By DEAN REYNOLDS
SYRACUSE, NY – On Saturday night, December 1, a sold out Hambletonian Room at the luxurious Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel honored Quebec’s Steve Poirier as he captured the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) 35th Anniversary Tour championship. The title was his eighth of his ESS career and now tied him with Mike Woodring for the most championships in the sprint car organizations history.
Poirier took home $9,398 from the $90,417 payout which included a record $60.125 in cash. A total of 24 different drivers took home from the point fund after a very successful 2018 season.
Not only did Poirier receive accolades from his overall Lucas Oil championship but he was also crowned the 1000 Islands RV Centre Canada Tour Champion, he won the Fondations 4 Saisons Quebec Series and the Danny Willmes Lap Leader title as well. Other point fund champions included Jason Barney for winning the NAPA Auto Parts US Tour, Danny Varin captured the Donath MotorWorx CNY Speedweek and E&V Energy point titles, Shawn Donath was the Cobra Coaches Dash Series champion with Billy VanInwegen the Insinger Performance Fuels Hard Charger.
The driver of the familiar #28FM won nine A-Main events during the year but the title fight between Poirier and Barney came right down to the final point event with Poirier edging the 2017 champion by a mere 25 points. For Barney, who took home $7,373 from the banquet, it was his fourth runner-up finish in the points which shows his tour consistency.
Many special awards filled the agenda for the night. The Outstanding New Comer Award went to VanInwegen who finished fifth in points in his first year on the Lucas Oil Tour. The Lane’s Yamaha Rookie of the Year was won by Josh Flint with the Most Improved Driver being Kelly Hebing. All three awards were very popular with the packed banquet room.
The annual Mach 1 Chassis Hard Luck Award was won by Paulie Colagiovanni. The fast running teenager had to cut his season short due to injury but told the crowd he’s fully healed and will be back in 2019. The Mechanic of the Year Award was won by Dave Donath, father of Shawn Donath. Dave’s wife Nancy accepted the award on his behalf.
The prestigious John Zentner Memorial Award was given to Paul Kinney. In his seven years on tour, his dedication goes without question as you can count on one hand the amount of events that he has missed. The Mal Lane Award of Excellence went to Charlie Caprara. Not only has he been a long-time supporter of ESS but also a huge fan of the winged machines.
The 2018 ESS Hall of Fame induction class was top sprint car wheelman John Birosh along with long time and respected tech inspector Mike Seiver. Their speeches were filled with emotion and excitement about the future for ESS.
Three well earned standing ovations made for a special night, Steve Poirier for his eighth title, Doug Emery who is leaving the ranks as a driver and owner after 30 years and also for well liked Tech Inspector Brian Ennis who will be retiring from his ESS duties.
The rules meeting the preceded the banquet saw very little change going into 2019 with one exception that the minimum weight required for each ESS event will be 1500 lbs. The schedule is very close to completion with a scheduled January 1st release.
2019 Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Banquet Totals
Steve Poirier – $9,448
Jason Barney – $7,423
Coleman Gulick – $5,198
Matt Tanner – $5,461
Billy VanInwegen – $5,973
Paul Kinney – $3,446
Mike Mahaney – $5.046
Shawn Donath – $4,381
Danny Varin – $5,436
Matt Billings – $4,336
Jeff Cook – $3,896
Chad Miller – $2,861
Paulie Colagiovanni – $5,486
Kelly Hebing – $3,091
Jonathan Preston – $2,586
Chuck Hebing – $736
Brett Wright – $2,536
Dave Axton – $2,141
Scott Holcomb – $2,136
Dan Douville – $2,211
Denny Peebles – $1,736
Josh Flint – $2,346
Keith Granholm – $2,071
Jordan Poirier – $286
Mark Smith – $200
2019 Lucky Giveaway Program
Brodix Cylinder Heads Set of Heads – Mike Mahaney/Doug Emery
Winters Performance Rear End – Jason Barney
Walker Performance Filtration Filter System – Jeff Cook
Kevin Nouse Designs K1 RaceGear Drivers Suit – Billy VanInwegen
JE Pistons Set of Pistons – Matt Billings
Simpson Safety Vudu Helmet – Coleman Gulick
Wings Unlimited Top Wing – Keith Granholm
Super Gen Products/Champion Power Equipment Generator – Danny Varin
Beyea Headers $750 Certificate – Jonathan Preston
Panther Frameworx $500 Certificate – Steve Poirier
ASI Racewear $500 Certificate – Paulie Colagiovanni
M&W Aluminum Products $500 Certificate – Josh Flint
KSE Racing Products Power Steering Pump – Dan Douville
87 Speed Parts Giveaway – Scott Holcomb
Maxim Racing $500 Certificate – Brett Wright
Adirondack Powder Coating Blast and Powder Coat – Matt Tanner
ATL Fuel Cells Fuel Tank Shell – Denny Peebles
Schoenfeld Headers Set of Headers – Chad Miller, Jonathan Preston, Scott Holcomb
Pa Dyno Chassis Dyno – Billy VanInwegen
Other Prize Giveaways
Slade Shock Technology – Kelly Hebing
Keizer Racing Wheels – Shawn Donath
Wings Unlimited – Dave Axton, Shawn Donath, Matt Tanner
XXX Race Products – Paul Kinney
Area Auto Racing News/Simpson Safety – Coleman Gulick
Graphics Girls – Dan Douville
PXP Racing Underwear – Coleman Gulick, Danny Varin.
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, Insinger Performance/Sunoco Race Fuels, 1000 Islands RV Centre, Car Mate Trailers, Fondations 4 Saisons, Ohsweken Speedway/Canadian Sprint Car Nationals, Cobra Coaches, Fondations 55, E&V Energy, SUNY Canton, Pinnacle Employee Services, 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!!