(Chino, CA, December 2, 2020) When the 2020 racing season began, nobody could have predicted what a bizarre year it would be due the Covid crisis. Likewise, nobody could have foreseen the impressive sophomore season Eddie Tafoya Jr. would rack up. The Chino Hills, California racer finished the 2020 campaign in mid-November at the 53rd Western World Championships at the Arizona Speedway.
Plans for 2020 envisioned Tafoya competing for most of the time in his native California. However, Covid changed that! He ended up doing most of his racing 2,000 miles away in Indiana. Competing on a variety of tracks in the “Hoosier State” against the nation’s top traditional sprint car drivers proved to be a great learning experience for the second-generation driver. The 2019 USAC/CRA and USAC Southwest season Rookie of the Year competed favorably with the big stars and made main events when it seemed like the experience level was stacked against him. That brought him to the Western World with high expectations.
In qualifying on the first night of the Western, Tafoya ended up 21st out of the 34 cars on hand with a lap of 15.652. He followed that up with a disappointing seventh-place finish in his heat race. That meant the handsome driver would have to race the B main in order to get into the night’s 25-lap A main event.
The B main was going to be tough as only six cars would transfer to the A. Tafoya was starting sixth and had his work cut out for him. As soon as the green light flashed on, he went to work and by the end of the first lap, he had sliced and diced his way into fourth. That gave him a two-spot cushion. As per usual, he was not going to rest on his laurels, and on lap four he became embroiled in a crowd-pleasing slide job war for third. The 23-year old masterfully won that battle and finished third to earn his ticket into the first-night main event.
Getting into the A main was one thing. But starting outside of the next to last row in 20th, some who have not seen Tafoya race this year may have had doubts about what he could do. Those who had been watching his exploits in Indiana this summer, salivated at the probability of what they were going to see. He did not disappoint them. He aimed the beautiful #51T towards the front of the pack and advanced forward. Just past the halfway point, he had moved all the way up to eighth. He momentarily slipped to 11th but clawed his way back up to 10th at the finish. In the end, he passed more cars than any other driver in the race and received the well-earned Hard Charger Award.
Saturday’s finale saw Tafoya qualify 20th fast of the 31 cars on hand when he stopped the clocks with a lap of 16.098. For the second night in a row, he was on the front row for the heat race. This time, things turned out quite different. He dove to the bottom on the start and proceeded to lead every inch of the way for a very impressive win.
Things looked a lot better for the Saturday main. On Friday Tafoya started 20th, but he was starting 12 spots better on Saturday in eighth. The driver and the crew of the #51T were pumped for the main event. However, those hopes were doused after only three laps when a broken bleeder valve knocked him out of the race with a frustrating 22nd place finish.
December is a time off the track for Tafoya, but it will not be for long. As soon as the holidays are over, he will be headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma to race in the 35th Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals beginning on January 11th. He will be a teammate of 2019 USAC Western States Midget Champion and former So Cal resident Robert Dalby in the prestigious event. It will be the second straight year that Tafoya has contested the biggest Midget race in the world.
Eddie, his family, and crew want to wish all race fans a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Tafoya and his team would like to thank the following sponsors for being a part of the 2020 racing effort. Specialty Fasteners, Circle Track Performance, Sprint Car Driving Experience, DRC Chassis, Ryder Racing Engines, and Benic Enterprises.
Eddie Tafoya Jr. 2020 Racing Results
1-15-20 Chili Bowl Preliminary Night Tulsa, Oklahoma 6th C Main
1-18-20 Chili Bowl Finals Night Tulsa, Oklahoma 9th I Main
3-6-20 USAC/CRA & Southwest Sprint Cars Speedway Park Peoria, AZ 10th A Main
3-7-20 USAC/CRA & Southwest Sprint Cars Speedway Park Peoria, AZ 12th A Main
7-24-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Gas City I-69 Speedway 5th B Main
7-25-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Kokomo Speedway 5th C Main
7-26-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Lawrenceburg Speedway 19th A Main
7-29-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Terre Haute Action Track 7th B Main
8-2-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Tri-State Speedway 8th B Main
8-27-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Kokomo Speedway 14th C Main
8-28-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Kokomo Speedway 12th B Main
8-29-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Kokomo Speedway 19th A Main
9-18-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Terre Haute Action Track 19th A Main
9-19-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Tri-State Speedway 17th A Main
9-25-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Gas City I-69 Speedway 8th C Main
9-26-20 USAC National Sprint Cars Kokomo Speedway 11th B Main
11-13-20 USAC/CRA & Southwest Sprint Cars Arizona Speedway 10th A Main
11-14-20 USAC/CRA & Southwest Sprint Cars Arizona Speedway 22nd A Main