First win for recent graduate
As if Brad Sweet needed any more reason to love Placerville Speedway’s 1/4 mile dirt oval.
The Grass Valley sprint car driver, who graduated from Bear River High School last June, broke through for his first California Sprint Car Civil War Series victory Saturday at what he refers to as his favorite track.
“I consider it to be my home track. I’ve raced there more than anywhere else and I’ve got a lot of fans there,” said Sweet, who is in his second season in the traveling Sprint 360 series. “This is considered one of the more competitive series around, so it was very exciting (to get the win).”
The Civil War series, which began in the early 1990s, attracts some of the northern California’s top drivers as it travels to dirt tracks across northern California from late March to early October.
Sweet took the lead from the drop of the green flag and held on tight.
He sliced his way through lapped traffic, but couldn’t shake Auburn’s Andy Forsberg and Livermore’s Chuck Gurney Jr. Sweet was in the final turn of the final go-round of the 30-lap event when things got interesting.
Sweet found himself trapped behind current points leader Dan Robinson Jr. of Foresthill. That’s when the hard-charging Forsberg passed him on the inside.
Robinson Jr.’s car inexplicably flipped, to bring out the red flag and cause a restart.
With just the remaining two-lap sprint standing between him and the victory, Sweet finished what he started, fist pumping as he took the checkered flag in the 22-car field.
“I think I could have been able to hold on even if Dan’s car didn’t flip. But it would have been close,” Sweet said.
The win, Sweet’s second top five- and fifth top-10 “A” Main finish in nine starts this year, helped him solidify his fourth-place spot in the series’ points standings at 583.
He is 10 points behind third-place Gurney Jr., and 50 points Robinson Jr.
Grass Valley’s Billy Wallace took seventh to post his fourth top-10 “A” Main finish this year.
Wallace finished second from last in Heat 3, but rebounded in the “B” Main to take fourth and earn a ticket to the night’s main event.
Wallace holds down seventh place – one spot behind Colfax’s Colby Wiesz (542) – in the points race with 494. Wiesz took sixth Heat 2, but missed the cut for the “A” Main by one place with his seventh-place finish in the “B” Main.
Mark Hall, of Grass Valley nabbed Heat 2’s checkered flag – his second heat win of the season – to head into “A” Main with tons of momentum.
The good times didn’t last.
Hall, who was 37 points behind Robinson Jr. in second place headed into Saturday, took 11th.
The news wasn’t all bad though, thanks to Robinson Jr.’s 13th-place finish. With that, Hall was able to gain eight points on the leader at 604 points.
Jeff Hallieb, of the Lake of the Pines, qualified for the “A” Main with a third-place finish in Heat 1. He went on to take 12th. Hallieb is eighth in points with 462.
Grass Valley’s Robert Stice made the cut for the “A” Main with a fourth-place Heat 4 finish. He finished 19th.
Stice, who is tied for 30th in the points race with 284, qualified along with Sweet, Wallace, Hall and Hallieb for the Pacific Sprint Cup Invitational Sept. 9 as they finished in the series’ top-30 as of Saturday.
Pat Harvey Jr., also of Grass Valley, took 11th in Heat 2. He’s 34th in points at 230.
The Civil War series will next head to the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico Sept. 8.
The Placerville Speedway will host Sprint 360s, Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks and Sprint 100s Saturday. Gates open at 5 p.m., with qualifying scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.
Contact the track at (530) 626-3680 for more information.
The Twin Cities Speedway in Marysville, which hosts several Civil War series’ events each year, will feature Sprint 360s, Speedway Sprints, Stocks and Mini Stocks Saturday. Gates open at 5 p.m., with qualifying scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m.
Contact the track at (916) 985-2089 for more information.
SILVER DOLLAR SPEEDWAY
Nevada City’s Mike Haemming was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the Dirt Modified “A” Main at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico Friday.
Haemming, who took fifth out of seventh in his heat, was closing in on fifth place five laps in, when he got tied up in a jumble of lapped traffic.
While the ensuing crash cost him some valuable time with a trip to the pit area to change a flat tire, Haemming was able to salvage his 11th top-10 showing in 15 starts with a ninth-place finish.
Haemming left the track in sixth place in points with 563. Ryan McDaniel of Marysville, is atop the driver’s standings with 648 points.
In the Pure Stock Division, Grass Valley’s Ritchie Hudgins took seventh in his heat and 11th in the 14-car “A” Main.
The Silver Dollar Speedway will play host to Sprint 410s, Dirt Modifieds and Pure Stocks Friday. Gates open at 6 p.m., with qualifying to follow at 7:30 p.m.
Contact the track at (530) 891-6535 for more information.
If you have any local motor sports news to report, contact sports writer Keith Jiron via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 477-4244.
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