Wire to wire triumph nets Jeff VanDusen first career victory. BROCKVILLE, ONT. -- Just seven short days prior, Jeff VanDusen was hanging his head low, very low. What could have been his first Empire Super Sprints feature event victory ever...
Wire to wire triumph nets Jeff VanDusen first career victory.
BROCKVILLE, ONT. -- Just seven short days prior, Jeff VanDusen was hanging his head low, very low. What could have been his first Empire Super Sprints feature event victory ever ended up with his sprinter flipping against the turn one wall at Autodrome Granby. Friday night at the Brockville Ontario Speedway, VanDusen was a proud teenager, a proud second generation ESS pilot as he led all 20 laps of the VSM Abrasives Canadian Invasion event to etch his name along his father's as an ESS A-Main winner.
VanDusen's ProSpas backed #56 took the lead from it's pole starting spot over good friend John Karklin Jr. and despite challenges from his rival and two cautions, the 18 year old driver never slipped up on the tricky quarter-mile. It was a race looked to be run by a driver with many years under his belt, let alone just the 2 and half years that Jeff VanDusen has been racing.
"This just about makes up for what happened last week." noted the happy driver who still calls Inglewood, Fla. as his mailing address. "That race last week at Granby was hard to take, especially when you had the field covered. But, I knew I was fast and that gave me some confidence and I think that helped me tonight."
What makes VanDusen a special story was that his short stint in sprinters has been his only racing experience of his life. His father Mike has been an ESS veteran since the early days racking up 17 career victories but young Jeff never really had a chance to jump start his career. "I always wanted to run a car but just never had a chance until dad let me run his backup car a couple of years ago, now I love running them and hope I can get more wins." said the VanDusen who will come across as a quiet and shy sprint car driver.
The final of two cautions came on lap 16 but that could have been more of a help than a hindrance as the leading duo of VanDusen and Karklin were mired in lapped traffic. "When you're out front you just don't know where John or anyone are, you try to stay fast but also smooth--especially here on a tight track like this one." Jeff said on the late race drama. "I was worried about the lap cars but when the yellow came out I knew I had a clean track ahead and that would help."
When the green lights shined, VanDusen did have a one car cushion of Bill White in between him and Karklin and that proved key in running the final four laps without a hitch. "My car was strong but Jeff had this race won, I wasn't going to pass him even if the lap car wasn't in middle." said a honest runner-up driver in Karklin. "Hey, I'm happy to finish second to Jeff. This is a special race, I've raced with his dad for years, we all live near each other in the summer and travel to each ESS race together. I'm so happy for the kid--although next time I'm going to pass the little--."
After the checkered flag fell, Karklin and VanDusen made a parade lap side by side. Asked what Karklin was showing Jeff, simply said-- "The finger". It was a very happy victory lane celebration with VanDusen providing a "wing dance" in front of one of Brockville's largest crowds in it's history and then a big hug from crew chief Darren Beach. An interesting note, Jeff's dad was not on hand and was told of the win by the wonders of cell phones.
At the finish it was VanDusen over Karklin Jr., Brian Dumigan shook off some recent bad luck to grab a fine third ahead of a hard charging Lance Yonge who collected the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus after starting in 14th with Don Sharp Jr. coming off his frightening crash at Drummond to claim fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Kyle Drum, the Speedway Performance #22 of Ray Preston, Dan Kaszubinski, Bill Coffey and Randy Years.
The two cautions was for Bubby Kerrick on lap four and George Ely on lap 16, both drivers slid off turn four with little or no damage. A total of 22 of the 23 starters finished the 20 lap VSM Abrasives event.
Taking the Brodix Cylinder Heads heat events were Ely, Drum and Sharp Jr. with the Foster/Wilson Memorial/ Walt's Hobby Dash won by Preston.
ESS NOTES: A total of 23 sprinters made the tow to the St. Lawrence Seaway area for the race originally scheduled on May 31st--.The event was the annual Foster-Wilson Memorial with the family of ESS competitor Rick Wilson providing a special trophy for VanDusen--.Don Sharp Jr.'s mount was bought from Mike Woodring this past week and was the Trevis-Craft sprinter that Erin Crocker drove in several early ESS events. The car still sports Crocker's red paint sheme--The excitement of "America's Race Cars" will make a second appearance to the track known as the "BOS" on August 16th.