BROCKVILLE, ONT. -- It was a combination of a little patience and a little luck for Auburn, N.Y.'s Bobby Podolak as he took the checkered flag for the first Empire Super Sprints (ESS)/VSM Canadian Invasion events which came at the Brockville...
BROCKVILLE, ONT. -- It was a combination of a little patience and a little luck for Auburn, N.Y.'s Bobby Podolak as he took the checkered flag for the first Empire Super Sprints (ESS)/VSM Canadian Invasion events which came at the Brockville Ontario Speedway. The 25 lap A-Main saw a total of five sprinters on their wings and race long leader Bill Bailey going off the track with four laps remaining giving ESS career win number eight to the long-time ESS faithful ending a winless streak of nearly three years.
The event was the second of three Bully Hill Vineyards Sprint Fall National dash qualifiers and Podolak is now a guaranteed starter in the 10 lap event that pays $300 to win.
While the ESS veteran was all smiles in victory lane after the feature event that saw three red flags and four more yellows total, it was the breaking of one single bolt on Bailey's front end that told the story.
Dan Kaszubinski and Lance Yonge made up the front row for the start of what could have been the wildest ESS A-Main in history, the two stars lasted just two corners before the fireworks began. Kaszubinski's sprinter got airborne going through a rough spot in turn one, his car made contact with Yonge's mount and Yonge went flipping wildly off turn two. Yonge was out with a badly damaged car, Kaszubinski returned to the event one lap down looking for valuable points. That set the stage for what would be an event that saw the huge crowd on hand to watch with eyes wide open and jaws dropped.
The restart now had Bailey on the inside and Podolak outside. Despite the next two red flags and three yellow flags, it was Bailey pulling ahead of the field each time the event went green. The young driver from Waverly, N.Y. is running the full ESS schedule for the first time and was fifth in the season long points coming into Brockville, his first career ESS win would make for a great story.
While opening up one of his biggest leads of the race, on lap 21 his sprinter suddenly went off turn two and came to a stop just before the pit wall. Bailey just walked away and into the pits in disbelief. The culprit was a broken bolt that holds the steering arm. A simple two dollar part cost the path to victory.
Podolak never missed a beat in the runner-up position. While Bailey did his job in the lead, Podolak did the very same and was ready to take home second place money back to the States. With the misfortune of the leader, Podolak now saw a four lap dash to victory lane. However, he also had to ward off the challenges of young Justin Barger during those four tours of Brockville's quarter-mile.
"I heard someone there, I didn't know who it was but I knew there was someone who wanted to get the lead." said Podolak on the four lap stint. From the green to the checker, Podolak never moved off the middle of the track and while Barger tried both high and low. He didn't have a lane to make the pass and at the finish it was the green #7 just ahead of the multi-colored #32.
"I got lucky tonight, I guess this green car ain't no jinx after all." noted Podolak afterwards who runs his self-owned, unsponsored car. "It's been a longtime coming (Podolak's last win was July 2, 2000 at Cayuga County). It was a long, wild race but you have to be around at the end to be the winner."
For Barger it continued his hot streak which now has him with three top ten finishes in the last three starts. "This new car is definitely better, I had a chance tonight and I could have gone in hard and maybe got under him (Podolak)." said the teenage Montrose, N.Y. pilot. "But after the way the race went tonight I didn't want to take the chance. All the guys ahead of me in points had troubles so second is a good finish."
Canada's own Alain Bergeron collected a third place finish with Bubby Kerrick fourth and Don Sharp Jr. in fifth. The sprinterexpress.com #13 of Bill Coffey took sixth, Gordy Button was seventh with John Karklin Jr. taking eighth and the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger Bonus after starting in 21st. Tim Zimbardi also got by 13 cars going from 22nd to ninth with Randy Years taking tenth.
After the original start red flag for Yonge and Kaszubinski the rest of the event saw these incidents: On lap one Curt Shuttleworth went off turn three and at the same time Jim McCaffrey saw his sprint tip on its side. McCaffrey was out for the night. On lap two current ESS points leader going in, Mike Lutz, along with Rick Wilson, Mike Woodring and Years were involved in a front stretch melee. Unfortunately for Lutz, he was on the only driver who couldn't continue. On lap 10 the second red flag came out with Jeff VanDusen doing a wild tumble off turn four making for a tough night for the VanDusen family owned team. The young driver was ok. On lap 15 came the third red fag when Rob Dietrick got hit by another car and went flying off turn two just like Yonge. Dietrick's car was heavily damaged and he took medical attention, but the ESS star did return to his pit stall later in the night. Brian Dumigan slowed on lap 18 and on lap 21 the yellow lights were on for Bailey.
Taking the Engler Machine and Tool heat events were VanDusen, Kerrick and Mike Stelter. The Foster-Wilson Memorial/Walt's Hobby Dash was won by Dietrick with the KSE Racing Products B-Main copped by Dumigan.
ESS NOTES: A fine field of 27 sprints were on hand for the first ESS night under the new promotion team of Paul Kirkland and Charlie Caprara--Quebec mini-sprint star Daniel Lampron and Kyle Wilson (son of Rick Wilson) made their first ESS starts of 2003--A total of seven strait days of rain left the entire grounds and pit area at the track in a sea of mud. With cooperation of both ESS and Brockville managements, an event that could easily been cancelled was played host in front of a big crowd--Erin Crocker never made it out for her heat, the reason is that her glasses broke while putting on her helmet. A broken front end in the B-Main made her a surprising DNQ--A interesting note about Bob Podolak and Bill Bailey, their pit crew was made up of: Their wives!!...Next up for the 20th anniversary tour of ESS will be a Friday night stop to the Albany-Saratoga Speedway and then on Sunday it's the second VSM Canadian Invasion event which comes at the Cornwall Motor Speedway.