AKWESANSE, NY — (July 6, 2012) — Kevin Ward Jr. won a wild 25-lap Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint A-Main event at the Mohawk International Raceway. Ward held off the challenges of Chuck Hebing in the closing laps to score his second career win with the club worth $2,000 to kick off SUNY Canton Weekend.
The win was important in the overall chase for several point titles included the Universal American Stars and Stripes series, Le Groupe Ultra Tour of Canada, SUNY Canton Series and of the overall series championship. It was a much needed boost of confidence for the Port Leyden, N.Y., driver as he’s had some tough luck the last few events.
“Feels amazing to be back here,” said Ward about sitting in Victory Lane. “The car has been horrible for us all this year I could never get the thing to handle but tonight all of a sudden it was amazing. I just really proud of this whole team and tonight the car went good.”
Paul Kinney and Jeff Cook started on the front row of the feature with Cook, of nearby Antwerp, N.Y., took the lead at the green flag although it took a few attempts as on the first try Paul Pekkonen flipped in turn three and on the second try Kory Gurney got on his lid in the first turn. Both drivers were uninjured in the crashes.
Cook controlled the first seven circuits but Kinney was able to wrestle the lead in traffic on the bottom of the first and second turn. Kinney powered away with Ward getting by Cook on lap 10 to move into second.
As the race moved just past the halfway point Kinney continued in heavy traffic as Ward closed in. Eventually Ward was on the back bumper of Kinney as they worked the slower cars.
Then on lap 18 Ward was able to take the top position away from Kinney as hit the cushion in turn three and then drove down the track to the bottom off of the fourth turn.
“There was a lot of bite down there on the bottom coming off of four,” commented Ward who drivers the WPC #13. “I just hit that and stayed down there coming down the front stretch and I was able to get around him. It was a good race.”
Before another lap could be complete, Kinney got together with Etienne Girard and the contact sent him flipping wildly in the first turn. He was unhurt but his night was done.
Once the track was clear, Ward and Hebing made up the front row for the restart and youngster got the jump on the veteran driver and held the top position with just a handful of circuits remaining.
Ward continued to lead with Hebing in tow. Hebing took one final shot at the lead on lap 24 as he pulled alongside Ward for the third in the third and fourth corner but he couldn’t complete the pass. Ward led the final lap for his first win since June 4, 2011.
“He (Hebing) scared me a little bit there but I guess Cobras will do that to you,” joked Ward about Hebing taking a look on the final lap. “I kept going and pushed the gas pedal down a little bit harder and brought the victory home.”
Hebing, the defending series champion, advanced from the 11th starting position to finish in second and he was ultimately happy with the effort.
“Tonight I didn’t think we’d have a chance to get up there after starting 11th,” said Hebing. “We had a fast race car. It was nice to have a smooth race track.”
The Ontario, N.Y., driver had one chance at Ward with one lap to go but he didn’t want to make a move that could put them both in danger. Instead he fell in line and settled for second.
“I would have to a bad slide job there and I wasn’t going to do that,” stated Hebing. “He had a good car. We found something there on the bottom with about three to go and I was gaining on him but he’s had a tough year so good for him.”
Lance Yonge advanced forward from the sixth starting position to finish in third continuing his recent run of solid finishes in his own No. 17J.
“I saw Chuck (Hebing) go by down there,” said Yonge about the bottom groove. “My car wasn’t good enough to go down there early on but it got better as the race went on and it all worked out. We are happy tonight, we went forward and got a top three out of it.”
Tommy Wickham, of Constantia, N.Y., finished in the fourth spot at the checkered while Cook earned his first top five of the season after starting on the outside of the front row.
Rounding out the top ten were current point leader Justin Barger, Shawn Donath, Michael Parent, Alain Bergeron and Matt Tanner who came from 22nd. to place tenth and earn the hard charger bonus.
ESS/Mohawk Notes – A field of 26 sprints were in the pits and played host to a huge crowd on the Akwesasne Reserve…Devin Caron had intake issues during hot laps and was out for the night…The Lucas Oil Tour will return to Mohawk on Friday, July 20 to make up for the June 8th rain date.
SUNY Canton A-Main – Kevin Ward Jr. ($2,100), Chuck Hebing, Lance Yonge, Tommy Wickham, Jeff Cook, Justin Barger, Shawn Donath, Michael Parent, Alain Bergeron, Matt Tanner, Mike Stelter, Sam Reakes IV, Cory Sparks, Jason Barney, Paul Habeck, Lee Ladouceur, Etienne Girard, James Hanson, Paul Kinney, Anthony Cain, Brandon Warner, Kory Gurney, Paul Pekkonen, Patrick Vigneault.
Lap Leaders – Cook 1-6, Kinney 7-17, Ward Jr. 18-25.
Did Not Qualify – Devin Caron, Joe Trenca.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 1 – Wickham, Cook, Barger, Sparks, Girard, Reakes IV
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 2 – Hebing, Yonge, Donath, Gurney, Stelter, Warner
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 3 – Bergeron, Ward Jr., Kinney, Parent, Cain, Pekkonen
WestFront Construction/Cobra Coaches Dash – Yonge
B-Main – Ladouceur, Habeck, Vigneault, Tanner
Westward Painting Company Halfway – Kinney $100
Lee’s Repair Auto and Truck Hard Charger – Tanner (11 pos.) $50
Ohsweken Speedway Winners Bonus – Ward Jr. $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Cook
North Eastern Pool and Spa Power Pick – Tanner, Vigneault $50
Car Mate Trailers – Wickham, Hebing, Bergeron $25
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints are brought to you by: Lucas Oil, Le Groupe Ultra, SUNY Canton, Universal American, Hoosier Racing Tires, Fondations 4 Saisons, Cobra Coaches, Westward Painting Company, Mach 1 Chassis, Lee’s Repair Auto and Truck, Fondations 55, Eric Varin Roofing, North Eastern Pool and Spa, Car Mate Trailers, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Ohsweken Speedway, Northwood 2 Construction/Lasalle Motorsports, AKS Firearms, Jasmin Peloquin Sport, 730 Truck Stop, Riverside Bar and Grill, FX Chevy and many, many associate sponsors!!