Justin Barger Nips Jessica Zemken at the Line to Win ESS Thriller at Canandaigua. CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. -- It's been four years since the nativepoker.com Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) roamed the Â½ mile known as the "Land of Legends",...
Justin Barger Nips Jessica Zemken at the Line to Win ESS Thriller at Canandaigua.
CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. -- It's been four years since the nativepoker.com Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) roamed the ½ mile known as the "Land of Legends", the Canandaigua Speedway. What the crowd got was a thrilling 25 lap affair that wasn't decided until Dave Farney's double checkered flags with Justin Barger edging Jessica Zemken in a near photo finish for his fourth win of 2006.
With threatening weather throughout New York State, a big crowd and a pit full of winged warriors marked the return with the event played out on a very fast and multi-grooved Ontario County Fairgrounds. The late August date made up the rain out suffered on July 22nd.
"The track was real good tonight, you could put the cars anywhere in corners, high, low, it didn't matter and that helped me get by Jessica on the restart." noted the driver of the Cortlandt Auto Body Maxim looking back to the restart on lap 20. "If she went high, I was going low and if she went low, I was going high. Luckily I got a good restart to get by but I heard her on the last lap. I had a feeling it was going to be close."
What Barger was referring to was the never-say-die attack by the young 20 year old and her nativepoker.com sponsored Eagle. After Barger took the top spot, he went up top to run the cushion with Zemken hugging the inside berm and with laps coming to an end, her #1Z was closing in ever so slightly. As the two were coming down for the checkered flag the sprinters were side by side in a classic drag race to the stripe. When the two hit the start/finish line it was Barger's #32 just ahead of Zemken's mount to collect his eighth career victory with the 24 year organization.
"The last two events has gotten us back into the point fight. We just had a rough month but now were hoping that we found a groove and see if we can win the championship." said the 22 year old driver who regained the point lead after the Canandaigua victory.
At the start of the A-Main, outside pole starting Doug Norrie took the ample cushion and led the first seven laps before Zemken slipped by and opened up a good sized lead for herself. During the middle portions she was dominant out front surviving lapped cars and a lap 16 restart.
Berger entered the top five on lap 10 and into third when second place running Jason Barney had a right front flat and slid off the track. This put Barger right behind the leader and ready for the challenge. When Chuck Hebing stopped on lap 20, this was the key to the pass for the win.
At the finish Barger by a mere few feet over Zemken, Jeff VanDusen had a strong run to place third with the nativepoker.com sponsored cars of Bubby Kerrick and Lance Yonge rounding out the top five. The next five found Norrie in sixth followed by Tommy Wickham, Jeff Cook, Blake Breen, who earned the Lane's Yamaha Hard Charger bonus after starting in 22nd, and Rob Dietrick in tenth in only his second ESS start of 2006.
One red flag and three cautions did slow the torrid pace. Steve Poirier had something break in his front end which caused his sprinter to go off turn three and flip over, he was fine. Doug Emery stopped in turn one with a broken front end on lap 4 with the cautions for Barney and Hebing following.
Taking the Car Mate Custom Built Trailers heat events were Billy White, Bobby Podolak and Zemken with Zemken also taking the Lauterborn Electric/Walt's Hobby Dash making for a good night. The KSE Racing Products B-Main was won by Poirier.
ESS/CANANDAIGUA NOTES: A good field of 35 sprints made up a solid pit log--Making his first appearance of 2006 was Derek Jonathan--Sean O'Dea did a wild series of flips in the B-Main, he was alright but the car was destroyed--A surprising DNQ was second in points Dan Kaszubinski who suffered through handling problems all night--Next weekend will see the stars and cars of ESS making three big stops on the nativepoker.com Tour. It will be the third and final visits to Autodrome's Granby and Drummond for the final two Spectro Oils Canadian Invasion events and then on Sunday it's down to the Utica-Rome Speedway for the third visit to the Gene Cole owned half-mile.
Heat 1 -- Billy White, Jason Barney, Lance Yonge, Alain Bergeron, Luke Eriksen, Mike Stelter.
Heat 2 -- Bobby Podolak, Jeff Cook, Bubby Kerrick, Nick Fratto, Tommy Wickham, Russ Bennett
Heat 3 -- Jessica Zemken, Doug Norrie, Jeff VanDusen, Justin Barger, Michael Parent, Chuck Hebing
Lauterborn Electric/Walt's Hobby Dash -- Zemken.
B-Main -- Steve Poirier, Don Sharp Jr., Rob Dietrick, Blake Breen
Provisional Starters -- Doug Emery, Randy Years
Did Not Qualify -- Jared Zimbardi, Dan Kaszubinski, Derek Jonathan, George Ely, Cory Sparks, Sean O'Dea, Bobby Breen, Jim Livingston, Matt Norrie, Ray Preston, Kyle Drum
A-MAIN -- JUSTIN BARGER, Jessica Zemken, Jeff VanDusen, Bubby Kerrick, Lance Yonge, Doug Norrie, Tommy Wickham, Jeff Cook, Blake Breen, Rob Dietrick, Michael Parent, Russ Bennett, Don Sharp Jr., Alain Bergeron, Mike Stelter, Chuck Hebing, Luke Eriksen, Nick Fratto, Randy Years, Jason Barney, Billy White, Doug Emery, Bobby Podolak, Steve Poirier