By Rich Vleck
HAMMETT, PA, (September 5, 2010)- Tim Kelly had not won a feature since 2003, a drought which became ever more frustrated with each near-miss. In the final full-points race of the year though, the veteran capitalized on a great opportunity and never looked back.
Kelly, from Rock Stream, NY, scored his first career ASCS Patriot Win by dominating the 25-lap, $2,010-to-win season finale at Eriez Speedway. The pilot of the V.F.L Energy Technologies No. 12 knew he had a great chance after drawing the pole for the feature, but the way he ran it is likely he would have won even if he started deeper in the field.
“I had no idea (that his lead was so solid throughout the race), I had a knot in my stomach the whole race,” admitted Kelly in Victory Lane while clenching the Checkered Flag for the first time. “I forgot what it was like to hold one of these things.”
Even though he has won over a dozen features in his career, Kelly’s career got side-tracked earlier in the decade when he and his car owner Eddie Vickio focused on getting Vi-Kell Enterprises, their joint business, off on the right foot. With things going well they have recommitted to their sprint car racing and completed their first full regular season with the Patriots by accomplishing the only goal he set out to conquer.
Kelly was never challenged on the 1/3-mile oval in which he won at in 1999 when the surface was drastically different. He held at least a 10 car length lead for all 25 laps.
The track was extremely slick in the hot laps and the heat races. The track crew rolled the corners in before the dash and after that point the track came back to life. Despite the top of the track looking more enticing, Kelly was committed to the bottom and it worked out perfectly for him.
It was the ninth-straight top-10 finish for the No. 12 since a three-race string of horrible luck in the middle of the season. His win would also set him up to place third in the standings. He became the 12th different winner in 19 events this season.
Blake Breen held steady all race to score his season-best second place finish. The elder Breen Brother moved by outside polesitter Bryan Howland on lap two. He said his car was solid for much of the race, but not good enough to stay with Kelly.
Jared Zimbardi became the first repeat winner of the Gater Racing Hard Charger of the Season Award and proved why on Sunday as he charged hard from 12th to finish third. “The Juice” found something in the dash and used it to drive up through the pack on the bottom. The run would also preserve his second position in the overall standings.
Bryan Howland was disappointed by his fourth place effort after starting on the front row. Despite fading in the race, his effort was still strong enough to capture the King of OH/PA crown for the second consecutive year. It also made his fourth ASCS Patriot Championship a formality.
Kyle Moffit captured his sixth finish of sixth or better in as many starts as he rode the rim to run up to fifth. Like Zimbardi, Moffit used the dash to help him get up near the front, but did it in a very different manner.
Don Adamczyk completed the regular perfect year of finishes inside the top-10 in stand-alone Patriot races he started this season as he crossed in sixth. Vern Wasson was also solid for seventh.
Dylan Swiernik caught a terrible break for the second night in a row, as the rookie’s No. 7c popped out of gear on lap eight as he was looking to pass Blake Breen for second. Swiernik won the Bonnell’s Collision Center Four Laps of Fame and was perhaps the fastest car on the track before he slowed in turn four. He would get the problem solved and rally for an eighth place finish.
Brad Knab was ninth for the second time on the weekend, with National Parts Peddler Heat Race No. 1 winner Bobby Breen rounding out the top-10 in his first chance to run an A-Main at Eriez after dealing with motor issues in his two prior visits.
Bubba Broderick, the winner at Eriez in May and winner the night before at Sharon, was battling for second with five laps left to go when the center of his right rear broke out and launched over the turn four wall. He would make the repairs but his chance to claim the King of OH/PA or third in points went away.
A total of 20 cars were in the pits on a sunny but cool afternoon. Also in the pits was Scott Bonnell, who was injured in Patriot action at Little Valley in July. He also made it to Victory Lane for the Four Laps of Fame sponsored by his company, Bonnell’s Collision Center.
With the points races now settled with the completion of the regular season, the focus now shifts to the post season, starting with two big nights at the Black Rock Speedway this weekend for the Fall Sprint Nationals.
For more information, visit www.ASCSpatriotsprints.com or www.ASCSracing.com.
ASCS Patriots Results: 9/5/10, Eriez Speedway, Hammett, PA.
MEM A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Tim Kelly (12), 2. Blake Breen (8), 3. Jared Zimbardi (35), 4. Bryan Howland (51), 5. Kyle Moffit (7), 6. Don Adamczyk (21), 7. Vern Wasson (5v), 8. Dylan Swiernik (7c), 9. Brad Knab (38), 10. Bobby Breen (9), 11. Bob Reis (4), 12. Bruce DeWick (22D), 13. Derek Jonathan (81), 14. Bubba Broderick (5), 15. Adam Anderson (69), 16. Paul Kish (69x), 17. George Suprick (87), 18. Mark Zemcik (22z), 19. Ross Vleck (2), 20. Dave Wickham (80).
Lap Leaders- Kelly 1-25.
Bonnell’s Collision Centers Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 Laps)- 1. Dylan Swiernik (7c), 2. Dave Wickham (80), 3. Kyle Moffit (7), 4. Jared Zimbardi (35), 5. Brad Knab (38), 6. Paul Kish (69x).
National Parts Peddler Heats (8 Laps Each)-
Race 1: 1. Bobby Breen (9), 2. Dave Wickham (80), 3. Blake Breen (8), 4. Dylan Swiernik (7c), 5. Kyle Moffit (7), 6. Adam Anderson (69), 7. Mark Zemcik (22z).
Race 2: 1. George Suprick (87), 2. Vern Wasson (5v), 3. Tim Kelly (12), 4. Paul Kish (69x), 5. Bruce DeWick (22D), 6. Bob Reis (4), 7. Ross Vleck (2).
Race 3: 1. Bryan Howland (51), 2. Don Adamczyk (21), 3. Bubba Broderick (5), 4. Brad Knab (38), 5. Jared Zimbardi (35), 6. Derek Jonathan (81).
ASCS Patriot Point Standings (Top-10): 1. Bryan Howland 2,493, 2. Jared Zimbardi 2,377, 3. Tim Kelly 2,361, 4. Bubba Broderick 2,312, 5. Don Adamczyk 2,012, 6. Vern Wasson 1,597, 7. Kyle Moffit 1,398, 8. Bobby Breen 1,373, 9. Blake Breen 1,253, 10. Dylan Swiernik 1,197.
Mike Emhof Motorsports King of OH/PA Final Standings (Top-10)- 1. Bryan Howland 660, 2. Tim Kelly 667, 3. Bubba Broderick 646, 4. Kyle Moffit 635, 5. Jared Zimbardi 625, 6. Don Adamczyk 592, 7. Vern Wasson 538, 8. Blake Breen 505, 9. Bobby Breen 446, 10. Gary Troutman 385.
Gater Racing News Hard Charger of the Season Final Standings (Top-10)- 1. Jared Zimbardi 46, 2. Don Adamczyk 32, 3. Bubba Broderick 30, 4. Shawn Donath 27, Tie- 5. Tim Kelly, Bryan Howland and Dylan Swiernik 26, 8. Alain Bergeron 24, 9. Blake Breen 20, 10. Gary Troutman 18.