ESS: Stateline: Race report

Lance Yonge's late race pass on Bubby Kerrick nets him ESS win at Stateline. BUSTI, N.Y. - It was a classic case of "never give up". Penn Yan, N.Y.'s Lance Yonge needed 16 laps of the 20 lap Valvoline Cup A-Main to pass race long leader Bubby...

Lance Yonge's late race pass on Bubby Kerrick nets him ESS win at Stateline.

BUSTI, N.Y. - It was a classic case of "never give up". Penn Yan, N.Y.'s Lance Yonge needed 16 laps of the 20 lap Valvoline Cup A-Main to pass race long leader Bubby Kerrick and go on to win the Empire Super Sprint (ESS) feature event Saturday night at the Stateline Speedway. Then win for Yonge was his first of the young 2002 season and his 20th ESS victory of his career which moved him into seventh spot overall, one ahead of John Birosh.

The event marked the first of two this season at the track near Jamestown, N.Y. which is the home of the super late models. Despite threatening skies all night, a good crowd was on hand to watch the winged warriors do battle on a table top smooth, multi-grooved Stateline oval.

"Bubby (Kerrick) took off right at the start and opened up a big lead, I really didn't know if I had a chance of catching him." noted Yonge afterwards. But it was a strategy by car owner Mal Lane that paid off. "That man (pointing to the witty owner) said that we needed to go with a little harder tire for the feature. I wasn't really sure if it was the right choice as the track was pretty soft but just past halfway the tires started to come in and I started to close in on Bubby. You are hard on the right rear here, it was the way to go."

Kerrick lead the first part of the event with ease. Even though he started the main event on the pole, Yonge started alongside but it just didn't matter as the red #61 of Kerrick was just plain gone. After a lap one red flag, the event went the next 17 laps under green and the way Kerrick opened up the distance it looked like career win #1 was finally coming the way of the Gorham, N.Y. chauffeur.

As the laps clicked by, it was a combination of lapped traffic and the choice of tires that decided the closing stages of the race. "I went with a real soft tire since the track was real good all night." said Kerrick. "The car was just perfect at the start as I could run it as hard as I wanted to. But, I think the tires did start to go away late and with the slower cars also it gave Lance a chance to close in."

"I was closing in on each lap, my car just kept on getting faster and faster as the race went on. I just didn't know if I would have enough laps...that was the question." said Yonge on the late race outcome. As lap 15 went in the books, Yonge pulled alongside Kerrick going down the back stretch. Diving into turn three just a bit harder, the Lane's Yamaha sponsored #5 shot ahead of Kerrick for the lead as the counter shined 16 laps completed.

But, just as Yonge was ready to open up some distance himself, a lap 18 caution caused for both driver's tires to cool...good for Kerrick, bad for Yonge. "The yellow was my last chance to get by, but Lance was just a bit better than I was on this night." said Bubby on what would be the telling story of the last two laps. "We are very happy to take second, the first win will come. I'm just happy to be racing, I really didn't know how much I would do this year was me and my wife bought a house. If it wasn't for Matt Gysel, our year would be up in the air."

"The tires hooked up on the restart and I knew I was ok. I'll tell you, it's our (drivers) job to win every race we can, but I do hope Bubby does get his first win soon. He's a good friend and he helps me a bunch by crewing for me when I run my 410 down in Pa." said Yonge on the lap 18 drama and also on his wishes for his fellow driver. "It's a good start for us, we are back to Maxim chassis and the open tire rule seems to be the right fit for us. Hopefully we can keep it going."

At the drop of Spanky Hall's checkered flag, it was Yonge a good distance ahead of Kerrick, defending ESS champion Mike Woodring came from 14th to take an exciting third place finish with 2001 rookie of the year Kyle Drum taking fourth and Mike Stelter home for fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Rob Dietrick, Alain Bergeron, Tim Kelly, Brian Dumigan, who lead the ESS points coming into the Stateline event claimed ninth. The fine effort earned him the Walt's Hobby hard charger bonus after starting in 21st with Randy Years finally getting some good luck to claim tenth.

The lap one red flag saw a scary double flip between Tom Taber and Ryan Coniam. Both drivers walked away but their cars were heavily damaged. The lap 18 caution was for Bobby Podolak who stopped in turn two after a tangle with Tim Zimbardi.

Taking the Brodix Cylinder Heads heat events were Taber, Dietrick and Woodring. The KSE Racing Products B-Main was won by Bill Bailey.

ESS NOTES: A fine field of 27 sprinters filled the pits...Making their first starts for 2002 were Zimbardi, Bailey, in the Bud Burlew #28, Chris Muhleisen and Kiel Woodburn which was his first start ever with the club....Rob Dietrick won his heat going away, but after he took the checkered flag his #10 slapped the outside wall in turn two and rolled on his side. Repairs were made just in time to run the A-Main....Special thanks to Vicomp Graphics in supply special decals in dedication to Brian Dumigan's father who died shortly after Brian's win at Canandaigua. Brian's hard charge from the back in the feature event brought smiles to many in ESS...The wild and wooly ESS Tour 2002 will make a return visit to Stateline on Saturday, July 14th.


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