By Rich Vleck
CONNEAUT, OH, (August 30, 2013)- Jared Zimbardi won his first two features of 2013 at Bradford and Clinton County Raceways, two tracks with distances that don’t add up to the length of Raceway 7, the track where Zimbardi dominated on Friday Night for his third win of the year.
Zimbardi, originally from Little Valley, NY and now residing in Bradford, PA, became the first driver to win a third Patriot Sprint Tour Feature of 2013 leading the first PST feature at Raceway 7 wire-to-wire. In the process, “The Juice” took over the PST America point lead with just a few races remaining.
“It’s pretty ironic but back in 2011 we came here and tested on their practice night to get ready for that season and won the championship,” recalled Zimbardi. “Now that we are back here maybe we can get another one.”
Zimbardi started and finished second in his heat race behind Scott Kreutter, who entered the night as the PST America Point Leader. After redrawing the outside pole for the feature, Zimbardi knew he had a real chance in the 25-lap feature.
“The crew gave me a really good race car,” he admitted in Victory Lane. “I knew I was really good on the bottom of turns one and two.”
Zimbardi won the drag race over polesitter Dave Just into turn one on the opening lap and maintained a steady lead until what would be the race’s only caution on lap 8 when fourth-place running Steve Collins spun in turn two. On the restart, Justin Barger drove underneath Just for second and stalked the Bundle of Warmth No. 35.
“I figured Barger was right there the whole time,” said Zimbardi afterwards. “He’s always really good on these fast race tracks so you never know.”
Despite drawing within 10 car lengths of the leader, Barger struggled to close the gap any further as the lead duo navigated through the lapped traffic. Even though the field was spread out around the 7/16-mile oval, the high speeds being produced made lapping an arduous task.
“It’s tough when (the lapped cars) are changing lanes the whole time but it’s got to be exciting for the fans,” Zimbardi added.
A late-race caution flag may have really scrambled up things, but without any pause to the final 17 laps of the race, Zimbardi was able to win his third feature in a single season for the third time in his career.
Justin Barger crossed in second place, despite having a hole appear in his header late in the feature. The defending PST Canada Champion said afterwards that damage hampered the car in a similar fashion as that of a cylinder going down would.
Bryan Howland was perhaps the fastest competitor all night as he was quickest in hot laps and in the heats, including a 15.561 second lap, but after starting in sixth and with Zimbardi and Barger also fast, the four-time series champion had to settle for third.
Chuck Hebing was also fast early on, driving from seventh to third on the opening lap of his heat. Like Howland though, Hebing would have to fight through a poor redraw of eighth to finish in fourth at a track he won a modified event back in 2003.
Tommy Wickham continued to pad his lead in the hard charger of the season standings, driving from 10th up to round out the top five.
Despite having to drop to the tail after his spin on lap eight, Steve Collins was able to make an impressive charge back up to finish in sixth. John Sheldon Smith and Geoff Quackenbush finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash Winner Kevin Ward Jr. finished in ninth, just ahead of Scott Kreutter, who ran in fourth early in the feature but struggled after the lap eight restart driving up the track and fading back to round out the top 10.
Dave Just was running in second up until the lap 8 restart but had a wild moment as he entered turn three as mud plugged up his right rear wheel and had him bobbling at the top of the track and would fall back to finish 13th.
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Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Results: 8/30/13, Raceway 7, Conneaut, OH.
A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Jared Zimbardi (35), 2. Justin Barger (5), 3. Bryan Howland (51), 4. Chuck Hebing (45), 5. Tommy Wickham (75), 6. Steve Collins (67), 7. John Sheldon Smith (87), 8. Geoff Quackenbush (25), 9. Kevin Ward Jr. (13), 10. Scott Kreutter (52), 11. Brad Knab (38), 12. Clint Ide (3), 13. Dave Just (54J), 14. Scott Just (54JX), 15. Tyler Graves (25G), 16. Jim Morris (16), 17. Brandan Warner (10B).
Lap Leaders- Zimbardi 1-25.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 Laps)- 1. Kevin Ward Jr. (13), 2. Tommy Wickham (75), 3. John Sheldon Smith (87), 4. Scott Just (54JX), 5. Clint Ide (3), 6. Brad Knab (38).
Heats (8 Laps Each)-
Race 1: Howland, Collins, Barger, S. Just, Smith, Morris, Warner.
Race 2: Kreutter, Zimbardi, Hebing, Ward, Wickham, Ide, Knab, Graves.