ESS: Grandview ESS/URC Challenge report

BECHTELSVILLE, PA. -- Syracuse, N.Y. sprint star Dan Kaszubinski swept passed leader Midge Miller with just five laps to go to collect the $3,000 top prize in the Empire Super Sprints (ESS)/United Racing Club (URC) Challenge Series event Sunday ...

BECHTELSVILLE, PA. -- Syracuse, N.Y. sprint star Dan Kaszubinski swept passed leader Midge Miller with just five laps to go to collect the $3,000 top prize in the Empire Super Sprints (ESS)/United Racing Club (URC) Challenge Series event Sunday night at the Grandview Speedway. The event kicked off the Bob Miller promoted Thunder on the Hill Series with the 30 lap A-Main sponsored by Team Welsh Jeep/Chrysler.

It was an unique scenario in victory lane as Kaszubinski has been a main fixture with ESS over the years amassing 18 career victories with his self-owned sprint cars. While holding a checkered flag is nothing new to the 29 year old star, taking the win in someone else's car was. Subbing for the injured Gary Gollub, Kaszubinski took over the seat for Rose and Elmer Stoltzfus who's #00 is in the pits at each URC event. It was all smiles for both clubs as each organization held some bragging rights with ESS with the driver and URC with the equipment.

Kaszubinski took to the high side of Grandview's high banked, third-miler and started to pass the front running top five mid-race to put himself in position for the glory. "The car just seemed to hook up more as the race went on. I was terrible early as we were too loose." said the N.Y. pilot reflecting back on the event. "I think it was a combination of moving the wing back and getting heat in the tires (Kaszubinski used an American Racer MC-2 compound). I just seemed to get more speed, more momentum and then I started to pass cars."

Long time URC favorite Midge Miller lead the first 18 circuits before a fast running Pete Green came from his fifth place starting spot to take over the top spot with his Dupont sponsored Green Motorsports entry. Green immediately opened up a lead but while his #4 was indeed fast a tell tale trail of blue smoke was coming from the engine compartment. The smoke got thicker on each lap and with 21 showing on the scoreboard, Green pulled his sprinter to the infield.

"It has just been a horrible weekend for us." Green said simply just shaking his head. "We hurt a motor last night (URC's event at Orange County) and then we borrowed one from Dave McGough and this one lost oil pressure also. I have to thank Dave or else we would not be here, but instead of a possible win we now have two bad motors. It's racing and we'll be back."

Miller's Shaw Racing Products #8 was back in front but now his next challenge was to come from Kaszubinski who disposed of Trevor Lewis, Doug Emery and Mike Haggenbottom to put himself in the runner-up position when Green fell off. The leading group was mixed in lapped cars and Kaszubinski's harder style was the key for him to get through the traffic a little better than Miller. As lap 25 was to be scored it was the ESS driver's turn to be counted as the leader.

The final five laps saw the lead open up which actually made the win look easy in the closing laps. While his second ESS/URC Challenge (first came at Rolling Wheels in October of 1998) win is a huge headline maker in itself, what series he will run was the question asked most. "We all have some talking to do, that's for sure." noted Dan shortly afterwards. "I just don't know. My goal was to shoot for the ESS championship this year and we are fourth in points right now. I finally have some good equipment of my own and that was what we were going for from the start. But, I always wanted to run one year with URC, they just have so much tradition and history and now with Elmer I have a chance to do that too. I think we will run the next few weeks with URC and when ESS gets going again on Memorial Weekend we will then decide."

Kaszubinski continued on with a huge smile thanking many on hand. "I can't go on without thanking so many people, Elmer and Rose for taking a chance with me without even knowing me just one week ago. They are just great people that has a real fast car. Also, Todd (Weigand), my crew chief, my dad, my wife as they have been there since I started. Also, I have to thank Vinny (Valeriano) from VRP shocks. He's got me a good set up and he really knows how to get a car dialed in. I didn't listen to him last night and we were out to lunch, I'll never do that again!"

At the checkered flag it was Kaszubinski on to the victory with both Haggenbottom and Lewis slipping by Miller in the closing stages to take second and third. Last years winner Kevin Welsh came on strong late to round out the top five. The next five was made up of Randy West with the Scats Anfuso owned sprinter. He had a strong weekend for his owner who is currently hospitalized as he won the event at Orange County. Current ESS point leader Mike Lutz came from his 22nd place starting spot to take seventh with the ProSpas sponsored #58. Emery took eighth in the Patterson Motorsports entry with ESS regular John Karklin Jr. ninth and defending URC champion Bill Brian Jr. in tenth.

Three cautions, all minor in nature, slowed the pace. Erin Crocker spun her Mike Woodring owned #16 on the original start; she was towed to the pits. Young ESS star Jeff VanDusen looped his sprint on lap 9 while running in third with URC regulars George Suprick and current point leader Dave Ely also involved. Only Suprick didn't restart. The final caution was on lap 17 for a stopped Jason Clauss.

Taking the heat events were Miller, URC veteran Glenn Clarke, who is running his last year behind a sprinter, Kaszubinski, VanDusen, Green and Welsh. The twin C-Mains were won by ESS drivers Justin Barger and Ryan Coniam with ESS also claiming the B-Main as Lance Yonge beat Ely to the finish.

ESS/URC CHALLENGE NOTES: A big field of 52 sprinters filled the pit area for the 54th edition of the Thunder on the Hill Series which also included the ARDC midgets who ran wingless--.34 URC cars and 18 from ESS made up the pit log--Along with the Kaszubinski/Stoltzfus combination, there was other surprise entries in the pits. Canadian Ryan Coniam has run with the All-Stars all season. After events at Williams Grove and Lincoln, he shook the dust off his 360 to run the challenge event. Bridgeport modified star Wade Hendrickson has run a few events with URC in 2003 and he made the tow to Grandview--With an added bonus from Valvoline Cup as the highest finishing ESS regular, Kaszubinski's winners share was upped to $3,175 cash--.Justin Collett was the only sprinter to land on it's wing all night with a C-Main incident--Coniam and Jimmy Stitzel used provisionals to get into the A-Main--The next event for the Advanced Auto Parts/URC Series comes this Saturday at the New Egypt Speedway while ESS' 20th anniversary tour will get going again on May 24th with a visit to the Stateline Speedway.

-ess-

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Series Sprint
Drivers Bob Miller , Erin Crocker , Justin Barger
Teams Williams