Rich Vleck, WOODHULL, NY, (August 17, 2013)- By his standards, the 2013 season has not lived up to expectations for Justin Barger. After winning just a single event heading in to Saturday Night though, he found a track that suited his racing style and dug deep for a much-needed win.
Barger, 29, of Montrose, NY, moved by Bryan Howland, the winner at Woodhull back in May, coming to the white flag and held on to capture the $2,500 top prize Saturday Night at Woodhull Raceway for his second PST America win of the 2013 season. The winner of last year’s mid-summer event at the high-banked 1/3-mile oval last season from the fourth row had a similar scenario unfold on a Chamber of Commerce Night.
“We never gave up,” stated Barger on multiple occasions in Victory Lane. “This is a tactical race track and it fell right in to my driving style. I love coming here. It’s nice to turn the wick up. To come off how we have been running to turn it around is pretty nice.
After running second to Howland in heat race competition, Barger was fortunate just to sneak in to the redraw, where he received the seventh starting position. After starting off slow, Barger from sixth to third place on a lap 6 restart by driving around the rim. By lap 12 he had taken second place away from early leader Chuck Hebing but still had work to do reel in Bryan Howland.
A caution flag on lap 17 would slow the race action, but with two lapped cars between Howland and Barger, the No. 51 was able to drive away from Barger’s No. 5 on the laps following the restart. Howland could not run away and hide for long though.
“I knew I was catching Bryan,” recalled Barger afterwards. “He was leaving me just enough room to make a pass. I was trying to get by him either way, if he was on the bottom or the top.
Barger finally caught the leader with four laps remaining, but had to really get up on the wheel to get out in front. Back in May, Barger made a similar late-race charge only to have to settle for third to Howland. With the absence of lapped traffic down the stretch though, the defending PST Canada Champion drove around Howland in turn two on the 24th lap and then completed the pass coming to the white flag.
With the win, Barger helps to improve his point position for a late-season charge for the PST America Championship. It also helps to restore his confidence heading in to the big money shows that lie ahead this fall.
Bryan Howland was respectful in defeat as he acknowledged afterwards that his car lacked forward bite off of turn four and just became too loose late in the event, which was in opposition to the sensation a majority of the field felt in the A-Main.
Chuck Hebing would settle for third. The five-time Woodhull feature winning drove from fourth to the lead on the opening lap but struggled to find consistent bite in the top groove.
Jared Zimbardi won his heat race and had a steady run to finish in fourth, the best result of his career at Woodhull. Kyle Drum, Zimbardi’s brother-in-law, would drive up from his 11th starting position to round out the top five in just his fourth start in his 360 sprint this year.
Tommy Wickham easily had his best ever appearance at Woodhull, driving forward in his heat and feature to finish in sixth. Current PST America Point Leader Scott Kreutter won his heat but fought a tight condition in the feature and finished seventh, his worst result on the 2013 PST America Tour.
Steve Collins rebounded from his heartbreak at Black Rock last weekend, along with a poor result in his heat race on Saturday to drive from 20th to finish eighth. Jared Fink finished 9th in his first PST start of the year while John Sheldon Smith, who was substituting for George Suprick in the No. 87, rounded out the top 10.
A total of 24 sprints filled in the pits for a night that was conjured just three weeks ago when the originally-scheduled event was rained out. Scott Just won his first Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash event.
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Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Results: 8/17/13, Woodhull Raceway, Woodhull, NY.
A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Justin Barger (5), 2. Bryan Howland (51), 3. Chuck Hebing (45), 4. Jared Zimbardi (35), 5. Kyle Drum (47), 6. Tommy Wickham (75), 7. Scott Kreutter (52), 8. Steve Collins (67), 9. Jared Fink (21F), 10. John Sheldon Smith (87), 11. Matt Tanner (90), 12. Geoff Quackenbush (25), 13. Don Adamczyk (21), 14. Scott Just (54JX), 15. Parker Evans (61), 16. Jamie Bodo (76), 17. Clint Ide (3), 18. Derek Jonathan (81), 19. Dave Just (54J), 20. Dave Wickham (80), 21. Brad Knab (38), 22. Tyler Graves (25G), 23. Jeremy Barnard (86), 24. Scott Wagner (21x).
Lap Leaders- Hebing 1-3, Howland 4-23, Barger 24-25.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 Laps)- 1. Scott Just (54JX), 2. Jared Fink (21F), 3. Kyle Drum (47), 4. Clint Ide (3), 5. Jeremy Barnard (86), 6. Parker Evans (61).
Heats (8 Laps Each)-
Race 1: Zimbardi, Wagner, Fink, Evans, Graves, Barnard, Jonathan, D. Wickham.
Race 2: Howland, Barger, Smith, S. Just, Ide, Adamczyk, Collins, D. Just.
Race 3: Kreutter, T. Wickham, Drum, Hebing, Tanner, Quackenbush, Knab, Bodo.
Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Standings (Top 10)- Kreutter 1166, Zimbardi 1159, Barger 1116, T. Wickham 1094, Quackenbush 985, Knab 982, Howland 904, Ide 890, Collins 884, S. Just 824.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash Series Standings (Top Five)- Ide 18, S. Just 16, Suprick 15, Poirier and Knab 14.
Gater Racing News Hard Charger of the Season Standings (Top Five)- T. Wickham 38, Barney 33, Howland 30, Bodo 26, Kreutter 25.