Rich Vleck, WOODHULL, NY, (May 11, 2013)- For a long time, Bryan Howland did not consider the Woodhull Raceway one of his better tracks, but since winning there in 2011, he and his No. 51 Team have found a hot setup, which he used again on Saturday Night.to earn a second trip to Woodhull Victory Lane
Howland, 26, of Auburn, NY, scored his 22nd career Patriot Sprint Tour win, his first win on American soil since July 2011, when he won on the 1/3-mile high-banked oval for the first time.
“We went right back to the notebook and put the exact same setup that we had last year (when he rallied from a flat tire to get back inside the top five),” said Howland in Victory Lane. “We figured we go right back to the same setup, and the track was actually pretty similar but man this car was just fast!”
Howland led 24 of 25 laps, but that does not begin to tell the story of how the third PST Feature of the season played out. The four-time Patriot Sprint Tour Champion won his heat race for the fifth time at the Southern Tier Facility, earning him a spot in the redraw, where his young draw representative selected the outside pole for the 25-lap feature. At the start of the A-main, Howland drove around the outside of polesitter Scott Kreutter in the opening set of corners and held a solid advantage for the first half of the race.
The race’s first caution flag would appear eight laps in to the event, two laps after Howland had begun to lap cars at the tail of the field. On the restart, with a lapped car as a buffer, Howland was again comfortably out front. But after the second and final caution on lap 12, business would pick up for the lead.
Shawn Donath, who was running at Woodhull for the first time, was able to restart in second place right behind Howland’s No. 51 on the lap 13 restart; even though Howland jumped back to a solid lead, Donath began to reel him back in as the pair approached lapped traffic.
Donath really began to apply pressure by lap 18, and a lap later would get by Howland for the lead coming to complete lap 19; his time out front though would be short-lived though as Howland had other ideas.
“I was thinking I had to get my butt around some lapped traffic to throw a block in there,” admitted Howland after the event, still catching his breath from the wild 13-lap sprint to the finish. “Shawn must have been fast, because he came up from the third row. After he got by me I just bonsai’d it in there. He gave me a little bit of an opening. He came in a little hot and I had a better angle to get in there and put a slide job on him off of (turn) two.”
As Howland and Donath were mixing it up for the lead, Justin Barger, the winner of the most recent PST event at Woodhull, was charging hard from his seventh starting position to make it a three-car battle for the lead. Just as Howland was taking the lead back, Barger got a big run in his No. 5, but the lapped traffic thwarted his ability to crack into the top two.
The top three were all in the mix right down to the end, but on the final lap, Howland got back in his groove and was able to claim the double-checkered flags to ensure his eighth-consecutive winning season. Howland was so happy to be back in Victory Lane that he brought down the youngster that drew the outside pole for him and give him the trophy in appreciation.
Donath was able to hold off Barger for second. Donath had been to Woodhull only as a spectator when he was younger but knew how fun it would be to run a sprint car. Barger’s third-place effort was good enough to help him maintain his point lead in the PST America standings.
Chuck Hebing crossed in fourth, the position he was in for almost all of the 25 circuits. Hebing, a five-time winner at Woodhull, started third but had contact with Cory Sparks in the opening set of corners and settled in fourth. It was the second-lowest finish for “Cobra” in his nine appearances at Woodhull.
Scott Kreutter would complete the top five. Kreutter’s No. 52 was just a touch off on the setup but he was still able to hold off a host of hungry competitors for his first top five finish of the season.
Cory Sparks won his heat race and fell back to eighth on the opening circuit, but was able to get back into his groove and drive back up to sixth place. George Suprick won the Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash and finished seventh. Geoff Quackenbush scored a solid eighth place effort, while Matt Tanner was ninth. Tommy Wickham rebounded from a spin on lap eight to round out the top 10.
On an overcast afternoon, 24 sprints pulled in to the Stueben County oval, with all 24 starting the feature and 22 of them crossing under the checkered flag.
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Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Results: 5/11/13, Woodhull Raceway, Woodhull, NY.
A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Bryan Howland (51), 2. Shawn Donath (53), 3. Justin Barger (5), 4. Chuck Hebing (45), 5. Scott Kreutter (52), 6. Cory Sparks (7), 7. George Suprick (87), 8. Geoff Quackenbush (25), 9. Matt Tanner (90), 10. Tommy Wickham (75), 11. Jamie Bodo (76), 12. Jared Zimbardi (35), 13. Joe Trenca (98), 14. Brad Knab (38), 15. Todd Hoddick (49), 16. Bruce DeWick (22D), 17. Steve Collins (67), 18. Clint Ide (3), 19. Derek Jonathan (81), 20. Jordan Thomas (79), 21. Tyler Graves (25G), 22. Dave Wickham (80), 23. Kevin Ward Jr. (13), 24. Parker Evans (61).
Lap Leaders- Howland 1-18, Donath 19, Howland 20-25.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 Laps)- 1. George Suprick (87), 2. Steve Collins (67), 3. Tommy Wickham (75), 4. Joe Trenca (98), 5. Geoff Quackenbush (25), 6. Jamie Bodo (76).
Heats (8 Laps Each)-
Race 1: Howland, Barger, Suprick, Trenca, Quackenbush, Ide, DeWick, Thomas.
Race 2: Donath, Zimbardi, Kreutter, Bodo, Collins, Jonathan, Hoddick, Evans.
Race 3: Sparks, Ward, Hebing, T. Wickham, Tanner, Knab, D. Wickham, Graves.
Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Standings (Top 10)- Justin Barger 291, Bryan Howland 285, Scott Kreutter 267, Jared Zimbardi 254, George Suprick 252, Chuck Hebing 250, Tommy Wickham 249, Geoff Quackenbush 233, Brad Knab 232, Kevin Ward Jr. 228.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash Series Standings (Top Five)- Steve Collins and George Suprick 9, Kevin Ward Jr and Mitch Brown 6, Keith Dempster and Chuck Hebing 5.
Gater Racing News Hard Charger of the Season Standings (Top Five)- Kevin Ward Jr. 13, Justin Barger 11, Todd Hoddick and Jason Barney 9, Jamie Collard and Jared Zimbardi 8.