ESS: Autodrome Granby 2006-09-01

Jeff VanDusen Keeps His Title Hopes Alive with ESS Victory at Autodrome Granby. GRANBY, QC -- Even though it was a tough start to the 2006 season on the Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS), the 23 year old, Otego, N.Y.,...

Jeff VanDusen Keeps His Title Hopes Alive with ESS Victory at Autodrome Granby.

GRANBY, QC -- Even though it was a tough start to the 2006 season on the Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS), the 23 year old, Otego, N.Y., second generation Jeff VanDusen has used a strong second half of the campaign to put himself right back into the title fight. Friday night at Autodrome Granby, the Rich's Auto Body #56D took the lead on 13 went on to collect the victory in the Spectro Oils Canadian Invasion Series event.

The victory for VanDusen was his third of the year and seventh of his still young ESS career but more importantly, with just three full points shows left he vaulted into third in points looking for his first ever championship. "The track was perfect tonight and we had a good car for it. The crew just did an awesome job." Said the driver who came from his 13th place starting spot to the win. "I could put the car high or low, it really didn't matter, it was one of those nights where we just hit everything right. We have some momentum going now and even though it's an outside chance, we have a shot at the title and that has been the goal all year."

At the drop of the green flag for the 25 lap A-Main, it was Jessica Zemken getting the jump on her front row mate Russ Bennett. The two put on a crowd pleasing dual switching lanes on the big half-mile with Zemken holding a slight advantage for the first eight tours. As lap nine was being scored, Bennett slipped by the #1Z to take the lead in hopes of his first ever ESS victory.

While the battle for the lead was hot and heavy, VanDusen charge was noteworthy as he was in third on lap eight proving his car was indeed strong. Closing the gap quickly, he slipped under Zemken on lap 11 just before the caution came out which put him on Bennett's rear bumper for the restart. When the green lights returned VanDusen had a good run on Bennett's Spectro Oils #65 and took the lead when the crossed flags were displayed.

The young driver opened up a big lead after his pass, survived a lap 21 caution and went on to win the event convincingly. Current point leader Justin Barger made a wild three car pass on the lap 21 restart to go from fifth to second which is the position that he would finish keeping his point lead on the ESS field. Bennett was in for a fine third ahead of Alain Bergeron, who still leads the Canadian Series points going into the final event the next night at Autodrome Drummond, with Bennett's teammate Billy White rounded out the top five. The next five were Steve Poirier, Donny Sharp Jr., who earned the Lane's Yamaha Hard Charger Bonus coming from his 20th place starting spot, Doug Emery, Bubby Kerrick and Lance Yonge.

Luke Eriksen rolled his sprinter over on lap one to bring out the red with three cautions, all minor in nature, slowing the pace for the remainder of the event. Dan Kaszubinski was running in third when he looped his sprinter on lap seven, Mike Stelter did the same on lap 12 while he was in the top five and Jeff Cook lost power on lap 21 for the final yellow.

ESS/GRANBY NOTES: A total of 26 sprints in the pits for the final of three visits at the Autodrome Southeast of Montreal--Lance Yonge made hard contact with the inside wall during his heat bending the frame. He took out the Jeff Cook back-up mount to pick up tenth in the A-Main--Doug Norrie lost a motor after his heat was over so he took out his brother's sprint for the feature--Michael Parent hit a spun Nick Fratto in warm-ups and did a roll over, he took a provisional to get in the A-Main--Once again, a big crowd came out to greet all the stars and cars from the 24 year old organization.


Heat 1 -- Steve Poirier, Doug Emery, Mike Stelter, Russ Bennett, Bob Podolak, Anthony Cain,

Heat 2 -- Jeff Cook, Luke Eriksen, Nick Fratto, Alain Bergeron, Jessica Zemken, Doug Norrie

Heat 3 -- Billy White, Jeff VanDusen, Dan Kaszubinski, Justin Barger, Cory Sparks, Bubby Kerrick

B-Main -- George Ely, Kayle Robidoux, Don Sharp Jr., John Karklin Jr.

Provisional Starter -- Michael Parent, Added Starter -- Lance Yonge

Did Not Qualify -- Randy Years, Matt Norrie

A-MAIN -- JEFF VanDUSEN, Justin Barger, Russ Bennett, Alain Bergeron, Billy White, Steve Poirier, Don Sharp Jr., Doug Emery, Bubby Kerrick, Lance Yonge, Jessica Zemken, Cory Sparks, Mike Stelter, Kayle Robidoux, Michael Parent, Nick Fratto, Anthony Cain, Doug Norrie, Jeff Cook, John Karklin Jr., George Ely, Dan Kaszubinski, Bobby Podolak, Luke Eriksen.

-credit: ess

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Series Sprint
Drivers Nick Fratt , Justin Barger