ESS: Bully Hill: Nationals race report

Mike Woodring wins wild and woolly Bully Hill Nationals: Heartbreak for Brian Seidel and Mike Lutz. DUNDEE, N.Y. -- A 35 lap feature event is usually filled with excitement and unpredictable outcomes, both facts entertained the big crowd ...

Mike Woodring wins wild and woolly Bully Hill Nationals: Heartbreak for Brian Seidel and Mike Lutz.

DUNDEE, N.Y. -- A 35 lap feature event is usually filled with excitement and unpredictable outcomes, both facts entertained the big crowd Saturday night at the Black Rock Speedway for the fourth annual Bully Hill Vineyards Fall Sprint Nationals presented by S.P. Wilson/Lakes Gas. Taking the lead from a wounded Mike Lutz on lap 32, seven-time Empire Super Sprints (ESS) champion Mike Woodring finally kicked that big-time-race-monkey off his back to collect the victory and the $4,000 top prize.

The Eden, N.Y. veteran ran third stalking Brian Seidel and Mike Lutz for 31 laps before his foes in front fell to fate that wasn't on their side. Taking full advantage of the cards that were dealt, the ESS great stomped on the opportunity to win his first ever Bully Hill Nationals event.

"I was just about to get ready and make my charge." said Mike on setting up for an exciting finish. "Both Brian and Mike were going at it with each other like crazy and when they got to the slower cars I was going to go all out to make my moves." But, as Woodring's familiar #19 was setting up for late race dramatics, his rivals made his bid for the championship a little easier.

Seidel took the lead with the Butch Green owned J&J from it's outside pole starting spot over Lutz's PJ Kerr owned #32 as the green flag was dropped. The two drivers pulled out a slight distance on Woodring and they put on a battle for the lead that kept the Dundee, N.Y. crowd on their edge. Several times the two drivers were side by side while being in and out of lapped traffic making moves that took your breath away. As the two leaders waged their war, Woodring was close behind waiting to make the right move.

"After the lap 14 caution I just kept a smooth line. My car got better as laps went on and I was looking at the lap counter to see when I could make my move." said Woodring. "I could close in when I got some heat in my tires, I think I was a little faster but it was trying to find the right time to see if I could make my pass that was going to be the hard part."

The strategy was set, but the plan wasn't needed. On lap 31 of the 35 lap finale, Lutz dove under Seidel coming off turn two and he pulled ahead into the lead. Both cars touched slightly going into turn three and Seidel looped his mount and made contact with the inside wall. A fine effort was for naught as the damage was too much to continue.

The caution put Woodring right on the rear nerf bar of the Western Pa. star who has collected two ESS feature wins in 2002. As the green was ready to be thrown you can notice that Lutz's front wing was knocked off center. It looked innocent enough, but that little equipment defect set the stage for the finish. "I saw Mike's (Lutz's) front wing was coming off and I was going to try to make my pass right on the restart." summed up Mike on what was to be his move. "I hiked my wing all the way back to tighten up the car as much as I could. He was running better up high on the cushion and with the front wing the way it was I figured he would slide up. I was going to dive down low as hard as I could to make the pass."

But, just like Seidel's misfortune, Woodring's pass on Lutz was made a little easier. When the green lights shined Lutz's front wing flipped up and blocked his view of the speedway surface. Lutz had no choice but to slow down, Woodring's pass was made and on to victory. Lutz's bad luck saw three more cars get by and at the finish he could only salvage a fifth place.

"I can't believe, I just can't believe it." said a very dejected Lutz. "You just don't know how disappointed I am, I not mad, I'm just so down right now. I had the race, I set up Seidel to make my pass which I did and to have this front wing come up, I just can't believe it."

Lutz has been taken ESS by storm since joining the club in July and he wanted to put the Bully Hill event in his long list of A-Main wins. "This win was going to be big for me, look at this field, these are some of the best drivers around. But, when that wing came up I just couldn't see." said the former All-Star Circuit of Champions rookie of the year. "I just had to count Mississippi's to know when to turn the car for the corners. When I hit five Mississippi's I turned left. Once the car was sideways I could see again but I was just hanging on for the last few laps. But, this just hurts so much."

On the other side of the spectrum, you have the happy victor and for Woodring it was a statement made. "This is a big win for me and my team, a real big win." dead-panned Woodring. "We have won a lot of races but never have come through to win a big race. ESS/URC Challenge races, 360 shows in Florida, this event, I've led so many and given some away, tonight it was my turn to get a break or two and come down here to victory lane. The crew gave me a great car all weekend, we ran third most of the race but we were right there just waiting. I have to thank Lin Hough for putting on this great race it means so much to win, I'll definitely be back next year and let's hope it can just get bigger."

At the display of the double-checkered flag it was Woodring flashing by first ahead of Doug Emery. The Nedrow, N.Y. pilot, who spends most of his time on the URC circuit, called the runner-up his career best moment. "This is the most money I have ever won, we didn't win but this just might be my career highlight." said Emery who drove the Tom Patterson owned #33. Emery ran fourth the entire distance and when Seidel and Lutz had their troubles he was in the position to take the $2500 runner-up purse. Third was URC standout Curt Michael in the Palladino #99 followed by defending and two-time Bully Hill winner George Suprick. For Lutz, a $1500 fifth place payoff was the consolation prize. Rounding out the top ten were Lance Yonge, Dave McGough, Canadian star Ryan Coniam, Trevor Lewis in the Bostic #6 and Dave Ely.

Four cautions slowed the quick pace on the 4/10ths mile oval: On the original star Chris Coyle and Erin Crocker got together with Coyle doing a slow roll. Both cars were out for the remainder of the event. On lap two, Bill Brian Jr. slowed with Kramer Williamson stopping in turn three on lap 14. The final caution on lap 31 was for Seidel.

Taking the heat events earlier in the evening were Jason Clauss, Howard Singer, Brian Jr., Billy White, John Smith and Phil Mott. Brian Jr. provided the headline making story early in the night. After a horrible time-trial run on Friday, the URC star played catch-up all weekend and the sprint fans were given a treat. Brian Jr. won his heat on Sat., led the C-Main from start to finish starting in the back of the B-Main. Thrilling everyone with a no-holds-barred charge Brian Jr. passed Rick Wilson on the last corner of the 15 lap last chance event to snag the final transfer spot top the Nationals. The crowd stood on their feet for the effort. The B-Main was won by Midge Miller.

BULLY HILL NATIONALS NOTES: A total of 60 cars made the return for the second night of the National event--.The A-Main was started strait up by points with Lutz earning the most on the weekend followed by Seidel, Woodring, Emery and Yonge--Ohsweken Speedway promoter Glenn Styres was a new entry with his sprint car--Kyle Wilson took a wild ride in heat three after hopping the right rear of Kevin Welsh as Welsh was going into the pits. Wilson drove strait off turn one into the foam protected wall, his car flipped over wildly but the young star walked away--The 24 car A-Main was made up of 14 cars from URC and 10 from ESS, the top ten was six URC, four ESS--.After problems from the night before, Dan Kaszubinski picked up a ride in the Ryan Coniam back-up and Don Sharp Jr. drove the John Karklin Jr. owned sprinter--The total purse over the weekend totaled over $41,000.

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Series Sprint
Drivers Erin Crocker
Teams Williams