By MIKE MALLETT
We are just a few days removed from the conclusion of the 2019 edition of Donath Motor Worx Central New York Speedweek for the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints. It was another successful week of racing action for the series as a new champion was crowned after the grueling five-day grind. Paulie Colagiovanni joined Michael Parent, Jason Barney, Steve Poirier and Danny Varin as a CNY Speedweek champion. The teenage driver was nearly flawless en route to taking the crown.
Before we break down each of the drivers, here are a few stats from the week.
Total Drivers / Car Counts
A total of 51 different drivers attempted to qualify for at least one event during Speedweek. Of these 51, 19 drivers competed in all five events during the Wednesday through Sunday affair.
Thirty cars entered the event at Can-Am Speedway with a week long high of 37 attempting to make the show at Land of Legends Raceway on Thursday. A total of 30 cars were pit-side at Brewerton on Friday night before 33 attended the Saturday night show at Fulton Speedway. Utica-Rome Speedway saw the lowest car count of the week with 28 cars in the pits.
The total payout with contingency prizes for the week, not including bonuses of the point fund was an average of $14,978 for each night with a total of $74,890. That increases by another $3,000 when you add in the point fund which is spread between the top 10 drivers in the final tally.
For the first time ever Paulie Colagiovanni captured the championship earning a total of 505 points during the week. We’ll recap his week a bit more when we breakdown the money won. Matt Tanner completed the week in second for the second time in his career with 473 points. Shawn Donath earned 453 to finish in third. Davie Franek and Chuck Hebing completed the top five in points standings for the week.
Money Won and Recap
The following recap is based on money won presented in Empire Super Sprint official press releases from the week. The prize money includes cash, contingencies as well as any point fund monies that will be paid out at the season ending awards banquet.
Paulie Colagiovanni – $11,150
Colagiovanni had a week to remember. The Marcellus, N.Y., driver had a career week picking up wins in three of the five events. He won at Can-Am Speedway, Land of Legends Raceway and at Fulton Speedway. The win at Fulton was the closest known finish in Empire Super Sprint history. He beat Chuck Hebing by .007 of a second. He finished eighth at Brewerton before capping the week off with a disappointing 20th place finish at Utica-Rome. It was still good enough to earn the title.
Davie Franek – $5,120
Franek’s week got off to a decent start with a pair of top 10 finishes before it got off track a bit at Brewerton and Fulton. He ended up redeeming himself on the final night with his second win of the year at the Utica-Rome Speedway. He made up nearly four seconds in the final five laps to pass Lucas Wolfe for the win.
Larry Wight – $5,005
Wight missed the Can-Am event to compete with his Modified at the Fonda Speedway. Even with missing an event, Wight had a decent week earning a win at Brewerton Speedway and a third at Fulton Speedway. Like Colagiovanni, his week ended on a sour note with a 23rd at Utica-Rome.
Chuck Hebing – $4,805
Hebing experienced the good and the bad during the week. The Ontario, N.Y., driver had three podium finishes, but on the flip-side finishes of 18th and 15th the other two nights which took away any chance of the Speedweek title. Saturday night’s second at Fulton was a heartbreaker as he lost to Colagiovanni on the final turn of the final lap.
Shawn Donath – $4,600
Donath’s week started strong with back-to-back second place finishes to open things up. He was decent at Brewerton in finishing 10th before a 12th at Fulton. He placed ninth in the finale at Utica-Rome Speedway.
Matt Tanner – $4,590
Had he been able to have a little bit of a better night on Sunday at Utica-Rome Speedway we may be talking about Tanner as the Speedweek champion. Tanner had three top five finishes during the week including a best of second at Brewerton Speedway.
Jason Barney – $2,865
It was an uncharacteristically off week for the former Speedweek champion Barney. He wasn’t bad as he managed three top 10 finishes with his best of fifth coming at Brewerton Speedway. He’s normally in the mix for wins at each of the tracks the series visited during week. Things just didn’t seem to go his way.
Billy VanInwegen – $2,535
After a low-point of 17th on Land of Legends Raceway on Thursday night, VanInwegen turned up the wick amassing three top 10 finishes in the final three races. His best race was Sunday where he finished sixth.
Jonathan Preston – $2,460
Preston was in the top 10 in four of the five events during the week. He peaked on Thursday night with a fourth place finish at Land of Legends Raceway.
Jordan Poirier – $2,110
Poirier made the most of his trip to the states for only a portion of Speedweek. Poirier missed the first two nights of racing before arriving on Friday night at Brewerton. He finished third at Brewerton and fourth at Utica-Rome Speedway. He struggled to a 14th at Fulton.
Danny Varin – $2,075
The defending Speedweek champion missed the opening night’s event at Can-Am. From there it was pure consistency from Varin as finished seventh at Land of Legends, sixth at Brewerton and Fulton before coming home fifth at Utica-Rome. Had he not missed an event he would have been in the mix for his third consecutive Speedweek title.
Scott Holcomb $1,975
Holcomb had his strongest night on Sunday where he finished in seventh at the Utica-Rome Speedway. He had one other top 10 during the week finishing eighth at Land of Legends.
Josh Pieniazek – $1,970
Pieniazek started off very strong with finishes of fourth and sixth to start the week. A jingle on Friday night at Brewerton Speedway saw him end up with a 22nd place finish. He struggled again on Saturday night before skipping the final race at Utica.
Jeff Cook – $1,830
Cook had an up and down week. It started out tough when he lost a motor at Land of Legends Raceway. After that he rebounded with a pair of top 10 finishes. His best was a seventh at Brewerton Speedway on Friday.
