TAFOYA EXPANDS USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR SCHEDULE IN 2023
By: Scott Daloisio
Chino Hills, California (January 9, 2023)………Eddie Tafoya Jr., the 2019 AMSOIL USAC CRA Sprint Car Rookie of the Year and 2018 Perris Auto Speedway Young Guns Sprint Car Champion, will take the next step in his racing career with an expanded schedule on the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship tour in 2023.
Tafoya will start his campaign in Florida on February 13 and 14 with a pair of special events at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville and finish out with the 11th Annual Sprint Car Smack Down at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway on August 24-25-26. He will compete 24 times with the premiere traditional sprint car series in the world.
Last year, the Chino Hills, California resident had a career-best season in 410 sprint cars. He made 24 starts in the USAC CRA Series and placed in the top-ten 13 times. Of the 13, six of those were inside the top-five. His best outing of 2022 came when he placed second at Arizona’s Cocopah Speedway on January 29. His hard work ended up with a third-place finish in the standings. Tafoya wants to build on the success of the past year and feels the best way to do that is by expanding his participation in the USAC National Series.
“We had a great year last year,” Tafoya recalled. “Third was good and our best finish was second. I really, really, really want to win. We were close, but we didn’t have the right package on the right nights. I do not want to plateau yet. I feel like I still have a lot to learn, and I want to learn it quickly. I think, by going and running with the national guys, by the time I come back here, it will put me in a lot better position. I just really want to win races and I really want to learn and get faster. I want to up my experience in a quicker amount of time.”
The 24 national series races currently on his schedule will be at 14 different tracks. Tafoya, 25, will be making his debut at eight of them. They are Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park and Bubba Raceway Park. He will be racing in Arkansas and Texas for the first time at Texarkana 67 Speedway, Rocket Raceway Park and Devil’s Bowl Speedway. He will also make first-time appearances at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway, which is known as the “Sprint Car Capital of the World,” and Circle City Raceway in Indiana. The appearances at Devil’s Bowl, Eldora and Knoxville are especially inviting as they are among the most famous dirt tracks in the world.
In 2022, Tafoya only ventured eastbound one time. That was for the three-night USAC National race at Huset’s Speedway in South Dakota in July. After placing 10th and 13th on the first two nights, the fit driver started the finale by scoring a comfortable win in his qualifier. After starting third in the main, he ran in the top-three for the first 17 laps. That included running second for several laps much to the delight of the crowd at the track and thousands watching around the world on FloRacing. While in third on lap 18, he slapped the wall coming off turn four, sending his car bicycling onto the left side wheels and then back into the wall when it came back down on all fours. The young charger stayed on the throttle despite a bad vibration in the car. He remained on the track for the duration and placed 15th with what turned out to be a badly bent wheel.
“We ran third until I think halfway to go when I got into the wall,” Tafoya stated when asked if his run at Huset’s weighed on his decision to expand his national schedule. “Out here (on the West Coast) I really don’t know what it is. On our good nights, we are all right. On our bad nights, we just could not figure it out. All of my crew said if we could run like we did at Huset’s we would be doing great out here. I need to go back there. I feel I just need to do some homework and be able to be in that zone for a consistent amount of time and not just hit and miss.”
Racing in the national series means Tafoya will be spending some time on the eight tracks he has never raced on. He is looking forward to new adventures and challenges. While he has never set a tire to those tracks, he has battled on many of them on the simulator.
“I really like the big racetracks as I seem to do a lot better when I go a lot faster for whatever reason that is,” the second-generation sprint car driver laughed. “I know from just watching (Bubba Raceway Park) in Florida that it is quick. I know Devil’s Bowl is supposed to be fast. Eldora is obviously huge and so is Knoxville. I run all of those on the simulator. I think it will be really cool to get back to those tracks and see what we can do against those guys.”
“I wouldn’t say it helps much when it comes to set up stuff,” he continued, referring to racing on a simulator. “But it helps for sure with visual and reaction stuff, like when stuff starts going wrong. Training your brain on how to react to certain situations and stuff like that, I think it is really helpful.”
The only uncertainty in heading back to the Midwest seems to be crew related. Well supported by family and friends when he is racing in the west, that may be a bit harder when he is competing thousands of miles away.
“That is definitely one of the big issues,” the driver intoned when queried on who would be helping when he is not in California. “We have a couple of buddies who live back there who we are fortunate that they let us use their properties and stuff. The Wingo Brothers run a sprint car back there and I think they are going to come help us whenever they can. Hopefully, we can fly in Kenny (Perkins), Malyssa (Perkins), my cousins and whoever else can lend a hand when we need it.”
While his focus for 2023 will be in the USAC National series, West Coast fans need not fret as they will still get to see Tafoya in action when he is not away racing in the Midwest. He will be in and out for events early in the season, and with his current USAC National schedule slated to end in August, he should get in several races in September, October and November.
“I know that after we go to Florida, we are bringing our stuff home,” Tafoya said. “So, in between the end of February and mid-April, we will be home. We will see if there are some races in there. We have not decided if we are leaving our stuff there between Eldora to Knoxville or if we are coming back. Basically, whenever my stuff is home, we will try to hit Perris and some other closer stuff. And if somebody needs a driver here (when he is not in the Midwest), I would be more than happy to drive.”
The Specialty Fasteners #51T team is currently busy in the shop making sure the cars are ready for the season openers in Florida. In addition to working on the cars in the shop, they are exploring corporate partnership opportunities for the upcoming campaign. If you or your company would like to be a partner with the Specialty Fasteners team in 2023, please contact Eddie Tafoya Jr. via phone at (909) 393-3999 or by e-mail at mailto:
. He will be happy to talk to you and lay out the team’s plans.
EDDIE TAFOYA JR.’S 2023 USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR SCHEDULE:
Feb 13: Volusia Speedway Park – Barberville, Florida
Feb 14 Volusia Speedway Park – Barberville, Florida
Feb 16 Bubba Raceway Park – Ocala, Florida
Feb 17 Bubba Raceway Park – Ocala, Florida
Feb 18 Bubba Raceway Park – Ocala, Florida
Apr 26: Texarkana 67 Speedway – Texarkana, Arkansas
Apr 28: Devil’s Bowl Speedway – Mesquite, Texas
Apr 29: Devil’s Bowl Speedway – Mesquite, Texas
May 5: Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, Ohio
May 6: Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, Ohio
Jun 2: Knoxville Raceway – Knoxville, Iowa
Jun 3: Knoxville Raceway – Knoxville, Iowa
Jul 21: Gas City I69 Speedway – Gas City, Indiana
Jul 22: Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana
Jul 23: Lawrenceburg Speedway – Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Jul 24: Circle City Raceway – Indianapolis, Indiana
Jul 26: TBA
Jul 27: Lincoln Park Speedway – Putnamville, Indiana
Jul 28: Bloomington Speedway – Bloomington, Indiana
Jul 29: Tri-State Speedway – Haubstadt, Indiana
Aug 24: Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana
Aug 25: Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana
Aug 26: Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana