By MIKE MALLETT
BREWERTON, NY – Jason Barney wasn’t the happiest person when the redraw concluded with lining up with the pole position. The local favorite drew the pole last you for a Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint at Brewerton Speedway and ended up not getting the win.
Friday night the pole starting spot payed off for Barney as he went on to win the “Don Gillette Memorial” for his second consecutive series victory. The Brewerton, N.Y., driver fell back to second at the drop of the green flag before running down Dave Axton in traffic to take the lead. He then fended off multiple-time Brewerton winner Danny Varin to take home the checkers in the E&V Energy, NAPA Auto Parts, Mach 1 Chassis and National Sprint Car Hall of Fame 25-lap finale.
“I wanted to see the one more than the 12, but I was real nervous,” stated Barney afterwards about drawing the pole. “I was nervous all night. We come here we have a lot of friends and a lot of family. We’ve lost more races here than we’ve won. It is always a place we want to go good at. There are so many good cars here and to get two in a row is amazing. It’s good to be home with all these guys. Glad my friends and family could be here.”
Axton started from the outside of the front row which allowed him to get the jump on Barney at the initial green. He beat Barney to the bottom of turns one and two to secure the top spot with Barney working the high-lane. Axton was able to keep him at bay to lead lap one.
Before a second lap could be scored Kelly Hebing got tangled together with another car sending her off the back straightaway. She took a wild ride which brought out the red flag. Thankfully Hebing walked away uninjured in the incident.
Axton and Barney remained the class of the field on the next restart. Axton again beat Barney into the first corner keeping the lead with his No. 2 firmly planted on the inner loop of the speedway. Barney worked the cushion as he kept pace with Axton.
As the race reached lap 10 Varin inserted himself into the fray at the front of the field making it a three car race for the lead as traffic loomed. Axton stayed true the line on the bottom while Barney and Varin searched for a better line. Barney found it a lap later.
Just as they started to get into traffic Axton dove low in turn one leaving the high lane open for Barney. He was able to pull even with Axton as they raced down the backstretch. He’d complete the pass for the lead through turns three and four on the cushion. Varin followed suit and moved in second moments later.
It was down to Barney and Varin at the front of the field as traffic came into play. Barney was maneuverable enough to go the top or the bottom. He continued to make the necessary moves to keep Varin behind him. Varin had some struggles in traffic which allowed Barney to increase the gap.
“I didn’t know what to do,” mentioned Barney. “Last time we came from 21st to the lead and then had a caution with one to go and Danny passed me. All I kept doing is looking at that flagstand and saying, ‘no cautions, no cautions.’ I would have no idea what lane I would have picked. I was thankful to get through it.”
With Barney and Varin solidly in the top two positions, racing for third picked up as Davie Franek and Larry Wight were busy swapping the position as the field received the five to go signal. Barney was able to maintain the top spot as Varin searched for a faster line.
When the race came to the checkered flag Barney got the win while Varin, of Fonda, N.Y., had to be satisfied with a second place finish.
“There at the end I was really searching,” commented Varin. “I was trying to find something. I was so close to Jason, even if he made a mistake, I was following him on the top and I wouldn’t have been able to get by. I was trying to search and make something that could propel me past him. It didn’t happen tonight.”
Franek, of Wantage, N.J., continued his streak of podium finishes edging by Larry Wight at the end of the race to finish in the third spot.
“This is really good for our team,” stated Franek. “We had a great car. We worked on it all night. We weren’t good in warm-ups and weren’t good in the heat race even though we won that. These guys just kept plugging at it and in the feature it really came to us. We’ll have something now when we come back.”
Wight crossed the line in fourth with Chuck Hebing, who recovered from a flip in warm-ups, completing the top five. A field of 33 sprints filled the pits and played host to a big crowd which turned out to be the track’s 2019 opener.
Lucas Oil ESS/Mach 1 Chassis – Don Gillette Memorial A-Main – Jason Barney ($2,350), Danny Varin ($1,035), Davie Franek ($835), Larry Wight ($655), Chuck Hebing ($580), Dave Axton ($675), Jordan Poirier ($480), Paul Kinney ($420), Tommy Wickham ($410), Kyle Moffit ($600), Billy VanInwegen ($385), Denny Peebles ($370), Shawn Donath ($300), Parker Evans ($450), Scott Holcomb ($125), Matt Tanner ($300), Jared Zimbardi ($300), Jeff Cook ($375), Todd Gracey ($300), Chad Miller ($300), Josh Azzi ($300), Pete Richardson ($300), Brett Wright ($300), Paulie Colagiovanni ($325), Kelly Hebing ($375).
Did Not Qualify – Edward Kelley, Jonathan Preston, Steve Poirier, Josh Flint, Dan Douville, Matt Hoyt, Sammy Reakes IV, Tyler Cartier
Don Gillette Memorial Lap Money – Barney $240, Axton $180
E3 Spark Plugs Fast Time – Richardson, Cook, Varin, Holcomb $25
Car Mate Trailers Heats – Wight, Axton, Franek, Colagiovanni $25
Around Town Plumbing and Heating Halfway – Barney $50
Pinnacle Pole Award – Barney $50
Fondations 55 Hard Charger – C. Hebing (15 pos), $50
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Cook $50
Ground Control Last Car Lead Lap – Evans $25
Ground Control 11th Place Finish – VanInwegen – $25
Lane’s Yamaha/Cobra Coaches Dash – Evans $125, K. Hebing $75, Denny Peebles $50, J. Poirier $50
Ashley Lynn Winery Podium – Barney, Varin, Franek $10
Hoosier Tire – Moffit $200
For more Information on the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints:
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints are brought to you by: Lucas Oil, Mach 1 Chassis, NAPA Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tires, Donath Motorworx, E3 Spark Plugs, Ground Control Lawn and Snow, Car Mate Trailers, Fondations 4 Saisons, Ohsweken Speedway/Canadian Sprint Car Nationals, Cobra Coaches, Fondations 55, E&V Energy, SUNY Canton, Pinnacle Employee Services, AroundTown Plumbing & Heating, Engler Machine and Tool, Kevin Nouse Design/K1 Racegear, Winters Performance, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Lacaillade Masonry, FX Caprara Ford/Chevy, ASI Racewear and many, many associate sponsors!!