SYRACUSE, N.Y. - After an unpredictable start to the second annual Empire Super Sprint (ESS)/United Racing Club (URC) Shootout on the mile, URC regular Curt Michael dominated to the 20 mile event with a flag to flag triumph that was worth over ...
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - After an unpredictable start to the second annual Empire Super Sprint (ESS)/United Racing Club (URC) Shootout on the mile, URC regular Curt Michael dominated to the 20 mile event with a flag to flag triumph that was worth over $6000.
Driving the Kathy and Pat Palladino owned, BK Leasing backed #99, Michael saw his biggest two challengers go out on the original start which left him with a Saturday afternoon cruise that was followed by a tearful victory lane at the famed New York State Fairgrounds.
By virtue of the top four time trialers being inverted, URC's rookie sensation Kevin Welsh and defending champion Lance Yonge occupied the front row. At the drop of the green flag, Yonge immediately took command and made the first statement of a Syracuse repeat. That quest lasted just two turns on the "Moody Mile" as Yonge looped his Mal Lane owned #5 in turn two with the spin collecting fast-timer Becca Anderson. The wild start left the crowd speechless and left Michael without a serious challenger in the $35,000 event.
"I saw Lance (Yonge) get sideways in the loose stuff." said the Ocean View, Del. driver. "I had room to get under him so that wasn't any problem. I just couldn't believe he spun, he's so good here and I really was hoping that I could get a chance to race with him for the win. I knew with him and Becca knocked out, we had a good chance to get out front and maybe win."
On the restart, Welsh got the jump coming off of four but going down the long back stretch Michael powered past to take over the lead and it was a lead that would never be seriously challenged.
"I got a good run to take the lead and then I just tried to keep the car fast and stable for the rest of the race." said the driver who doubles as the driver of Walt Dyer's 410 sprinter in Central Pa. "The car was just absolutely perfect, you just don't know how comfortable I was out there. I was running hard but I still had more left. I didn't see or hear anyone behind so I kept a steady pace."
That steady pace left the entire field far behind the J&J chassied, Don Ott powered sprinter. The focus was on the runner-up position which Welsh held until lap 11. Coming off the corner, Welsh got his sprinter sideways which allowed Bill Brian Jr and Chris Coyle to slip by. One lap later, the second caution of the event came out for a slowing Kramer Williamson. This put Brian Jr., Coyle and Welsh back into the fight for the lead.
At the drop of the green, the expected challenge was soon extinguished as Michael again pulled out with the final seven laps just a sunny, Saturday afternoon walk in the park. "I'm just happy to win after what happened to us last year. We put so much into the event and when we lost the motor we were so down." said the driver who now has 12 career wins on the URC circuit. "This year we treated this as just another race. This is the same car and motor we run at the other URC races. We didn't want the pressure, we just wanted to have fun and that was a better stategy."
Michael took the checkered flag several car lengths ahead of the rest of the field and a big celebration followed in victory lane. "I know this is the biggest win for the Palladino's and it ranks right up there with my 410 wins at Williams Grove. This is defintely the most money I've won in my career." said Michael on the victory. "Syracuse is a special place to win. I can remember coming here with my older brother Sean who was working on Doug Hoffman's car. When Doug won you could see what this place meant to him. Now that I won, I can understand. There is just something about winning during Super DIRT Week. I'm glad the sprinters are here and I hope it can continue for many years to come."
Michael won easily over Brian Jr. Coyle, the current URC point leader, took third but it was a hairy third place finish as his #83 sprinter came across the finish line on fire. A blown engine was the casue and Coyle had to quickly stop his sprinter and climb out with just minor burns suffered. URC veteran Fran Hogue passed Welsh late to take fourth. ESS runner Rick Wilson took sixth but was set back two spots for going under the restart cone on the lap 11 caution. Florida's Kenny Adams, a regular on the USCS circuit, was moved up to sixth with URC regular Mike Haggenbottom home for seventh. Wilson was eighth with Cliff Brian ninth and Bully Hill National champion George Suprick rounding out the top ten.
Earlier time trials set the starting lineup for the 20 mile contest with Anderson's Bill Turpin/Fred Kennedy owned sprinter the fastest of the 31 car field with a time of 27.387 earning $500 from Keen Fabrication. Michael was second fastest and earned $300 from Syracuse Frame Service.
ESS/URC SHOOTOUT NOTES: Of the 31 cars on hand, the field was made up of 15 cars from URC, 11 from ESS, Adams and Red Staufferfrom USCS, Scott Bonnell runs the Western Pa. circuit, Cliff Brian spends most of his time on the Central Pa. circuit with former ESS regular Jeff Thomas picking up a ride for the special race...Blown engines claimed Stauffer and Don Sharp Jr...Seven-time ESS champion Mike Woodring had a magneto go bad on his first time trial lap which hindered his qualifying effort. Starting deep in the field, Woodring came through to finish in 12th to collect the P&C Foods hard charger award...John Karklin Jr. and Midge Miller needed their guranteed starting spots to get in the field...A special hot lap session on Friday night saw some highlights with R.C. Faigle flipping and Cliff Brian needing an engine change after.
ESS/URC Shootout Finish: CURT MICHAEL, Bill Brian Jr., Chris Coyle, Fran Hogue, Kevin Welsh, Kenny Adams, Mike Haggenbottom, Rick Wilson, Cliff Brian, George Suprick, Dan Kaszubinski, Mike Woodring, Dave McGough, Scott Pursell, Brian Seidel, Scott Bonnell, Mike Stelter, Doug Emery, Justin Barger, Kramer Williamson, George Ely, Jeff Busby, Midge Miller, Lance Yonge, Becca Anderson.
Did Not Qualify - R.C. Faigle, Red Stauffer, Rob Dietrick, Jeff Thomas, Don Sharp Jr.