auto Speedway. Tafoya will have his great looking shirts for sale on the track at the intermission autograph session and in the pits after the races. If you cannot make it and wish to purchase one, contact Tafoya on Facebook or Instagram.
Fans can follow Tafoya on Instagram @eddietafoya51.
Eddie Tafoya PR