Rich Vleck, Fulton, NY, (April 14, 2012)- Steve Poirier said that there is not many nights where the setup of the car does not need to be adjusted; but that was his luxury he had on Saturday, and it happened to be on the first night of the year.
Poirier, of St. Mathieu de Beloeil, Quebec, drove by Tommy Wickham at the completion of the sixth lap of the 25-lap A-Verdi Storage Containers Methanol Meltdown feature and would cruise to the win at Fulton Speedway to kick off the 10th season of Patriot Sprint Tour action.
After winning in his only appearance at Fulton last season, the basic setup in his Eagle Chassis was in place but it even surprised the seven-year sprint car shoe how well it performed this time around.
“Sometimes, even when a car was good last year, we may have missed on some minor things,” noted Poirier. “Tonight, it was tough to get in the corners but the car was laying on the left, which gave me an advantage.”
Poirier put on a performance in heat four to win that qualifier and enter him for the redraw, where he pulled the fourth starting spot. He would quickly move into third but it would be Josh Weller pacing the field the first lap around. Entering turn one on the second circuit, Tommy Wickham, who was chasing Weller hard for the lead, got into the back of Weller’s No. 63, aiding the leader around and into the tractor tires and putting him out with a broken front axle a lap later.
On the restart, Poirier began to apply pressure on Wickham’s No. 75, finally taking the lead on lap six. In what would be 15 consecutive laps of green flag action, Poirier would stretch out his advantage over the rest of the pack while lapping a host of stout cars in the process.
“Before the race, I did not think the top (groove of the speedway) would be so good, but it was super fast up there,” reflected Poirier in Victory Lane. “I knew nobody would catch me up there but when I go to the bottom with the lapped cars I lose some ground and knew I could not let up.”
When the yellow flag flew on lap 17 for what would be the final caution period of the event, Poirier would have two lapped cars between himself and Wickham. He once again stretched out his advantage and cruised to his seventh career Patriot Sprint Tour Win. The win was additionally gratifying for the driver of the Fondations 4 Saisons No. 28FM after injuring his knee over the winter in a Snowmobile race, which has put his ability to run this entire season in peril.
“I didn’t even know if I could come here today,” admitted Poirier, who takes the early lead in the PST America Point Standings which will pay $10,000 to the champion. “I don’t really notice it when I am in the car but I will definitely feel it tomorrow.”
As Poirier drove to the win, Tommy Wickham stayed in his own zone to come home in second, his best result with the Patriot Sprint Tour. Wickham, from nearby Constantia, was pleased with his result, which included a heat win, but felt he might have had something for Poirier if the cautions fell in different spots.
Behind the top two was a mad-scramble for the remaining spots within the top 10. For the second-straight sprint show at Fulton, Chuck Hebing would finish in third, this time having to deal with a broken nose wing on his potent No. 45.
Hebing held third almost the entire way, but Bryan Howland was among the drivers breathing down his neck. Howland would cross in fourth and record a solid point night close to home at a track he has won at in a mini sprint and 360 sprint.
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the night was turned in by modified regular Larry Wight, who drove through the field from 15th to 5th in his second sprint car start. Wight even had a clod of mud damage his linkage and force him to drive the final two laps wide-open.
Bobby Breen came home from college in Ohio for the weekend to run at one of his favorite tracks and came home with a solid sixth place effort which included a heat win. Alain Bergeron, who also won his heat, was seventh, just ahead of Jessica Zemken, who ran up to eighth after starting 16th. Kevin Ward Jr. would run up from 21st to finish ninth, with Keith Dempster rounding out the top 10 in his first trip to Fulton. Jason Barney was in the mix throughout the race, running as high as fourth until he was forced to pull to the infield with fewer than five laps with a mechanical issue. The other No. 87, George Suprick, was the winner of the Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame.
With 41 cars in the pits, it was expected that some big names would not make the A-Main, which definitely was the case, perhaps none larger than defending PST Champion Jared Zimbardi, who flipped his No. 35 in his heat race. Zimbardi and his crew thrashed to make it out for the A-Main after using a provisional but the car would not fire, forcing him pitside for the feature and making them wonder if the engine was not damaged in the flip.
