From Mike Mallett
FULTONVILLE, N.Y. – On Friday night at the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park Tony Stewart was the talk of the crowd but it was Lance Yonge that had the last word.
The former series champion, of Penn Yan, N.Y., captured the first ever 25-lap Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint A-Main event at the Montgomery county oval.
“I love it down here,” stated it Yonge about the Mohawk Valley. “They are two different style tracks (Glen Ridge, Fonda) and I love it at both of them. We’ll write this one down in the notebook for next year and hopefully we’ll be back here.”
Yonge’s win was aided by watching local driver Modified driver Bobby Varin. At the start of the race Yonge went to the outside and watched Varin drive by on the inside. Fortunately for Yonge the red flag came out immediately as Bobby Breen rolled in turn three. He was uninjured.
“I went into turn three on the first lap and Bobby Varin went to the bottom and stuck it,” commented Yonge. “The red came out and I said that it wasn’t happening again. I have to credit Varin for that because if it wasn’t for him I would have tried to roll the top and it wouldn’t have gone as well.”
The A-Main got underway with Zach Weigand and Tommy Wickham starting on the front row. Wickham grabbed the lead on the start and was able to lead the first several circuits.
On lap six Jessica Zemken made her move to the front as she drove to the inside of turns three and four to get around Wickham for the lead.
Zemken showed the way with Yonge moving into second on lap 13. The pair remained the top two cars as they battled slower traffic. Zemken struggled to get through traffic.
She made the decision to move off the bottom groove and when she did it opened the door for Yonge to slide by down low for the lead on lap 17.
“I can’t believe she (Zemken) got off the bottom,” commented Yonge. “She was having a tough time getting by those guys. I think with her going to the outside it kind of spooked those guys, they moved off the bottom and it opened the lane up for me. I was lucky that she moved off the bottom.”
Yonge was the leader when the lone caution of the event came out on lap 21. Jami Russell spun to a stop in turn four.
On the restart, Yonge enjoyed a clear track and a wide open bottom groove as he drove in his Castner Performance powered Maxim away from Zemken and Stewart for his 33rd career series victory.
Zemken, from nearby Sprakers, N.Y., finished in second in her Tony Stewart Racing mount after she made a mistake in slower traffic allowing Yonge to get by for the lead.
“They were kind of blocking me there and I didn’t want to get off the bottom because I knew it was the place to be,” stated Zemken. “I had to try something and I knew I needed to do something. I wanted to win but we’ll take a second place finish.”
Zemken’s second place finish in here Kistler powered Maxim was her third consecutive top two finish in Empire Super Sprint competition.
“We’ve started to get things going lately,” said Zemken. “We got a new team together here this year and I have to thank all of my supporters and all the folks at Tony Stewart Racing.”
Stewart, of Columbus, Ind., crossed in third after starting the main-event in the ninth starting position. Stewart challenged Zemken in the closing laps but he wasn’t able to get by her to earn a second place run.
“She’s (Zemken) my ride to the airport so if I crashed her I was screwed,” joked Stewart after the main. “Plus I got to pay for both of them if I tear them up. She just beat up. I’ve learned a lot from her about running these winged cars the last few years. She’s pretty good in these things.”
Varin, of Sharon Springs, finished the fourth spot after starting eighth while Chuck Hebing came from the 11th starting position to finish in fifth to hang on to his overall point lead. Rounding out the top ten were Steve Poirier, early leader Wickham, Blake Breen, New Jersey’s Dave Franek and Dan Kaszubinski.
ESS/Glen Ridge Notes – A fine field of 30 sprints play host to the largest crowd in the quarter-mile’s history…Joining Stewart and Franek in making their first ever ESS starts was Dave Camara who was subbing for an injured Cory Sparks. Sparks injured his bicep tendon and will be out for several months…Mike Stelter was aboard the Curtis Bradshaw sprinter but was a DNQ…Troubles for Michael Parent (tow truck) and Kevin Ward Jr. (wall encounter) but they were able to make repairs to start the A-Main…Next weekend will be the richest full point weekend in ESS history. Can-Am will host Shootout Weekend with Friday paying $2,000 to win and the finale set the next night at $4,000 to win and $300 to start. Then on Sunday its off to Utica-Rome for another $2,000 to win event. With ESS’ open draw policy you can expect many outsiders on hand for the weekend.
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints A-Main – Lance Yonge, Jessica Zemken, Tony Stewart, Bobby Varin, Chuck Hebing, Steve Poirier, Tommy Wickham, Blake Breen, Dave Franek, Dan Kaszubinski, Justin Barger, Michael Parent, Doug Emery, Jeff Cook, Zach Weigand, Josh Pieniazek, Jami Russell, Matt Tanner, Devin Caron, Shayne Ely, Bobby Breen, Dave Camara, Kevin Ward Jr., James Hanson.
Did Not Qualify – Kory Gurney, Dave Wickham, Mark Zemcik, Mike Stelter, Warren Alexson, Jay Shypinka
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heats:
Heat 1 – Chuck Hebing, Bobby Varin, Justin Barger, Tommy Wickham, Steve Poirier, Josh Pieniazek
Heat 2 – Blake Breen, Dan Kaszubinski, Jami Russell, Zach Weigand, Devin Caron, Doug Emery
Heat 3 – Tony Stewart, Lance Yonge, Jessica Zemken, Dave Franek, Shayne Ely, Bobby Breen
Images By DC/Cobra Coaches Dash – Lance Yonge
KSE Racing Products B-Main – Jeff Cook, Dave Camara, Michael Parent, Matt Tanner
Added Starters – Kevin Ward Jr., James Hanson.
Lap Leaders – Wickham 1-5, Zemken 6-16, Yonge 17-25.
Ohsweken Speedway Winner’s Bonus – Yonge $100
Les Constructions Ultra Halfway – Zemken $100
WestFront Construction Hard Charger – Parent (9 pos.) $50
MVCC Aviation Extra – Wickham $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heats – Hebing, Blake Breen, Stewart $25
HG Associates Fast Time – Wickham (12.875) $25
Lucas Oil ESS Points: 1. Chuck Hebing 593, 2. Lance Yonge 581, 3. Steve Poirier 544, 4. Justin Barger 518, 5. Dan Kaszubinski 484, 6. Jessica Zemken 436, 7. Michael Parent 371, 8. Jeff Cook 353, 9. Devin Caron 242, 10. Tommy Wickham 236.