EVANS MILLS, N.Y. – Lee Ladouceur had never raced on asphalt until Saturday night in the Second Annual Westward Painting Company Assault on the Asphalt at the Evans Mills Speedway. Needless to say, the Alexandria, Ont, native is now a fan.
Ladouceur held off the challenges of inaugural race winner, Kevin Ward Jr., to snag the $2,500 win in the 25-lap Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints A-Main. It was his first series triumph since August of 2009 at Autodrome Drummond.
“I was having fun the whole night and the finish was just as good,” said Ladouceur in Victory Lane.
Ladouceur stated on the pole of the feature with Ward right next two him after the pair secured those positions via the redraw. Ladouceur was quick to the gas at the green beating Ward off the line.
The top two remained glued together as they worked their way around the three-eighths mile facility. Ladouceur stayed on the bottom of the speedway while Ward worked multiple lanes trying to find a way to get by.
By the halfway point it was Ladouceur and Ward nose to tail with Doug Emery reeling them in as they reached traffic. Ladouceur was cautious in traffic as he protected his line on the speedway while Ward attempted to use the traffic to his advantage.
As the race progressed to the five to go mark, Ward was all over Ladouceur in traffic before the only caution of the event brought the battle to a halt. Tom Fletcher spun in turn three and came to a stop necessitating the yellow.
“When you are up front you are getting chased like the rabbit and you’d rather almost be behind them to save your tires,” stated Ladouceur. “It was my first time on pavement and I did my best to save the tires and it ended up working out for us. I was hoping that caution wasn’t going to come out, if the motor bucks or something happens on the restart you’re screwed.”
On the double-file restart Ward pulled to the outside of Ladouceur. Ladouceur got the jump one more time with Ward staying on the high-side as they raced into the first turn. He was able to pull up next to Ladouceur through the corner until they came off of turn two as Ladouceur gained the edge.
Ward didn’t go away; he stayed right with Ladouceur as race neared the end. During the final lap both drivers smoked their right rear tires through turns one and two trying to gain an advantage. Through turns three and four Ward took a look to the outside coming up a few feet short at the checkered flag from taking the win.
“I worked the whole race to keep the car straight and not smoke the tires like some of the other guys were doing,” said Ladouceur. “We tried to save the tire waiting to see if anyone was going to be right there. I wanted to make sure we were there at the end of the race. With the way the sun was I could see the shadow coming off his wing so I knew he was right there. I just tried to get through the turns as clean and as quick as I could.”
Ward gave it his all coming up one spot short of the repeat win. He was pleased in Victory Lane although disappointed that he couldn’t get another win in front of the home town fans.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” stated the Port Leyden, N.Y., driver. “I guess I can’t complain with second place finish. It was a real good race there at the end. It’s all about how much fun we have when we come here every year and we definitely did that tonight.”
Doug Emery got back behind the wheel of his No. 33 placing third at the checkered. Emery was gaining on the top two as they raced in traffic but the caution took away any chance he had of challenging the top two as his tires had gone away by that point.
“Third place is good,” stated Emery. “We hung in there. I was starting to reel them in before the caution. I was trying to save the tire and it started coming in. That caution came out and slowed us up a bit. I’m happy though to come home in third.” Mike Stelter, of Webster, N.Y., finished in the fourth spot while Kelly Hebing had her best Empire Super Sprint finish to date placing fifth at the checkered flag.
Lucas Oil ESS A-Main – Lee Ladouceur, Kevin Ward Jr, Doug Emery, Mike Stelter, Kelly Hebing, Matt Tanner, Paul Pekkonen, Jeff Cook, Dave Axton, Tim Axton, Tom Fletcher, Dan Fletcher