By MIKE MALLETT
FULTON, NY – The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints have not been in competition at the Fulton Speedway since May of 2006. Two attempts have been made over the past two seasons with this past Saturday night’s rain date finally allowing the series to return to the high banks.
At the end of the 25-lap A-Main event, it was three-time series champion, Steve Poirier, capturing the win and the $1,700 payday for his efforts. For Poirier, of St. Mathieu de Beloeil, Que., it was his fourth victory of the 2011 season and his first driving a Kistler Racing Engines powered Eagle.
“We wanted to try something new tonight and it was super,” commented Poirier after the victory. “We had a little stumble with the engine so I was happy not to have any restarts after the first start. I don’t know what would have happened with that. The car was awesome.”
The win also went a long way to help the ailing driver. Poirier had been struggling with flu like symptoms leading up to the weekend’s action. He spun on Friday night all by himself at the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park.
“I felt better today after I drank a bottle of Red Bull,” joked Poirier. “It is easier. I feel better today. These things are hard to drive because they need all of your concentration and your strength. Yesterday was not perfect but we are on the right way now.”
Poirier redrew the outside of the front row for the feature and immediately secured the race lead from pole-sitter Shawn Donath. Donath chased Poirier for the opening laps before ultimately succumbing to motor issues on the third circuit.
The race remained caution free with Poirier pulling away and entering slower traffic by the eighth circuit of the event. With Poirier dominating the pace, the race for second pitted Cory Sparks and Chuck Hebing against one another with Larry Wight on the fringes of the battle for the much of the race.
By the midway point of the race Poirier’s lead was over a straightaway while Sparks and Hebing remained nose to tail on the outside of the speedway. Hebing continued to look for an opening to get by Sparks.
As they worked traffic Sparks stayed in the high line as did Hebing. Hebing took several chances to get by him on the inside including an attempted slide job on lap 15. He could never quite pull of the pass to take away second from Sparks.
With five laps to go, Poirier continued to lead and was lapping cars just up to the tenth place car. At the checkered it was Poirier earning the edge by well over a straightaway over Sparks.
“We were lucky to tonight to start on the front row and no yellows after that,” said Poirier after the win. “We had no problems with the lapped cars either. I don’t know what would have happened if we had a caution in that race because the engine was stumbling the last few laps. I’m really happy tonight because it could have gone very bad.”
Sparks, of Edinburg, N.Y., was pleased with his efforts after getting things back on track after a dismal weekend one week prior. The team’s strong effort places them solidly in the top five in points.
“Last week we had a real rough weekend,” said Sparks. “The crew pulled together and got it done tonight. I think this shows how strong we are. We need to keep clicking off these top three’s and top five’s and sooner or later hopefully we’ll get a win.”
Hebing, the point leader coming in, continues to show consistency that helps win championships. After starting eighth, Hebing bolted to the front early and eventually was forced to settle for a third place finish.
“Me and Cory had a real good race there,” said Hebing. “I tried the bottom a few times but the top just had way too much momentum. All in all it’s a good night. We got the car running better and we survived it.”
Wight, of Phoenix, N.Y., made the most of his opportunity to drive a Doug Emery Motorsports ride and finished fourth in his first ever 360 Sprint Car race. Kevin Ward Jr., of Port Leyden, N.Y., completed the top five in the final tally.
Rounding out the top ten were Jason Barney, who ran much of the race with a broken front wing, Tommy Wickham, Lance Yonge, a solid top ten for Tyler Rand and Matt Tanner.
ESS/Fulton Notes: Larry Wight’s first ever endeavor in the winged sprint cars was very popular with the Fulton faithful…Mike Stelter lost oil pressure after hot laps and missed the rest of the evening…Shawn Donath motor woes in the A0Main moved him down to third in the overall standings…Next weekend the stars and cars from the Lucas Oil Tour will head to Rolling Wheels to be a part of the Sprint Car Summer Shootout.
Lucas Oil ESS A-Main – Steve Poirier, Cory Sparks, Chuck Hebing, Larry Wight, Kevin Ward Jr., Jason Barney, Tommy Wickham, Lance Yonge, Tyler Rand, Matt Tanner, Jeff Cook, Paul Habeck, Kory Gurney, Kyle Dutcher, Jami Russell, Shawn Donath. DNS – Mike Stelter
Lap Leader – Poirier 1-25
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 1 – Poirier, Rand, Wight, Habeck, Tanner, Stalter
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 2 – Wickham, Donath, Sparks, Barney, Gurney, Dutcher
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 3 – Hebing, Ward Jr., Cook, Yonge, Russell
M&W Aluminum Products/Cobra Coaches Dash – Hebing
Westward Painting Corp. Halfway – Poirier $100
Westfront Construction Hard Charger – Ward Jr. (6 pos.) $50
Ohsweken Speedway Winners Bonus – Poirier $50
Mohawk Racing Parts Pick 5 – Ward Jr. $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers – Poirier, Wickham, Hebing $25
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint Points – 1. Chuck Hebing 1381, 2. Steve Poirier 1341, 3. Shawn Donath 1286, 4. Kevin Ward Jr., 1279, 5. Cory Sparks 1200, 6. Lance Yonge 985, 7. Alain Bergeron 976, 8. Jeff Cook 972, 9. Matt Tanner 852, 10. Michael Parent 789
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, Westward Painting Corporation, 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.