Rich Vleck, BRADFORD, PA, (August 31, 2013)- Back in 2008, the Patriot Sprint Tour made the Dash for Cash participants those slated to start 9th through 14th in the feature with the purpose of giving them four extra laps to make a charge to the front. On Saturday Night, or just the second time since 2008 in PST competition, a driver that ran the Four Laps of Fame Dash won the Feature, and on both of those occasions that driver was Justin Barger.
Barger, 29, of Montrose, NY, used the information acquired in the dash to charge up from ninth to win at Bradford Speedway Saturday Night for his third Patriot Sprint Tour Win of the Year. Barger found some good fortune to get his way up to second place, but it was the way he got by Tommy Wickham for the lead with four laps to go that thrilled everyone in attendance.
“I’m glad we got to run the dash and try some things out,” noted Barger in Victory Lane. “The car was fast tonight. We haven’t run that many dashes and we’ve won twice from back there so it might pay to start a little further back.”
Barger struggled in his heat race, placing fourth and keeping him out of the redraw. For the first time in his PST Career, he won the Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame to solidify his starting position in the A-Main. On the initial start, an eight-car pileup in turn one allowed Barger to restart in sixth, which is where he made his move.
On the original restart, the drivers second through fifth scrambled for position in the middle groove of turn two while Barger rode the rim and got his JE Pistons/ Carillo Rods No. 5 to second midway down the backstretch.
“They gave me enough room up on the top and I squeezed through there and it all worked out.”
Even though Barger had moved up to second, heat winner Tommy Wickham was out in front and was not going to easily hand over the lead to the hard-charging Barger.
On a lap six restart, Barger made a bold move to slide underneath the race leader in turns one and two. He came up in front of the No. 75 but Wickham quickly switched lines, drove back underneath Barger and drove him up the track in turn three to take the lead. The maneuver slowed the No. 5 up so much that the car actually stalled out briefly before re-firing as it rolled back down the banking. Barger fell back to third but quickly got back by Kyle Drum and once again reeled in Wickham.
As the middle of the race featured a long green flag run, Wickham held a healthy advantage but with less than five laps to go, the leader had a difficult time moving by a lapped car and instantly Barger pounced. As Wickham attempted to slide job the lapped car in turns one and two, his nearest competitor erased his 10 car-length gap in an instant and used his momentum to drive underneath the leader heading in to turn three. With the lap six battle in mind, the two drivers touched again, this time with Wickham making a rebuttal and having enough momentum to swap the lead with Barger on two occasions. Coming to two laps to go though, Barger was able to clear the No. 75 and take the lead.
“I had a lot of give and take there,” said Barger after the feature. “We had a little bit faster car in the later stages and I was tracking him down but I know Tommy is pretty hungry for a win so I just had to bide my time and not end up on the hook.”
With two laps to go, third-place running Kyle Drum spun in turn three setting up green-white-checkered finish. Barger lived up to his reputation of being dominant on restarts as he drove away to capture the win. Unbeknownst to everyone but Barger, the checkered flags could not have fallen quick enough.
“I think we had a right rear tire going down and I had a little bit of a struggle the last few laps but we ended up pulling it off,” added Barger, who later discovered that a bad air bleeder was the culprit, leaving just three pounds of air in his Hoosier.
The win was Barger’s 11th career Patriot Sprint Tour win. This is the second year in a row that the defending PST Canada Champion has won three PST events.
Despite missing out on his best chance for his first win of the year, Tommy Wickham was all smiles on the frontstretch. Wickham came up and shooked Barger’s hand in Victory Lane and then commented later on how much fun it was to trade slide jobs with him. It was the best finish of the year for the No. 75.
Scott Kreutter applied pressure to Wickham on the final lap but settled for third. After struggling in the last two features, Kreutter spent most of the feature battling with current point leader Jared Zimbardi. Zimbardi, who won at Bradford back in May, won his heat and appeared to be the odds-on favorite to win the feature in his hometown, but would have to settle for fourth.
Geoff Quackenbush nearly edged Zimbardi at the line, as he finished fifth. Quackenbush was involved in the first lap pileup but came back up through the pack for his first top five finish since 2007.
Rookie Scott Just also put together a quality run, finishing sixth for his best-career finish at the site of his prior top finish. Brad Knab held off Kyle Drum for seventh. They were the final two cars that finished on the lead lap. Teammates Clint Ide and John Sheldon Smith rounded out the top 10.
The track came in as the night went along, with the fastest lap times in the mid 14-second range. The only driver in attendance on Saturday Night that was unable to start the feature was Don Adamczyk, who broke a lifter in his engine coming just before crossing in third in his heat race.
For more information, visit www.PatriotSprintTour.com.
Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Results: 8/31/13, Bradford Speedway, Bradford, PA.
A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Justin Barger (5), 2. Tommy Wickham (75), 3. Scott Kreutter (52), 4. Jared Zimbardi (35), 5. Geoff Quackenbush (25), 6. Scott Just (54JX), 7. Brad Knab (38), 8. Kyle Drum (47), 9. Clint Ide (3), 10. John Sheldon Smith (87), 11. Dave Wickham (80), 12. Dave Ely (65), 13. Tyler Graves (25G), 14. Jeremy Barnard (86), 15. Adam Anderson (69), 16. Dave Just (54J), 17. Jamie Bodo (76), DNS: Don Adamczyk (21)
Lap Leaders- T. Wickham 1-21, Barger 22-25.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 Laps)- 1. Justin Barger (5), 2. Jamie Bodo (76), 3. Scott Just (54JX), 4. Dave Ely (65), 5. Dave Wickham (80).
Heats (8 Laps Each)-
Race 1: T. Wickham, Smith, Quackenbush, D. Wickham, Ely, Ide.
Race 2: Kreutter, D. Just, Adamczyk, Knab, Anderson, Graves.
Race 3: Zimbardi, Drum, S. Just, Barger, Bodo, Barnard.