Making only his second appearance at the Bakersfield Speedway, Eddie Tafoya Jr. avoided the chaos and placed fifth in the USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series main event last Saturday night. It was his third top-five finish in 2022.
For Tafoya, who makes his home in Chino Hills, California, not only was it his second appearance at the track that is billed as “The West’s Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked Clay Oval,” but it was his first time there since 2019. His result on Saturday bodes well for the series’ next appearance there on Labor Day weekend.
Twenty-two cars showed up for the race on the Kern County clay oval. When qualifying began, it was obvious that it was a “Cowboy Up” track. Tafoya was the first car out to qualify in the “PBR-Looking” session. His first lap saw him bounce around the edge of the cushion in turn four and ended up at 14.411. On the second lap, he lived up to his “Mr. Smooth” nickname. He kept all four tires on the ground and stopped the clocks over a half-second faster at 13.804. That was right in the middle of the field at 11th fastest.
The Bakersfield crew did their magic on the track when time trials were over and it was much smoother throughout the remainder of the night. Tafoya’s first opportunity to test the reworked surface came in the second 10-lap heat race. The pretty #51T started on the inside of row two and ended up placing fifth.
For the 30-lap feature, Tafoya started on the inside of the sixth row in 11th. By the time the race survived one red flag and the first two yellows on lap seven, the #51T was running in fifth. That was a good thing as throughout the race, the yellow flag halted the action several times and all that trouble was behind him. Tafoya stayed in fifth for the duration and earned his second top-five finish in the last three races.
In two races at Bakersfield in his young career, Tafoya’s consistent driving style has yielded fifth and sixth-place finishes.
Last week’s result allowed Tafoya to maintain his fifth-place standing in the USAC/CRA Series. Going into the next race at Perris Auto Speedway on May 28th, he is only 23-points out of fourth. Through the first nine races of the year, his finishing average is 8.88. However, that included a three-race stretch in the middle portion of his schedule that saw him finish outside the top 10 (including one race at Perris when he was clobbered and had a car destroyed). Take away those uncharacteristic outings and his finishing order in the other six races is an impressive 5.66.
Tafoya and the #51T team would like to thank Specialty Fasteners, DRC Chassis, Ryder Racing Engines, Simpson Safety Products, Bell, Benic Enterprises, BR Motorsports, PSC Powder Coating, Magik Graphics, Gasper Transportation, Owen’s Insurance Services, and Weld Wheels for making the 2022 season possible.
Fans can follow Tafoya on Instagram @eddietafoya51. The same contact point can be used to purchase his great-looking shirts via mail.
Eddie Tafoya Jr. 2022 Race Results
1-27 Cocopah Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 7th A Main
1-28 Cocopah Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 9th A Main
1-29 Cocopah Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 2nd A Main
3-26 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 18th A Main
4-1 Keller Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 13th A Main
4-2 Thunderbowl Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 15th A Main
4-23 Mohave Valley Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 3rd A Main
4-30 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 8th A Main
5-14 Bakersfield Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 5th A Main
Eddie Tafoya PR