By MIKE MALLETT
LAFARGEVILLE, NY – It’s doesn’t seem to matter what state he’s in, Lucas Wolfe is on a tear as of late which continued on Wednesday night in the kickoff to Donath Motor Worx Central New York Speedweek. Wolfe, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., dominated the opening night feature for the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints at the Can-Am Motorsports Park.
Wolfe redrew the pole position for the start of the 25-lap NAPA Auto Parts US Tour/SUNY Canton Series feature. From there it was a race for second as Wolfe was up to the task rocketing around the high-side of the speedway for much of the race to claim his fourth career series.
“I certainly enjoy the opportunity to come up and race in New York,” stated Wolfe after the win. “It is a little bit different scenery, different types of tracks and it kind of challenges you in different ways. It’s been going good. We’ve been having success in both places (New York and Pennsylvania) and at this point we are just going to keep working forward. Hopefully we can continue that.”
The initial green saw Wolfe jump from the bottom off of turn four to the lead by the time the field reached the entrance to turn one. He drove his Pabst Blue Ribbon No. 5w through the middle lane of the speedway to hold off a challenge from outside front row starter Danny Varin. Varin stuck his nose next to him at the exit of turn two but didn’t have enough to get by Wolfe.
Wolfe worked the high lane in turns three and four which allowed him to quickly run away from Varin as he settled into the runner-up position. Behind the top two Mike Mahaney and Paul Kinney wrestled one another as they each tried to take the third position.
“We certainly had a stroke of good luck to get a good draw,” commented Wolfe. “The opportunity to start on the pole, it’s always going to be hard to catch a good car from front row. It was a little bit tricky to lead because it was so far around the top. It was hard to tell when to go up there.”
With Wolfe and Varin charging away, Mark Smith entered the fray after starting in the eighth spot. He went around the battle for third to take it himself on lap four. He then focused on Varin who, in turn, was searching the race track to find a lane to get to Wolfe.
Wolfe set a torrid pace at the front entering traffic by the sixth circuit. Wolfe sliced his way through the slower cars as Varin contended with Smith. Varin did all he could to hold back the challenges of Smith, but it wasn’t enough as Smith blasted around him on the outside on lap eight to take second.
At that point it was a two car race at the front. Wolfe continued to maneuver through traffic while Smith did the same as he attempted to make up lost ground. At the midway point it was Wolfe over Smith and Varin while Kinney, Mahaney and Matt Tanner squared off for the fourth spot.
The top three remained unchanged as the laps started to click higher. Smith closed on Wolfe in the final five laps of the race but ran out of time. Wolfe made two three-wide moves in the final three loops of the track to keep Smith behind while taking the checkers to earn $3,050.
“I got little bit held up there at the end at certain times,” said Wolfe. “I probably tried to make a little bit too much up the track in turns one and two and lost a little bit of time. It’s a tough spot when you are leading and trying to get more space and more cars in between you and who is chasing you because, of course, they always have the opportunity to catch you in that situation.”
Smith, of Sunbury, Pa., was hindered by his poor starting position in the A-Main and never got an opportunity to battle with Wolfe in the non-stop feature. He was making up ground but simply ran out of time to get the job done with the Patrick Vigneault owned No. 55.
“We were coming, we were coming,” stated Smith. “I kept timing myself of how close and we were gaining on him, gaining on him. Then we got into traffic there and that really help him up, but it held me up too. It was a good run from eighth. It was a good time.”
Varin ended up third in his first ever start at the fast North Country half-mile. He learned several lessons throughout the night that should allow him to improve the next time his team makes the trek to the facility. He was pleased to hang on for a third place run.
“This is my first time here in a Sprint Car and I made some crucial mistakes,” mentioned Varin afterwards. “We were just too lose there. If I could go back in time and tighten it up I think we had something for these guys, but we just missed it tonight. We are going to go back and write it in the book. Hopefully we’ll come back and make the right adjustments for the feature.”
Mahaney won the struggle for the fourth spot with his Doug Emery owned No. 33 while Tanner snuck around Kinney late in the go to grab the fifth position at the checkers.
Pit Notes: 34 cars entered into action for the opening night of Speedweek…Chuck Hebing was an early scratch after feeling a vibration during heat in the engines. His daughter Kelly offered him her car but Chuck elected to sit out the remainder of the evening…Dylan Swiernik gave up a top ten finish when he lost the powerplant in his car at the end of the race…Josh Pieniazek had the fastest time of the night in timed warmups.
Lucas Oil ESS A-Main – Lucas Wolfe ($3,050), Mark Smith ($2,150), Danny Varin ($1,025), Mike Mahaney ($630), Matt Tanner ($590), Paul Kinney ($470), Cory Sparks ($430), Steve Poirier ($445), Jason Barney ($485), Paulie Colagiovanni ($425), Larry Wight ($410), Shawn Donath ($495), Dylan Swiernik ($300), Matt Billings ($300), Coleman Gulick ($500) , Brett Wright ($350), Josh Pieniazek ($325), Jonathan Preston ($300), Jeff Cook ($325), Sammy Reakes IV ($300), Chad Miller ($100), Brandon Kidd ($150), Mike Haggenbottom ($350), Kelly Hebing ($300), Dave Axton ($350), Paul Pekkonen ($300)
Did Not Qualify – Chris Jones, Denny Peebles, Yan Bilodeau, Billy VanInwegen, Emily VanInwegen, Lee Sanders, Scott Holcomb, Chuck Hebing
Lap Leader – Wolfe 1-25.
Hoosier Tires Bridesmaid Bonus – Smith $100
E&V Energy Fast Time – Tanner, Poirier, Pieniazek, Cook $25
Car Mate Trailers Heats – Colagiovanni, Poirier, Varin, Wright $25
Lane’s Yamaha/Cobra Coaches Dash – Doanth $125, Barney $75, Wight $50, Haggenbottom $50
Engler Machine and Tool Halfway – Wolfe $50
Insinger Performance Hard Charger – Smith (6 pos), $50
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Axton $50
Ohsweken Speedway 22nd Anniversary – Kidd $50
Robert Symonds Photography Hard Luck – C. Hebing $50
Scorpion Security Products Last Car Lead Lap – Donath $50
Scorpion Security Products 12 Redraw – Wright $25
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Tanner $35
Hoosier Tire – Gulick $200
For more Information on the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints:
Android App: Empire Super Sprints