Erin Crocker powers past Kyle Drum for ESS victory at Frogtown. HOGANSBURG, N.Y. - It was a wild, all-out battle between two of the Empire Super Sprints "Young Guns". Twenty-one year old female driver Erin Crocker and 17 year old Kyle Drum went...
Erin Crocker powers past Kyle Drum for ESS victory at Frogtown.
HOGANSBURG, N.Y. - It was a wild, all-out battle between two of the Empire Super Sprints "Young Guns". Twenty-one year old female driver Erin Crocker and 17 year old Kyle Drum went to battle Saturday night at the wide open Frogtown International Speedway. With an inside lap 17 pass, Crocker took her Mike Woodring owned J&J past a cushion riding Drum to collect her second ESS Tour 2002 A-Main.
It was an interesting twist of fate for the two young stars of the ESS circuit. Just 24 hours prior at Autodrome Edelweiss, both were involved in wild accidents which saw their teams switch to backup sprinters for the event at Frogtown. Crocker was part of a wild six car pileup which saw her Maxim sprinter with a few twisted bars in the frame rails. The hit was so hard that Crocker spent several hours in a hospital getting her ankle x-rayed just before Saturday's event. It was diagnosed as a sprain and she was race ready.
For Drum, his J&J sprinter was seen flipping wildly down the back stretch with another competitor. A bent frame the result and the Drum team had to pull the motor out of their main mount and placed it in a two year old Stealth chassied sprinter. For both, finishing the 20 lap feature event would have been satisfying, but instead they went out and thrilled the crowd at the St. Regis Indian Reservation.
Nineteen year old Jeff VanDusen led the first lap before Drum's US Air Force #47 swept by and he started to open up a sizeable lead using the extreme outside of the 1/2 mile. Fifth place starting Crocker quickly moved into third by lap five and into second just one lap shy of the halfway mark. A caution on lap 11 put the two nose to tail but when the green lights came back on, it was still Drum holding his own in the lead. However, this was not a comfortable lead as Crocker was right behind waiting to make a move. That move was to come when slower traffic started to figure into the equation.
On lap 15, Crocker was just a car length behind, on lap 16 the two came across the start/finish line side by side (Crocker was scored the leader by inches) which put the crowd on their feet. With a few slower cars in front, Crocker's lower line on the track was key and she powered by Drum coming off turn two. As lap 17 was scored, Crocker's #16 was a few lengths ahead as the leader. Even with some eye opening moments in lapped traffic, Crocker pulled away slightly to collect her second feature win in as many weeks.
"I love this place!!" was Crocker's first words in victory lane while receiving a loud roar. "It is so fast here and the guys (the crew) just gave me a great car. I have to thank Mike (Woodring), the crew...everybody. It's been an interesting two weeks, I've trashed two cars but then we come back the next night to get a win. It's not the way you want to do it, but it shows a good team."
The key to Crocker's pass seemed to be her lower line, "My car just couldn't run the top like Kyle's. But, it seemed to be a better line for me to pass him and to get by the slower cars. There was some hairy moments with the lapped cars but you run as hard as you can, you just don't know who's behind you." The J&J used by Crocker was the car Woodring uses for his 410 racing which was equipped with a new 360 engine that was in a testing stage for the Tournament of Champions event in two weeks to be held in Knoxville, IA. "Just like last week with the Maxim I drove, this J&J was an awesome car, but, I would like to get a win in a car with my sponsors name on it (Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute where Crocker will be a senior this year)" Crocker jokes, "Hey, I'm just happy to have a car to race each night."
For Drum, a win would have been nice but he was happy just to see a checkered flag. "I'm just happy to finish." simply said by Drum. "I think the top side in turn two had a few slippery spots I seemed to hit them. That's where Erin got me. Once she took the lead I really didn't have anything for her. We just wanted to finish a race, it's been a real tough two weeks for dad, me, the family, hopefully this will turn it around."
At the checkered flag it was Crocker taking the win over Drum, Ryan Coniam came from his 11th place starting spot to finish in third and collect the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus, fourth was Lance Yonge followed by VanDusen. Rounding out the top ten was Dan Kaszubinski, Rob Dietrick, Bubby Kerrick, Woodring and Mike Lutz.
Only two cautions slowed the blistering pace: A spun Warren Alexson which collected John Karklin Jr. saw the yellow lights to come on with just three laps in. Alexson rallied to finish 11th which Karklin Jr. went off on the hook. On lap 11, a top five running Rick Wilson stopped on the track with a broken spindle.
Taking the Brodix Cylinder Heads heat events were George Ely, Mike Stelter and Crocker. The KSE Racing Products B-Main was won by Bill Coffey with the Walt's Hobby Dash taken by Kaszubinski.
ESS NOTES: A good field of 29 sprinters in the pits...Motor woes in warm-ups kept Phil Mott from further competition....After the Friday night show in Quebec, Anthony Cain, Bill Wolf, Ray Preston, Tom Taber, Alexson and Mott joined the rest of the ESS troops for the Saturday night run.