By MIKE MALLETT
Sometimes it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. That was the case on Friday night for Coleman Gulick at the Outlaw Speedway.
Gulick has had a fast race car underneath him throughout the 2017 season but he had yet to finish at the front of a 25-lap Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint A-Main. On Friday night it looked like it was going to be more of the same. The Binghamton, N.Y., driver drove his Scorpion Security Products No. 14 up to as high as second after starting seventh before settling into third just past halfway. Then lady luck shined upon him.
By virtue of Gulick starting in seventh and taking the win, he collected the 7/12 Challenge which was up to $1,200. The total take home for the 25 lap triumph was $3,250
As Jeff Cook and Paulie Colagiovanni battled for the lead they tangled in turns one and two. They both spun to the top of the speedway giving the lead to Gulick. It was a lead he refused to relinquish in the closing laps of the NAPA Auto Parts Tour of the U.S. feature as he went on to score his first win of year.
“This feels really good,” commented Gulick afterwards. “We’ve been good all year but we just needed that first win to get some momentum going. I saw Jeff (Cook) and Paulie (Colagiovanni) running really hard and they got together. I hate winning like that. I don’t know if I was going to catch those guys. They were really fast. I was fortunate they got tangled together. I feel bad for them, but the Scorpion 14 was really fast tonight too. I’m happy to be sitting here in Victory Lane.”
Chad Miller and Colagiovanni started on the front row, but it was Cook that was able to take the lead on the opening circuit. Cook slid up in front of Colagiovanni off of the second turn for the lead from his third starting spot. Cook showed the way as the caution came for the first time on lap five for car stopped in turn four.
Cook kept the lead at the green as Colagiovanni settled into second with Alain Bergeron following him in third. Gulick blasted by Brett Wright to move into fourth. Gulick searched his way around to find the faster groove. He found it as the race approached halfway as Gulick made a run to get by Bergeron and then Colagiovanni to take over second.
The race was 13 laps in when Ethan Preston got high in turn one and hit the outside wall after skating off the racing surface. He was uninjured. The incident setup a double-file restart with Cook the leader and Gulick alongside.
The green came with Cook resuming his pace at the front. Colagiovanni got around Gulick to take back the second spot. Cook and Colagiovanni raced away as Gulick fell in line in the third position. He had the best seat in the house for a torrid battle Cook and Colagiovanni.
Unfortunately for both drivers, their chances at victory came to an end on lap 17 as the got together going into the first corner. Colagiovanni wrestled the lead away from Cook as he slid up in front of Coof off of four. Cook tried to cross him over and dove to the inside coming down the frontstretch. As they entered the first corner, both drivers went for the same space resulting in contact that sent both drivers nearly flipping up the track. They also collected Alex Vigneault.
The incident gave the lead to Gulick. Gulick was flanked by Bergeron for the green. Bergeron tried on the restart but he didn’t have enough. Gulick went on to the lead the final eight laps of the feature for his second career Empire Super Sprint win.
“I wanted to hit my marks,” said Gulick about the end of the race. “We were loading up a little bit on the restarts and I couldn’t get a good start going. After it cleared out we could get rolling. I love this race track, rough, slick, I don’t care what anyone says. I can’t thank Outlaw Speedway enough for putting on a good show.”
Bergeron, in his first race of the season, finished in the second position aboard his Bert Transmission No. 88. The former champion from St. Pie, Que., admitted he got tired as the race wore on after only running three races last season. In typical fashion, he was all smiles afterwards after earning spot on the podium.
“It’s good for us,” said Bergeron. “Last year we ran just three times. This year I’m running for different guys. I have to thank them for the Mopar and the car for this year. I’m very happy to be here. I’m sorry for the guys in the front, but I’m happy to get a second place.”
Jason Barney navigated his way from 11th to finish in third. The Brewerton, N.Y., driver of the 87Speed.com sponsored car made a mistake on the start which dropped him back to mid-pack. He regrouped before driving his way back up through the field. His third place finish gives him three top five finishes in the first three races of the season.
“I underestimated the track prep a little bit,” mentioned Barney. “We were too tight early. I was conservative on the start and that cost me four or five spots. I almost drove it off the race track. Unfortunately guys having bad luck was good for us. It got us some restarts where we could make a few adjustments and regroup. We were okay. We missed it a little bit, but it’s okay. I’m happy to be here.”
Jonathan Preston, of Romulus, N.Y., was able to come from the outside of the fifth row to finish fourth and Paul Kinney completed the top five.
Lucas Oil ESS A-Main – Coleman Gulick ($3,250), Alain Bergeron ($1100), Jason Barney ($875), Jonathan Preston ($680), Paul Kinney ($565), Dylan Swiernik ($545), Shawn Donath ($530), Matt Billings ($645), Brandon Kidd ($410), Mike Koehler ($425), Chad Miller ($360), Matt Tanner ($320), Dave Axton ($325), Jeff Cook ($340), Kelly Hebing ($310), Robbie Shuttleworth ($330), Derrick Juliano ($275), Paulie Colagiovanni ($295), Alex Vigneault ($265), Ethan Preston ($285), Brett Wright ($255)
Lap Leader – Cook 1-17, Gulick 18-25.
Hoosier Tires Bridesmaid Bonus – Bergeron $100
E&V Energy Fast Time – Gulick, Colagiovanni, J Preston $25
Car Mate Trailers Heats – Gulick, Barney, J Preston $25
Lane’s Yamaha/Cobra Coaches Dash – Donath $100, Swiernik $75, E Preston $50, Axton $25, Hebing $25, Koehler $25
Engler Machine and Tool Halfway – Cook $50
Insinger Performance Hard Charger – Barney (8 Pos.) $50
Scorpion Security Products Last Car Lead Lap – Shuttleworth $50
Scorpion Security Products 12 Redraw – Billings $25
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Kinney $35
Hoosier Tire – Billings $200