by Dean Reynolds CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. - A 20 lap non-stop A-Main, a seven car battle for the lead and...a first time winner. That was the Empire Super Sprint Tour 2000 main event Saturday night at the Canandaigua Speedway. In a show of shows, ...
by Dean Reynolds
CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. - A 20 lap non-stop A-Main, a seven car battle for the lead and...a first time winner. That was the Empire Super Sprint Tour 2000 main event Saturday night at the Canandaigua Speedway. In a show of shows, Enfield, Ct.'s Rich Wood made a wild, three-wide lap 18 pass on race long leader Bob Podolak and a lapped car to go on to win his first ever ESS A- Main which was sponsored by Lauterborn Electric.
The event was the second of four Bully Hill Vineyards Sprint Nationals qualifiers. The September event at the Black Rock Speedway will award the winner $5000 and Wood now has a chance for the pole position. Black Rock's Lin and Cindy Hough were on hand to award Wood with a special five foot trophy as well as special extra $100.
A complete packed house filled the stands at the Ontario County Fairgrounds where they saw the best of ESS go 20 strait laps with no less than seven cars having a shot at the victory in the closing stages. The ESS Tour 2000 provided all the fireworks needed for the holiday weekend event.
"This is amazing!!! I just can't believe I won, I didn't even know I won." exclaimed the driver of the FEB Construction sponsored Stealth sprinter. "I just ran as hard as I could and tried to pass as many cars as I could. At the end of the race, Mike (Woodring) pulled along side and I just shruggd my shoulders and he pointed at me that I won. I just had no idea."
In Wood's defense, it was easy not knowing the outcome with the full 20 laps going green to checker. Seven sprinters were passing each other in lapped traffic with the final tally not decided to the final corner of the final lap.
Veteran Bobby Podolak took the lead at the drop of the green flag from his outside pole starting spot. Podolak opened up a big lead and the early race was for second. Scott Holcomb, also from Connecticut, came from fourth to second and held his ground there as well. Ray Preston (from ninth), Wood (from 10th) and Lance Yonge (from 14th) soon broke free and made it a five car front group.
As the leaders moved into slower traffic, Podolak's lead faded and the battle was on! Passing was being made all over the wide Canandaigua half-mile. Preston, Wood and Yonge took turns at holding down the runnerup spot with Holcomb on different laps in some of the best action seen during the 2000 season. As the front five were busy, Doug Emery and Mike Woodring were making their charges to the front and soon it was an amazing seven car challenge.
Podolak's lead was gone and behind him was six others fighting each other as well as lapped cars for positions and a shot at the leader. The one driver that found the right line and made the excitng late race passes was Wood. Using his normal cushion hugging style, Wood swung by Holcomb on lap 17 and his bonzai, outside move around both Podolak and a lapped car for the lead.
"I stayed up top all race. I'll live and die by the cushion but tonight that seemed to be the place to be when it came to lapped cars." said Wood. "I really thought Podolak was a half a track ahead, everyone keeps telling me how I made the pass but I honestly don't even remember when. It's all a blurr." Wood's pass was a crowd pleaser and was key to his first ESS winner ever. "This is a dream come true." said a happy but still shaking winner. " We (Wood and his father Rich Sr.) have won a lot of races over the years but to win here in ESS, that's a dream come true. These guys are the best and cleanest drivers around and to win against them makes all the money and hard work we've done worth while. I guess I can retire now!"
Wood took Ben Vitale's checkered flag a few sprint lengths ahead of Podolak, Woodring made some late race outside passes also to finish in third and collect the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus. Holcomb just edged Yonge for fourth with Preston and Emery sixth and seventh. Next in order was Dan Kaszubinski, the LaBatt Blue sponsored #21A of R.C. Faigle and rookie of the year hopeful Randy Years in his Twsiter chassis #2.
Taking the non-stop Brodix Cylinder Heads heat events were Wood, Podolak and Woodring. The KSE Racing Products B-Main was won by Bubby Kerrick with the Ridley's Small Engine and Kart Supply/Walt's Hobby Dash Series event won by Woodring. Scott Ridley, a regular DIRT modified competitor at Canandaigua, brought down his brand new Teo ProCar for the victory lane photos.
ESS NOTES: A fine field of 33 sprints filled the pits on a cloud free evening...Good to see Bill Coffey walking the pits greeting his fellow ESS mates. Fans can expect Bill back for the Stateline/Eriez swing in two weeks...Motor troubles keeping Kris Dow and Rick Wilson on the sidelines...Eric Robinson made his first ESS start of the season with his sharp #23, also Darrell Bragman entered his first ESS event of 2000...Wood's night saw him take home over $1700. <pre> RESULTS: Heat 1 - Rich Wood, Dan Kaszubinski, Scott Holcomb, Jeff VanDusen, R.C. Faigle, Brian Seidel. Heat 2 - Bob Podolak, Lance Yonge, Randy Years, Doug Emery, Ray Preston, Tom Taber. Heat 3 - Mike Woodring, Mike VanDusen, Rob Dietrick, Steve Dow, Mike Stelter, Mike Lauterborn. Ridley's Small Engine and Kart Supply/Walt's Hobby Dash - Woodring. B-Main - Bubby Kerrick, Dave Wickham, Kyle Drum, Don Sharp Jr. Added Starters - Dick Spadaro, Alain Bergeron. Did Not Qualify - Mike Bozzuto, J.T. Henderberg, Tim Zimbardi, Eric Robinson, Darrell Bragman, Mike Young, Chris Shuttleworth, Dick "Crash" Nash, George Ely. A-MAIN - RICH WOOD, Podolak, Woodring, Holcomb, Yonge, Preston, Emery, Kaszubinski, Faigle, Years, Dow, Kerrick, Stelter, Lauterborn, Seidel, Wickham, J. VanDusen, Drum, Begeron, Sharp Jr., Spadaro, Taber, Dietrick, M. VanDusen.
Lap Leaders - Podolak 1-17, Wood 18-20.
Walt's Hobby Hard Charger - Woodring (12 pos.) $50. Vicomp Graphics Halfway - Podolak $50.
Winner's Bonuses: Car-Mate Dealers $50, Black Rock Speedway $100, Pro Shocks $100, Griffin Thermal Products $50, Total Seal $50, Hank's Performance Products $50, Bicknell Racing Products $35, Behrent's Performance Warehouse $30, Red's Speed Shop $25.
Other Bonuses: Weld Racing Hard Luck - Dietrick $75. Design 500 - Drum $100, Preston $50. C&R Racing Radiators - Drum $50. Bailey Racing Products - Kaszubinski $35 Total Seal - Years $30. Thunder Mtn. Wings - Podolak $20. Powder Birns - Stelter $10. Dave Ely Racing - Kaszubinski, Yonge, Dietrick $10. Lauterborn Electric - Taber $10.