Jessica Zemken Excites Can-Am Crowd with First Career Empire Super Sprint Victory. LaFARGEVILLE, N.Y. -- Following in the footsteps of Krissy Dow and Erin Crocker, 19 year old female sensation Jessica Zemken bested a stout field of sprint cars...
Jessica Zemken Excites Can-Am Crowd with First Career Empire Super Sprint Victory.
LaFARGEVILLE, N.Y. -- Following in the footsteps of Krissy Dow and Erin Crocker, 19 year old female sensation Jessica Zemken bested a stout field of sprint cars to collect her first career A-Main triumph on the nativepoker.com Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS). The popular victory came at the Can-Am Motorsports Park where the crowd cheered wildly as Jessica celebrated with a wing dance in victory lane.
Starting in sixth position, Zemken's nativepoker.com backed #1Z swept by the nativepoker.com #17J of defending champion Lance Yonge in just the second circuit then survived several cautions, lapped cars and even running out of fuel on the last lap to take home the feature event win at the big half-mile.
"I can't believe I won, I'm just a lost for words." simply said by the young blonde from Sprakers, N.Y. "I wasn't too good in my heat so I watched Lance (Yonge) in the dash. He then he gave some tips on running turns one and two. I took what he said and it helped me greatly, I guess it helped me in passing him! But, it just shows you what kind of person he is, he was the first to congratulate me also!"
While Zemken has impressed many in her few starts in winged sprint cars winning over a big and talented field of sprints became a career highlight. But, just attending the show was in question. "We almost didn't get here, we have something wrong with our hauler's electrical system. Every time we slow down the engine just shuts off." Zemken explained on her tale in getting to the track. "I called the officials to tell them I'm not sure if we will make it but we did and I'm glad.
Kyle Drum and Bobby Podolak led the field down for the initial green flag but starting in the front show proved to be a bit of a jinx. Drum stopped in turn two to bring out the yellow lights and just seconds after Podolak's sprinter also came to a stop in turn three sending both to the rear for the restart.
The second try to get lap one scored proved disastrous for former ESS champion Gordy Button as he executed a wild series of flips after contact with Billy White in turn one, both drivers were fine. The third start did see the first lap scored but then the second red flag was thrown when Steve Poirier, Ray Preston and John Karklin Jr. got together with Preston's mount going over several times.
When the green lights came on Zemken blasted by Yonge to take over the lead and while three more cautions did slow her pace the quest for victory looked smooth until the final few laps when the engine began to sputter. "With two to go I slowed way down coming out of turn two I was so scared that I wasn't going to make. I was like 'come on, just two more laps--PLEASE!!'" Zemken told the Can-Am crowd in victory lane.
While running low on fuel was a big concern she didn't know that Justin Barger was making a late race charge and was closing the gap quickly. His, story was unique as well, "When the second red came out I went into the pits to change gears and tires. I wasn't right so I took a chance and gave up twelfth to see if we could get it done." said Barger. "When the crew did get all the changes done, I had a feeling we would be good. The car was just awesome but we needed just a few more laps. You always want wins but we will take two seconds to start out the year."
At the checkered flag it was Zemken winning in front or the roaring crowd, Barger took home a fast closing runner-up finish with Yonge in for third with a brand new sprint after his wild flip at the opener in Fulton. John Smith III was fourth followed by the North Country Welding #10 of Jeff Cook. Rounding out the top ten were Doug Emery, Jason Barney who earned the Lane's Yamaha hard charger bonus after starting in 24th, Rick Wilson, Nick Fratto and the Manchester Wood sponsored mount of Luke Eriksen.
After the one caution and two reds on the first lap, Drum stopped again on lap two, Wilson looped his sprinter on lap 11 and Blake Breen doing the same on lap 19.
Taking the Car Mate Trailers heat events were Smith III, Matt Norrie, Podolak and Yonge. Yonge also copped the Rt. 37 Building Supply/Walt's Hobby Dash with White winning the KSE Racing Products B-Main.
ESS/Can-Am Notes: A record Can-Am field of 37 sprints jammed the pits...Making her first ever ESS start was April Wilson, daughter of north country legend Rick Wilson--Kyle Wilson, Blase Regina and Scott Davis were making their first starts for 2006--Podolak also brought out a brand new sprinter after his ordeal at Fulton--ESS would like to send a big thank you to FX Caprara for the new black Durango pace vehicle and also Ingles Performance for the new Polaris four-wheel drive ATV--The nativepoker.com tour will make two more stops to Can-Am, first on July 1st and then the Shootout is back on Thursday night July 27th.
Heat 1 - John Smith III, Tommy Wickham, Kyle Drum, Jessica Zemken, Doug Norrie
Heat 2 - Matt Norrie, Nick Fratto, Luke Eriksen, Jeff Cook, Ray Preston
Heat 3 - Bob Podolak, Doug Emery, Alain Bergeron, Rick Wilson, Blake Breen
Heat 4 - Lance Yonge, Russ Bennett, Jeff VanDusen, Justin Barger, Steve Poirier
RT 37 Building Supply/Walt's Hobby Dash - Lance Yonge
KSE Racing Products B-Main - Billy White, Mike Stelter, Gordy Button, Jason Barney
Provisionals - Dan Kaszubinski, John Karklin Jr.
Did Not Qualify - Don Sharp Jr., Randy Years, Michael Parent, George Ely, Scott Davis, Kyle Wilson, Blase Regina, April Wilson, Bubby Kerrick, Kyle Moffit, Cory Sparks.
A-Main - JESSICA ZEMKEN, Justin Barger, Lance Yonge, John Smith III, Jeff Cook, Doug Emery, Jason Barney, Rick Wilson, Nick Fratto, Luke Eriksen, Jeff VanDusen, Mike Stelter, Dan Kaszubinski, Matt Norrie, Tommy Wickham, Blake Breen, Russ Bennett, Doug Norrie, Alain Bergeron, John Karklin Jr., Bob Podolak, Kyle Drum, Ray Preston, Steve Poirier, Billy White, Gordy Button.