ESS: Stateline race report, results

BUSTI, N.Y. -- Patience and persistence was used to perfection as Freehold, N.Y.'s John Karklin Jr. made a lap 18 pass of Empire Super Sprints (ESS) star Lance Yonge to win the 25 lap Valvoline Cup A-Main Saturday night at the Stateline Speedway.

BUSTI, N.Y. -- Patience and persistence was used to perfection as Freehold, N.Y.'s John Karklin Jr. made a lap 18 pass of Empire Super Sprints (ESS) star Lance Yonge to win the 25 lap Valvoline Cup A-Main Saturday night at the Stateline Speedway. The event was the third on ESS' 20th Anniversary Tour and victory for the driver of the Dick Goff owned #69K was worth over $2,000 in cash and prizes.

The pre-race pill draw saw Yonge's Lane's Yamaha on the pole for the start of the feature event. Yonge has been an ESS icon since his debut over a decade ago and most in attendance was ready to hand the checkered flag over to the Penn Yan, N.Y. sprint talent. There was one exception, that was Karklin himself.

"I knew going in I had a good car and I just had this feeling that this was to be my race." said the ESS driver who is a big fixture in the pit area at each event. "But, I had to find a way to pass Lance (Yonge). He is good, real good and he is one of the best ever in ESS. I look up to him. Tonight though for the first time I became a driver that studied and analyzed his lanes and where my car was best, that is how I won."

At the drop of Spanky Hall's green flag, Yonge indeed jumped into the lead over outside pole starting Bill Coffey. Karklin quickly passed Coffey on lap two and the chase was on. As laps went on, in lapped traffic and even after a lap nine restart it was the same result--Yonge leading and Karklin second. Little did anyone know, this was the time that Karklin was using as his learning stage.

"This new car is so good; it's night and day compared to what I've had in the past. When your equipment is good you now can study as a driver and to become a better driver." Karklin said as a matter of fact. "I'll admit, all those laps I just watched Lance and where he was putting his car. I just followed his lane for so many laps and studied what he was doing. Then I started to figure out where I could be a little better and see if I could make the pass."

As the lap counter clicked into the high teen count Karklin closed in and coming down to score lap 18 he made his move--a bold move on the inside. "I could diamond the corner off a little more and carry just a bit more speed. I then made the move." Diving under Yonge, who is a master on the low side of many tracks, Karklin's machine stuck and coming off four he came out with the lead. Shortly afterwards, Karklin had to snicker, "I can now tell everybody that I passed Lance Yonge in the inside!! That never happens."

While a lead opened up some after the pass a lap 24 caution made for some late race dramatics. With no lapped cars in between Yonge still had one last chance to reclaim the spot that was his for 17 laps. But, this was John Karklin's race to win and there wasn't one bobble or slip, a perfect last tour of the Stateline Speedway. Karklin, though, was candid afterwards; "Was I nervous on that last lap restart, I'm not going to lie to you--I was nervous as hell!!!"

The win marked his third career on the ESS tour and for the owner that is simply known as "Pops" it was his first checkered in the seven years that he has owned race cars which made for a very emotional victory lane.

Yonge collected second place money and was all full of compliments for the winner afterwards. "Hey, I just got beat by a better driver and car today. That was all; the first things I have to do are walk down there and congratulate John on a great race."

Quebec's Alain Bergeron came home for a fine third place with Dan Kaszubinski and Bubby Kerrick, who has had a horrible start to the 2003 season, rounding out the top five. The next five was made up of Bill Bailey, who received the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus, the Cortland Auto Body #32 of Justin Barger, Mike Lutz, Coffey and Rob Dietrick.

The two cautions that slowed the pace was for spins by ESS teenage rookie of the year hopeful Nick Fratto.

The $25 to win Engler Machine and Tool heat events were won by Don Sharp Jr., Jeff VanDusen and Mike Stelter.

ESS NOTES: Despite heavy rains that cancelled every other event in the state of New York, 22 sprinters still found their way to the track just outside of Jamestown. Sprinkles throughout the evening was present but the entire night of racing was completed--Making their first ESS starts of the season were Jim McCaffery, Scott Bonnell, the father/son tandem of Tim and Jared Zimbardi and Martin Girard who also made his first ever sprint start as a teammate to fellow Quebecer Alain Bergeron--A little bit of chassis news, Karklin's J&J was first across the line, the rest of the top five were Maxim built sprinters--. The final Valvoline Cup A-Main's which pay $1625 cash to win comes at Albany-Saratoga on June 6th. The stars and cars of ESS will make a second visit to Stateline on July 12th.


Heat 1 -- Don Sharp Jr., Lance Yonge, John Karklin Jr., Tim Zimbardi, Bubby Kerrick, Randy Years.

Heat 2 -- Jeff VanDusen, Justin Barger, Scott Bonnell, Dan Kaszubinski, Nick Fratto, Bill Bailey.

Heat 3 -- Mike Stelter, Alain Bergeron, Rob Dietrick, Mike Lutz, Bill Coffey, Jared Zimbardi.

A-MAIN -- JOHN KARKLIN JR., Yonge, Bergeron, Kaszubinski, Kerrick, Bailey, Barger, Lutz, Coffey, Dietrick, Sharp Jr., VanDusen, T. Zimbardi, Stelter, Ray Preston, Years, Jim McCaffrey, J. Zimbardi, Fratto, Jeremy Barnard, Bonnell, Marin Girard.

Lap Leaders -- Yonge 1-17, Karklin Jr. 18-25.

Winner's Bonuses: Valvoline Cup $175, Car-Mate Trailers $50, Sway-A-Way $100, ATL Fuel Cells $100, AFCO Shocks $100, Hank's Performance Products $50, Total Seal $50, Real Wheels $50, Saldana Racing Products $50, Bicknell Racing Products $35, Hazlitt Vineyards $30, American Race Tires $30, Behrent's Performance Warehouse/Mechanix Wear $20, MRE Productions $10.

Other Bonuses:
Weld Racing Hard Luck -- Lutz $75.
Leaf Racewear -- Bergeron $75.
Design 500 -- Stelter $100, Kerrick $50.
Penske Shocks -- Dietrick $200.
Zemco Headers -- Kerrick $50.
Joe Hunt Magnetos -- Bonnell $50.
Bailey Racing Products -- McCaffrey $35.
Hazlitt Vineyards -- Yonge $20, Bergeron $10.
Outlaw Brakes -- Kerrick $25.
HRP -- Tim Zimbardi $25.
DMI -- Martin Girard $25. -ess-

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Nick Fratt , Justin Barger , Bill Coffey