ESS: VanDusen team news 2003-05-08

Team VanDusen off to Strong Start for the 2003 Season. OTEGO, N.Y. -- The two car team owned by Mike and Debbie VanDusen which consists of their just turned 20 year old son Jeff and Western Pa. sprint star Mike Lutz have started the 2003 racing...

Team VanDusen off to Strong Start for the 2003 Season.

OTEGO, N.Y. -- The two car team owned by Mike and Debbie VanDusen which consists of their just turned 20 year old son Jeff and Western Pa. sprint star Mike Lutz have started the 2003 racing season off in the Northeast with a bang. A total of two wins and three top ten finishes in three races run have this team based out of Otego, N.Y. a threat at every event they enter.

After a rough 360 Sprint Car Nationals at the East Bay Raceway near Tampa, FL. in January where they suffered two blown engines and one badly damaged car, Team VanDusen now has the momentum to bring in a very successful year. Concentrating on the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) circuit, Lutz currently leads the points with VanDusen sitting in 13th after the first two events.

The finishing log has seen Lutz win the ESS opener followed by an un-sanctioned victory at the Fonda Speedway and a fine seventh place finish in the ESS/URC Challenge Series event at the Grandview Speedway after starting in 22nd. For the young second generation sprint car pilot, Jeff took 17th in the ESS season opener. He led the Fonda race until two laps to go before being passed by his teammate in lapped traffic. At Grandview he won his heat in convincing fashion and was running in third place before his sprinter spun around in turn two on the ninth lap of the 30 lap A-Main.

"I have been very happy with our start for far up North." said Mike VanDusen "With Mike (Lutz) joining the team it has helped greatly, he has brought in so much experience to the team. It's going to help Jeff out in a big way as well, even though the season is young you can see it already."

The young VanDusen has never run a race car until he drove his dad's back-up sprinter in some test runs when he was 16. Last year he picked up his first ESS feature event win which came at the Brockville Speedway in Canada. With the two car team and added experience from Lutz more will be expected.

"Mike pretty much does what he wants on his car, he has free reign. I just tell him to run the car as hard as he can and do what you have to do to win. Even at Fonda, he passed Jeff for the win! I don't want him to hold back and if he did, he better not tell me." said the veteran car owner who has 17 career ESS victories of his own. "We are just trying to get Jeff to learn more and more each race. I think he's going to have a good year. The run at Fonda was strong and he had a great race going at Grandview until his spin."

While it's an upbeat atmosphere, Jeff VanDusen still wants more. "I'm getting more confident but I still have a long ways to go." said the determined young chauffeur. "At Grandview that was my fault. I was running third and I was just trying to hard, I spun out all by myself. I just have to learn to drive the car smoothly, not over drive it. I think though we will have a good year. Mike wants the ESS championship, that's his goal. I'm hoping to get a few more wins and maybe a top five in points. That would be nice."

That stable of three sprinters and three engines has backing from ProSpas of Otego and Dale Beach Logging with added sponsorship on Lutz's car from the Dave Blaney Driving Experience and Chevron East. The team might head to Clinton County and Mercer Raceways to get a few more events in before the ESS schedule hits full stride on Memorial Day Weekend. The new year is still in it's infant stage, but Team VanDusen has a great shot out of the starting blocks and are ready for the stretch drive.

-dr-

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Series Sprint
Drivers Dave Blaney