Rich Vleck, LOCK HAVEN, PA, (July 26, 2013)- Three years ago, the last time the Patriot Sprint Tour invaded Clinton County Raceway, Jared Zimbardi’s quest for his first series championship took a major hit when he did not qualify for the feature. His DNQ that night was due in large part to a spin in his heat race after being quickest in hot laps so he still returned this Friday with confidence. By the time the night was over, he proved he knew how to get around the track with a dominating performance to help him in his quest for his second series title.
Zimbardi, 25, originally of Little Valley, NY and now residing in Bradford, PA, led the 25-lap feature wire-to-wire to claim his second win of the year, as well as $2,500, the largest payday on the Patriot Sprint Tour thus far in 2013. In his first win of the season, “The Juice” also led all 25 laps of a caution-filled event at Bradford Speedway; after two extended cautions on the first two laps Friday Night, the 2011 PST Champion was afraid it would be de javu.
“I really was rethinking Bradford, and I was thinking about how much I’d hate it for the fans if we kept smashing up but we got a good green flag run in,” noted Zimbardi in Victory Lane. “This track is similar to Bradford, we did about the same thing tonight as we did there so hopefully we can put this in the books and keep doing well on these types of tracks.”
Things started off slow for Zimbardi as he finished third in his heat race, which did not guarantee him a spot in the A-Main redraw. As it would play out, Zimbardi would just sneak his way in to the top 8 and end up with the outside pole.
On the initial start of the feature, three drivers crashed before the field even reached turn one. Polesitter Geoff Quackenbush and heat 2 winner Justin Barger came together at the start/finish line and also collected heat 1 winner Parker Evans. The field would be reshuffled moving Zimbardi to the pole and moving his brother-in-law Kyle Drum to his outside.
Zimbardi would scoot away on the next start but Drum was able to stay within 5 to 10 carlengths of the Bundle of Warmth No. 35. Heat 3 winner Steve Collins was also in the mix as he began to reel in the top 2, but a leak in the power steering line coupled with damage in the front suspension from the opening lap crash would hamper him down the stretch.
As the event neared its halfway point, Zimbardi had to move off the top of the track to begin to navigate through lapped traffic. At this point, Zimbardi began to stretch his advantage over Drum and command a more comfortable lead.
“I didn’t see anyone all race but it was a challenge getting up on the berm, sometimes it would bite in,” added Zimbardi in Victory Lane. “I didn’t know if anyone would be on the bottom. I felt I was just as good on the bottom but down there you had to be off the throttle well before the corner.”
When the caution flag flew on lap 20 for contact between Clint Ide and Dave Ely, the lapped cars were removed and Drum had one last shot at his first PST win since 2005. On the restart though, Zimbardi was as strong and smooth as he had been all race long and would cruise to the win.
“I tried the keep the car as straight as possible. Straight is fast and you don’t want to be sideways for long.”
The win is the 11th career feature win in a PST point race for Zimbardi, the fifth-most all time. It also helped him in his quest for the PST America Championship, although the current series point leader minimized the impact.
On the final restart, as Zimbardi was driving away, Scott Kreutter, made an impressive run on the bottom underneath Kyle Drum to snag second away from the current Clinton County 305 sprint point leader to capture his third-straight top 2 in PST America Competition. The defending PST America Champion and current series point leader had never seen the track before Friday and had not been in his car in over a month, so to come home in second, especially with his front wing knocked askew, he was more than pleased.
Kyle Drum was also content with his podium finish. In only his third appearance of the season in his family-owned No. 47, the two-time PST winner said afterwards he wished that final caution had not waved because he knew his car was starting to go away.
One of the most impressive performances on the night was turned in by Tommy Wickham. Wickham’s primary No. 75 was trashed in hot laps when Sheldon Smith wheel-hopped him and sent both flipping wildly. Wickham was able to go to his backup car as a competitive lap had yet to be turned and drove from 15th up to fourth for his best finish of the season.
Despite his mechanical ailments as the race went on. Steve Collins was able to turn in his best career finish as he rounded out the top five. Had Collins not had the power steering leak he likely would have been in the running for at least a podium finish.
Brad Knab won the Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame and advanced in the feature to finish sixth. Jamie Bodo struggled in the qualifiers and had to utilize a provisional to start the A-Main, but he made the most of his opportunity as he drove from 23rd up to seventh despite inexplicably packing the inside of his right-rear wheel with mud.
Reed Thompson beat out John Braim for the honor of highest-finishing 305, while youngster Jordan Thomas rallied from problems to round out the top 10.
A total of 26 sprints filled the pits on a sun-drenched afternoon. Sheldon Smith, who was substituting for George Suprick, was able to make repairs to the No. 87 to see him transfer through the B-Main and then drive up inside the top 10 before a mechanical failure on the final lapped forced him to limp across the finish line.
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Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Results: 7/26/13, Clinton County Raceway, Lock Haven, PA.
A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Jared Zimbardi (35), 2. Scott Kreutter (52), 3. Kyle Drum (47), 4. Tommy Wickham (75), 5. Steve Collins (67), 6. Brad Knab (38), 7. Jamie Bodo (76), 8. Reed Thompson (R6), 9. John Braim (44), 10. Jordan Thomas (79), 11. Sheldon Smith (87), 12. Matt Tanner (90), 13. Dale Schweikart (78), 14. Adam Anderson (69), 15. Scott Just (54JX), 16. Clint Ide (3), 17. Dave Ely (65), 18. Tylor Cochran (19), 19. Mike Koehler (22k), 20. Dave Just (54J), 21. Geoff Quackenbush (25), 22. Justin Barger (5), 23. Parker Evans (61).
Lap Leaders- Zimbardi 1-25.
B-Main (Top 4 Transfer to A-Main)-
1. Matt Tanner (90), 2. Dave Just (54J), 3. Dale Schweikart (78), 4. Sheldon Smith (87), 5. Jamie Bodo (76), 6. Tyler Graves (25G), 7. Rod Shelley (12R), 8. Derrick Bowersox (35B).
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 Laps)- 1. Brad Knab (38), 2. Reed Thompson (R6), 3. Clint Ide (3), 4. Adam Anderson (69), 5. Scott Just (54jx), 6. John Braim (44).
Heats (8 Laps Each, Top 6 in Each Event Qualify)-
Race 1: Evans, Quackenbush, Zimbardi, S. Just, Koehler, Ely, Tanner, Schweikart, Bodo.
Race 2: Barger, Drum, Knab, Thomas, Braim, Wickham, Graves, Shelley, Smith.
Race 3: Collins, Kreutter, Thompson, Anderson, Ide, Cochran, Bowersox, D. Just.