ESS: Black Rock III: Race report

Mike Lutz nips Ray Preston to the stripe at Black Rock to collect first career ESS win. DUNDEE, N.Y. - It all came down to the last corner of the last lap Friday night at the Black Rock Speedway during the Empire Super Sprint (ESS) Tour 2002 ...

Mike Lutz nips Ray Preston to the stripe at Black Rock to collect first career ESS win.

DUNDEE, N.Y. - It all came down to the last corner of the last lap Friday night at the Black Rock Speedway during the Empire Super Sprint (ESS) Tour 2002 event. Ray Preston entered turn three on lap 19 with the lead but sprint car veteran Mike Lutz drove his P.J. Kerr owned #32 to the inside with a wild bonzai move. Coming off turn four, Lutz came away with the lead and his first ever ESS A-Main triumph.

The win for the Mercer Pa. pilot was his 65th of his personal career which spans in both 410 and 360 sprint car action. Lutz also carries the 1995 rookie of the year title with the All-Star Circuit of Champions in his resume' as well. "It feels good to come to ESS and to win, especially this early." noted Lutz, "Me and P.J. have been doing the tour for about a month now and it's a tough club to win in. They have a real tough handicap system and a great bunch of drivers. We came here to have a little fun away from home and to get a win makes it that much more special."

While the last corner, last lap pass of Preston is the headline maker of the 20 lap A-Main, a wild four car battle for the lead just before a lap 16 caution set up the stage for the dramatics. Preston, running his self-owned #22, was driving a strong race in the lead with the threesome of Lutz, seven-time ESS champion Mike Woodring and the fast running Rick Wilson all right behind under a blanket.

"That caution really changed the outlook. I was hoping it stayed green because it's always an advantage to be second when it comes to lapped traffic." said Lutz on the late stages. "When the green came out, Ray pulled right out on me, to tell you the truth I didn't think I was going to catch him. I just tried to run the car as fast as I could, a couple of times I never lifted in the corners." While he was planning a pass for the lead, Woodring and Wilson were right there looking for the slightest hole to open up.

Preston did open up an advantage when the green lights shined once again but Lutz never gave up the pursuit. On each lap he would close in slightly but it was his never-lift-off-the-trottle move going into turn three on the last lap that set up the drag race down the front stretch. "Ray stayed smooth up near the cushion, I knew the only way to get by was down low." said Lutz on the last lap move. "You just give it a shot, there was just enough room, the track was good and the car stuck down low."

Lutz took the checkered just ahead of Preston, Woodring edged Wilson for third with Ryan Coniam rounding out the top five. The next five at the finish were made up of Tom Taber, who led lap nine with the Shuttleworth Auto Sales backed sprinter, Brian Dumigan, Alain Bergeron, Bill Coffey and Dan Kaszubinski.

The wild 20 lap feature event saw two red flags to slow the pace. The red flag on lap eight had a story in itself. Steve Dow and John Karklin Jr. took advantage of their front row starting spots and they both pulled away from the field in the early stages. Just as they were entering lapped traffic Dow and Karklin made contact with Dow's sprinter flipping wildly off turn three, he was alright but the car suffered heavy damage. Karklin spun his sprinter after the contact which saw him restart the event in the tail. This incident opened up the doors for the next challengers. On lap 16, Bubby Kerrick made heavy contact with the outside wall in turn four which saw his sprinter up in the front stretch catch fence. Rob Dietrick made contact with Kerrick as well. The red was thrown to clean up the accident.

Taking the Brodix Cylinder Heads heat events were Dow, Woodring and Karklin Jr., the KSE Racing Products B-Main was copped by Doug Emery with Karklin also winning the Kwik Fill at the Glen and Hammondsport/Walt's Hobby Dash.

ESS NOTES: A solid field of 31 sprinters in the pits...Bob Podolak suffered a blown engine in warm-ups. He left earl to go home and change engines....Mike Stelter won the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus as he came from 23rd to take 12th at the finish....The next sprint event at Black Rock will be the fourth annual Bully Hill Vineyards Fall Sprint Nationals to be held on Sept 6 & 7. The $41,000 event will see sprint stars from all over the Northeast and Canada shooting for the Bully Hill title.

-ess-

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Series Sprint
Drivers Bill Coffey