ESS: Stateline II: Race report

BUSTI, N.Y. - After a three year absence from victory lane, Tim Kelly completed his return to Empire Super Sprint (ESS) competition with a victory Saturday night at the Stateline Speedway. Taking the lead on lap four from veteran George Ely and...

BUSTI, N.Y. - After a three year absence from victory lane, Tim Kelly completed his return to Empire Super Sprint (ESS) competition with a victory Saturday night at the Stateline Speedway. Taking the lead on lap four from veteran George Ely and holding off a last lap charge from Lance Yonge, the Rock Stream, N.Y. pilot ran a smooth race to collect the A-Main victory.

Taking a leave from ESS competition at the end of the 1999 season, Kelly and good friend Eddie Vickio put together a modest one car/one motor effort for the 2002 effort to race for fun. After some trying times early which saw them lose their main mount (a brand new Avenger built sprinter) the duo kept plugging each race and finally the right hand was delt to collect the victory.

"This win is more relief than anything else. After we lost our main car, this 1993 Gambler that we are running has been a hand full. We just couldn't get this car to work for some reason." noted Kelly on some recent tough luck. "The car was getting better last weekend but Eddie wanted to get more out of it. He spent all week reading and researching, now I think we have a set up to work with."

The older Gambler sprinter was given to Kelly and Vickio from friend and former ESS competitor Roger Bacon. "If it wasn't for Roger, we just wouldn't be here right now. After our wreck at Albany-Saratoga we thought we were done for a while." pinned Kelly. "We had new equipment but we have no spares at all. After the accident Roger gave us his car to use, the rear end is his, he basically just kept us coming to the race tracks. That was so nice of him to do."

Ely and Kelly made up the front row for the 20 lap A-Main with Ely getting the jump with his self-owned J&J sprinter to lead the first three laps. Kelly was right behind Ely on every lap and with an inside pass as lap four was scored, he took over the lead. Several cautions slowed the pace but Kelly continued strong up front to hold off early challenges from Ely, Tom Taber and John Karklin Jr.

While those four were putting on a crowd pleasing run, Yonge's Lane's Yamaha #5 was moving up from it's 13th place starting spot. Yonge cracked the top five on lap 11, up to fourth on lap 14 and when the final caution came out on lap 16, all at Stateline knew that there was to be a new challenger for the leader Kelly.

"The yellow was definitely what I needed, the car was coming on but Timmy was pretty far out there." simply said by Yonge. "I needed to get some breaks and get a good run on the cars in front to see if I could get to Tim."

At the drop of the final green flag, Kelly again opened up his slight lead while Yonge quickly moved into second when lap 17 was in the books. The final three laps saw Yonge inch in on Kelly and with a last corner, last lap effort he almost made it a side by side drag race to the checkers. But, Kelly stayed his line and had enough to take home first place money.

"They told me afterwards that Lance really had a good car and that he closed in. That last yellow didn't bother me too much, I just tried to run the same line I did all race and it was just good enough tonight. It helped to start up front but hopefully the next race we can start a little further back and pass cars. That's what I like to do and it makes you feel good and we'll get there. " said Kelly who collected ESS career win #12. "We are having a ball racing this year. Eddie and I split the deal and we just are racing for fun. Sure we hope to get more parts and some more money together so we can run the whole series, but for now we will go to the races we can and try our best."

At the drop of Spanky Hall's checkered flag, it was Tim Kelly's Hard Titanium sponsored #12 just a car length ahead of Yonge. Karklin Jr. had a fine run to take third followed by former All-Star regular Mike Lutz with the P.J. Kerr owned sprinter and Taber in fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Mike Woodring, Bubby Kerrick, Bill White, Ryan Coniam and Mike Stelter.

Six cautions and one red flag marred the event: On the original start Tim Zimbardi looped his sprinter, Brian Dumigan did the same on lap two. On the third lap came the most serious incident when Erin Crocker flipped wildly down the back stretch. The young female star was a little sore but ok. A lap five yellow was for a spun Ray Preston, on the restart, Preston and Kyle Drum got together. On lap six, Bill Coffey looped his mount and the final caution on lap 16 was for Phil Mott, Don Sharp Jr. and Ely who came together in turn four.

Taking the Brodix Cylinder Heads heat events were Kerrick, Kelly and White with the KSE Racing Products B-Main taken by Coffey.

ESS NOTES: A good field of 28 sprinters in the pits with Lutz being the only new entry....Both Yonge and Lutz passed 11 cars in the A-Main but since Yonge finished ahead he took home the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus....Gary Troutman saw his sprint lie on it's side during the B-Main but he did restart and just missed the A-Main cut....Everyone in ESS was saddened by the news of Alain Bergeron losing his sister on Friday. His familiar #8B was missed this weekend.


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Series Sprint
Drivers Erin Crocker , Bill Coffey