It looked like Jessica Zemken’s second run in her 360 sprinter in Central, NY was going to end in victory lane Friday night at the Rolling Wheels Raceway Park. However, a combination of lapped traffic and a better lane was key to Steve Poirier getting around the Tony Stewart Racing #1Z with just five laps to go to win night one of the Sprint Car Summer Shootout.
The victory for the three-time Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint (ESS) champion continues his hot streak for the 2011 season and marks his fifth overall victory on the year. Poirier drove his FM Industries backed, Kistler powered Eagle #28FM to the winners circle.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to catch her (Zemken) at first, I think we were pretty even in the open but I changed my line a bit and she got slowed up some.” said Poirier of the race long leader. “Its always an advantage to be in second when you get to the lap cars and we just found a better line to get by.”
Zemken led the 25 lap, $2,000 to win A-Main from the start. Even with just one yellow to close the field up, she would open up a sizable lead on Poirier until the closing stages.
“The track was very fast tonight and you needed to keep the momentum up. If you had to get out of the gas you could lose a lot of ground.” Poirier continued. “I felt more comfortable up on the cushion but it was down low in turn one where I could make the pass. They told me that once I was out front I did get a good lead. This is a nice win for us, we just need to do it again tomorrow night.”
For Zemken who has been running the All-Star Circuit of Champions East Regional this year, second was nice but not the goal.
“It sucks, I’m not going to lie.” the Sprakers, NY native said. “When you start up front and lead that many laps you want the win. We didn’t get it. Tomorrow night we hope it will be different.”
The slower traffic was the culprit for the female sensation. “Yea, I got slowed up and didn’t make the right move and Steve got me. You can’t do that especially with a driver as good as him. He beat me.” Zemken dead-panned.
Defending United Racing Company (URC) champion JJ Grasso did a wild last lap slide job in traffic to pass Justin Barger and come home in third at Dave Farney’s checkered flag. The two displayed a torrid battle for most of the second half of the race.
“I guess it was a ‘you have to do what you have to do’ move but it worked and we got third, so we are happy with the finish.” noted the Middletown, Del. star.
Barger did come home in fourth with current ESS point leader Chuck Hebing rounding out the top five. The next five saw ESS tour regulars in the next four spots with Shawn Donath, Michael Parent, Alain Bergeron, Lance Yonge with URC’s Rory Janney, who started in the front row, hanging on for tenth.
The only caution for the event was on lap 12 for a spun Cory Sparks.
Heats were won by Tim Kelly, Jason Barney, Bryan Howland and Curt Michael. Jeff Cook topped the 12 lap B-Main with Barger the fast timer of the night.
Sprint Car Shootout Notes – A total of 34 cars were in the pits on a very hot summer night which saw the starting time pushed back an extra half-hour. The event saw cars from ESS, URC and the Patriot Sprint Tour (PST) in action with 14 from ESS, 10 from PST, 9 from URC and Zemken…Bryan Howland was forced to scratch from the A-Main with magneto issues which enabled Paul Habeck to make the A-Main…Steve Collins had a qualified spot in hand before motor issues made him a DNQ on the night.
A-Main - Steve Poirier ($2,000), Jessica Zemken, JJ Grasso, Justin Barger, Chuck Hebing, Shawn Donath, Michael Parent, Alain Bergeron, Lance Yonge, Rory Janney, Randy West, Don Adamczyk, Jared Zimbardi, Josh Weller, Tim Kelly, Kramer Williamson, Curt Michael, Tommy Wickham, Jason Barney, Jeff Cook, Cory Sparks, Scott Kreutter, Paul Habeck, Andy Best, Robbie Stillwaggon, Dylan Swiernik.
Scratched - Bryan Howland, DNQ - Jeff Frasier, Brad Knab, Steve Collins, Kyle Dutcher, Shayne Ely, Tim Hogue, Bob Ries.
Lap Leaders – Zemken 1-20, Poirier 21-25
Heat 1 - Kelly, Barger, Donath, Hebing, Grasso
Heat 2 - Barney, Sparks, Parent, Poirier, Stillwaggon
Heat 3 - Howland, Zimbardi, Zemken, Adamczyk, Bergeron
Heat 4 - Michael, Yonge, T. Wickham, Janney, Swiernik
B-Main - Cook, Weller, West, Williamson
Provisionals - Andy Best, Scott Kreutter
Added Starter - Paul Habeck.