DRUMMONDVILLE, QC. -- Ending what has been a 2003 season of constant heartbreak and frustration, Penn Yan, N.Y.'s Lance Yonge finally put together a solid 25 laps to beat arch rival Mike Woodring for his first A-Main victory of the 2003 season. ...
DRUMMONDVILLE, QC. -- Ending what has been a 2003 season of constant heartbreak and frustration, Penn Yan, N.Y.'s Lance Yonge finally put together a solid 25 laps to beat arch rival Mike Woodring for his first A-Main victory of the 2003 season. The VSM Abrasives Canadian Invasion event was run on Saturday night at Autodrome Drummond and the big throng of French-Canadian fans were treated to an exciting feature event among two of the best with the Empire Super Sprints (ESS).
The driver of the Lane's Yamaha backed Maxim took the lead from good friend Bubby Kerrick on lap 13 in hopes of finally break free from a season long of bad breaks. The eight-time ESS champion in Woodring moved his sprinter into second just one lap later and the battle was on. With no yellow flags for the duration, the two stars fought through lapped cars and with each other for a 20th Anniversary event that will be in the memory books.
Yonge kept his mount mostly on the low side with Woodring doing what he does best and that was taking to the top of the Drummond oval. "I heard someone there a few times. I didn't know how it was but I just had a funny feeling that is was Mike." noted Yonge. "I just wanted to run as hard as I could, get through the slower cars and hope for the best. The way the year has been going I was ready for anything."
While more times than not, when it comes to slower traffic it's the advantage to be second. In this case, it was Yonge who made the better moves through the traffic. Every time Woodring's black #19 was ready to make a move Yonge found a better lane to pull out a slight lead. In the final five laps Yonge's advantage opened up and he took the checkered flag several sprint lengths ahead for the popular victory.
"We just needed this!" exclaimed a relieved victor. "The whole team has been a bit down so far. We just couldn't find any luck and for the most part it's been mechanical. That's what has us scratching our heads, we have the best stuff on the car, it's all new and we have had problems. But, tonight was our night. The car was great right out of the trailer, the only thing we changed all night was the tires for the feature."
While Yonge has now collected 23 ESS victories (moves him into fifth on the all-time list), this one had a special feeling. "To beat Mike makes it a little sweeter, he is just so good and when you can get one on him you know you had a good run. Also, to win in front of these great fans is special. Canadian fans are so nice to everyone in ESS and when you can get a win in front of them it really makes you feel good. Let's hope the season can turn around now."
For Woodring, it was a satisfying end to the weekend as he backed up his win the night before at Granby. "Lance got through the cars better than I did. He just ran a great race." noted the Eden, N.Y. star on the closing stages. "I might have been better on an open track but when it stays green you have to be good in traffic and he was better. I'll take this weekend, my car ran strong and Erin (Crocker, the female star that is his teammate) got third tonight. It was a good weekend overall."
Behind the front duo was Crocker who became the first female to collect a podium finish in the 53 year history of Drummond, Canada's longest running dirt track. Kerrick closed out a strong effort with a fourth place finish over dash winner John Karklin Jr. Rounding out the top ten were The Cortland Auto Body #32 of Justin Barger, Don Sharp Jr., Bill Coffey, current ESS point leader Mike Lutz, who came back from a lap eight flat tire, and Doug Emery.
Two cautions and one red was displayed in the 25 lap finale: Alain Bergeron and Mike Stelter got together on lap eight with Stelter doing a couple of flips. He was alright and Bergeron returned to the action. Dan Kaszubinski looped his sprinter on the restart as he was in fifth spot, the Grandview ESS/URC Challenge winner came back to take 11th. On Lap 12 Bill Bailey stopped on the front stretch.
Taking the Engler Machine and Tool heat events were won by Yonge, Woodring and Crocker with the Walt's Hobby Dash going to Karklin Jr. and the KSE Racing Products B-Main won by Jeff VanDusen.
In a special moment during intermission, DIRT Sportsman driver Eric Leveille made his return to the speedway one year after his terrifying accident and fire during his feature event. Leveille walked to victory lane in front of the big crowd and received an ovation that lasted several minutes. In an emotional moment, he smiled and waved to the crowd with family and friends. Shortly after many ESS drivers joined regular competitors from Drummond to go through the grandstand with helmet in hand to receive donations for Leveille.
ESS NOTES: A total of 26 sprinters were on hand--After URC rained out, Doug Emery towed his sprinter north and earned a fine tenth place finish--.Engine woes continued for George Ely as he loaded before the B-Main--.Frank Senzio had a tire go down during the four abreast and wasn't able to get back in time. Teenager Nick Fratto made the A-Main as a bubble car--.Bill Coffey leads Woodring in the VSM Abrasives points with the next event Friday, July 18th at the Edelweiss Speedway--.Next up on the 20th Anniversary Tour for ESS is celebrating our nation's birthday with visits to Black Rock on the 4th of July and then Utica-Rome on July 6th.
Heat 1 -- Lance Yonge, Don Sharp Jr., Doug Emery, Randy Years, Mike Lutz, Mike Stelter.
Heat 2 -- Mike Woodring, John Karklin Jr., Tim Kelly, Bill Coffey, Jim McCaffrey, Daniel Lampron.
Heat 3 -- Erin Crocker, Justin Barger, Dan Kaszubinski, Bubby Kerrick, Russ Bennett, Bill Bailey.
Walt's Hobby Dash -- Karklin Jr.
B-Main -- Jeff VanDusen, Rob Dietrick, Alain Bergeron, Bob Podolak, Frank Senzio, Jim Senzio.
Did Not Qualify -- George Ely.
Added Starter -- Nick Fratto. Scratched -- Frank Senzio.
A-MAIN -- LANCE YONGE, Woodring, Crocker, Kerrick, Karklin Jr., Barger, Sharp Jr., Coffey, Lutz, Emery, Kaszubinski, Kelly, VanDusen, Bergeron, Bennett, Dietrick, Years, McCaffrey, Lampron, Fratto, Podolak, Bailey, J. Senzio, Stelter.
Lap Leaders -- Kerrick 1-12, Yonge 13-25.
Walt's Hobby Hard Charger -- Woodring (10 pos.) $50.
Brodix Cylinder Heads Halfway -- Yonge $50.
Winner's Bonuses: Car-Mate Trailers $50, Pro Shocks $100, ATL Fuel Cells $100, Hank's Performance Products $50, Real Racing Wheels $50, Total Seal $50, American Racer Tires $50, Saldana Racing Products $50, Penske Shocks $200, Hazlitt Vineyards $30, Red's Speed Shop $25, Behrent's Performance Warehouse/Mechanix Wear $20, MRE Productions $10.
Weld Racing Hard Luck -- Stelter $75.
Leaf Racewear -- Crocker $75.
Zemco Headers -- Sharp Jr. $50.
Design 500 -- Dietrick $100, Sharp Jr. $50.
KSE Racing Products -- VanDusen $50.
Joe Hunt Magnetos -- Bailey $50.
Bailey Racing Products -- Lutz $35.
Hazlitt Vineyards -- Woodring $20, Crocker $10, Karklin Jr. $10, Stelter $10.
Engler Machine and Tool - Woodring, Yonge, Crocker $25.
HRP -- VanDusen $25.
DMI -- Stelter $25.