Justin Barger Leads all Laps to Collect Empire Super Sprints Victory at Five Mile Point; Lance Yonge Takes Home First Ever Championship KIRKWOOD, N.Y. -- It was a night where two wars were to be waged. It's was the Empire Super Sprints (ESS)...
Justin Barger Leads all Laps to Collect Empire Super Sprints Victory at Five Mile Point; Lance Yonge Takes Home First Ever Championship
KIRKWOOD, N.Y. -- It was a night where two wars were to be waged. It's was the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) return to the Five Mile Point Speedway after a 14 year absence and the all important checkered flag was at stake. Also, Lance Yonge and Dan Kaszubinski can into the warm Friday night with a chance to conquer their first ever ESS points championship.
Montrose, N.Y.'s Justin Barger made his statement in the 25 lap A-Main leading from start to finish collecting his first win of the ESS Tour 2004. The victory for the 21 year old driver was his third on in his ESS career and help salvage a frustrating season where an ESS championship was one of his goals.
Combined with a strong runner-up finish and a Kaszubinski drop out on lap seven, Yonge felt the spray of champagne shortly after the checkered flag taking home his long-time goal of an ESS championship. It was a very successful year for the Penn Yan, N.Y. star as he also won the Spectro Oils Canadian Invasion point series.
For Barger, the Kirkwood, N.Y. oval is one of the closest to his home and a favorite of his on the ESS trail. Seeing the winner's circle before on an open 360 event a few years ago, victory wasn't only badly needed, but was expected after the surprising pill draw. "I couldn't believe when they told me when the pill was drawn that it was a complete inversion. That never happens but we were lucky enough to end up on the pole at a track I really like." noted the driver of the Cortlandt Auto Body Maxim. "It's rare when you do get the pole but I was worried. All you can do is go backwards and I didn't want to do that. But, the crew gave me a great car, it felt fast and I just worried about lapped traffic."
Barger did pull out from outside pole sitting Kaszubinski at the drop of the green flag and he kept a sizeable distance on the Syracuse, N.Y. driver before his fateful lap seven that knocked him from championship contention. That outcome moved Yonge into second but the combination of a fast Barger mount and enough cautions to make slower traffic not a factor was key to a successful journey.
Yonge did want his second victory of the season, but the battle wasn't important, the war was. "I would have liked to get up to Justin and see if we could race him but the cautions really help him out in keeping a clear track. I just didn't have anything for him." noted Yonge on the race, but the overall picture was what was the goal. "But, we can't complain, our goal all year was to win the ESS title. I've been so close since I came here in 1992 and now I've finally got the trophy at the banquet.!"
The night was primed for a two car duel but the Kaszubinski misfortune dimmed the shootout. "I feel bad for Dan, you always want to win it on the track but he didn't have the opportunity to do that." said the new champion shortly afterwards. "We have been battling all year, he won more races but I was just a little more consistent. It was fun to go back and forth with such a good competitor during the year."
At the checkered flag it was Barger ahead of Yonge with Mike Stelter home for a fine third. Billy Krull took fourth ahead of the Carmen Fratto owned Stealth of Doug Emery. The next five was made up of heat and dash winner Matt Norrie, Don Sharp Jr., Jeff VanDusen, Bill Bailey, who earned the Lane's Yamaha hard charger bonus with the Bud Burlew #28, and Tim Kelly.
Two reds and three cautions proved that it was short track racing. On lap one Warren Alexson lost his front end after contact with another car. Doug Norrie looped his sprinter just one lap later. On lap seven Geoff Quackenbush flipped his mount with Kaszubinski making hard contact. The crew tried to get his #20 back out but missed by a mere few seconds. On lap 14 Russ Bennett went over collecting John Karklin Jr., but Karklin did return. On lap 20, Jeff Cook also lost a front end and spun around.
The Engler Machine and Tool heat events were won by VanDusen, Matt Norrie and Karklin Jr. The Rich's Auto Body/Walt's Hobby Dash was taken by Matt Norrie with the KSE Racing Products B-Main won by Bubby Kerrick.
ESS NOTES: A good field of 25 sprinters were on hand for the final full point show of the 2004 season--.While the National Quarter Mile Dirt Track Championship dates back over 30 years, it not only was the first visit for ESS but the first time under promotion of Andy Harpell who has made many improvements to the historic quarter-mile--New entries for 2004 were Bailey, who is planning on returning to the ESS tour next season and Quackenbush in making just his sixth ever sprint car start, and Jeremy Barnard. A total of 74 different competitors in ESS competition for 2004--The night was sponsored by ProSpas which is owned by Mike and Deb VanDusen--.The final event for the season comes on Saturday night, October 9th with the annual ESS/United Racing Club challenge series event at the Rolling Wheels Raceway as a part of Super DIRT Week. The 25 lap feature will reward the winner a cool $3,000.
Heat 1 -- Jeff VanDusen, Don Sharp Jr., Doug Emery, Dan Kaszubinski, Bob Podolak, Russ Bennett.
Heat 2 -- Matt Norrie, Doug Norrie, Jeff Cook, Mike Stelter, Justin Barger, Warren Alexson.
Heat 3 -- John Karklin Jr., Nick Fratto, Lance Yonge, Billy Krull, Frank Senzio, Howard Singer.
Rich's Auto Body/Walt's Hobby Dash -- M. Norrie.
B-Main -- Bubby Kerrick, Tim Kelly, Bill Bailey, Geoff Quackenbush.
Did Not Qualify -- Dick Spadaro, Jeremy Barnard, Luke Eriksen.
A-MAIN -- JUSTIN BARGER, Yonge, Stelter, Krull, Emery, M. Norrie, Sharp Jr., VanDusen, Bailey, Kelly, Kerrick, Karklin Jr., D. Norrie, Fratto, Senzio, Singer, Cook, Bennett, Kaszubinski, Quackenbush, Podolak, Alexson.
Gater News Lap Leader -- Barger 1-25.
Lane's Yamaha Hard Charger -- Bailey (11 pos.) $50.
Brodix Cylinder Heads Halfway -- Barger $50.
Winner's Bonuses: Car-Mate Trailers $50, ATL Fuel Cells $100, Penske Shocks $100, Hank's Performance Products $50, Total Seal $50, American Racer Tires $50, Real Racing Wheels $50, Racing Optics $30, The Brake Man $25, Red's Speed Shop $25, The Race Depot, $25, Frankland Racing Products $25, Behrent's Performance Warehouse/Mechanix Wear $20, Bect Chemicals $15, MRE Productions $10.
Weld Racing Hard Luck -- Bennett $100.
Penske Shocks -- Kelly $100.
Design 500 -- Senzio $100, Emery $50.
Leaf Racewear -- Stelter $75.
M&W Aluminum Products -- Cook $75.
KSE Racing Products -- Kerrick $50.
B&B Oval Track Products -- M. Norrie $50.
Saldana Racing Products -- M. Norrie $50.
Zemco Headers -- Emery $50.
Joe Hunt Magnetos - Kaszubinski $50.
Speedway Advertising -- Yonge $25, Stelter $25.
Engler Machine and Tool -- VanDusen $25, M. Norrie $25, Karklin Jr. $25.
Behrent's Performance Warehouse -- Yonge $20.