By MIKE MALLETT
FONDA, NY – Justin Barger has been the man to beat over the past three seasons at the Fonda Speedway whenever the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints invade the track. Barger won the events in 2007, 2008 and he swept both races in 2010. He added to that total Saturday night after he passed Chuck Hebing to score his 23rd career series win.
The Montrose, N.Y., native’s win was part of the SUNY Canton Racing Series earning him valuable points toward that title. It also came in his backup car after he suffered problems with his primary mount in warm-ups.
“I owe this one to the crew,” said Barger. “After hot laps we switched cars…This feels really good. Appreciate the fans coming out on a hot humid night hopefully they enjoyed the show.”
Cory Sparks and Kevin Ward Jr. started on the point of the 25-lap A-Main event. Before one lap could be scored Steve Poirier, Mike Stelter and Michael Parent came together in turn two. Poirier ended up getting upside down while Parent lost a front wheel ending both of their nights.
Once the speedway was cleared, action got back underway with Sparks taking the lead from Ward. He held the top spot for the first five circuits before he was challenged by Chuck Hebing.
Sparks dove low in turns three and four while Hebing elected to go to the top. As they exited turn four, Hebing drove by him on the outside to take the lead on lap seven.
One lap later the caution was displayed as Tommy Wickham got into the wall in turn three. On the restart, Bobby Varin and Sparks made contact sending Varin spinning in front of the entire field. Varin nearly collected Barger but he missed slowed and missed him by inches.
“I don’t know what happed on that restart but Varin got crossed up right in front of me,” commented Barger. “I don’t know what told me to jam on the breaks at the last second there. He (Varin) wasn’t in front of me yet but someone was looking after me tonight.”
For the next restart, Hebing was on the point with Barger now running in the second position. The pair raced that way until when Barger was able to make his move. On lap 14, Barger tucked to the low-side of turns three and four and took the lead from Hebing as they raced through traffic.
“I could see where he (Hebing) running and I was making up time,” said Barger. “I had a little bit of an advantage there because starting the back you have to move around.”
Barger pulled away as the laps clicked off opening up his advantage over the field. He only had a couple issues in the closing laps as he got into the wall on the front stretch trying to get low in turn one and then on a the final lap a rock hit him and caused him to bobble. Fortunately his lead was big enough that he was able to hang on.
“A piece of the track came up and hit me,” stated Barger. “I had to catch my breath there it almost knocked me out! It was a good thing we were fast enough.”
Hebing, of Ontario, N.Y., finished in the second position. He lost his power steering midway through the race or he may have been able to challenge Barger for the win.
“Justin (Barger) was fast and we had a few issues with the car,” commented Hebing. “That isn’t why we got beat but we lost power steering about halfway through. I can’t take this away from him.”
Local driver, Cory Sparks, of Edinburg, N.Y., finished third after starting on the pole. It was his second top five finish of the season.
“We started on the pole and dropped back to third but to run up front with these guys is a tall task,” said Sparks. “These are real fast guys. I got to thank my family and crew for getting me here. We are coming off a fifth place run now to a third and we want to keep clicking off good finishes like this.”
Lance Yonge finished fourth in the A-Main while experiencing motor issues throughout the feature. Alain Bergeron, of St. Pie, Que., drove from the 18th starting position to finish in fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Shawn Donath, Anthony Cain, Tyler Rand, Josh Pieniazek and Mike Stelter.
ESS/FONDA NOTES: A total of 25 sprint traveled to the track of champions despite threatening weather most of the day…Making his first ever ESS start was Luke Monroe aboard the Mark Zemcik team car…Motor issues was the name of the night with Kory Gurney, Tyler Rice and Pieniazek all losing motors during their heats…The Lucas Oil tour will be back at Fonda on the Sept. 24th where the ESS champion will be crowned.
Lucas Oil ESS/SUNY Canton Series A-Main – Justin Barger, Chuck Hebing, Cory Sparks, Lance Yonge, Alain Bergeron, Shawn Donath, Anthony Cain, Tyler Rand, Josh Pieniazek, Mike Stelter, Mark Zemcik, Matt Tanner, Bobby Varin, Dylan Swiernik, Jared Fink, Kevin Ward Jr., Tommy Wickham, Jeff Cook, Floyd Billington, Steve Poirier, Michael Parent, Luke Monroe.
Did Not Qualify – Tyler Rice, Kory Gurney, Warren Alexson
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 1 – Donath, Ward Jr., Sparks, Cain, Fink, Monroe.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 2 – Varin, Barger, Hebing, Poirier, Swiernik, Cook.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 3 – Yonge, Stelter, Parent, Tanner, Wickham, Bergeron.
Winners Circle Restaurant/Cobra Coaches Dash – Barger
Engine Research B-Main – Rand, Pieniazek, Zemcik, Billington.
Lap Leaders – Sparks 1-6, Hebing 7-13, Barger 14-25.
Cook’s Contracting Services Halfway – Hebing $100
WestFront Construction Hard Charger – Bergeron (13 pos.) $50
Ohsweken Speedway Winners Bonus – Barger $50
Mohawk Racing Parts Pick 5 – Bergeron $50
Engine Research B-Main – Rand $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heats – Donath, Varin, Yonge $25
HG Associates Fast Time – Donath (19.936) $25
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints are brought to you by: Lucas Oil, Northwood 2 Construction/LaSalle Motorsports, SUNY Canton, 730 Truck Stop, Hoosier Racing Tires, Les Constructions Ultra, Cooks Contracting Services, Fondations 4 Saisons, Car Mate Trailers, The National Parts Peddler Newspaper, WestFront Construction, Cobra Coaches, The Ohsweken Speedway, Mohawk Racing Parts, Engine Research, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Total Race Supply, Riverside Bar and Grill, Coffrage Daniel Lampron, Jasmin Peloquin Sport, FX Chevy and many, many associate sponsors.