By MIKE MALLETT
AKWESASNE, NY. – Steve Poirier’s up and down year continued with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) on Friday night at the Mohawk International Raceway. Fortunately for the three-time champion, it was time for the upswing as he captured his fourth career win (three in a row) at the north country oval moving him into a tie with Dan Kaszubinski on the all-time win list with 32 career wins.
“Normally I’m a guy that finishes all of my races,” said Poirier after the win. “This year is seems like we either run on the podium or we wreck the car.”
It is Poirier’s second win of the season and it came in the LaSalle Motorsports/Northwood 2 Construction Canadian and SUNY Canton Racing series 25-lap main event. Poirier took full advantage of an early race restart to take the lead and eventually the victory.
Michael Parent started the race on the outside of the front row and he quickly jumped to the lead as the racing began. He beat pole-sitter, Tommy Wickham, into the first turn and drove away down the back straightaway.
While Parent led, Poirier was busy working around Wickham to move into the second spot by lap six. Two laps later the only caution of the race was displayed as Dylan Swiernik spun in turn four.
For the restart, Parent elected the inside lane giving Poirier the high-line. The green came out with Poirier racing to the top of turn one and with the momentum gained on the outside he was able to pull away from Parent for the lead on the backstretch.
“Before the restart Michael (Parent) was faster than me,” said Poirier. “When you were racing you wanted to be on the bottom but on the straightaway the outside had a really nice surface and you wanted to be there. I had a really good run on the straightaway and carried more speed into turn one.”
Poirier caught the tail of the field just before the halfway point of the race on lap 12. At this point he patiently worked slower traffic. He was very cautious after an incident at Autodrome Drummond in traffic cost him the race.
“I was thinking about what happened last week in traffic,” commented Poirier. “It was the first time leading a Sprint Car race that I got into a lapped car. Tonight I was a little bit cautious because I didn’t want it to happen again.”
His patience in slower traffic allowed Shawn Donath to close in during the final few laps of the feature. Donath took second with four laps to go and closed to with a few car lengths. Donath ran out of time allowing Poirier to hang on for the win in his AMB Moteurs powered Eagle.
“Our car was spot on as it usually is,” commented Donath about his Doug Emery Motorsports ride. “I think a few more laps in lapped traffic because we were closing on him a bit. It would have been nice to have a restart.”
Donath, of South Onondaga, N.Y., remained hot after a win and a top five finish in Quebec the week prior. The former Modified campaigner is off to an impressive start in 2011 as he leads the point standings.
“This is an awesome season so far,” stated Donath. “Every time I get in the car the car is really good. Doug (Emery), Pete (Lewandowski), and Barb (Patterson) keep making the right decisions so I’m just lucky enough to wheel the thing around.”
Parent, of Granby, PQ, earned his first podium finish of the season. He was disappointed with not winning the race but happy to finally be standing on the front straightaway at the end of the night.
“This is the first podium of the season,” said Parent. “We work hard and my car was rolling around the track very good. I don’t have the experience in lapped traffic those guys do and that is where they got me late in the race. I guess before that caution I had a big lead but cautions always change things.”
Chuck Hebing had another steady outing. The Ontario, N.Y., native came home in fourth while Cory Sparks, teammate to Donath, advanced ten positions in the A-Main to complete the top five.
Rounding out the top ten were Wickham, Lance Yonge who was back in his own mount with a rebuilt engine, Drummond winner Kevin Ward Jr., Jeff Cook and Mike Stelter.
ESS NOTES: A field of 22 sprints were on hand in front of a big crowd…Tim Kelly made his first ESS start of 2011 but had back luck from the start when a drive line gave way during his heat forcing him to the back-up car…Tyler Rand also had motor woes and was only able to take a couple of laps in the A-Main…The dash for cash was a special moment which was in memory of Mitch Jock and Mark Smoke, two Mohawk modified competitors who passed away in the past year.
Lucas Oil ESS A-Main – Steve Poirier, Shawn Donath, Michael Parent, Chuck Hebing, Cory Sparks, Tommy Wickham, Lance Yonge, Kevin Ward Jr., Jeff Cook, Mike Stelter, Lee Ladouceur, Dylan Swiernik, Chris Jones, Alain Bergeron, Devin Caron, Brian McDonald, Patrick Vigneault, Tim Kelly, Anthony Cain, Matt Tanner, Paul Pekkonen, Tyler Rand.
Lap Leaders – Parent 1-7, Poirier 8-25.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 1 – Caron, Jones, Hebing, Stelter, Ladouceur, Cain, Kelly, Rand
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 2 – Poirier, Wickham, Parent, Ward Jr., Cook, McDonald, Pekkonen
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 3 – Yonge, Donath, Swiernik, Vigneault, Sparks, Bergeron, Tanner.
In Memory of Mitch Jock and Mark Smoke/Cobra Coaches Dash – Yonge
Cook’s Contracting Services Halfway – Poirier $100
WestFront Construction Hard Charger – Sparks (10 pos.) $50
Ohsweken Speedway Winners Bonus – Poirier $50
Mohawk Racing Parts Pick 5 – Sparks $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers – Caron, Poirier, Yonge $25
HG Associates Fast Time – Poirier (16.167) $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.