Poirier continues march towards history with win at Mohawk International

From Mike Mallett

Akwesasne, NY — (July 24, 2015) — Steve Poirier continued his impressive 2015 season as he captured another win on Friday night at the Mohawk International Raceway with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS). The win marked the 51st of his career and his sixth at the northern New York facility. The win helped advance his cause as he chases his sixth career title and the all time win record of 59 currently held by ESS legend Mike Woodring.

Poirier, of St. Mathieu de Beloeil, Que., took the lead away from fellow Quebec driver Patrick Vigneault just before the halfway point of the 25-lap affair and never looked back as he went on to the pick up his fourth win of the season with the stars of the Empire Super Sprints. The win came part of multiple series including the NAPA Auto Parts Tour of the US, the SUNY Canton Series and the Einstein Construction Group Tour of Canada.

“We are having a lot of success with this car,” said Poirier in Victory Lane. “This track for some reason fits my driving style. We got a little bit lucky, but tonight I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this well after starting eighth. It looked like the outside was working early and I had that lane open.”

Vigneault and Dale Gosselin started on the front row of the feature. Vigneault, making his first start of the season, bolted out in front while Gosselin fell in line right behind him to control the runner-up spot early in the main. Poirier, who started eighth, made some nifty passes at the beginning of the race to put himself in the top five by the fifth circuit.

Poirier, who elected to run the outside, found his lane clear as many of the front runners were glued to the bottom of the fast half-mall. Poirier used the open groove to his advantage as he moved up rapidly through the field taking the runner-up position with only seven laps showing complete.

From that point Poirier continued to roll the top as Vigneault paced himself around the inside of the track surface. As a result Poirier was able to close up quickly. On lap ten the pair came to the line side-by-side for the lead with Vigneault holding on by inches. The next lap saw Poirier rocket by Vigneault on the top of turns three and four to lead for the first time on lap 11.

At this juncture Poirier began to race away from the competition while another driver found the cushion allowing him to advance to the front. Dylan Swiernik started tenth in the field, and like Poirier, went the lane that no one else chose to run around the outside. He rapidly moved up through the field moving into second on lap 15.

With Poirier continuing to lead, Swiernik began closing the gap with the help of an excellent car and slower traffic. As the race reached the final stages Swiernik put himself in striking distance. Poirier was able to make some quick passes allowing him to put several slower cars between himself and Swiernik.

“I saw Dylan (Swiernik) was in the second position and he rides the top,” commented Poirier. “I was thinking I was going to have to ride the outside a bit harder to keep my position. I was leading the race and I didn’t want to screw it up. I tried to be patient and choose my line. I wasn’t sure if the outside in one and two was good enough to go outside the lapped cars. I made a couple bad decisions.”

These moves paid off as Poirier went on to take the checkered with Swiernik crossing the line just a few car-lengths behind in the runner-up position. The Port Leyden, N.Y., driver did all he could without the aid of the caution to track down the perennial champ, but to no avail.

“To come out here to run as good as we did with a bent car was phenomenal,” stated Swiernik after the main. “Another five laps or a caution, I was praying for caution. I didn’t realize how far up I was in the running order until I looked up and seen the 55 was second. I saw Poirier was in front of him so I started pouring the coal to it but it wasn’t enough tonight.”

Vigneault, of Trois Riveres, Que, held on to finish a solid third in a car that has been piloted for much of the season by talented Pennsylvania hot-shoe Mark Smith. It may be Vigneault’s one and only race of the 2015 season.

“It was pretty fun,” smiled Vigneault. “It was probably my last race because I wasn’t supposed to race this year. I wanted to be here to support the club. I was really tired at the end. I had no arms at all. It is hard when you are up front and you don’t know where all the guys are running. I see now that the top was fast, but I wasn’t comfortable. I haven’t run enough laps this year.”

Matt Tanner, of Stephentown, N.Y., got things rolling late and eventually moved up to fourth after starting on the inside of the sixth row. Gosselin eventually held on to complete the top five.

The next five were made up of Devon Caron, Jason Barney, teammates in Tommy Wickham and Paulie Colagiovanni with Paul Kinney 10th.

Not only did the 25 lap A-Main went caution free, but the entire night didn’t see the yellow flag waved once.

A-Main – Steve Poirier ($2,250), Dylan Swiernik ($1,050), Patrick Vigneault ($800), Matt Tanner ($680), Dale Gosselin ($615), Devin Caron ($710), Jason Barney ($480), Tommy Wickham ($420), Paulie Colagiovanni ($635), Paul Kinney ($400), Lee Ladouceur ($385), Yan Bilodeau ($370), Dave Axton ($300), Chad Miller ($290), Guilluame Neiderer ($310), Alain Bergeron ($305), Jordan Poirier ($350)

Lap Leaders – Vigneault 1-10, Poirier 11-25