ESS: Little Valley II: Race notes

Rick Wilson comes from 17th to win exciting ESS Event at Little Valley; Mike Woodring all but clinches his eighth championship. LITTLE VALLEY, N.Y. -- Canadian star Rick Wilson lived up to his famed nickname "The Joyceville Jet." The veteran ...

Rick Wilson comes from 17th to win exciting ESS Event at Little Valley; Mike Woodring all but clinches his eighth championship.

LITTLE VALLEY, N.Y. -- Canadian star Rick Wilson lived up to his famed nickname "The Joyceville Jet." The veteran driver that hails from the Ontario, Canada town that bears the very same name came from his 17th place starting spot to win the exciting Empire Super Sprints (ESS) Tour 2002 event at the Little Valley Speedway on Saturday night. Taking the lead from fellow countryman Alain Bergeron on lap 12, Wilson then had to hold off a late challenge from the Quebec chauffeur to collect his second A-Main victory on the season.

By virtue of his fourth place finish, Mike Woodring has just about clinched his eighth ESS championship which also marks his seventh consecutive. All the Eden, N.Y. star has to do his show up for either one of the last two ESS events and the title is his. This is a fact that makes the ESS great breathe a little easier as his wife Lisa will be expecting their first child in the next few weeks.

In victory lane, Wilson showed extra emotion with his triumph. The driver of the Focus Eye Centre sponsored #42W noted that this will be a win to remember. "That was awesome!!" exclaimed the very happy driver. "To come from the back like that, especially at Little Valley which is a tough track, really makes you feel good--.real good!"

For Wilson, he kind of knew before the initial green flag dropped that he might have a car to pull off the feat. "I learned something from Kaz (ESS star Dan Kaszubinski) at Can-Am a little while back." said Wilson on the set-up he used. "Even though the track is slick like tonight you might think you need a soft tire. At Can-Am he went with a hard tire, went to the top of the track and kicked our ass big time. I went with a harder tire here, cut the crap out of it and went right to the top of the track. Even though there was no cushion to lean on it worked. I knew it would work right when we did some warm-up laps before the green. I hit the gas hard and the car just rolled over and stuck, oh boy, I knew I had a good car right there."

The 20 lap A-Main did have to use the "third try is the charm" method to get going. Two efforts to get the event started went for naught and also went against Mike Lutz who led on both instances going into turn one. He out dragged Don Sharp Jr. each time. But, the second start called back was for Sharp Jr. who looped his sprinter. On the third restart Erin Crocker was now inside Lutz with her #16 and when the green lights came on Crocker got the jump.

The 21 year old female star led the first eight laps over Bergeron and Lutz before the whole outcome of the feature event changed as lap nine was being scored. Bubby Kerrick was slowing on the track and the yellow lights soon shined to let the field pass by safely. Just at the same time Crocker did a 360 degree spin which allowed both Bergeron and Lutz to get by. When the field restarted, two stories were now being played before the large crowd. The first was that Crocker was now third in line and the second tidbit to take note was Wilson's charge from 17th to fifth in those first nine laps.

When the green flag waved, Bergeron took control but all eyes were now on Wilson has he rode right up against the outside wall to make his moves. Thrilling the crowd, Wilson was second at the halfway mark and then he swept past Bergeron for the lead on lap 12. Wilson did open up some distance but Bergeron wasn't about to give up the fight just yet.

As laps on the big half-mile wound down, Wilson's high groove started to stabilize and Bergeron's extreme low line was starting to get a bit faster. On lap 19 the two were virtually side by side in turn two with slower traffic also figuring in. But, Wilson wasn't about to let his run from the back go without a reward. Never making a mistake and driving just a bit harder on the final circuit he took the checkered flag a few car lengths ahead of the French speaking challenger making for the first one-two Canadian sweep since August 25 of last year.

"I'll tell you, this (running sprint cars) is fun. I wish I did this 20 years ago." said the gleaming winner. "These drivers in ESS just run you so clean all the time, it's fun racing, it's fast racing. Now we are getting some wins and that makes it even that much more fun. A couple of races left in the season and hopefully we might get another one."

Wilson took ESS career win number three just ahead of Bergeron with Lutz taking third and Woodring in fourth, who made a great charge of his own as he won the B-Main and started in 19th. Doug Emery used the very same line as Wilson to come from fifteenth to place fifth at the finish. Making up the next five were Crocker, Mike Stelter, Steve Dow from 21st., Bill Coffey and Rob Dietrick.

Besides Sharp losing his up front starting spot with his spin on the second original restart, the same happened for Justin Barger who spun around on the first start losing his third place start. Kerrick's flat tire was the only caution after the first lap was officially scored.

Taking the $100 to win George Redeye/Brodix Cylinder Heads heat events were Barger, Lutz and Crocker. The Moore's Sugar Shack and Pancake House/Walt's Hobby Dash was won by Lutz with Woodring taking the KSE Racing Products B-Main.

ESS NOTES: A good field of 29 sprinters in the pits to play host to a jammed packed with fans Little Valley--Wilson's charge also netted him the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus--Bob Podolak lost a front end in his heat and had his sprinter lay on its side, he received the Weld Racing and Hazlitt Vineyards hard luck awards--Woodring continues to tally up title's to his resume' as he also clinched the Brodix Cylinder Heads heats point title and he's leading the Walt's Hobby Dash Series points going into the final two events. About the only glitch on his incredible 2002 season? He took second to Ryan Coniam in the VSM Abrasives Canadian Invasion points championship...ESS was proud to be a part of Little Valley's open cockpit reunion which was a big hit and look for ESS to return to the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds in 2003.


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Series Sprint
Drivers Erin Crocker , Justin Barger , Bill Coffey