Justin Barger Dominates the Earl Halaquist Memorial and the Empire Super Sprints' Return to the Fonda Speedway. FONDA, N.Y. -- When Montrose, N.Y.'s Justin Barger took the lead on lap four Saturday night at the Fonda Speedway he left ...
Justin Barger Dominates the Earl Halaquist Memorial and the Empire Super Sprints' Return to the Fonda Speedway.
FONDA, N.Y. -- When Montrose, N.Y.'s Justin Barger took the lead on lap four Saturday night at the Fonda Speedway he left little doubt that the Cortlandt Auto Body Maxim was the class of the field on this evening. Coming off a win during his heat and the dash, the 23 year old made a clean sweep as the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) and the tour brought to you by Jacobs Motorsports made its return to the "Track of Champions" after 12 years. To make his feat one for the history books, the event was also the annual Earl Halaquist Memorial where Barger took home $2,175 on cash plus bonuses.
The victory was his second of the season but was just a little extra special for the family as he lost his grandfather just a few weeks prior. "You just couldn't ask for a better night. We had a good car but to win your heat, dash and feature really makes it pretty cool." said Barger on his headline making evening. "I just love coming here; Fonda is a big track and just suits my style. They told me I had a big lead and getting through lapped traffic wasn't too much of a problem so it was just a good night."
When the field came down to Dick Sweet's green flag in front of a big Fonda crowd, pole sitting Jared Zimbardi took charge and led for the first lap. Third place starting Mike Stelter then took over the top spot with the Bliss Bros. Maxim and led until Barger came from his fifth place starting spot to the head of the pack and it was a lead that would never be challenged.
Just running flat out, Barger's lead opened up quickly and this simply became a race for second place. Joining Stelter in the early going for the fight for the bridesmaid slot was Cory Sparks in his Farrell Oil # 9 and these two swapped the position four times during the first half of the event. It was a great two car battle that went on lap after lap.
Steve Poirier was making some noise after starting in tenth and he joined in the fun just past the halfway mark. Getting by Stelter on lap 17 and then doing the same on lap 18 to Sparks, the popular French-Canadian started to open up some distance for himself making it a race now for the third place finish. Zimbardi joined back in with the battle amongst Stelter and Sparks and the threesome kept the crowd's attention right until the checkered flag.
At the finish, it was Barger ahead by a full strait away for ESS career win #10 with current point leader Poirier taking second. The battle for third indeed came down to the last lap with Sparks holding off Zimbardi and Jeff VanDusen in for fifth. But, VanDusen was docked two spots for hitting the restart cone moving Stelter back up to fifth in the final run down.
Making up the next five were Jason Barney, VanDusen, Doug Emery, who was piloting the second Sparks entry for a fine eighth, Alain Bergeron in a brand new J&J chassis ninth with Tim Kelly rounding out the top ten.
Four cautions did slow the pace on the big half-mile: Jessica Zemken lost power on lap two to continue with her bad luck on the ESS trail. Jeff Cook spun while running in third on lap four, on lap eight Bubby Kerrick came to a stop with Russ Bennett also looping it around in turn two. The restart on lap eight saw VanDusen hitting the cone and with the field bunching up Bobby Breen made contact with the outside wall on the front stretch.
Taking the $25 to win Car Mate Custom Built Trailers heat events were Barger, Stelter and Lance Yonge. The Gabriel's IGA Markets/Walt's Hobby Dash event also went to Barger with a $100 top prize and the KSE Racing Products B-Main was won by Bobby Breen.
ESS/FONDA NOTES: A fine field of 29 sprints on hand for the fourth annual Memorial held for the 2000 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee...More than a dozen family members and friends of Earl Halaquist was on hand for the memorable night...Making first ESS starts of 2007 was Emery, Billy Wolf returned after more than three years off the tour and young Matt Demitraszek making his first ever ESS start...There were several driver changes on this night to join Emery, Zemken was aboard a Tom Patterson entry as was Jami Russell as a teammate to Zemken...Yonge missed his first top ten of the season with a blown engine in his #17J...Next week will find the stars and cars of the Empire Super Sprints and the Lucas Oil Canadian Invasion Series making the second of three stops to Autodromes Granby and Drummond. Both events will pay a cool $2,000 to win with $450 to take the green.
Heat 1 - Justin Barger, Jeff VanDusen, Steve Poirier, Jared Zimbardi, Jessica Zemken, Tommy Wickham.
Heat 2 - Mike Stelter, Jeff Cook, Tim Kelly, Doug Emery, Blake Breen, Michael Parent.
Heat 3 - Lance Yonge, Bubby Kerrick, Jason Barney, Cory Sparks, Alain Bergeron, Anthony Cain.
Gabriel's IGA Markets/Walt's Hobby Dash - Justin Barger.
B-Main - Bobby Breen, Russ Bennett, Warren Alexson, Normand Beaudreault.
Did Not Qualify - Doug Norrie, Matt Norrie, Jami Russell, Blase' Regina, Billy Wolf, Justin Harris, Matt Demitraszek.
A-MAIN - JUSTIN BARGER, Steve Poirier, Cory Sparks, Jared Zimbardi, Mike Stelter, Jason Barney, Jeff VanDusen, Doug Emery, Alain Bergeron, Tim Kelly, Michael Parent, Jeff Cook, Tommy Wickham, Russ Bennett, Warren Alexson, Anthony Cain, Normand Beaudreault, Lance Yonge, Blake Breen, Bobby Breen, Bubby Kerrick, Jessica Zemken.
Gater News Lap Leaders - Zimbardi 1, Stelter 2-3, Justin Barger 4-25. -credit: ess