By MIKE MALLETT
VERNON, NY – At times traffic can be a race car driver’s best friend or his worst enemy. On Sunday night at the Utica-Rome Speedway, traffic ended up being a good friend to Danny Varin as he was flawless early to take the lead from current high point man Jason Barney, then solid late in holding off all comers to score his second Utica-Rome Speedway win of the season in a 360 Sprint Car.
Varin captured one of the opening night Gladiator Twin 20’s at the track before scoring Sunday’s victory in the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint 25-lap NAPA Auto Parts Tour of U.S., SUNY Canton Series A-Main. The win was worth $2,000 for the Fonda, N.Y., driver.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Varin in Victory Lane. “Jason’s (Barney) is a great competitor. He’s helped me out a ton and if it wasn’t for him we couldn’t be standing here right now. Drover Brake, Trackside Body Works, Supply Wagon Rentals, Dave Cruickshank, Pete Northrup, these guys are phenomenal.”
Dylan Westbrook opened the race leading lap one before relinquishing the position to third starting Barney. Barney raced away early while Varin was busy racing hard with Cory Sparks for the second position. The duo swapped second a couple of times before Varin grabbed it on lap six.
Eight laps were shown complete as Barney caught the back of the field. As pack at the rear raced one another hard, Barney searched around for path through. While his pace was impeded, Varin was able to quickly close in to challenge for the lead. Varin stalked Barney just looking for his chance to take the number one position.
Barney was nearly perfect until lap 11 when he moved off the bottom of the speedway in turns one and two. As he slid through the middle lane Varin was able to rocket by him on the bottom of the track for the lead. Barney got back to the bottom in turns three and four but couldn’t get back alongside of Varin. Before another lap could be completed, Matt Billings had problems causing him to come to a stop in the middle of turns three and four to bring out the caution.
“He missed the bottom a little bit because the lapped car was there,” stated Varin. “I knew I wasn’t going to go around Jason so I just stuck it on the bottom and hoped I’d get there. I was hoping the lapped car wouldn’t hold me up too much. It all paid off in the end.”
Varin jumped back out to the lead at the green with Barney in tow. At this point another challenger emerged as Coleman Gulick, who started 11th, rocketed his way into the top five on the restart. Varin and Barney set the pace as Gulick battled with Paul Kinney for fourth. They stayed side-by-side for several laps before Gulick took the spot for good on lap 17.
On lap 19 it was Varin’s turn to map his path through cars running at the back of the field. He stayed married to the bottom in the first and second corners while going to the extreme top of the speedway on the other end of the speedway. This allowed him to hold off Barney while seamlessly working around the lapped cars.
“They were doubled up in front of me,” commented Varin. “I really didn’t know where to go or how to get through it. It was slippery through the middle but you had two good distinct grooves. You just had to pick one.”
Varin was forced to the bottom of turns three and four with only a couple of laps to go which saw his pace quicken as he pulled away from Barney. Varin went on to take home the checkered flag while Barney and Gulick raced for second. A battle which ended with Barney in second.
Saturday night traffic gave Barney an advantage and allowed him to get the lead to win his first Empire Super Sprint main-event of the season. Sunday, the slower cars forced Barney to move from his comfort zone opening the door for Varin to make his move.
“I was a little too impatient,” said Barney. “I should have stuck to what I was doing. I felt good, but I knew somebody would be coming. I couldn’t wait around. I made a couple of mistakes and a couple of bad choices and it cost me. We got back to lapped traffic and I wasn’t going to give up on the bottom. I was hoping Danny (Varin) was going to get stuck in the middle or on the top. He ended up finding the bottom over here in turns three and four in lapped traffic. I think that helped him a lot. It was okay. I thought we were going to have something fun there at the end. We’ll take it and move on to next week.”
Gulick made some great moves throughout the second half of the race to put himself on the podium. The Binghamton, N.Y., pilot got a great restart on lap 12 to move into the top five. At that point he picked cars off one at a time to eventually challenge Barney for second. He came up a few laps short of being able to make the pass.
“Starting in the back like that with these guys is really tough,” cited Gulick. “You got to make your moves early because everyone kind of spreads out. I’m glad we got that restart. I tell you what, if I start on the front of one of these things we are going to get a few of them. We were fast all night, just a bad redraw that’s all.”
Kinney, a former Modified regular at the speedway, came home in the fourth position after winning his heat race earlier in the night. Shawn Donath worked the high line of the speedway late to grab the fifth spot.
ESS/Utica-Rome Notes: Another big field of 38 sprints filling the pits…Making first starts in 2017 were Jeremiah Munson, Scott Kreutter, Josh Pieniazek, Mike Kiser, Emily VanInwegen and Thomas Radivoy…Next weekend it’s the first North of the Border with Stops to Autodrome’s Granby and Drummond an then Sunday off to Cornwall. Fri. and Sat Pay $2,000 to win and $500 to start, Sunday is $2,000 to win and $325 to start,
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (25-lap A-Main) – Danny Varin ($2,075), Jason Barney ($1,300), Coleman Gulick ($800), Paul Kinney ($655), Shawn Donath ($590), Jeff Cook ($520), Cory Sparks ($455), Bobby Varin ($420), Dylan Westbrook ($410), Paulie Colagiovanni ($450), Matt Tanner ($435), Jonathan Preston ($345), Jared Zimbardi ($300), Glenn Styres ($290), Billy VanInwegen ($405), Josh Pieniazek ($325), Alex Vigneault ($270), Chad Miller ($265), Mitch Brown ($260), Scott Kreutter ($305), Dave Axton ($325), Brandon Kidd ($300), Jake Brown ($250), Kelly Hebing ($75), Matt Billings ($75), Mike Kiser ($250)
DNQ – Eric Karlsen, Brett Wright, Pete Richardson, Jeremiah Munson, Emily VanInwegen, Dalton Herrick, Scott Goodrich, Bob Gray, Keith Granholm, Thomas Radivoy, Dylan Swiernik
Lap Leader – Westbrook (1), Barney (2-10), D. Varin (11-25)
Hoosier Tires Bridesmaid Bonus – Barney $100
E&V Energy Fast Time – Swiernik, Colagiovani, Donath, Tanner $25
Car Mate Trailers Heats – Kinney, Sparks, Preston, D. Varin $25
Shuttleworth Asphalt Sealing/Cobra Coaches Dash – B. VanInwegen $125, Axton $75, Cook $50, Tanner $50
Engler Machine and Tool Halfway – D. Varin $50
Insinger Performance Hard Charger – Cook (9 pos.) $50
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Pieniazek $50
Ohsweken Speedway 22nd Anniversary – Kidd $50
Scorpion Security Products Last Car Lead Lap – Kreutter $50
Scorpion Security Products 12 Redraw – Colagiovanni $25
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Donath $35
Hoosier Tire – Barney $200
For more Information on the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints:
Android App: Empire Super Sprints