The Clovis, CA native has shined primarily on the west coast but also in other parts of the country over the past two years. Racking up wins against California’s toughest competition and impressing as he debuted at tracks in the Midwest suggested the kid was destined for stardom. And in Chico, CA, Day made the strongest testament to that path.
In the 69th running of the Curb Records Gold Cup Race of Champions presented by Riebes Auto Parts, Day started on the pole and drove a perfect race to claim his first career World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car victory. The 17-year-old led every circuit of the 40-lap finale to collect a $25,000 payday and a special triumph in his home state.
After the checkered flag flew, Day gassed the Jason Meyers Racing #14 around the quarter mile powered by emotion. After parking in Victory Lane, Day climbed completely atop the wing to a massive applause of the crowd happy to see one of their own take California’s biggest race.
“This is kind of where I got my start and really put myself on the map with my first breakout run,” Day said. “It’s unbelievable to be there. To do it in front of you fans is unreal. The amount of Corey Day shirts I’ve seen here this weekend is awesome. I appreciate you guys so much. I’m just at a loss for words. We’ve been close a couple times. We were close at Skagit, close at Perris and Bakersfield last year and couldn’t do it. This is a relief, for sure. It’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time.”
The win came in only Day’s 19th career Feature start with The Greatest Show on Dirt. He became the seventh different driver to notch their first Series win at Silver Dollar Speedway and only the third, joining Kyle Larson (2011) and Jonathan Allard (2014), to do so in the Gold Cup finale. Day became the second competitor to earn their first victory this year along with Brady Bacon. The World of Outlaws all-time win list now sits at 151 different drivers. He also followed the footsteps of his car owner as Jason Meyers is a former Gold Cup champ (2010 & 2013).
For Day, the win came as a culmination of a nearly perfect night. After locking in the Toyota Racing Dash through his Thursday prelim night, the teenager was able to rest easy early on while most of the others competed in four Heat Races. When the time came to draw for Dash starting spots, Day was the last one to draw, and the one was all that was left, putting him on the pole. After trading a few sliders and crossovers with Buddy Kofoid, Day went on to top the Dash.
In the Feature, the main challenge became navigating a bevy of restarts early in the night. A collection of cautions interrupted the flow in the opening laps. But Day never got rattled. Each time the green flag flew, he would pull ahead of Buddy Kofoid.
As the race neared the halfway mark, the action ramped up behind Day. Kofoid tripped up on the cushion on Lap 15, allowing Justin Sanders and Carson Macedo by to take spots two and three. Then three circuits later, Macedo slipped by Sanders to take over the runner-up position.
Macedo looked to be closing on Day, but then disaster struck for the Lemoore, CA native on the 25th lap when he went over the cushion in Turn 2 and fell to 10th by the time he regained control, effectively ending his hopes. Sanders took over the second spot with Macedo’s misfortune.
As the laps faded, Day’s biggest challenge became traffic and getting smoothly through a part of the racetrack. He began to have problems exiting Turn 4 inside 10 laps to go allowing Sanders and Kofoid to close. The gap dwindled from over three seconds to less than two.
“I didn’t know if they (Sanders and Kofoid) were on me or if they weren’t,” Day admitted. “Honestly, I sucked on the bottom of (Turns) 3 and 4. I could not get off (Turn) 4 and get through the center to save my life. I’ve lost races by getting passed around the top at this place, and I’ve won doing the same thing, so I didn’t know where to be. I was just trying to get around lapped cars.”
But even with the trouble getting ahold of that part of the track, it wouldn’t matter in the end. Ultimately, Day maintained the speed he needed to take the checkered flag with more than a two-second lead and cement his name in the history books in front of his home crowd.
“It’s a dream come true,” Day said. “It’s been one of my goals for ever since I started racing. When you start racing, you want to be an Outlaw one day. To have my name on the list of winners is unreal.”
Claiming the second spot for the second night in a row was Justin Sanders. The result also marked Sanders’ second runner-up in the Gold Cup finale with the other coming in 2017. Overall, Sanders came away very satisfied with the effort of he and his Mittry 2X Racing team but did feel a tinge of disappointment with being a spot away.”
“This is awesome to run second at a big race like this,” Sanders said. “It’s kind of a bummer being just one spot short both nights. I would’ve liked to at least get one of them, but we’ll take it. Like I said, congrats to Corey. He’s going to win a lot of them. Hopefully we can get one one day.”
Completing the top three was Buddy Kofoid to give California natives a podium sweep every single night of this year’s Gold Cup. Like the two ahead of him, Kofoid landed on the podium both of his nights after topping Friday’s prelim. The Penngrove, CA native felt his Roth Motorsports #83 was strong enough to contend for the victory had circumstances presented him with the right opportunity.
“I felt like we had a really good car,” Kofoid said. “I moved up early to try the top, and it was just super dirty because the bottom was so good. I just tried to work it in and probably got tight a couple times and launched myself off and would fall back to fifth. I’d drive back to third, get second, fall back to fourth, and get back to second. So, I thought we had a really good car. I feel like even towards the end with Justin and I racing we were catching the leader a little bit. It would’ve been nice to have a yellow, or if the top would’ve come in a little bit better I feel like it would’ve created an even better race.
Dominic Scelzi and Brad Sweet rounded out the top five.
An 18th to ninth effort gave Chase Randall the KSE Racing Hard Charger.
CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One went to Spencer Bayston. NOS Energy Drink Heats Two through Four were topped by Dominic Scelzi, Carson Macedo, and Logan Schuchart.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars complete the west coast swing with two more nights in California. First up is Kings Speedway in Hanford, CA on Friday, September 15 for the $21,000-to-win Tom Tarlton Classic. The next night takes the tour up to Placerville Speedway for the Federated Auto Parts 49er Gold Rush Classic. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the racing live on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (40 Laps): 1. 14-Corey Day; 2. 2X-Justin Sanders; 3. 83JR-Michael Kofoid; 4. 41S-Dominic Scelzi; 5. 49-Brad Sweet; 6. 17W-Shane Golobic; 7. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 8. 5-Spencer Bayston; 9. 57W-Chase Randall; 10. 24X-Chase Johnson; 11. 24-Rico Abreu; 12. 41-Carson Macedo; 13. 15-Donny Schatz; 14. 17M-Kalib Henry; 15. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 16. 2-David Gravel; 17. 42X-Justyn Cox; 18. 83-James McFadden; 19. 20G-Noah Gass; 20. (DNF) 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 21. (DNF) 0-Jonathan Allard; 22. (DNF) X1-Michael Faccinto; 23. (DNF) 92-Andy Forsberg; 24. (DNF) 22-Ryan Bernal
Story and Photo provided by World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series