Justin Barger, Lance Yonge, Dylan Swiernik and Jeff Cook were some other big names not qualifying for the A-Main. On the final lap of B-Main 1, Glenn Styres, who won the East Bay Winternationals in February, lost the final transfer spot to Paul Kinney, who was making his maiden voyage in a sprint.
Along with Zimbardi drawing the red flag, rookie Etienne Giarard from Quebec wheel-hopped Dylan Swiernik’s right rear in an effort to avoid the spinning Jamie Collard on the open lap of B-Main 2 and wildly flipped his No. 422. He was uninjured.
Next up for the Patriot Sprint Tour is the inaugural trip to the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park in Fultonville, NY on Friday, April 27. For more information, visit www.PatriotSprintTour.com.
Patriot Sprint Tour Results: 4/14/12, Fulton Speedway, Fulton, NY.
A-Verdi A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Steve Poirier (28FM), 2. Tommy Wickham (75, 3. Chuck Hebing (45), 4. Bryan Howland (51), 5. Larry Wight (99L), 6. Bobby Breen (9), 7. Alain Bergeron (8B), 8. Jessica Zemken (1z), 9. Kevin Ward (13), 10. Keith Dempster (5k), 11. Rick Wilson (42w), 12. Sammy Reakes IV (1), 13. Tim Kelly (12), 14. Paul Kinney (19k), 15. Scott Kreutter (52), 16. Charlie Donk (99), 17. Michael Parent (25), 18. Jamie Collard (7x), 19. George Suprick (87), 20. Todd Hoddick (49), 21. Shawn Donath (33), 22. Jason Barney (87*), 23. Steve Collins (67), 24. Brandan Warner (10B), 25. Josh Weller (63).
Lap Leaders- Weller 1, Wickham 2-5, Poirier 6-25.
Provisional Starter- Collard.
B-Mains (Top 2 Transfer to A-Main)-
Race 1: 1. Shawn Donath (33), 2. Paul Kinney (19k), 3. Glenn Styres (0), 4. Paul Habeck (25H), 5. Jeff Cook (10), 6. April Wilson (15aw), 7. Clint Ide (3), 8. Steve Hutchinson Jr. (2), 9. Justin Barger (5), 10. Jared Zimbardi (35), 11 Jamie Bodo (76).
Race 2: 1. Kevin Ward Jr. (13), 2. Michael Parent (25), 3. Mike Stelter (36), 4. Dylan Swiernik (7c), 5. Jamie Collard (7x), 6. Lance Yonge (17J), 7. Paul Pekkonen (98), 8. Joe Trenca (98T), 9. Dave Wickham (80), 10. Etienne Girard (422).
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 Laps)- 1. George Suprick (87), 2. Chuck Hebing (45), 3. Tim Kelly (12), 4. Todd Hoddick (49), 5. Steve Collins (67), 6. Brandan Warner (10B).
National Parts Peddler Heats (8 Laps Each, Top 5 Transfer to A-Main)-
Race 1: 1. Alain Bergeron (8B), 2. Todd Hoddick (49), 3. Rick Wilson (42w), 4. Brandan Warner (10B), 5. Larry Wight (99L), 6. Kevin Ward Jr. (13), 7. Dave Wickham (80), 8. Joe Trenca (98T), 9. Glenn Styres (0), 10. Lance Yonge (17J), 11. Dylan Swiernik (7c).
Race 2: 1. Bobby Breen (9), 2. Bryan Howland (51), 3. Steve Collins (67), 4. Chuck Hebing (45), 5. Charlie Donk (99), 6. Paul Kinney (19k), 7. Mike Stelter (36), 8. Justin Barger (5), 9. Jared Zimbardi (35), 10. Jamie Bodo (76).
Race 3: 1. Tommy Wickham (75), 2. Jason Barney (87*), 3. Josh Weller (63), 4. Keith Dempster (5k), 5. Jessica Zemken (1z), 6. Shawn Donath (33), 7. Michael Parent (25), 8. April Wilson (15AW), 9. Clint Ide (3), 10. Etienne Girard (422).
Race 4: 1. Steve Poirier (28FM), 2. George Suprick (87), 3. Scott Kreutter (52), 4. Tim Kelly (12), 5. Sammy Reakes IV (1), 6. Paul Habeck (25H), 7. Jeff Cook (10), 8. Jamie Collard (7x), 9. Paul Pekkonen (98), 10. Steve Hutchinson Jr. (2).