By MIKE MALLETT
Paul Kinney had one of those weekends where everything just falls into place. Kinney not only won the 25-lap feature at Merrittville Speedway on Saturday night but he doubled up on Sunday night by winning the feature at the New Humberstone Speedway in the first appearance at the track for the series since 1989 making him the only active driver in Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint competition to have a win at he facility.
“I didn’t think anything that happened last year would happen,” said Kinney of his endeavor into Sprint Car racing. “We’ve done so much better than we expected. We do so good in Canada, I won last year in Canada and to sweep a weekend is just something I never thought I’d be dealing with, it is awesome.”
Kinney only other series win came back last August when the tour visited Le RPM Speedway in Quebec.
Kinney had the luck of the draw on his side as both nights he redrew the outside of the front row for the feature. The draw allowed him to win the race to the top which seemed to be the fastest groove around both facilities.
“The draw was pretty much everything this weekend,” stated Kinney. “Especially the type of tracks we were dealing with this weekend. They were the real slick stuff. I don’t think anyone moved a whole lot at each place but you got to take them though. If I started 12th I don’t think I would have won to tonight. Glenn Styres told me you got to take them when you can get ‘em and that is what we are going to do.”
Kinney’s past experience on the slick stuff of Utica-Rome Speedway factor in on Saturday and Sunday. He was able to drive the car right on the edge without hesitation.
“You got to be on your game on top when you run up there,” commented Kinney. “I don’t know how many cars went off but even leading I saw three or four go off there. Like I said in Victory Lane, I’m never on the top it is just too risky up there. You can go from second to sixth in a hurry or worse. I’ve been on Utica Rome a lot and turned a lot of laps there and I realized this weekend that my Modified experience has helped me quite a bit trying to keep a big heavy car from sliding around makes it easier in a Sprint Car.
Unlike the higher dollar teams that Kinney competes against. He doesn’t run the various trick parts or try anything crazy with the setup. The team sticks with the basics and sometimes that pays off.
“We didn’t do anything different we just went with a bare bones setup,” said Kinney. “We run the shocks out of the box and we don’t do all the trick stuff that other people do and that may be part of our advantage. We don’t know enough about the cars to switch everything like that or to buy that high dollar stuff. We are keeping everything by the book and basic and that is what we are going to continue to do.”
With the wins on the weekend Kinney moved to second in the overall tour championship chase behind former three-time champion Steve Poirier. Anything can change though this week as the series competes in SUNY Canton Speedweek featuring five consecutive nights of racing. One thing for certain though is Kinney’s confidence is high coming into these events.
“I don’t think I can get any more confident than right now but I still got to stay humble,” said Kinney. “You can’t get your head to big because anything can happen and you still have to draw good. If I go to Rolling Wheels (Raceway) that night and draw 70 we won’t be having this interview right now. It is important to draw good and finish in the top four so you can get into the redraw.”
Empire Super Sprint Extras: Jamie Collard finished fifth on Saturday night at Merrittiville Speedway. The Burford, Ont, driver pulled a wheelie at the start of the A-Main after starting on the pole losing some positions.
“I just found a stick spot on the track,” said Collard. “Man did the thing stand up. I don’t know what I did because I couldn’t find it again the rest of the race.”
Collard was hoping to run the bottom throughout the feature but that groove never came in at Merrittville.
“I ran the top in the heat and set the car up for the bottom since I was starting on the pole,” said Collard. “I tried to stay down and make it work. I’ve made it work before and was hoping the top would go away and it just never did.”
Chris Jones won his first ever Empire Super Sprint Dash on Saturday at Merrittville Speedway and he backed that effort up with a fourth place finish on Sunday and Humberstone.
“This is big considering usually at Merrittville (Speedway) we are out to lunch and struggle to make the show,” said Jones. “To turn the car around like that makes us really happy.”