MALTA, N.Y. -- Even though Mercer, Pa.'s Mike Lutz is a 16 year sprint car veteran, he still took some advice from his car owner Mike VanDusen to good use to win the 25 lap Valvoline Cup sponsored A-Main Friday night at the Albany-Saratoga...
MALTA, N.Y. -- Even though Mercer, Pa.'s Mike Lutz is a 16 year sprint car veteran, he still took some advice from his car owner Mike VanDusen to good use to win the 25 lap Valvoline Cup sponsored A-Main Friday night at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. It was the third Empire Super Sprints (ESS) victory of the 2003 season for the 33 year old pilot who once again took the ProSpas backed #58 Maxim to victory lane.
With the added cash bonus from Valvoline Cup, the winner's share of the event was $1625 and with other contingencies ESS career win number five was swelled to over $2,000. The first of two visits for ESS' 20th Anniversary tour was played before a backed house at the 1/3rd mile oval.
"I'll tell you, I have to thank my car owner (VanDusen). He told me how this place usually goes later on in the night and he was dead on." summed up Lutz. "The turns get real slick in the middle but he said as the night goes on the very bottom of the track starts to come in so we set up the car for the bottom and it just stuck."
Using the extreme inside, Lutz moved his sprinter from its seventh place starting spot right into third on lap two behind leader Mike Stelter and teammate Jeff VanDusen. Both cars in front were riding the outside cushion and it was just a matter of time before the Pennsylvania native slipped under and into the lead.
"I really just waited it out." said Lutz on his bid for the lead. "They (Stelter and VanDusen) were getting a little looser on each lap so I just tried to stay in my line and it eventually worked."
On lap nine he moved into second and with ten tours in the books he drove under the Mike's Drive-In #36 of Stelter for the lead. While a good size lead did open up, only one caution (on lap eight) in the 25 laps made lapped traffic a big factor for he rest of the event.
"Even though we had the car to run low, I still could use the cushion to get by some of the slower cars. There was times where I had no choice." noted the driver now with 73 career sprint car victories. "But, when there's traffic like that you have to be as aggressive as you can or else someone could close in or pass you."
That simple statement almost made Lutz a prophet as eight-time ESS champion Mike Woodring used the extreme outside to make his passes from his 13th place starting to move into second on lap 18. While it was just the opposite strategy of Lutz, blasting the cushion was working for the Eden, N.Y. star.
"I ran a lot of stagger so I was going for the top right from the start." said Woodring. "I missed the top a few times and it really upset the car, it made it a handful but we got to the front. It was just that Mike (Lutz) had too big of a lead for me to catch him. I could see that I was gaining but even though ESS went to 25 laps this year, I needed a few more." While it was a gallant effort that caught the eyes of many, it was still another victory for Lutz.
At the wave of the double checkered flag it was Mike Lutz leading Mike Woodring. Rising star Bill Bailey come home with another solid effort to place third with his unsponsored Maxim which is in tribute to long-time friend and crew member Dave Barrowcliff. Lance Yonge used his backup Maxim after his wild flip last week at Brockville to collect fourth over VanDusen making it a very successful night for the team out of Otego, N.Y. Justin Barger was sixth from his sixteenth place start followed by Rob Dietrick, who also came back from his wild tumble just seven days earlier which caused him to visit the hospital. Eighth was Stelter with Erin Crocker ninth and New Hampshire's Don Sharp Jr. rounding out the top ten.
The lone caution on lap eight was for a double spin by Jim Senzio and Warren Alexson, both returned to the feature event which saw only one car drop out in the 25 lap event.
Taking the Engler Machine and Tool heat events were Dietrick, Bailey and Stelter with the Warren's Auto Body/Walt's Hobby Dash won by Dietrick and Senzio copped the KSE Racing Products B-Main.
ESS NOTES: Another solid field of 34 sprinters filled the pits on the Friday night stop for the Champlain Valley Racing Association circuit--.New entries on hand were New Hampshire's Mark Cole, Vermont's Anthony Cain, Connecticut's Russ Bennett along with Steve Mothon and Brian Glasser--.After last weeks wild event, not one sprinter came close to finding it's way onto the wing--Woodring also collected the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus by advancing eleven spots in the A-Main--.The stars and cars will return to Albany-Saratoga on August 1st.
Heat 1 -- Rob Dietrick, Mike Lutz, Alain Bergeron, Lance Yonge, Erin Crocker, Justin Barger.
Heat 2 -- Bill Bailey, Mike Woodring, Doug Emery, Jeff VanDusen, Don Sharp Jr., Ray Preston.
Heat 3 -- Mike Stelter, Bubby Kerrick, Bill Coffey, Bob Podolak, John Karklin Jr., Warren Alexson.
Warren's Auto Body/Walt's Hobby Dash -- Dietrick.
B-Main -- Jim Senzio, Dan Kaszubinski, Brian Dumigan, Russ Bennett.
Provisional Starter -- Jim McCaffrey.
Did Not Qualify -- Randy Years, Frank Senzio, Don Bellen, Steve Mothon, Brian Glasser, Anthony Cain, Mark Cole, Jeremy Barnard, Howard Singer, Nick Fratto, Bill Wolf.
A-MAIN -- MIKE LUTZ, Woodring, Bailey, Yonge, VanDusen, Barger, Dietrick, Stelter, Crocker, Sharp Jr., Bergeron, Podolak, Kaszubinski, Emery, Coffey, Karklin Jr., Kerrick, Bennett, Alexson, Preston, J. Senzio, McCaffrey, Dumigan.
Lap Leaders -- Stelter 1-9, Lutz 10-25.
Walt's Hobby Hard Charger -- Woodring $50 (11 pos.)
Brodix Cylinder Heads Halfway -- Lutz $50.
Winner's Bonuses: Valvoline Cup $175, Car-Mate Trailers $50, Sway-A-Way $100, ATL Fuel Cells $100, AFCO Shocks $100, Hank's Performance Products $50, Total Seal $50, Real Wheels $50, American Race Tires $50, Hazlitt Vineyards $30, Red's Speed Shop $25, Behrent's Performance Warehouse/Mechanix Wear $20.
Weld Racing Hard Luck -- Years $75.
Leaf Racewear -- Bailey $75.
Penske Shocks -- Sharp Jr. $200.
KSE Racing Products -- J. Senzio $50.
Design 500 -- Kerrick $100, VanDusen $50.
Zemco Headers -- VanDusen $50.
Saldana Racing Products -- Yonge $50.
Joe Hunt Magnetos -- Bennett $50.
Bailey Racing Products -- VanDusen $35.
Hazlitt Vineyards -- Woodring $20, Bailey $10, Dietrick $10, Years $10.
Engler Machine and Tool -- Bailey, Stelter, Dietrick $25.
HRP -- Kaszubinski $25.
DMI -- Dumigan $25.