Cory Sparks Performs “The Pass” to Earn Emotional Lucas Oil ESS Victory at Le RPM

ess 2011 empire super sprints

By Dean Reynolds

ST. MARCEL, QUE – In the 29 year history of the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) there are moments that stand out and cause for reflection. Saturday night at the Le RPM Speedway one of those moments just might be etched into the history archives.

Edinburg, NY’s Cory Sparks was starting in fourth position on a lap 15 restart. When he came off turn four coming down for lap 16 he put his Farrell Oil #7 in between leading Jeff Cook and runner-up Steve Poirier to shoot into the lead.

“The Pass” had fans and fellow race teams shaking their heads but a skilled move enabled Sparks to collect his second career ESS victory. It was a lucrative win as he clinched the Fondations 4 Saisons Quebec Super Star Series as well as the Coffrage Daniel Lampron RPM Challenge with the rain out of the special wingless event the next night at RPM.

“Wow, what can I say. I just have to thank the crew for giving me a great car.” said a very emotional Sparks. “We started deep in the field the last two nights and I just had a perfect car to come to the front.”

“These guys (the crew) have made me a better driver, I have more confidence that I ever had before and it shows in the results.” Sparks continued. “I just drive the thing now, they do all the work and the credit goes to them.”

The 25 lap A-Main was full of twists and turns. Current ESS point leader Chuck Hebing led the first nine laps but a restart which saw him and Alain Bergeron come together changed the outlook of the event.

The beneficiary was Cook as he led up to a lap 15 caution. Cook was holding Poirier at bay during the green flag action but the second major twist was coming on the next restart.

Cook and Poirier restarted and did just about the entire lap side by side. But, it was Sparks that got his car in deep going into turn three and off of turn four. Cook was high, Poirier low and with his run off four Sparks slip the leaders in an incredible move.

After the pass, Sparks took to the cushion and opened up a sizable lead and on to the victory in the Northwood 2 Construction/LaSalle Motorsports Canadian Sprint Series event. When asked about the move, Sparks immediately replied…”I held my breath and kinda closed my eyes!”

For Cook, it was his best finish of the year and he had smiles as a podium finisher. “I was just trying to hold my line all race. I bobbled a little bit on that last restart so I think that helped in Steve and Cory staying with me” said the driver of the Roush-Yates powered #10. “We will take second though, Cory was fast, I’m happy for him as he drove a heck of a race. Hopefully our win will be coming soon.”

Poirier was a close third with fellow Quebec mates Michael Parent and Dale Gosselin, in his best ESS finish ever, making up the top five. The next five saw Hebing coming back through the field for sixth, Tyler Rand, Patrick Vigneault, Matt Tanner and Devin Caron.

On lap nine, Paul Pekkonen jumped the cushion in turn three and rolled over causing for the red lights to come on with a spun Kevin Ward Jr. collecting Shawn Donath on lap 15. They were running in second and third at the time.

ESS/Le RPM Notes: A special moment of silence was held when the sprints were on the track getting ready for the A-Main for track owner and promoter Jasmin Peloquin who lost his father during the week…Improvements to the fast quarter-mile which included a wider surface and more seating was used on this night…The sprints of Alain Bergeron, Mike Stelter, Jeff Cook, Patrick Vigneault, Dale Gosselin, Tyler Rand and Jake Langlois took part in a special wingless hot lap session after the night’s racing. The wingless event that was suppose to be held the next night which was to include Steve Poirier, Michael Parent, Devin Caron, Lee Ladouceur, Francois Bernier, Paul Pekkonen, Donald Lemire and others fell victim to rain. The event is being planned again for 2012…The Lucas Oil Tour will see action next Saturday at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park and also as a part of the special 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Wed., Aug. 17

Coffrage Daniel Lampron RPM Challenge A-Main – Cory Sparks, Jeff Cook, Steve Poirier, Michael Parent, Dale Gosselin, Chuck Hebing, Tyler Rand, Patrick Vigneault, Matt Tanner, Devin Caron, Mike Stelter, Donald Lemire, Kevin Ward Jr., Shawn Donath, Jake Langlois, Alain Bergeron, Paul Pekkonen.

Lap Leaders – Hebing 1-9, Cook 10-15, Sparks 16-25.

Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 1 – Hebing, Bergeron, Ward Jr., Cook, Lemire, Rand
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 2 – Poirier, Donath, Pekkonen, Sparks, Caron
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 3 – Tanner, Parent, Vigneault, Gosselin, Stelter

Fondations 55/Cobra Coaches Dash – Parent.

Westward Painting Corp Halfway – Cook $100

WestFront Construction Hard Charger – Sparks (10 pos.) $50

Ohsweken Speedway Winners Bonus – Sparks $50

Mohawk Racing Parts Pick 5 – Gosselin $50

Car Mate Custom Built Trailers – Hebing, Poirier, Tanner $25

HG Associates Fast Time – Hebing (13.450) $25

Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Points – 1. Chuck Hebing 1608, 2. Steve Poirier 1595, 3. Shawn Donath 1472, 4. Cory Sparks 1436, 5. Kevin Ward Jr. 1390, 6. Jeff Cook 1177, 7. Alain Bergeron 1141, 8. Matt Tanner 1030, 9. Michael Parent 1015, 10. Lance Yonge 1000.

The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints are brought to you by: Lucas Oil, Northwood 2 Construction/LaSalle Motorsports, SUNY Canton, 730 Truck Stop, Hoosier Racing Tires, Les Constructions Ultra, Westward Painting Corporation, Fondations 4 Saisons, Car Mate Trailers, The National Parts Peddler Newspaper, WestFront Construction, Cobra Coaches, The Ohsweken Speedway, Mohawk Racing Parts, Engine Research, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Riverside Bar and Grill, Coffrage Daniel Lampron, Jasmin Peloquin Sport, FX Chevy and many, many associate sponsors.