WEST LEBANON, N.Y. – Steve Poirier led wire to wire inSaturday night’s 25-lap main-event at the Lebanon Valley Speedway for his first win at the facility since 2008. Poirier came into the night with three consecutive runner-up finishes from 2011 through 2013. Saturday was his night.
The four-time series champion started on the front row and out ran Chuck Hebing early before driving away from Jeff Cook in the closing stages to take the win in the E & V Energy Tour of the States feature event. It was the 43rd career win for the St. Mathieu de Beloeil, Que., driver in his Foundations 4 Seasons/FM Industries No. 28FM.
“The car was flawless,” said Poirier. “Kevin (Loveys) told me before the race that this place owes us one because the last three races we started in the back with super good cars and finished in second position. The pole position really helped me tonight.”
Poirier redrew the pole with Hebing, two-time Lebanon Valley winner, drawing the second starting position for the initial start of the feature event. Poirier got the lead on Hebing and led the early portions of the race.
The race reached lap eight with Poirier now closing in on the tail of the field and working through traffic. His lead was just a couple of car-lengths of Hebing. Hebing worked quickly through the traffic to stay in striking distance.
That all changed on lap 11 as red was shown for Hebing. Hebing drove to the bottom of turns three and four and tried to come off the top of the fourth turn when he caught the wall and got upside down. He was uninjured in the crash but his night was done.
Kevin Ward Jr., now moved along side of Poirier for the restart. Poirier dispatched him at the green and again opened the edge on the field. The race for second heated up as Ward contended with Cook who had come from the fifth position.
Cook finally won that battle on lap 20 as he got underneath of Ward at the exit of the second turn. He now turned his attention to Poirier who owned nearly a half straightaway lead.
As Cook tried to track down Poirier, Matt Tanner, of Stephentown, N.Y., began working Ward for the third position. Tanner had redrew the 12th starting position forcing him to work his way up through the pack. He eventually got the position with just three laps to go.
When the checkered flag flew it was all Poirier, after navigation very heavy slower traffic, securing the win while Cook came in a close second.
“I felt at some point they were racing each other,” said Poirier of the traffic. “It was kind of scary for me. I really hate having to slow down to pass the lapped cars. You take whatever chance you have to take to get through. I didn’t know if Kevin (Ward) or Jeff (Cook) was there. I didn’t know how much of a lead I had so I took the chances that I had to.”
With Cook crossing the line in second he continues a streak that has seen him earn top five finishes with his Felders Roofing No. 10 in the last five races.
“We had a good race car tonight,” stated the Antwerp, N.Y., driver. “We needed a caution their near the end and maybe we could have got to Steve. He was out there a ways. I’m happy to come out of here second. Usually I’m right there were Cobra was, upside-down. All I wanted to do is finish tonight.”
Tanner, driving a Rifenberge Contraction Corporation sponsored GF1, was pleased to finish in the third position although somewhat disappointed he didn’t get a chance at the top two after starting so deep in the field. Tanner found something on the bottom that allowed him to work his way up through the pack.
“We are real happy with this run, especially here,” said Tanner. “It can be hard to pass here. When you start that deep and get up front its good. I wish we had started in the top five I really think we had something for those guys.”
Ward, of Port Leyden, N.Y., faded back to finish fourth while Paul Kinney, of Canastota, N.Y., battled his way to a fifth place effort at the checkered flag. Rounding out the top ten were veteran George Suprick, Dave Axton for his first career ESS top ten, Russ Bennett, Jared Fink and Jason Barney.
ESS/Lebanon Valley Notes – A field of 21 sprints came out on a beautiful night in front of a huge Lebanon crowd…Making first ESS starts this year were Suprick, Bennett, Fink, Lacey Hanson and Clint Ide…Turn four proved to be the trouble spot as Zach Weigand and Kory Gurney were upside down in warm-ups with Joe Trenca and James Hanson during the heats. All drivers were fine but only Weigand would return…Etienne Girard hit the wall in turn two during his heat and had to go to his back-up mount for the A-Main…Thanks to the Gofmanas and Flach familys for the special in Memory to JC Flach dash. More than a $750 purse was paid for the 4 lap event.
Lucas Oil ESS A-Main – Steve Poirier ($1807.77), Jeff Cook, Matt Tanner, Kevin Ward Jr., Paul Kinney, George Suprick, Dave Axton, Russ Bennett, Jared Fink, Jason Barney, Shawn Donath, Clint Ide, Etienne Girard, Zach Weigand, Lacey Hanson, Chuck Hebing, Patrick Vigneault, Cory Sparks.
Did Not Start – Joe Trenca, Kory Gurney, James Hanson
Lap Leader – Poirier (1-25).
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 1 – Hebing, Poirier, Kinney, Barney, Sparks, Bennett, Trenca
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 2 – Vigneault, Suprick, Axton, L. Hanson, J. Hanson, Girard, Gurney
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 3 – Cook, Tanner, Donath, Ward Jr., Ide, Fink, Weigand.
Memory of JC Flach by PC Repair Center, Flach Gymnastics Academy, Mark’s Road Recovery/Cobra Coaches Dash – Poirier.
Westward Painting Company Halfway – Poirier $100
Insinger Race Fuels Hard Charger – Tanner (9 pos. ) $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Kinney $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heats – Hebing, Vigneault, Cook $25
Go Nuclear Late Models Go Fast – Hebing (18.471) $25
Bitner Performance Blistering Fast Time – Hebing (17.647) $25