On a track that was as demanding and technical as any the USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series has competed on in 2022, Eddie Tafoya Jr. finished eighth in the main event last Saturday night at the Santa Maria Raceway. The finish allowed him to get closer to the drivers ranked second and third in the championship point standings.
Built in 1964, Saturday’s race was the first at the track in over a year. Race starved locals welcomed the return of the motorized action and the event was a complete sellout.
Tafoya, who lives in Chino Hills, California, kicked off his night with a fast lap of 14.288 in qualifying. That was the fifth quickest time in the 31-car field. The time placed him on the inside of the third row for the first 10-lap heat race. Early in the heat, the friendly driver slipped back to sixth. That was two spots out of the final transfer position. On a track that was proving hard to pass on, it took Tafoya until late in the race to get past the fifth-place driver. Once by, he dramatically closed in on the 4th place car. However, before he could get by and into the final transfer spot, the 10-lap race ended. Tafoya was one car length out of the final transfer.
The fifth-place finish in the heat race meant that Tafoya had to start the B Main. The top six cars in the 12-lap affair would advance to the night’s 30-lap A Main. Being that he was the fastest qualifying car in the B, the 25-year-old and his #51T started on the pole. That was especially important as the track was quickly deteriorating in turns one and two and passing was going to be at a premium. As soon as the green flag started the race, Tafoya removed any doubt that he would not be in the A main by running away from the remainder of the field. When he flew by the checkered flag at the end of the 12-lapper, “Mr. Smooth” was a full straightaway ahead of the second-place car.
For the main, Tafoya started on the inside of row four. He was seventh in the early going and stayed around that spot most of the race. In the end, he crossed the line in eighth, giving him seven top 10 finishes in the last seven USAC/CRA races.
Amid his best season in a sprint car to date, Tafoya shaved valuable points off the advantages of the drivers just ahead of him in the championship standings. Going into Santa Maria, he was 67-points out of second. He left the track only 47-points out of the runner up spot. In addition, he was 39-points out of third going into the show and came out of the event only 21 shy of the driver in third.
Tafoya returns to his home digs, Perris Auto Speedway, for the annual California Racer’s Hall of Fame Night on August 20. Gates will open at 5:00 p.m. with racing at 7:00.
Be sure to check out Tafoya’s brand new YouTube channel at the following link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxgMCW64p0uyBmOcKN7_bDQ.
Fans can follow Tafoya on Instagram @eddietafoya51. The same contact point can be used to purchase his great-looking shirts via mail.
Eddie Tafoya PR