Steve Poirier Thrills Hometown Fans With Exiting Empire Super Sprint Victory at Autodrome Granby; Passes Doug Norrie with Two Laps Remaining. GRANBY, QC. -- It could be that "Hollywood Script" type of deal you hear about every now and ...
Steve Poirier Thrills Hometown Fans With Exiting Empire Super Sprint Victory at Autodrome Granby; Passes Doug Norrie with Two Laps Remaining.
GRANBY, QC. -- It could be that "Hollywood Script" type of deal you hear about every now and then...and indeed it was. When St. Mathieu de Beloeil, Quebec's Steve Poirier joined the nativepoker.com Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) in 2006, the French-Canadian fans had another chauffeur to cheer for when the sprinters come to town. Taking second on lap 14, Poirier used an all out attack to chase down race long leader Doug Norrie in hopes of a big win Friday night at Autodrome. With 23 laps in the books, Poirier made a daring pass in turn one to take the lead which saw thousands of fans roar to their delight.
Poirier's FM Industries backed #28FM ducked through laps cars on the final lap to take his fourth win of the season and greet a standing ovation when he climbed from his sprinter. "This is one of the highlights of my career, this is very special!" Poirier said with a big smile while greeting well wishers long after the checkered flag had fallen. "To win in front of your own fans is just amazing, especially with a pass late in the race. It's funny, when I won a lot with the modifieds some would boo me but I understood why. But, when you leave and come back in a different division they cheer you on and it makes you feel good. I think they feel that one of their own beat some of the American sprint car drivers. It makes them proud and I'm glad that they support me."
Norrie's Spectro Oils #92M took right off from the start and opened up a big lead early in the Spectro Oils Canadian Invasion Series event. His sprinter took to the high side of the Granby ½ mile and a set a blistering pace in hopes of collecting his second career ESS victory. While Norrie was comfortably in the lead, the battles behind him saw position changes galore on each lap with a multi-grooved surface fitting the winged machines.
Nick Fratto, Poirier, Luke Eriksen, Bobby Podolak and others were using all grooves to see who would come out on top on each lap. It was Poirier who finally broke through on that 14th lap and the chase was on. "On our restart I could see an yellow car was leading, so when I got into second I just drove as hard as I could to catch it and it was Doug (Norrie)." Poirier mentioned about his task. "I think this was the hardest I ever drove a sprint car but you have to here, if you do let up someone will go right by you. When I knew I had a chance at the end I just never lifted and luckily I just got by at the end. I think it was a great race."
While Norrie was a bit down afterwards, the likeable Connecticut native took the second place finish in stride. "It was close, I got beat by a driver that really knows this track. He deserved it, Steve drove a great race and I'm glad he won in front of his fans." Said Norrie. "Hey, I'm still happy. I didn't even qualify for the last three shows and to take second his good for us. We have been really struggling this year and it was getting to us but with this run it gives us something to build on."
At the finish it was Poirier across ahead of Norrie. The local fans had another reason to cheer when St. Pie, Quebec's Alain Bergeron's late race charge netted him a podium finish of third. After starting in Eriksen continued his strong weekend taking a fine fourth aboard the Manchester Wood J&J with Jessica Zemken coming through for fifth. Rounding out the top ten were current ESS point leader Justin Barger, who brought out a brand new car for the event, the winner at Can-Am from the night prior Jeff VanDusen, Fratto, Dan Kaszubinski and Podolak.
One red and yellow slowed the pace; On lap one a wild accident off turn four saw fours cars involved with both Jeff Cook and John Karklin Jr.'s sprinters flipping. Cook's mount went over the wall and through the fence landing outside the speedway. He did take a quick trip to the hospital for a check up but returned sore but alright. Karklin's mount was hung up on the inside wall with heavy damage but he was alright. Both Randy Years and Bubby Kerrick returned to the A-Main. On lap five Kaszubinski looped his sprint in turn three.
Taking the Car Mate Custom Built Trailers heat events were Fratto, Poirier and Eriksen with the KSE Racing Products B-Main taken by Cook.
ESS/GRANBY NOTES -- A field of 25 sprints were in the pits--Despite rain most of the day, the skies cleared and a big crowd filled the spacious grandstands--Making his first sprint start ever was former small block modified star Jeff Walton aboard the Tom Patterson back-up entry. Walton, who owns Jeff Barney's sprint, was thrilled to have a chance of driving a sprint for the first time but was a DNQ for the A-Main. Anthony Cain made his return to ESS competition with his sharp #15 but missed the A-Main cut by one spot--James Hansen rolled his sprint over on warm-ups and just missed starting the B-Main--The nativepoker.com Tour and the Spectro Oils Canadian Invasion Series will make one more stop to Granby on Sept. 1st.
Heat 1 -- Nick Fratto, John Karklin Jr., Jessica Zemken, Doug Norrie, Doug Emery, Lance Yonge
Heat 2 -- Steve Poirier, Billy White, Jason Barney, Justin Barger, Matt Norrie, Michael Parent
Heat 3 -- Luke Eriksen, Bob Podolak, Alain Bergeron, Dan Kaszubinski, Jeff VanDusen, Bubby Kerrick
B-Main -- Jeff Cook, Russ Bennett, Randy Years, Rich Zagata Jr.
Did Not Qualify -- Anthony Cain, Jeff Walton, James Hansen
A-MAIN -- STEVE POIRIER, Doug Norrie, Alain Bergeron, Luke Eriksen, Jessica Zemken, Justin Barger, Jeff VanDusen, Nick Fratto, Dan Kaszubinski, Bob Podolak, Doug Emery, Billy White, Lance Yonge, Jason Barney, Russ Bennett, Matt Norrie, Michael Parent, Bubby Kerrick, Rich Zagata Jr., Randy Years, John Karklin Jr., Jeff Cook.