From Dean Reynolds
GRANBY, QC – Montrose, NY’s Justin Barger came in to the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) event Friday night at Autodrome Granby as the current point leader. When the checkered flag fell on the first Le Groupe Ultra Tour of Canada/Fondations 4 Saisons Quebec Super Star Series event he won easily over a star studded field at the famed ½ mile oval.
“May car was good, I just needed to get out of traffic.” noted Barger afterwards. “When we had the yellow there just past halfway it gave me a clean track and I could pick the lane I wanted to run in. The track got slick but there were some good groves out there.”
That yellow Barger was talking about came on lap 13. Utica-Rome winner Shawn Donath led from his pole starting spot right up to the halfway point. With the field in lapped traffic, Donath found the passes to be a bit easier than Barger.
But, when the double-file restart came, Barger was restarting in third up from his 11th place starting position. “The inside lane had bite down low in four and I got a good jump. Once I took the lead I went right to the top, the car felt good up there.” said the driver of the JBR Motorsports #5.
Not even a late race, lap 22 caution would hinder his performance. As the green lights shined once again, Barger took to the cushion and pulled out to a comfortable lead and on to his ESS career win #24 and his first win at Granby in nearly three years.
The final laps saw positions change behind Barger with local favorite Alain Bergeron making the right moves and come home with a popular runner-up finish.
“My car was good but could have been maybe a little better.” said the 2006 ESS champion. “I wasn’t sure what car to drive tonight, one car was better on tackier tracks but I chose the one that would be better on slick tracks. I like to run another 25 laps to see if I was right.”
Earning the Lee’s Repair Auto and Truck hard charger bonus was 17th place starting Paul Kinney who hugged the very bottom of the track to claim his second podium finish in a row.
“My motor still isn’t quite right and we are not sure what is wrong with it. We are new to this game and everyone has been great in trying to help out.” said the driver of the Buell Fuels $19K. “We will take it down to our builder this week. But to get third two times in a row is just amazing. We are having so much fun running with ESS and the teams have just welcomed us. It’s early to think about points and it will drive me crazy but we will keep trying.”
At the finish it was Barger ahead of Bergeron and Kinney. Rounding out the top five were Kevin Ward Jr. and making his return behind the wheel was Steve Poirier.
The next five was made up of Donath, who jumped the cushion on the last lap to lose a few spots, Patrick Vigneault, with a barrowed motor from the Poirier team, first ever top ten for Paul Pekkonen, Devin Caron and rookie Etienne Girard who was in the top five for most of the event.
The 25 lap A-main was slowed by three cautions and one red flag. The red was for an incident that involved Michael Parent, Cory Sparks and Anthony Cain with Parent’s sprinter flipping over several times. He was fine and had his back-up car ready for the next night.
ESS/GRANBY NOTES: Despite being one of only two tracks to get in their programs in the entire Northeast and Canada, 21 sprints made the tow…The field was split up with 11 teams from the US and 10 from Canada…Kayle Robidoux and Donald Lemire made their first ESS starts in 2012…The event the next night scheduled for Autodrome Drummond fell victim to rain and will not be made up…Next up for the Lucas Oil Tour will be a Friday night stop at the Mohawk International Raceway.
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints – Autodrome Granby – 21 Entries.
Le Groupe Ultra Tour of Canada/ Fondations 4 Saisons Quebec Series A-Main – Justin Barger ($1850), Alain Bergeron, Paul Kinney, Kevin Ward. Jr., Steve Poirier, Shawn Donath, Patrick Vigneault, Paul Pekkonen, Devin Caron, Etienne Girard, Donald Lemire, Joe Trenca, James Hanson, Matt Tanner, Dale Gosselin, Jeff Cook, Cory Sparks, Michael Parent, Anthony Cain, Kayle Robidoux, Lance Yonge.
Lap Laeders – Donath 1-13, Barger 14-25.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 1 – Ward Jr., Yonge, Girard, Caron, Trenca, Pekkonen.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 2 – Cook, Sparks, Poirier, Donath, Tanner, Lemire, Robidoux.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 3 – Bergeron, Vigneault, Parent, Barger, Kinney, Gosselin, Cain, Hanson.
Westward Painting Company Halfway – Donath $100
Lee’s Repair Auto and Truck Hard Charger – Kinney (14 pos.) $50
Ohsweken Speedway Winners Bonus – Barger $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Poirier $50
North Eastern Pool and Spa Power Pick – Parent, Donath $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heats – Ward Jr., Cook, Bergeron $25
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Points
1. Justin Barger 445
2. Shawn Donath 409
3. Paul Kinney 331
4. Cory Sparks 330
5. Lance Yonge 321
6. Alain Bergeron 306
7. Matt Tanner 288
8. Jeff Cook 287
9. Sam Reakes IV 272
10. Michael Parent 264