Clovis racer Jason Meyers showed the form that carried him to two World of Outlaws sprint car championships on Night 1 of the 23rd annual Trophy Cup benefitting Make-A-Wish.
Meyers, who in recent years has limited his driving appearances, went from third to first on a sneaky turn four pass on lap 27 and went on to win the 30-lap main event at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.
Meyers started 16th and steadily worked his way toward the front. But on a lap 26 yellow it appeared that leader Shane Golobic of Fremont and second-place Kyle Hirst of Paradise had the field covered for the single-file restart.
Golobic and Hirst battled all the way around the racy third-mile clay oval on lap 27, while Meyers found momentum on the high side of the track. Then he stuck to the bottom of turns three and four in the Easton-based Tarlton Racing car as Golobic and Hirst battled along the wall. Meyers was able to carry more momentum onto the front stretch than the other two drivers, sweeping to the top of the track at the start-finish line, then pulling away for the win.
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It puts him in a good spot to go for his third Trophy Cup championship following wins in 2007 and 2012. In between, he won the national Outlaws championships in 2010-11 before retiring from full-time racing.
The Trophy Cup’s unique format awards points in all races Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to setting the field for Saturday’s 50-lap main event. (But only a driver’s best preliminary night carries into Saturday, so drivers who struggled Thursday still have a chance to get on solid footing.) The event champion is crowned based on total points. The Trophy Cup champion earns a guaranted $20,000 payday.
Hirst, driving for Fresno-based Roth Motorsports this weekend, finished second, trailing the team car he’s campaigned this season to the points lead in the King of the West series with one race left in that season.
Golobic was third, Jonathan Allard of Chico in a second Tarlton car fourth and Tim Kaeding of San Jose in a second Roth car fifth.
Mitchell Faccinto of Hanford was sixth, Cory Eliason of Kingsburg (driving this weekend for Campbell’s Brent Kaeding) was seventh, 14-year-old Buddy Kofoid of Penngrove eighth, Sean Becker of Roseville ninth and Terry McCarl of Iowa 10th.
DJ Netto of Hanford led several early laps and was running second when he was hit from behind by Bud Kaeding of Campbell in the Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports car on lap 11. Netto’s night was done; Kaeding limped home 19th.
Other central San Joaquin Valley racers in the 24-car main event were Dominic Scelzi of Fresno (17th), Steven Tiner of Visalia (20th) and Kyler Shaw of Fresno (23rd).
Fifty-nine cars entered Thursday night, with more expected Friday night when racing is scheduled to resume at 6:30 p.m.