ESS: Knoxville 360, ToC summary

Lance Yonge and Jessica Zemken Have Successful Weekend at Knoxville. SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- When the calendar hits the first week in August for 360 sprint cars it means that it is "Nationals Time". The annual 360 Sprint Car Nationals at the famed...

Lance Yonge and Jessica Zemken Have Successful Weekend at Knoxville.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- When the calendar hits the first week in August for 360 sprint cars it means that it is "Nationals Time". The annual 360 Sprint Car Nationals at the famed Knoxville Raceway was held last August 3-5 followed by another tradition--the Brodix Tournament of Champions (ToC) on Sunday night, August 6th.

The Empire Super Sprints (ESS) have been a fixture at Knoxville since the inaugural ToC in 1997 and this year two fine representatives from the Empire State headed west to the Marion County Fairgrounds. Two-time and defending ESS champion Lance Yonge brought his nativepoker.com / Johnson Farms backed, Eagle chassis #17J while female sensation Jessica Zemken brought her nativepoker.com Eagle as well. Both drivers competed in the Nationals as well as the ToC.

The 360 Nationals was celebrating its 16th Anniversary and the 25 lap, $10,000 to win extravaganza played host to 137 of the best sprint cars drivers from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The field was split up to two preliminary nights with Yonge running on night one and Zemken on night two.

In the 16 year history of the event there never has been an ESS driver in the field but that was all changed on night one when Yonge timed 4th fastest out of 67 cars and placed 12th in the night's A-Main. That guaranteed him an 18th place start in Saturday's finale. On night two Zemken suffered through both handling and motor woes which saw her advance to the C-Main with a 17th place finish. Unfortunately she didn't earn enough points to lock into the top 106 for Saturday.

Yonge's Nationals effort was solid with a 20th place finish in the event won by Knoxville regular Jesse Gianetto. While hoping for a better finish, just to make the event was a history making feat for ESS. Also, fellow New Yorker and ESS part-timer Bryan Howland made the A-Main and took 22nd in the final rundown, a fine effort by the winner of ESS' opener this year.

The final night was highlighted by the 8th annual ToC sponsored by Brodix Cylinder Heads with 65 invited sprints pit side. ESS is proud to be a part of the big event for 360's for all eight events.

Yonge started last in his heat and advanced to fourth by the checkered flag while Zemken finished one spot behind in the same heat. With a combination of heat finishes and passing points determining the A and the three B-Main starting spots, Yonge missed the A-Main by one position and started the first B-Main on the pole while Zemken was mid-pack in the second B-Main. Some tough luck was handed Yonge's way and he took fifth, three spots from qualifying. For Zemken, she moved up some spots but placed seventh in the final rundown.

ESS was awarded a provisional for the A-Main and with Zemken ahead in points for 2006 she was given the 26th place starting spot. With help from current Knoxville 410 point leader Brian Brown, a much improved car helped her claim a solid 17th place finish making for a much better ending to a tough week. The 30 lap race was won by Texan Gary Wright after apparent winner Chuck Swenson was disqualified for illegal heads.

For Zemken, the week didn't end there as she dropped in a 410 built Kriner to stay in Iowa for week two and run the Front Row Challenge and the Knoxville Nationals. On Monday night at the Southern Iowa Speedway the 20 year old fan favorite turned many heads with a fine 10th place finish after starting in 16th. With the momentum building she will be hoping for the best at 46th annual Knoxville Nationals, sprint car racing's biggest event.

Its one more weekend off for the nativepoker.com Tour for the Empire Super Sprints before the 2006 season will get back underway at Autodrome Edelweiss Speedway on Friday night, August 18th followed by the first visit of this season to the Brockville Ontario Speedway. For more information feel free to log on to www.empiresupersprints.com

-credit: ess

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Series Sprint
Drivers Brian Brown