In Keeping with the Theme; Steve Poirier Becomes Third First-time Winner with the Empire Super Sprints. VERNON, N.Y. -- It's a feat that has boggled the mind. The nativepoker.com Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) has held three events...
In Keeping with the Theme; Steve Poirier Becomes Third First-time Winner with the Empire Super Sprints.
VERNON, N.Y. -- It's a feat that has boggled the mind. The nativepoker.com Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) has held three events thus far in 2006. When the checkered flag fell at the end of the 25 lap A-Mains, the driver in victory lane was making their first ever appearance in ESS competition. Sunday night at the Utica-Rome Speedway, Quebec's Steve Poirier passed Dan Kaszubinski with just three laps to go to take home his first ever win in a winged sprint car. He joined Bryan Howland and Jessica Zemken in adding their names to the all-time win list.
Arguably one of the best DIRT modified drivers to ever come out of the French speaking province of Canada, Poirier brings a wealth of experience and top equipment to the ESS wars. While success was never to be questioned, a win this early was definitely a surprise and to beat one of ESS' best made the feat even more memorable.
"I never thought I would get a win this early. ESS has so many good drivers and teams I'm just honored to be a winner with them." said the humble driver who speaks fluent English. "I really didn't expect to do this well this early, especially here. I have never been to Utica-Rome but it's a nice big, wide track. I felt very comfortable here and the car just got faster as the race went on."
Fellow Quebec chauffeur Alain Bergeron took advantage of his up front starting spot and immediately pulled out to a big lead looking to shake off some early season bad luck. Poirier moved into second on lap five and made it a French Canadian one-two, the first time ever in the 24 year history of the 360 organization.
As the laps clicked on though, Kaszubinski was making his moves to the front to challenge the leading duo. Third on lap eight, passed Poirier on lap 9 for second but catching Bergeron was going to be a challenge. A combination of lapped cars and Bergeron's front wing coming loose enable both Kaszubinski and Poirier to close in. On lap 18 both drivers swept by Bergeron but Kaszubinski did open up distance.
While it was looking like career win #29 for the Syracuse native, Poirier's 4 Foundations Saisons backed Maxim got hooked to the slick surface and closed in quickly on Kaszubinski. Coming down with just three to go he made his move and it turned into the winning move.
While it was a strong effort, Poirier was still a bit confused to why the car got better. "After the accident last night at Can-Am we went back to last year's car (Maxim). I liked this car and feel a little better in it but about halfway through the race my hydraulics on the wing didn't work and the wing stayed forward." he noted afterwards. "I guess I was lucky as usually you want to move it back but tonight having it forward helped me."
It was Poirier in for career win #1 and the usual wild victory lane celebration that was become a Quebec tradition followed. Kaszubinski was home for second and the effort has given him the early point lead, Bergeron hung on for third just ahead of the nativepoker.com backed machine of Bubby Kerrick with Lance Yonge rounding out the top five. The next five was Jeff Cook, Mike Stelter, who earned the Lane's Yamaha Hard Charger bonus coming from 24th. The Spectro Oils #65 of Russ Bennett was next with Jeff VanDusen following. VanDusen finished in seventh but was set back two spots for a jump on a restart. Tenth at the line was Bobby Podolak.
Two cautions and one red flag slowed the pace: Shawn Donath slid off the track on lap five and Cory Sparks stopped on lap seven. Second in points coming in to the event was Scranton, Pa.'s John Smith III but a flip off turn four on lap nine ended his night early.
Taking the $100 to win Walton's Farm and Auto Repair/Car Mate Trailers heat events were VanDusen, Bergeron, Kyle Drum and Poirier. The Speedway Performance/Walt's Hobby Dash was copped by VanDusen with the twin KSE Racing Product B-Mains taken by Warren Alexson and Chuck Hebing.
ESS/UTICA-ROME NOTES: Another big field as 39 sprints lined the pit area--Making first ever ESS starts were Josh Flach and another Quebec native in Kayle Robidoux who brought out his self-starting sprinter for the first time. Both drivers were DNQ's for the A-Main--Ohio's J.R. Stewart made his first start with ESS for 2006 and a big welcome back to Rob Dietrick returning to the sprint car wars. Both drivers however fell to the same fate--The nativepoker.com Tour will make two more visits to Gene Cole's facility on the 4th of July Weekend and Labor Day weekend--Next Saturday it's the first Spectro Oils Canadian Invasion event with a visit to the Brockville Ontario Speedway.
Heat 1 - Jeff VanDusen, Cory Sparks, Dan Kaszubinski, Bubby Kerrick, Doug Norrie.
Heat 2 - Alain Bergeron, Jeff Cook, Nick Fratto, Justin Barger, Jeremy Barnard.
Heat 3 - Kyle Drum, Matt Norrie, Russ Bennett, John Smith III, George Ely.
Heat 4 - Steve Poirier, John Karklin Jr., Lance Yonge, Bob Podolak, Shawn Donath.
Speedway Performance/Walt's Hobby Dash - Jeff VanDusen
KSE B-Main 1 - Warren Alexson, Doug Emery
KSE B-Main 2 - Chuck Hebing, Mike Stelter.
Provisionals - Jason Barney, Jessica Zemken.
Did Not Qualify - Donny Sharp Jr., Michael Parent, Billy White, Josh Flach, Rob Dietrick, Kayle Robidoux, Randy Years, Tommy Wickham, Blake Breen, Kyle Moffit, Scott Davis, Blase' Regina, JR Stewart.
A-MAIN - STEVE POIRIER, Dan Kaszubinski, Alain Bergeron, Bubby Kerrick, Lance Yonge, Jeff Cook, Mike Stelter, Russ Bennett, Jeff VanDusen, Bob Podolak, Jason Barney, Doug Emery, Nick Fratto, Kyle Drum, Warren Alexson, Cory Sparks, Matt Norrie, Doug Norrie, Justin Barger, Jessica Zemken, John Karklin Jr., Jeremy Barnard, Chuck Hebing, Shawn Donath, John Smith III, George Ely.