Jeff VanDusen Doubles up on the Weekend with a Powerful Victory at Utica-Rome; Alain Bergeron Takes Over Point Lead going into Final Point Show on Sept. 23. VERNON, N.Y. -- Just two nights prior, young Jeff VanDusen was the class of the field at...
Jeff VanDusen Doubles up on the Weekend with a Powerful Victory at Utica-Rome; Alain Bergeron Takes Over Point Lead going into Final Point Show on Sept. 23.
VERNON, N.Y. -- Just two nights prior, young Jeff VanDusen was the class of the field at Autodrome Granby in Quebec. Sunday night the nativepoker.com Tour for the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) made it's third of three visits to the Utica-Rome Speedway as it was a repeat performance when the 23 year old chauffeur was again ahead of the talented field.
Not even two rain delays, a tacky and challenging track along with an unusual complete inversion of the field which found current point leader Justin Barger on the pole was going to stop the Rob's Speed Shop Maxim on this night. Taking the lead on lap nine from Barger, VanDusen took to the high side of the speedway, held off some late race challenges from 10th place starting Dan Kaszubinski to take the second win of the Labor Day weekend and his eighth of his ESS career.
"We are making a run at it (the championship)! We just been getting some luck on our side and the car has been just awesome. It's an outside shot at the championship but it's a shot." said the second generation driver in the wee hours of the morning in victory lane who sits third in points. "I found a good lane up top; the car felt smooth there so I just stayed there and hoped no one was finding a better line. I did hear something under me and I found out it was Dan, I guess he was going in better but I was coming off better. Then we had a late restart and I guess I pulled out some which helped in the win. Just kinda wished the season was starting now and not ending, but, there some big money shows coming up and we got a good program ready."
The nightly blind pill draw produced the slim chance of a complete inversion of the field, but that was exactly the scenario with point leader Barger on the pole, VanDusen outside with the second row made up of second in points Alain Bergeron and the red hot Nick Fratto. At the drop of Matt Burdick's green, Barger did get the jump on VanDusen but the field would be brought to an immediate halt with a wild double flip between Tommy Wickham and George Ely. Both drivers were ok, but the cars were out for the night.
On the restart, Blake Breen got crossed up and did a quick snap roll in turn one. He too was fine but his fuel cell punctured and poured all over the track's surface causing for a delay. ESS officials burned off more than 20 gallons of methanol in what could be labeled the first ever Utica-Rome marshmallow and weenie roast.
The rest of the event saw just three minor cautions and a wild battle for the lead between the front row mates. Barger was clipping the stopwatch at near record paces but VanDusen wouldn't let the black #32 get too far ahead. As lap nine was being scored, VanDusen got a strong run on his challenger and made the pass for the lead.
Barger's bid to retake the lead ended on lap 12 when his car slowed and pulled pit side. This put Kaszubinski in second and the in the final 13 laps he had his chances but just didn't get enough steam to make the pass. "I had good runs on him going into turn one but all I could do is get along side him. I just couldn't get enough to slip up." noted Kaszubinski who won just 24 hours ago a Drummond. "I was making slide jobs all night but Jeff was just fast enough so I couldn't get by. Then, he just blew me away on restarts, his motor is real strong and mine still stumbles a bit and that cost me big time. Still, we went from zero to having a good weekend, If I didn't screw up at Granby (spinning in turn three while making a pass for second) this would have been a REAL good weekend!"
At the finish it was VanDusen in for the win followed by Kaszubinski and Alain Bergeron. By virtue of his third place finish and the drop out by Barger, the Quebec star has a slim two point lead going into the final point event Saturday night at the Frogtown Int'l Speedway on Sept. 23rd. Fratto with another strong effort with fourth as Jason Barney came from 16th to place fifth on the night sponsored by his owner Jeff Walton. Rounding out the top ten were Don Sharp Jr., Bobby Breen, Cory Sparks, Russ Bennett, who earned the Lane's Yamaha Hard Charger bonus by advancing from his 21st place starting spot, with Steve Poirier in for tenth.
Besides Barger slowing on lap 12, the other two cautions was for Chuck Hebing losing a driveline on lap four and debris on lap 19.
Taking the Car Mate Custom Built Trailers heat events were Hebing, Bubby Kerrick and Lance Yonge. The Walt's Hobby Dash was won by Hebing with Sparks winning the KSE Racing Products B-Main.
ESS/UTICA-ROME NOTES: A field of 27 sprints on hand despite threatening weather all around Central N.Y--.Jeff Cook took a wild flip in warm-ups. The ESS star was shaken and taken to the local hospital for a check up but he was on his way home shortly after--The event ended the 2006 visits by the nativepoker.com Tour to Gene Cole's fine half mile. For 2007 the tradition continues as all three holiday events will be on the schedule again--Next weekend the very best from ESS will be at the 8th annual Bully Hill Nationals on Saturday night. Black Rock Speedway will again be the host with $4,000 awaiting the winner of the 35 lap A-Main.
Heat 1 -- Chuck Hebing, Mike Stelter, Don Sharp Jr., Alain Bergeron, Justin Barger, Jason Barney
Heat 2 -- Bubby Kerrick, Jessica Zemken, Blake Breen, Bobby Breen, Nick Fratto, Warren Alexson
Heat 3 -- Lance Yonge, Dan Kaszubinski, Steve Poirier, Jeff VanDusen, Tommy Wickham, George Ely
Walt's Hobby Dash -- Chuck Hebing
B-Main -- Cory Sparks, Doug Emery, Russ Bennett, Michael Parent
Did Not Qualify -- Matt Norrie, Bobby Podolak, Jim Livingston, Jeff Cook, Dave Wickham
A-MAIN -- JEFF VanDUSEN, Dan Kaszubinski, Alain Bergeron, Nick Fratto, Jason Barney, Don Sharp Jr., Bobby Breen, Cory Sparks, Russ Bennett, Steve Poirier, Jessica Zemken, Bubby Kerrick, Michael Parent, Doug Emery, Mike Stelter, Warren Alexson, Lance Yonge, Chuck Hebing, Blake Breen, Tommy Wickham, George Ely