Rich Vleck, WOODHULL, NY, (July 25, 2015)- Justin Barger winning this July Patriot Sprint Tour race at Woodhull was nothing new, but the hurdles he had to clear to do so were certainly unique.
Barger, of Montrose, NY, scored his 13th career Patriot Sprint Tour win on Saturday Night at Woodhull Raceway, his second win of the season, pocketing $2,500 in the annual 360/305 Challenge at the Highbanks, the third time in the last four years he has won the event. Barger took the lead on lap seven of the feature but that is where things got interesting.
“We drove the last half of the race with absolutely no brakes,” declared Barger in Victory Lane. “We just love coming here. It’s fun and we enjoy it.”
Barger won his third straight heat race at Woodhull to start the night, but after drawing the sixth starting spot for the 25-lap feature, he knew he would have some work to do. Barger certainly got to work, slicing through the field and going from 6th to 3rd in the opening set of corners and then taking second-place away from Jason Barney to complete lap one.
“We got a really good original start and got up to where we needed to be,” he reflected afterwards. “I just wish the brake pads held up as good as the car did.”
Barger slowly started to reel in polesitter Dave Just before the races first caution flag on lap four. On the restart, Barger made a quick crossover down the backstretch, but Just was up to the task, executing a slick crossover to take the lead back. Not to be outdone, Barger pulled off another crossover the following lap and this time the lead stuck.
Barger was unable to drive away from Just as the race ran green though, and Just began to peak his nose underneath the No. 5 as the duo began to reel in the back of the field. IT became a three-car battle for the lead as Jason Barney began to hit his groove on the bottom of the track. On lap 15, they went three-wide for the lead, with Barney taking away second and applying even more pressure on Barger.
Barney continued to stalk the leader, who was battling lapped cars without his brakes. Coming to the white flag though, as Barney was setting up a last-lap pass, Barger was able to drive around two lapped cars and get the distance he need to drive to his third Woodhull win.
“We just got fortunate to hit the lapped cars at the right time and use them as a cushion,” said Barger. “It’s easy to give away a race like that by running over somebody.”
Barger was pleased to pick up his second win of the month and his fifth-straight PST top 3, noting after the race that after the rough start they had to 2015, he is starting to feel comfortable again and producing quality results.
Jason Barney was pleased to come home in second in his first appearance at Woodhull. Barney studied the race track and those in front of him early on and started to become a contender as the race went along. Barney becomes the fourth driver in series history to finish runner-up in his first appearance at Woodhull.
Dave Just scored a career-best third place finish, which felt like sweet redemption for the third year sprint car driver, who junked a car at Woodhull back in May. Just has recently had a string of damage too, so for him to battle up front felt good, although he said after the race that his car also had brake issues, with his pads locking up.
Seven-time Woodhull winner Chuck Hebing did drive up from eighth to finish in fourth, but it was not the result “Cobra” was looking for. The same could be said for three-time Woodhull winner Bryan Howland, who dominated his heat, but dropped back early on, only to rally back to round out the top five.
It was an important point night for series leader Sammy Reakes IV, who had to come through the Evingham Site Excavation Dash to get up to finish in sixth. Reakes had a decent car early in the event and was able to finish one spot higher than Kyle Drum, his nearest point chaser, who crossed in seventh.
Scott Just finished in eighth, making it a solid night for the Just team. Two-time Woodhull winner George Suprick finishing in ninth will Dan Bennett put together a solid run to complete the top 10.
Only two cautions slowed action in the feature, with recent series winner Steve Collins getting caught up in the first and being the only driver not to finish. Tyler Graves was unable to start the feature with engine problems.
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Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Results: 7/25/2015, Woodhull Raceway, Woodhull, NY.
A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Justin Barger (5), 2. Jason Barney (87*), 3. Dave Just (54J), 4. Chuck Hebing (45), 5. Bryan Howland (51), 6. Sammy Reakes IV (17), 7. Kyle Drum (47), 8. Scott Just (54JR), 9. George Suprick (87), 10. Dan Bennett (X), 11. Jake Muench (14), 12. Josh Azzi (17z), 13. Jonathan Preston (22), 14. Darryl Ruggles (48JR), 15. Dave Wickham (80), 16. Steve Collins (67), 17. Tyler Graves (25G).
Lap Leaders- D. Just 1-6, Barger 7-25.
Evingham Site Excavation Four Laps of Fame (4 Laps)- 1. Sammy Reakes IV (17), 2. Josh Azzi (14), 3. Steve Collins (67), 4. Dan Bennett (X), 5. Josh Azzi (17z), 6. Dave Wickham (80).
Heats (8 Laps Each)-
Race 1: Howland, Hebing, Barney, Muench, Collins, Ruggles.
Race 2: Barger, Drum, S. Just, Azzi, Bennett, Preston.
Race 3: Just, Suprick, Reakes, Wickham, Graves.
Hoosier Tire Canada/ Mike Emhof Motorsports Recipient: Muench
Pole Position Raceway Pole Winner: D. Just.
Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Point Standings (Top 10)- Reakes 1762, Drum 1694, Collins 1556, D. Just 1533, S. Just 1516, Suprick 1510, Zimbardi 1424, Hutchinson 1405, Graves 1255, Barger 980.
Evingham Site Excavation Four Laps of Fame Dash Series Standings (Top Five)- Collins 23, Kreutter 20, Zimbardi and Reakes 18, Durand 15.
Patriot Tank Lines Hard Charger of the Season Standings (Top Five)- Zimbardi 64, Suprick 41, Reakes 35, Barney 34, Brown 33.
Danny Willmes Enterprises Lap Leader Standings (Top Five)- Zimbardi 79, Poirier 43, Reakes 37, Howland 28, Barger 26.