From Dean Reynolds
West Lebanon, NY — (June 20, 2015) — It may go down as one of the weirdest ways that Steve Poirier has ever captured a victory with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS). The five-time and defending series champion survived one rain delay and a hard charging Chuck Hebing to score the $2,050 win at the Lebanon Valley Speedway in the rain shortened 12-lap affair. It’s the 48th career win for Poirier with the organization.
“This probably was the weirdest race we’ve had in a long time,” said the St. Mathieu de Beloeil, Que., driver. “We could not build our momentum. I had a good position to start in then it rained and so we thought we were done. We got racing again and it was pretty strange. This wasn’t exactly the way we wanted win but after the beginning where it looked like we would always be second to ‘Cobra’ (Hebing), this will get the monkey off our back and bring back the confidence. Hopefully we’ll start winning again.”
Poirier started on the outside of the front row alongside Kory Gurney. He quickly established himself as the dominant car in the NAPA Auto Parts Tour of US A-Main. He jumped out in front as Gurney battled to stay inside the top three.
“I’ve been lucky here to have a couple of great starting positions here,” stated Poirier after his third win on the High Banks. “I’ve also had a couple of good races where I started in the back. I was enjoying the track when I drove Modified even though I wrecked two cars here, the track is pretty tough but the track is so fun to drive. Our Sprint Cars are fun on this track.”
By lap three Poirier amassed a half-straightaway advantage over Parker Evans and two-time 2015 winner Hebing. The pair battled intensely for the second spot while Poirier raced out in front.
Lap five saw the red flag displayed as Tim Axton got over the cushion in turn four sending his No. 99 hard into the outside wall. His car was heavily damaged in the incident but he was unscathed and able to walk away.
On the restart Tim’s brother Dave had some very bad luck of his own. As the field raced down the front stretch at the green, contact was made inside the top five setting up a chain reaction crash. Several cars came together with Dave catching a wheel on Jason Barney’s car as he got pushed to the outside. The contact sent him spinning then flipping over the turn one fence and out of the speedway. He walked away from the crash sore but okay.
Before action could resume from the second crash, rain drops began falling heavily around the speedway forcing teams back to the pit area while crews from the speedway worked to bring back the racing surface. After more than an hour delay, a Modified hot lap session and a Street Stock feature were run before racing resumed for the Empire Super Sprints.
The feature got rolling once again with Poirier as the leader and Evans and Hebing in tow. A single-file restart brought the field back up to speed with Hebing taking just a lap to dispose of Evans for the second spot as Poirier worked out in front.
Hebing closed the gap and by the tenth circuit was to the back bumper of Poirier. They remained close as they entered slower traffic on lap 12. As the pair navigated through turns three and four Hebing looked to the outside for the top spot and got too high. Hebing slid and hit the outside wall causing him to flip. The crash necessitated the red flag a third time. This was to be the final red of the night.
As crews worked to clean up the car of the uninjured Hebing, the rains returned for the final time forcing officials to make the difficult decision of calling the feature official. As a result Poirier got the victory and the top prize that came courtesy of YorkMont Auctions and the Camara Family.
Paul Kinney ended up finishing second after an impressive battle with the young Paulie Colagiovanni. Kinney made his way by him on the 11th lap to secure third but got credited with second after Evans dropped out when his car popped out of gear on that very same lap giving Kinney the position in the final rundown.
“Even this being rain shortened I think we could have been second or third at the end,” said Kinney. “I see Colagiovanni get under me and I had to stand on it. I couldn’t let a young kid like that get by me. He was doing good and I had a fun time racing with him. Even though it’s rain shortened, second is second and we’ll take it.”
Colagiovanni ended up taking third. For the Marcellus, N.Y., driver it is his best career finish with the traveling organization.
“This feels good,” said Colagiovanni after the feature. “Feels good to know we can run up front with the big guys. I’m the luckiest 14-year old alive. This place was pretty fast. I was nervous at first but once I got a feel for the track I felt fine.”
Local favorite Matt Tanner, of Stephentown, N.Y., finished in the fourth position after starting the A-Main in the eighth and Shawn Donath completed the top five while driving Doug Emery’s potent No. 33 after starting in 12th .
Lucas Oil A-Main – Steve Poirier ($2,050), Paul Kinney ($1,200), Paulie Colagiovanni ($800), Matt Tanner ($630), Shawn Donath ($665), Barney ($660), Jeff Cook ($455), Tommy Wickham ($420), Kory Gurney ($485), Zach Weigand ($400), Chuck Hebing ($410), Mike Stelter ($320), Parker Evans ($300), Dave Axton ($325), Tim Axton ($300), Denny Peebles ($300).
DNS – Etienne Girard and Pete Richardson
Lap Leaders – Poirier 1-12
Car Mate Trailers $25 To Win Heats – D. Axton, Cook, Hebing
Insinger Performance Hard Charger – Donath (7 pos.) $50
Engler Machine and Tool Halfway – Poirier $50
Beard Sewer and Drain Determination Award – Donath $50
SUNY Canton Smart Move – Gurney $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Donath $35
911 Restoration – Gurney and Hebing $25
Hoosier Tire – Kinney $200
Vahlco Wheels – Barney $190