Bryan Howland Tops Justin Barger for First Ever ESS Victory at Fulton Speedway; Tops record field of 44 sprints to collect $2,000. FULTON, N.Y. -- It was a satisfying and emotional victory for Auburn, N.Y.'s Bryan Howland. Retaking the lead...
Bryan Howland Tops Justin Barger for First Ever ESS Victory at Fulton Speedway; Tops record field of 44 sprints to collect $2,000.
FULTON, N.Y. -- It was a satisfying and emotional victory for Auburn, N.Y.'s Bryan Howland. Retaking the lead from Justin Barger with three laps to go, the just turned 19 year old budding star went on to win the opening event of the nativepoker.com Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS). The victory was his first ever with the 24 year old sprint car organization and netted him $2,000 in cash along with another $765 in bonuses.
Howland bested a record field as 44 total sprinters packed the pits for the return to the high banks of the Fulton Speedway. His battle with Justin Barger kept the chilled crowd on edge with the victory in doubt until the waving of Danny Mulligan's checkered flag. Barger, who is making his return to ESS, took second followed by Dan Kaszubinski, Mike Stelter and Dave Ely rounding out the top five.
"This is just amazing!" simply said by the young likeable driver of the Filtrec Corporation backed #51 Maxim. "When Justin went by me on the top (on lap 16) I really thought I was going to take second and I was going to be happy with that. I mean Justin was running! But, the lapped cars helped out. I didn't give in as I saw most of the lap cars were up high and that's where Justin was so I just wanted to stay close. Luckily he got held up enough and I just got back under him. What a race!"
Howland has no real concrete plans for 2006 and for a very good reason. "I would really like to run more with ESS, they treat you so well here but I have to be there for my brother John so my schedule will be race to race." noted an emotional victor. "He's going in for some treatments and it could be that I will have to miss some races, family is special to me and sprint cars might have to take a back seat. I wish he was here but he couldn't make it so I just want to dedicate this win to him."
The luck of the pill draw placed Vermont's Luke Eriksen on the pole with Barger outside, but it was Barger's #32 taking the lead at the drop of the green. His lead was short lived however as Howland blasted his Jimmy D's powered machine on the low side to lead on lap four. Even with two cautions in the mix, it was still Howland over Barger on each restart.
As laps clicked on, the cushion hugging Barger gained momentum and as lap 16 was scored he blasted around the front running Howland for another turn at the lead. But, with the final 13 laps going under the green lights lap cars played a major factor into the battle. As Howland noted, most of the slower cars were indeed running up high and that is where the Cortlandt Auto Body sprint was running.
"The top was getting faster as the race went on. When I passed Bryan I thought I might have the faster car for the end--but." Barger analyzed shortly afterwards. "I tried to pick off the lap cars as quick as I could but some of them just held me up a little, that's all he needed. When he got past me I just couldn't get a run back on him, he got me."
Yes, Howland did get him and also notched his name on the nativepoker.com tour all-time win list for the very first time. Barger was second with Kaszubinski bringing the Fratto Motorsports #20 in third for a good start in his ESS title quest. Stelter earned the Lane's Yamaha hard charger bonus as he came from 17th to a fine fourth with former United Racing Company (URC) champion Dave Ely taking fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Pa.'s John Smith III aboard Rich Zagata's sprinter, Chuck Hebing, sprint car rookie Jason Barney, Shawn Donath in Paterson Motorsports back-up mount and defending URC champion Curt Michael in the Palladino #99.
Just three cautions slowed the pace on the multi-grooved oval: Eriksen and Doug Emery got together on lap two, Billy White slowly tipped over his mount on lap six and Nick Fratto made contact with the turn four wall on lap 12.
Taking the $25 to win Car Mate Trailers heat events were Blake Breen, Emery, John Karklin Jr. and Kaszubinski. Emery collected $125 for winning the Walt's Hobby dash with twin KSE Racing Products B-Mains copped by Tommy Wickham and Michael.
ESS/FULTON NOTES: The field of 44 sprints was a record for a full point show with ESS--Making their first ever ESS starts were Barney, Davey Sammons, Quebec's Michael Parent and Nick Bashford--Defending ESS champion Lance Yonge had a horrible start to his title defense as he destroyed his mount in a wild double flip with veteran Bobby Podolak during their heat event. Both drivers were Ok but their cars were done for the night--Kyle Drum and Parent went over during their heats but they came back to run the B-Mains--Sammons, the son of Area Auto Racing News' owner Lenny Sammons, also flopped over as he was leading the second B-Main. The young 16 year old tried to restart but his wing was too damaged--With the tough field on hand, the non-qualifiers looked like a who's who: Notables were three-time champ Gordy Button, Russ Bennett, Rick Wilson, Jessica Zemken, Steve Poirier and Don Sharp Jr. to join Yonge, Podolak and Drum--The ESS trail will continue this Friday night with the first of two visits to the Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Heat 1 -- Blake Breen, John Smith III, Justin Barger, Warren Alexson, Mike Stelter.
Heat 2 -- Doug Emery, Dave Ely, Dave Wickham, Alain Bergeron, Nick Fratto.
Heat 3 -- John Karklin Jr., Shawn Donath, Luke Eriksen, Billy White, Jeff VanDusen.
Heat 4 -- Dan Kaszubinski, Bryan Howland, Chuck Hebing, Jason Barney, Bubby Kerrick.
Walt's Hobby Dash -- Doug Emery.
B-Main 1 -- Tommy Wickham, Ray Preston.
B-Main 2 -- Curt Michael, Jeff Cook.
Provisionals -- Doug Norrie, Kyle Moffit.
Did Not Qualify - Chris Muhleisen, Matt Norrie, Gordy Button, Davey Sammons, Lance Yonge, George Ely, Bobby Podolak, Russ Bennett, Rick Wilson, Michael Parent, Cory Sparks, Sean O'Dae, Jessica Zemken, Kyle Drum, Nick Bashford, Steve Poirier, Randy Years, Don Sharp Jr.
A-Main - (25 Laps, $2,000 to win) -- BRYAN HOWLAND, Justin Barger, Dan Kaszubinski, Mike Stelter, Dave Ely, John Smith III, Chuck Hebing, Jason Barney, Shawn Donath, Curt Michael, Blake Breen, Jeff Cook, Jeff VanDusen, John Karklin Jr., Doug Emery, Warren Alexson, Ray Preston, Tommy Wickham, Dave Wickham, Doug Norrie, Bubby Kerrick, Alain Bergeron, Kyle Moffit, Luke Eriksen, Nick Fratto, Billy White.