By MIKE MALLETT
PLATTSBURGH, NY – Josh Pieniazek has been trying for the last several seasons to get a Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint 25-lap A-Main win. The Rotterdam, N.Y., pilot has been in the hunt on numerous occasions only to have things not go his way. On Saturday night at Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway everything fell is way allowing for him to take his first ever series triumph.
Pieniazek started from the pole of the race and watched as Shawn Donath raced to the early lead. He stayed in contention running second for the first half of the race only to have Donath drop out to hand him the lead. He kept up the pace to lead the final laps of the NAPA Auto Parts and Mach 1 Chassis A-Main for his first career win.
“This is one of the best feelings of my life,” stated Pieniazek after the feature. “We work real hard for this and we have a limited budget. I can’t believe this. This is awesome and just a huge weight off my shoulders.”
Pieniazek and Donath made up the first two positions of the field for the start. The initial start was called back after a nasty wreck in turn three saw Matt Tanner and Pete Richardson get upside down while collecting Jeff Cook. All drivers were unscathed in the crash.
The second attempt at green saw Donath motor his way around Pieniazek on the outside of the speedway at the exit of the second corner. He stayed on the top of turns three and four allowing him to keep the advantage.
It was a two car race at the front over the early laps with Donath working the top and Pieniazek working the bottom. That was how they ran as they got into traffic on lap 10 and how it remained as the race came to the halfway point.
As the battle for the lead continued, the race for third with Paulie Colagiovanni, Parker Evans and Steve Poirier was a good one. Colagiovanni was able to keep the veteran drivers behind him to that point.
The turning point for Pieniazek came on lap 16 as Jason Barney spun in turns three and four. Under the yellow Donath’s No. 53 came to stop on the front straightway with mechanical issues ending his evening. This gave the lead to Pieniazek.
“It’s unfortunate for Shawn,” said Pieniazek. “I was just trying to be patient with him when he was up top. I was hoping he’d blow off the tires and maybe I can sneak by him. When I saw him break it benefited me, but it’s unfortunate for him.”
The double-file restart put Colagiovanni to the outside of Pieniazek at the green. Pieniazek used the low lane from that point forward keeping Colagiovanni behind.
Things did get interesting for Pieniazek in the final few laps as traffic came back into play. He caught the tail of the field on final lap allowing Colagiovanni to get within striking distance. He stuck the nose underneath Pieniazek in the final corner to no avail.
“I was just hoping the laps would wind down before I caught them,” cited Pieniazek. “They did…thank God.”
Colagiovanni’s strong start to the 2019 season continued with his second place finish. Colagiovanni made the final turns close, but elected to take the runner-up finish rather than possibly taking himself out with PIeniazek.
“I was just following in line,” cited Colagiovanni who took over the overall point lead. “On that last lap I probably could have shoved my nose in there, but i didn’t want to wreck us both. I’ll take second any day.”
Poirier, the defending series champion, moved up through the field from 13th to finish in third. It was one of the best runs of the season for the team.
“This is a pretty good night,” mentioned Poirier. “I was not expecting that. I was hoping the top would stay longer. That would give us two lanes to race with my bad starting position it would help me. I got a good restart late on the bottom and everything played out in our favor.”
Chuck Hebing finished in the fourth position with Evans hanging on to complete the top five. The largest field of the year made a visit to the beautiful facility in the North Country with 34 sprints in the pits.
Lucas Oil ESS/Mach 1 Chassis A-Main – Josh Pieniazek ($2,060), Paulie Colagiovanni ($1,035), Steve Poirier ($925), Chuck Hebing ($655), Parker Evans ($530), Chad Miller ($520), Davie Franek ($430), Alex Vigneault ($420), Jordan Poirier ($460), Denny Peebles ($400), Scott Holcomb ($385), Kyle Moffit ($170), Kelly Hebing ($500), Tyler Cartier ($300), Brett Wright ($375), Billy VanInwegen ($300), Dan Douville ($300), Dale Gosselin ($300), Shawn Donath ($350), Jason Barney ($350), Dave Axton ($300), Bryan Cloutier ($300), Jeff Cook ($300), Pete Richardson ($375), Matt Tanner ($350)
Did Not Qualify: Emily VanInwegen, Roger Levesque, Adam Pierson, Lacey Hanson, Jake Williams, Matt Hoyt, Chris Jones, Josh Flint, Paul Pekkonen
E3 Spark Plugs Fast Time – Wright, Miller, Barney, C. Hebing $25
Car Mate Trailers Heats – Wright, Miller, Barney, Colagiovanni $25
Around Town Plumbing and Heating Halfway – Donath $50
Pinnacle Pole Award – Pieniazek $50
Fondations 55 Hard Charger – Moffit (13 pos), $50
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Cartier $50
Ground Control Last Car Lead Lap – Wright $25
Ground Control 11th Place Finish – Holcomb – $25
Riley Ford/Cobra Coaches Dash – S. Poirier $125, Pete Richardson $75, Matt Tanner $50, J. Poirier $50
Ashley Lynn Winery Podium – Pieniazek, Colagiovanni, S.Poirier $10
Hoosier Tire – K. Hebing $200