VERNON, N.Y. -- For 19 year old Justin Barger, the 4th of July weekend will be remembered for his entire racing career. Passing leader Erin Crocker on lap eight of the 25 lap A-Main, the driver of the Cortland Auto Body Maxim completely routed a...
VERNON, N.Y. -- For 19 year old Justin Barger, the 4th of July weekend will be remembered for his entire racing career. Passing leader Erin Crocker on lap eight of the 25 lap A-Main, the driver of the Cortland Auto Body Maxim completely routed a strong field of winged sprint cars to collect his first ever Empire Super Sprints feature victory. The win was played host to a huge throng of fans Sunday night at the Utica-Rome Speedway.
While the young second generation star started in sixth place, the nightly pill draw found a complete inversion of all 15 cars that qualified through the heat events. To collect the victory Barger had to pass the best in ESS: Names like current point leader Mike Lutz, long-time star Lance Yonge, multi-feature winner John Karklin Jr., eight-time ESS champion Mike Woodring and Woodring's teammate, female sensation in Crocker. A list of who's who in the ESS ranks.
While that is a feat to be proud of, Barger had a confident feeling before the A-Main to the green flag. "We switched to this new car last time we were here and I think by the end of the night we might have been the fastest car on the track." noted Barger. "We were fast tonight as well but we did make a few changes after the dash. When we went green I knew right there that the car was perfect. I just had drive smart and not make any mistakes."
As lap one was scored, the #32 was already in fourth, third on lap three, by Woodring on lap five and then with a strong inside mover on Crocker's #16 going into turn three, Barger came out ahead coming off four to grab the lead on lap eight. After that, it was a matter of picking through lapped traffic and not having any mechanical failure. The event went green from lap nine right until the checkered flag was waved and Barger had a full straitaway lead on his competition.
"I didn't realize that I had a lead that I did. I really didn't have a problems with lapped cars but you want to get through as fast as you can because you don't know who's behind you." said Barger. "I could put the car anywhere on the track, I just love this place and we seem to have a good set up."
The victory was especially sweet for the young Justin and his family as he did visit victory lane back on July 14, 2001 at the Stateline Speedway but an engine infraction saw win stripped. This time around the team had no troubles passing tech and ESS career win #1 is in the books forever. Long afterwards, the teenager still looked like a kid in a candy store. "To win in ESS is special, there are just so many good cars here and I hope that we are getting closer to the front runners." said the winner with an upbeat tone. "Our goal is to try and win the ESS title. We are close in points but we still have a big challenge ahead, but to win definitely helps."
Crocker ran a strong 25 laps to bring her mount home in second just ahead of Dan Kaszubinski. Crocker's car owner in Woodring was fourth with Karklin Jr. backing up his win two days prior at Black Rock with a solid fifth. Rounding out the top ten were DIRT modified star Chuck Hebing who collected the Walt's Hobby Hard Charger bonus coming from his 15th place starting spot. Lutz continues to lead the ESS points with a seventh place finish followed by Yonge, Bubby Kerrick and Rob Dietrick.
Two cautions and two reds did slow the fast paced action. Alain Bergeron and Jim Senzio came together on the original start with Senzio going pit side. Don Sharp Jr. spun around on lap two and on lap nine he did a slow rollover in turn four to bring out the red lights. The A-Main stayed green right until the checkered flag was waving when Gordy Button flipped his sprinter coming off turn four making for a checkered flag/red flag condition. Both Sharp and Button walked away.
Taking the three Engler Machine and Tool heat events were Sharp Jr., Kerrick and Dietrick. Yonge won the Candid Creations/Walt's Hobby Dash with Button winning the KSE Racing Products B-Main.
ESS NOTES: A big field of 35 sprinters made up the pit log--.Everyone is ESS was glad to hear that Bill Coffey will make a complete recovery after his wild flip at Back Rock. His #13 will be missed over the next few weeks--.ESS stars shined at the second annual Wheelman Summer Nationals at the Mercer Speedway on Saturday night, an event that was in conjunction with the United Racing Club. Woodring made a late race pass to collect the $2500 top prize, Crocker had a fine fourth place finish, long-time ESS supporter Doug Emery was sixth with Lutz getting knocked out early to take home a 22nd place finish--.ESS' 20th Anniversary Tour will make one more holiday weekend stop at Utica-Rome on Aug. 30th--.The stars and cars from ESS will visit the Stateline Speedway this Saturday for their final visit at the 1/3rd mile oval just outside of Jamestown, N.Y.
Heat 1 -- Don Sharp Jr., Lance Yonge, Bob Podolak, Jim Senzio, Mike Woodring, Ray Preston.
Heat 2 -- Bubby Kerrick, John Karklin Jr., Dan Kaszubinski, Russ Bennett, Alain Bergeron, R.C. Faigle.
Heat 3 -- Rob Dietrick, Justin Barger, Mike Lutz, Erin Crocker, Chuck Hebing, Mike Stelter.
Candid Creations/Walt's Hobby Dash -- Yonge.
B-Main -- Gordy Button, Doug Emery, Bill Bailey, Brian Dumigan.
Provisional Starters -- Jeff VanDusen, Nick Fratto.
Did Not Qualify -- Jim McCaffrey, Randy Years, Warren Alexson, Frank Senzio, Tim Kelly, Bill Wolf, Howard Singer, Dick Spadaro, George Ely, Brian Glasser, Don Bellen.
A-MAIN -- JUSTIN BARGER, Crocker, Kaszubinski, Woodring, Karklin Jr., Hebing, Lutz, Yonge, Kerrick, Dietrick, Button, Faigle, Emery, Bergeron, Dumigan, Bennett, Preston, Fratto, Podolak, Sharp Jr., Stelter, VanDusen, Bailey, J. Senzio.
Lap Leaders -- Crocker 1-7, Barger 8-25.
Walt's Hobby Hard Charger -- Hebing (9 pos.) $50.
Brodix Cylinder Heads Halfway -- Barger $50.
Winner's Bonuses: Car-Mate Trailers $50, Sway-A-Way $100, ATL Fuel Cells $100, Hank's Performance Products $50, Total Seal $50, Real Wheels $50, American Race Tires $50, Hazlitt Vineyards $30, Red's Speed Shop $25, Behrent's Performance Warehouse/Mechanix Wear $20, MRE Productions $10.
Weld Racing Hard Luck -- Sharp Jr. $75.
Leaf Racewear -- Kaszubinski $75.
Penske Shocks -- Dietrick $200.
Design 500 -- Dietrick $100, Karklin Jr. $50.
Zemco Headers -- Karklin Jr. $50.
KSE Racing Products -- Button $50.
Joe Hunt Magnetos -- Bailey $50.
Bailey Racing Products -- Preston $35.
Hazlitt Vineyards -- Crocker $20, Kaszubinski $10, Yonge $10.
HRP -- Bergeron $25.
DMI -- VanDusen $25.