Denny Peebles – $1,750
Peebles had a career best with the Empire Super Sprints on Friday night at Brewerton. Peebles finished fourth in the feature event. Unfortunately his weekend ended on a downward note as he caught a yuke tire at the start of the feature at Utica-Rome.
Lucas Wolfe – $1,585
Wolfe made only one start with the series on Sunday at Utica-Rome after wrapping up his 410 Sprint Car Pennsylvania Speedweek title the day before. He finished second after Franek passed him late in the New York finale.
Ryan Harrison – $1,425
The British import showed great improvement during the 2019 edition of Speedweek. He challenged for qualifying spots in heat race action each night, made the dash and made all but one show. With all the good came some bad as his week ended with a flip at Utica-Rome Speedway.
Kelly Hebing – $1,320
Hebing made all but one show during Speedweek. Her best finish of Speedweek came Wednesday night at Can-Am Speedway where she finished in 12th.
Dave Axton – $1,275
It was not a good week for Axton. He qualified for the first three shows before blowing two motors on back-to-back nights at Fulton and Utica-Rome.
Pete Richardson – $1,275
Richardson made the main-event on each night except for the final show on Sunday night at Utica-Rome. It was a challenging week for Richardson with his best finish being a 23rd on Wednesday night.
Parker Evans $1,240
Evans completed in just three shows during Speedweek. In two of the three races he attended the Owego, N.Y., finished in the top 10. His best finish was Wednesday at Can-Am where he crossed the line fifth.
Joe Trenca – $1,155
Trenca was consistent in the three shows he entered during CNY Speedweek. He finished 12th at Land of Legends, 11th at Brewerton and backed that up with a 13th at Fulton.
Chad Miller – $1,100
Like Axton, Miller had a tough week. Miller best was a pair of 17th place runs. He also had motor issues at Land of Legends Raceway and Utica-Rome where he failed to qualify for the A-Mains.
Josh Flint – $1,025
Flint went three for five in making main-events during Speedweek. He finished 21st at Utica-Rome which proved to be his best run of the week.
Emily VanInwegen – $925
VanInwegen continues to improve in the 360 Sprint Cars after having success in the 305 division. VanInwegen started three features during the week. She got things rolling at Brewerton on Friday night where she finished 18th before ending the weekend at Utica with a 17th.
Mike Kiser – $925
Kiser made all three features he attempted to qualify for during Speedweek. He had two top 15 finishes. His best of the week was a 13th at Can-Am Speedway.
Dylan Westbrook – $855
Westbrook, the defending Ohsweken Speedway champion, made two starts. He was solid at Fulton Speedway finishing fifth before struggling a bit at Utica-Rome where he finished 15th.
Jeff Trombley – $750
Trombley qualified for both events he attended during Speedweek. He was consistent finishing 14th at Land of Legends and 15th at Fulton.
Kyle Moffit – $720
Moffit’s week started strong with a top 10 at Can-Am. Then things went downhill. A Friday night crash at Brewerton led to him not making the show. He wasn’t able to fire on Saturday at Fulton. That ended up being the end of his week.
Sammy Reakes – $670
The ‘Honey Badger’ made two starts during Speedweek. The Fulton native hit the two races closest to home finishing 12th at Brewerton and 18th at Fulton.
Justin Barger – $650
Barger, a former ESS champion, returned for a couple of starts with the series. He now resides in North Carolina. He headed back south after the first two nights of action. His best run was 13th at Land of Legends Raceway.
Tommy Wickham – $625
Wickham made just two races during the week. He lives close to the Brewerton Speedway and that’s where his best finish came as he ended the night 13th.
Brett Wright – $600
Wright had a tough Speedweek. He had two finishes outside the top 20 before missing the show the next two nights. He headed home after Fulton and didn’t attend Utica-Rome.
Steve Glover – $600
Glover made both shows he attempted to qualify for. Glover’s best was a 16th at Utica-Rome on Sunday.
Alex Vigneault – $475
Vigneault raced the first two nights of Speedweek making the show at Can-Am Speedway and finishing 15th. He failed to qualify at Land of Legends Raceway.
Bobby Varin – $445
Varin made the most his one start on Sunday at Utica-Rome. He scored an eighth place finish in the 25-lap finale.
Tyler Rand – $425
Rand headed south for two races. He failed to qualify at Can-Am Speedway, but made the show and finished 23rd at Brewerton.
Steve Poirier – $410
Poirier was one and done during the week. He only competed at Can-Am where the former Speedweek champion finished in ninth.
Jared Zimbardi – $350
Zimbardi’s only start during Speedweek came at Land of Legends Raceway. It wasn’t his best night as he finished 18th.
Cory Sparks – $325
Sparks finished 13th in his only start during the week on Sunday at Utica-Rome Speedway.
Steve Doell – $300
Doell was another driver that only competed in one event. He finished 19th at Land of Legends Raceway.
Daryl Ruggles – $300
Ruggles made the show during his only attempt during the week at Land of Legends Raceway where he finished 21st.
Jake Karklin, Kevin Carlson, Josh Azzi, Ryan Coniam – $200
These four drivers each attempted to qualify for two programs during the five day stretch. They weren’t able to crack into the starting line-ups.
Steve Lyons, Roger Levesque, Tyler Cartier, Dan Kuhn, John Trenca – $100
Each of these drivers attempted to qualify for one race during the week, but failed to make their respective feature events.
As always most of my predictions during the week were wrong, but I have to thank Paulie Colagiovanni for picking me up. I believe he’s the first prediction that I’ve made that actually held up as he was the choice for Speedweek champion.