By MIKE MALLETT
VERNON, NY – Chuck Hebing has made a habit out of dramatic finishes at the Utica-Rome Speedway. On Sunday night he chalked up another one in the 25-lap Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint (ESS)/SUNY Canton Series A-Main event.
Hebing, of Ontario, N.Y., used slower traffic on lap 24 to drive by Kevin Ward Jr. He then led the final circuit of the race to score his second ESS victory of the 2011 racing season aboard his Roush-Yates powered Maxim.
“We needed this one,” said Hebing in Victory Lane afterwards. On Friday night Hebing was running third and caught an implement tire on the inside of turn two which put him deep in the pack. This was much needed pick me up for his team.
Mike Stelter and Ward started in the front row of the 24-car field with Hebing blasting by both of them at the start as he drove through the middle of turns on and two to grab second and then he used a slide-job in turns three and four to take the lead from Ward.
With four laps showing complete, Stelter spun in turn two and came to a stop causing the field to fall under the caution flag. This set up a double-file restart which placed Ward alongside Hebing for the green.
At the green flag, Ward got the jump on Hebing and won the race to the top side of turns one and two. He drove off the second turn and opened up his edge on Hebing.
“Kevin (Ward) got me on the restart there,” commented Hebing. “My car bobbled really bad on the start and the motor didn’t go and they both got ahead of me. Once someone gets the top lane from you here it can be hard to pass them.”
The two paced the field with Jessica Zemken swapping the runner-up position numerous times with Hebing. Ward and Hebing ran the extreme outside of the speedway while Zemken used the bottom to attempt to make up ground.
With 11 laps complete Ward finally encountered slower traffic and was forced to alter his line to navigate the traffic allowing Hebing to close in.
By lap 17, Hebing had tracked down the Port Leyden, N.Y., driver and began applying pressure. Hebing tried to take the lead with a slide job in turns three and four but Ward drove back underneath and continued the set the pace.
At this point Ward opened the advantage and it looked like he was going to be able to go on for his second career ESS victory but traffic proved to be a challenge.
Only two laps from the end, Ward ran up on slower cars battling for position. One worked high and while another was on the inside. As a result Ward had no open line. He ended up getting bottled up coming off of turn two and this allowed Hebing to dive underneath going into turns three and four to take the lead on lap 24.
“I tried driving cross jobs and a bunch of other things,” commented Hebing. “I finally found something there near the end and he just got to lapped traffic at the wrong time. We’ve all been there.”
Hebing led the final circuit to take home his fifth career Sprint Car win at the Utica-Rome Speedway and his 14th overall ESS win.
Ward was obviously disappointed in the outcome that he didn’t get the win after leading much of the affair. It was his best finish since securing a win at Autodrome Drummond in early June. He was happy though that it’s another solid run to help him on his way toward the chase for a title.
“I’m glad to come out with a second place finish tonight,” said Ward. “I needed it to help me in the standings. I think Chuck (Hebing) deserved this win he was just as fast as me and it was a great race. It was a really good night.”
Bobby Varin, of Sharon Springs, N.Y., drove from the tenth starting position past Zemken in the closing laps to score a third place finish driving a Dover Brake backed #00.
“We started tenth and had to weed our way up through the traffic,” commented Varin. “I’m having a blast driving this thing. It was a lot of fun racing there with Jessica (Zemken) at the end of the race. My hats off to this entire team for their hard work here tonight.”
Zemken, of Sprakers, N.Y., crossed the line fourth in her Tony Stewart Racing mount while Shawn Donath, securing is ESS point lead, completed the top five aboard his Doug Emery Motorsports ride.
Rounding out the top ten were 13th place starting Steve Poirier, solid run for modified campaigner Charlie Donk in only his second sprint car appearance, hard charger of the A-Main Cory Sparks after starting in 18th, Matt Tanner and veteran Lance Yonge.
ESS/Utica-Rome Notes – The largest field of the year to date with 33 sprints filling the pits in front of a big crowd…making first starts for 2011 were Zemken, legendary Kramer Williamson, Brandon Warner, Jamie Christian and John Cunningham…Problems under the hood hindered Warner, Christian, Tyler Rand and Dick Spadaro all night…Only Rand, albeit in Paul Pekkonen’s mount, was able to start the A-Main…Next week the Lucas Oil Tour will sanction and showcase full point events at the Black Rock Speedway on Friday and the New Cayuga County Fair Speedway on Sunday.
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints/SUNY Canton A-Main – Chuck Hebing, Kevin Ward Jr., Bobby Varin, Jessica Zemken, Shawn Donath, Steve Poirier, Charlie Donk, Cory Sparks, Matt Tanner, Lance Yonge, Alain Bergeron, Mike Stelter, Jeff Cook, Michael Parent, Tommy Wickham, Dylan Swiernik, Jami Russell, Patrick Vigneault, Chris Jones, Russ Bennett, Jason Barney, Jamie Christian, Tyler Rand, Paul Habeck.
Lap Leaders – Hebing 1-4, Ward Jr. 5-23, Hebing 24-25.
Did Not Qualify – Kramer Williamson, Paul Pekkonen, Tyler Rice, Brandon Warner, James Hanson, Lacey Hanson, Dick Spadaro, Kory Gurney, John Cunningham
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 1 – Barney, Donath, Hebing, Yonge, Poirier, Sparks
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 2 – Stelter, Parent, Christian, Ward Jr., Russell, Vigneault
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 3 – Varin, Donk, Zemken, Tanner, Bergeron, Jones
Cobra Coaches Dash – Donath
Engine Research B-Main – Bennett, Cook, Habeck, Swiernik
Added Starters – Wickham, Rand
WestFront Construction Hard Charger – Sparks (8 pos.) $50
Ohsweken Speedway Winners Bonus – Hebing $50
Mohawk Racing Parts Pick 5 – Donath $50
Engine Research B-Main – Bennett $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers – Barney, Stelter, Varin $25
HG Associates Fast Time – Hebing (19.979) $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, Riverside Bar and Grill, Coffrage Daniel Lampron, Jasmin Peloquin Sport, FX Chevy and many, many associate sponsors.