By MIKE MALLETT
I’ll start this story by saying this is written purely for fun. Anyone that believes that I jinxed them for picking them, well I’ll apologize now. I think I’m about 1 for 50 in the choices I’ve made the last four or five years on my choices so for choosing you, yeah I’m sorry. I just love Speedweek and the fact that we have five nights of Sprint Car action in Central New York.
Speedweek is just a great time for everyone associated with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints. It’s a lot of work for everyone involved, but a lot of fun as well. The series draws a ton of cars and a wide variety of drivers. Last year the average car count was 39 per event. The races are all run within about an hour of each other at tracks that any number of different drivers that can win. When you look at the past winners it’s tough to make a decision who will be able to get the job done.
So, with that said, here are my picks for each night of Speedweek as well as my choice for the 2019 Speedweek champion. A few of these picks I’m changing it up, others I think I’m spot on, but only time will tell how my picks shake out.
Can-Am Speedway (Wednesday – July 3)
July 5, 2013 – Michael Parent
July 4, 2014 – Davie Franek
July 3, 2015 – Steve Poirier
July 1, 2016 – Rained Out
June 28, 2017 – Lucas Wolfe
July 4, 2018 – Danny Varin
Prediction: I say it every year but Can-Am Speedway is always the hardest to predict. I just never know who to pick as this seems to be the wild card event. We’ve had some amazing racing with the Empire Super Sprints at Can-Am in the past. Hopefully this year will be the same. I’m going to think outside of the box and choose someone that has never won at Can-Am. I’m going with Jeff Cook. Cook has been so close to winning and the crowd loves him. I have a feeling he’s due!
Land of Legends Raceway (Thursday – July 4)
July 2, 2015 – Chuck Hebing
June 30, 2016 – Matt Tanner
June 29, 2017 – Larry Wight
July 5, 2018 – Chuck Hebing
Prediction: Well I’ve seen a couple of Sprint Car races this year at Land of Legends Raceway. Chuck Hebing won the first and Davie Franek won the second. So, with that said, lets go with the local. Hebing is a two-time winner at Land of Legends in Speedweek competition. This year he makes it three.
Brewerton Speedway (Friday – July 5)
July 4, 2013 – Stewart Friesen
July 2, 2014 – Rained Out
July 1, 2015 – Chuck Hebing
June 29, 2016 – Mike Mahaney
June 30, 2017 – Chuck Hebing
July 6, 2018 – Steve Poirier
Prediction: Brewerton is my home track and you just never know how the track is going to be. Is it going to have a huge berm or is it going to be slippery with everyone wanting to be on the bottom? Depending how the track is will effect who will win the race. Jason Barney has never won a Speedweek show at Brewerton so I’m picking the hometown favorite to get it done on Friday night.
Fulton Speedway (Saturday – July 6)
July 6, 2013 – Bryan Howland
July 5, 2014 – Jason Barney
July 4, 2015 – Steve Poirier
July 2, 2016 – Steve Poirier
July 1, 2017 – Jason Barney
July 7, 2018 – Jordan Poirier
Prediction: Where Brewerton can be any number of surfaces, Fulton is VERY consistent. The track is almost always smooth from top to bottom while being a tad slippery. That bodes well for a few Empire Super Sprint regulars as well as one driver that is not. That driver is Larry Wight. Wight is just good at Fulton. He’s won all but one Modified race there this season while winning the ESS event back in May. That’s why he’s my pick to capture the win on Saturday.
Utica-Rome Speedway (Sunday – July 7)
July 7, 2013 – Matt Tanner
July 6, 2014 – Stewart Friesen
July 5, 2015 – Stewart Friesen
July 3, 2016 – Jason Barney
July 2, 2017 – Chuck Hebing
July 7, 2018 – Matt Tanner
Prediction: If I pick Matt Tanner here he will not be very happy with me, but he did finish third in the Cole Cup a few weeks ago after winning the opener on Memorial Day weekend for the Empire Super Sprints. It is his favorite track. So Matt, I’m sorry, but you’re my pick to capture the win on Sunday night to finish of the 2019 edition of Speedweek.
2013 – Michael Parent (554), Bryan Howland (436), Jason Barney (407)
2014 – Jason Barney (431), Chuck Hebing (365), Cory Sparks (350)
2015 – Steve Poirier (515), Chuck Hebing (508), Bryan Howland (483)
2016 – Steve Poirier (437), Chuck Hebing (414), Jason Barney (401)
2017 – Danny Varin (514), Matt Tanner (450), Mike Mahaney (437)
2018 – Danny Varin (547), Steve Poirier (483), Jason Barney (475)
Prediction: This is always the toughest pick of the week. Who is going to win the Speedweek title? We have two drivers that have back-to-back titles in Steve Poirier and Danny Varin. Jason Barney won his only title back in 2014. I have a couple drivers in mind here. Chuck Hebing has been close on a couple of occasions. He came up short in both 2014 and 2015. In 2019 he’s been consistent. One other driver that’s been VERY consistent is current ESS point leader Paulie Colagiovanni. The youngster has been good in 2019. So with all that said I’m going to go with Colagiovanni to pull off the upset. He has Doug Emery helping this year and you can see the difference. When I factor everything in, I think he’ll be your 2019 champion with Hebing right there. It should go right down to the wire.
For complete information about each event for the week CLICK HERE or you can visit www.empiresupersprints.com.