ESS: Rolling Wheels: Race summary

Kyle Drum thrills Rolling Wheels Raceway crowd with a wild victory in the ESS/URC Challenge Series event. ELBRIDGE, N.Y. -- In the most exciting Empire Super Sprints (ESS)/United Racing Club (URC) Challenge Series event ever, 18 year old Kyle...

Kyle Drum thrills Rolling Wheels Raceway crowd with a wild victory in the ESS/URC Challenge Series event.

ELBRIDGE, N.Y. -- In the most exciting Empire Super Sprints (ESS)/United Racing Club (URC) Challenge Series event ever, 18 year old Kyle Drum made a breath taking outside sweep of Mike Lutz with two laps to go to go on to win the 25 lap event Saturday night at the Rolling Wheels Raceway. The victory for the driver of the US Air Force backed J&J was worth $3,000 for his efforts which was rewarded by a standing and cheering crowd at the annual event which is in conjunction with Super DIRT Week held at the New York State Fairgrounds.

The ESS sophomore pilot provided a little "alphabet soup" as he came from the C-Main to go through the B-Main which enabled to start the finale in the 24th position. Never straying from his cushion hugging lane, Drum passed the best drivers from both ESS and URC to collect his first sanctioned feature event of the season (Drum scored his first career ESS win last season as a rookie).

"This is just incredible!!" said the usually soft spoken teenager. "To beat these good drivers from where we started is amazing. I just had a great car up top and just drove it as hard as I could. I have to thank old man Tom (Taber, many-time ESS winner) for helping us the past few weeks. He's gotten the car dialed in and the last three races we have been the hard charger."

Drum was hoping to build from his rookie of the year title that he earned from ESS last season but six flips and bad luck saw the Drum family drop off the ESS tour in late August. "It was frustrating, nothing was going right for us and dad just had enough, we had to regroup." said the driver that hails from Wayland, N.Y. "I didn't lose much confidence, we needed a little extra to get us back on track and that was Taber."

While Drum provided the Hollywood script, the early stages of the event was to be showcased by Lutz, ESS' late season star and young URC chauffeur Matt Gerber. Taking advantage of his pole starting spot was Gerber aboard his Berks Walk-In Bingo #39M as he lead the first five laps before Lutz, the former All-Star Circuit of Champions rookie of the year, dove under to take over the top spot. The lead was short lived however as Gerber retook the front position in hopes for his second career sprint victory.

Two mid-race cautions slowed the pace but it still was Gerber holding the advantage over Lutz. Then came a lane change by the second place runner. "My tires sealed over early and I just couldn't hold the bottom anymore." noted Lutz. "I went to the top and the car was better, I got faster." Faster indeed and the Mercer Pa. star drove back around Gerber on lap 17 for his second stint in the lead.

While the two Pennsylvania drivers were putting on a crowd pleasing show, many on hand began to notice a white #47 passing cars at an alarming rate. When Lutz passed Gerber at the same time Drum took over fourth spot. Taking to the thin cushion with an aggressive style, Drum then disposed of a third place running Dan Kaszubinski one lap later and he then became the runner-up sprinter in lap 19 when he blasted by Gerber.

The pass to take second brought the Rolling Wheels crowd to their feet in hopes to see this drive end in glory. There was now just one sprinter left to be passed and that was Lutz who had built up a sizable lead. Drum never gave in as he still attacked the outside line with an all out style, a style that saw his sprinter off the outside edge more than once.

The final laps went by and Drum closed in on Lutz but there was one problem, Lutz was running the same line on the half-mile. "I knew I could catch him, my car was faster but then I didn't know if I could get by him." said Drum on his late race strategy. "My car wouldn't go low so I was just hoping for one break."

That break came as the field was ready to get the two laps to go signal. Lutz entered turn three just off the cushion and Drum took full advantage. It was the proverbial "win it or wreck it" move and it gave the crowd a huge thrill in what was now Sunday morning. The brave move worked and Kyle Drum came down to lead lap 23.

Lutz tried his own last ditch effort in turn two but he drove off the track and lost second spot to ESS champion Mike Woodring as well. Drum fled from the field and on to victory. While somewhat disappointed, Lutz gave full credit to Drum. "I was running the top and I thought the way the track got that no one was going under me, I really thought this was my race." Lutz explained. "All of a sudden here comes this car on the outside of me, I couldn't believe it! What a ballsy move he put on, hey, I can't say anything--he earned this one, it was a great move!"

Drum was showing a smile from ear to ear in victory lane but there still was some disbelief in his voice. "I just can't believe we came from the C-Main to here (victory lane). I mean we had a good car, but to be here is amazing." Drum simply summed up. "Maybe we had some luck too, I had the car over the cushion a bunch of times. The way our luck has gone this year we probably should have crashed but this time I guess we deserved the breaks."

At the flying double checker flags of Ben Vitale, it was Drum well ahead of Woodring followed by Lutz. ESS veteran Lance Yonge made a late race pass of Gerber for fourth with Gerber flying the URC colors in for fifth. Rounding out the top ten were three-time ESS winner in Kaszubinski, female sensation Erin Crocker, Western Pa. star Scott Bonnell, URC rookie Ed Aikin and ESS regular Ray Preston.

Only two cautions slowed the event, Dave Ely spun on lap 14 and a four car jingle involving URC runners Bill Brian Jr., Danny Massey, Curt Michael and Doug Emery.

Taking five of the six heats were ESS drivers Preston, last years Challenge winner Rick Wilson, Lutz, Don Sharp Jr. and Kaszubinski. URC's Trevor Lewis won his heat. A special passing points system determined the qualifiers to the C,B and A-Mains. Winning the two C-Mains were Dave McGough and Drum the B-Main was copped by Bonnell. A special Walt's Hobby Dash was won by Wilson.

ESS/URC Challenge Notes: A total of 57 sprinters filled the pits with 33 registered ESS teams and 24 from URC--Many-time ESS/URC Challenge winner Kramer Williamson was the only flip victim of the night--.The A-Main was made up of 16 cars from ESS and 10 from URC--McGough and Ryan Coniam used their highest in points provisional to get in the A-Main--Central NY DIRT sportsman star Shawn Donath made his first ever sprint start as Doug Emery's team mate, Donath showed good speed and made the A-Main--Next up for URC's Advanced Auto Parts Tour will be this Saturday with a feature only invitational at the Grandview Speedway. ESS has closed out their season with Mike Woodring celebrating his eighth championship on Sat. Nov. 16th with the awards banquet at the Turning Stone Casio Resort.

-ess-

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Series Sprint
Drivers Erin Crocker
Teams Williams