ESS: Albany Saratoga II: Race report

Erin Crocker's convincing win proves popular with Big Albany-Saratoga Crowd: She collects third ESS win of 2002 in a non-stop A-Main. MALTA, N.Y. -- Once Erin Crocker, the 21 year old young lady driver, took the lead from John Karklin Jr. on...

Erin Crocker's convincing win proves popular with Big Albany-Saratoga Crowd: She collects third ESS win of 2002 in a non-stop A-Main.

MALTA, N.Y. -- Once Erin Crocker, the 21 year old young lady driver, took the lead from John Karklin Jr. on the sixth lap the rest of the 20 lap A-main Friday night at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway was just a formality. Running her Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) sponsored #16 on the extreme outside cushion, Crocker not only opened up a big lead, she dominated the rest of the field to collect her third Empire Super Sprints (ESS) feature event of the season.

At the beginning of the season, many fans of ESS doubted why seven-time champion Mike Woodring would take the still virtually unproven driver in his fold. What started as a learning experience for both has now turned into a top contending team in the sprint car ranks. Crocker joins Ryan Coniam and Lance Yonge as three-time winners on the Tour 2002 and is within an ear shot of the top five in points.

"The car was just awesome." said a very happy driver who was greeted by a loud ovation in victory lane. "Since John (Karklin) was running down low, I just took to the cushion and the car just seemed to get hooked up. I just try to run hard and smooth but you just don't know if you are going fast enough, that's always the tricky part about leading."

Fast enough was an understatement, in the event that went green to checker Crocker not only opened up a huge lead she was lapping top cars at an alarming rate late in the race. "I thought I was going too conservative with the slower cars. I just wanted to make sure I didn't crash out of the race." said the Wilbraham, Mass. pilot. "I didn't even realize that I was that far in the lead. I just have to thank the crew for giving me such a good car."

Karklin Jr. took his Dick Goff owned #69K from his pole starting spot to the lead and hugged the very inside of the 1/3rd mile oval. Karklin had a slight lead early but he soon would fall under the wrath of the fourth place starting Crocker. The line Karklin was using was getting slicker and the cushion seemed to be the place to be, that is where Crocker was strutting her stuff. On lap six she swept by Karklin and the rest was history.

"This win feels so good." Simply said by Crocker, "I didn't trash a car the night before, I won with the Rensselaer colors on the car which helps since the college is just down the road and my whole family is here. This is about the only track where they can come to and watch me race, that makes this special."

It's an unusual weekend for the soon to be senior at RPI, "My car is loaded right to the roof, I'm going to move into college tonight and tomorrow and then get ready for the ESS show at Devil's Bowl on Sunday." said Erin shortly afterwards.

At the checkered flag it was Crocker by nearly half a lap for the win, Quebec's Alain Bergeron got by Karklin Jr. on lap 12 for second and that's where he finished at the end of 20 laps. Karklin Jr. took third with Tim Kelly and Don Sharp Jr. rounding out the top five. Next in line were Lance Yonge, from 12th, Bill Coffey, Rich Wood, Jeff VanDusen and Ray Preston in tenth.

Taking the Brodix Cylinder Heads heat events were Bergeron, Preston and Crocker with the KSE Racing Products B-Main won by Justin Barger. The Gabriel's Super Market/Walt's Hobby Dash was won by Karklin Jr.

ESS NOTES: A fine field of 33 sprinters in the pits--Making first ever ESS starts were Don Bellen and Steve Mothon--Brian Dumigan flipped in his heat hard, he walked away but took a quick trip to the local hospital with a sore back--.Jim McCaffrey also rolled his sprinter in the B-Main--.Good to see former ESS competitor Roger Horvath taking in the action with his wife Marisa and crew chief Steve Bruno--Justin Barger took the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus coming from 19th to place 11th at the finish.

-ess-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Erin Crocker , Don Bell , Justin Barger , Bill Coffey