By MIKE MALLETT
VERNON, N.Y. – Jason Barney has been in the mix all season long for a Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint victory. The Brewerton, N.Y., driver finally got it done Sunday night at the Utica-Rome Speedway earning his first series win of the 2013 season.
The 25-lap race ran caution free with Barney holding off the challenges of several drivers throughout the event including Dylan Swiernik and Stewart Friesen. Ultimately he held on in slower traffic for the win. It earned Barney points toward the overall tour standings as well as part of the Today’s Options Stars and Stripes Tour and the SUNY Canton Series. The win paid him $2,000 thanks to Gates and Cole Insurance.
“Man that race was long,” said an out of breath Barney in Victory Lane. “I kept waiting for the 33 (Friesen) to roll by me in the middle. I kept digging and digging. We had a great race car right from the start. We came here with a plan. The plan was the have Bryan (Howland) run our other car and win because we’ve been so bad. What a great race car. I got to thank all my guys as they worked hard. To say we’ve been bad here is being really generous, we’ve been horrible. It feels great to be back down here.”
Barney started on the pole of the A-Main with Patrick Vigneault to his outside. At the green the pair raced side-by-side for the lead with Swiernik, who started fourth, making it a three car race for the top position.
By lap three a new challenger emerged into the third position in Friesen. Friesen had started eighth in the feature while quickly making his way to the front of the field.
Barney continued to outpace the field as the laps clicked off toward the halfway point. He held a straightaway lead over the second place car of Friesen by lap eight.
At the halfway point it was all Barney, but Friesen was closing the gap on him as he was slowed in traffic. Barney made several nifty moves to clear cars each time holding Friesen at bay.
With five laps to go, Friesen closed to within a couple of car-lengths on Barney. He nearly pulled up alongside of him several times in turns three and four while Barney was dominant on the bottom on the other end of the speedway.
As Barney took the white flag three cars raced in front of him for position forcing Barney to take evasive action. He stayed the course on the bottom of the speedway and held off Friesen in the final corners for his first victory at the speedway since 2009.
“I was pushing the issue with the tires on the inside,” said Barney. “I had my left eye closed a couple of times, I thought was going to clip them. I just had to. The last few races we’ve been leading and you can either give them away or win them in lapped traffic. You just got to keep digging.”
Although Friesen crossed the line second, he did not report directly to the scales after the feature so he was scored in last place. As a result Paul Kinney was moved into the second spot. Kinney started third and fell back outside the top five before working his way back forward.
“We are always happy to do good here at Utica-Rome because of all the fans that we gained here over the years,” stated Kinney. “Congratulations to Jay (Barney), I know it means a lot of him to win here my hats off to him. I slipped back to like sixth there so I had to fight our way back up. I always have a problem losing spots in the beginning. We are happy to be here.”
Steve Poirier solidified his fourth championship with his third place finish at the end of the day. Poirier has been the dominant car for much of the season earning five feature wins in his return to full-time action with the Empire Super Sprints.
Aaron Ott made his first ever ESS start at Utica-Rome Speedway in preparation for next weekend’s Cole Cup. The Dillsburg, Pa., driver advanced from ninth to finish in the fourth position with Vigneault hanging on to finish in fifth.
ESS/Utica Notes: A big field of 35 sprints filled the pit area…Vinnie Vitale and Mike Stelter suffered from engine woes and were done during the heats…Next Saturday is the $7,000 to win, $30,000 first ever Cole Cup at Utica-Rome. A field upwards of 50 sprinters are expected.
Gates and Cole Insurance A-Main – Jason Barney ($2,125), Paul Kinney, Steve Poirier, Aaron Ott, Patrick Vigneault, Matt Tanner, Cory Sparks, Jessica Zemken, Shawn Donath, Dylan Swiernik, Danny Varin, Bryan Howland, Jeff Cook, Chuck Hebing, Sammy Reakes IV, Lance Yonge, Kevin Ward Jr., Etienne Girard, Robbie Stillwaggon, Charlie Donk, Joe Trenca, Stewart Friesen.
Did Not Qualify – Charlie Donk, Dave Axton, Vinnie Vitale, Mike Stelter, Scott Wagner, Jared Fink, Bob Gray, James Hanson, Kyle Dutcher, Warren Alexson, Paul Habeck, Josh Pieniazek, Steve Glover.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 1 – Stillwaggon, Swiernik, Kinney, Vigneault, Yonge, Howland
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 2 – Friesen, Ott, Varin, Tanner, Reakes IV, Girard
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 3 – Cook, Sparks, Barney, Poirier, Donath, Zemken
Kountry Kafe/Cobra Coaches Dash – Cook
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Larry Wight, Joe Trenca, Kevin Ward Jr., Chuck Hebing.
Lap Leader – Barney (1-25)
Gates and Cole Insurance A-Main – Barney $400
Westward Painting Company Halfway – Barney $100
Ohsweken Speedway Winners Bonus – Barney $100
Fondations 4 Saisons Hard Charger – Zemken (12 pos) $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Vigneault $50
North Eastern Pool and Spa Power Pick – Trenca, Girard $50
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Wight $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers – Stillwaggon, Friesen and Cook $25
Go Nuclear Late Models Go Fast Award – Stillwaggon (16.793) $25
Jimmy D’s Speed and Machine Fast Time – Barney (18.468) $25