AKWESASNE -- Steve Poirier captured the win and the first-place $2,500 check in Friday night's Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint "Mohawk Madness" feature event at Mohawk International Raceway.
The wild 25-lap main event was marred by two red flags for large pile-ups with several turnabouts in the final five laps.
In other action on Bailey Motor Company night, Carey Terrance won his sixth Frenchie's Chevrolet DIRTcar 358 Modified feature event, Chris Raabe won his tenth DIRTcar Sportsman feature and rookie Darryl Mitchell emerged victorious in a hard-fought Bandit feature.
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints are known for incredible speeds, wild racing and thrills that bring the fans to their feet.
Friday night's ESS 25-lap feature presented by Bailey Motor Company and Mohawk Racing Parts had it all.
The initial start was red flagged as the field tangled going into turn one, with Zech Weigand flipping two and a half times.
No one was injured in the melee, but Jami Russell's car was also heavily damaged and Chuck Hebing, after destroying his primary car in warm-ups in a wild rollover, looked like he was going to be done as well with heavy front end damage.
However, the extensive clean-up period gave Hebing's crew a chance to complete repairs and Hebing returned to the rear of the field. When the race restarted, Justin Barger took the lead, with MIR 358 Modified star Carey Terrance running second in his first career Sprint car start.
Brian "Slim" McDonald got by teammate Terrance for second on lap 8, while Steve Poirier rocketed through traffic to swing past Tyler Rice and McDonald to power into second spot on lap twelve. Lance Yonge, after starting deep in the field, made his presence known as he moved past McDonald for third on lap 14.
Meanwhile, Barger had unquestionably checked out on the rest of the field, maintaining nearly half a track lead over Poirier, and it looked like all anyone had to do was sign the check over to him. Of course, Sprint car fans know that anything can happen with the wild, open-wheeled cars and what Poirier desperately needed was a caution flag.
That caution came on lap 20, when the lapped car of James Hanson spun coming out of turn four right in front of the third through sixth place cars -- Brian McDonald, third at the time, almost cleared Hanson, but clipped his car with the left rear tire, sending Hanson flipping and bringing out the red flag.
With the track blocked, Alain Bergeron, Jeff Cook and Dan Kuszubinski all piled in, with Bergeron and Kaszubinski done for the night.
No one was injured in the incident.
The restart saw Justin Barger lead the field into turn one but Barger apparently clipped a uke tire in turn two, as the car's front end collapsed just as he entered the back stretch and the car drifted across the track, bringing out the caution and stealing away what was almost certainly a win.
On the restart, Poirier opened a large lead, with a cushion of numerous lapped cars between himself and second-place Lance Yonge, who found himself holding off a hard-charging Chuck Hebing for the second spot. Hebing, determined to post a good showing after the two hard crashes earlier in the night, powered high to the second spot.
Poirier roared on for his second consecutive win at MIR, while Yonge stood on the throttle coming low out of turn four and snatched second spot from Hebing by less than a hood at the finish line.
Heat race and Dash for Cash winner Michael Parent finished fourth while former MIR Modified star Chris Jones rounded out the top five.
Special thanks go out to Gilbert Lazore at Mohawk Racing Parts for posting special bonus money for the top finishers -- thanks to Lazore's contribution, the "Mohawk Madness" first-place price was $2,500 instead of the traditional $1,500 for the ESS cars.
Roy Tarbell set the early pace in the Frenchie's Chevrolet DIRTcar 358 Modified feature, with Gardner Stone in second. The caution waved on lap seven as Jeff Sykes' car broke and the restart enabled Carey Terrance to charge into second and pull alongside Tarbell.
Terrance and Tarbell battled six-by-side for the lead for several laps, while Todd Stone moved around Tom Jock Jr. to take third spot. By lap twelve, Terrance had opened up a lead of several car lengths while Stone and Tarbell battled for the second spot.
The caution waved on lap fourteen as Pat O'Brien's front end collapsed, stranding him in turn two, and after a quick three lap sprint, the caution waved again on lap 17 as Del LeGrow spun in the middle of heavy traffic, although everyone got by without incident.
The lap 18 restart saw Todd Stone dive low going into turn one, and he finally seized second spot for good, with Tarbell dropping to third.
Behind him, the best battle on the speedway was between Perry Francis and Mike Perrotte, with the duo running side-by-side for the final seven laps in the battle for fourth and catching Roy Tarbell with two laps to go for a great three-car battle for third.
Terrance charged on for his sixth feature win of the season while Todd Stone finished second. Roy Tarbell held off Perrotte to score third, Perrotte posted his best finish of the season in fourth, and Perry Francis rounded out the top five.
Chris Raabe grabbed the lead from Kristian Smoke on a lap two restart and powered on for his tenth Sportsman feature win of the season, with Dylan Evoy second, Travis Back finishing third and Brent Kelsey and Smoke rounding out the top five.
The race's most serious incident occurred on lap seven when Jenna David hit two consecutive uke tires in turn two and got the car high up into the air twice, almost rolling after each hit, but the young rookie reigned her car in and landed on all four wheels. Rookie Darryl Mitchell captured his first Bandit feature win in a hard fought battle that saw lots of hard racing and contact throughout the field.
Mitchell grabbed the early race lead, but Derek Colbert charged to the front and was challenging Mitchell for the top spot by lap three. The leaders traded lanes and quite a bit of paint as they battled for the top spot, with John Green right in the hunt as well.
Green spun on lap six and while he recovered before the caution was thrown, he dropped far back in the field, setting up a two car battle between Colbert and Mitchell.
Colbert looked like he was going to cruise on for his second straight Bandit feature win but he bobbled coming out of turn two on the final lap, allowing Mitchell and Bennett White to sweep by.
Mitchell charged on for the win, Bennett White dodged the spinning car of Rick Finch for second, and Owen White finished third. Joey Foster finished fourth after recovering from an early race scuffle not of his own making that sent him well back in the field, while Gary Sharlow, after running third until a flat tire on the final lap, held on for fifth in a thrilling race that had plenty of "hold your breath" moments for the spectators.
Upcoming next Friday, August 13th, CKON 97.3 FM presents a full program of racing for the Frenchie's Chevrolet DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, DIRTcar Sportsman, DIRTcar Pro Stocks and Bandits.
The green flag flies at 7:45 PM.
One week later sees the World of Outlaws Late Models, the nation's premiere dirt track series, roll into Mohawk International Raceway for a two-day show. Friday, August 20th, the Outlaw Late Models will have time trials and heat races, plus a full show of racing for the DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, DIRTcar Sportsman and Bandits.
Saturday, August 21st, the Outlaw Late Model 100-lap main event will pay $20,000 to win out of a total purse of $120,000, making this the largest Late Model race ever held in New York and the biggest race ever held in the North Country.
Also on the card Saturday night will be the Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock tour, with a 50-lap main event, and the Bandits. W
eekend passes are on sale for $50 for general admission and may be purchased at Chief's Tobacco Outlet, State Route 37, or by calling the MIR track office, 518-358-3225.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 6th:
BAILEY MOTOR COMPANY NIGHT, "MOHAWK MADNESS":
LUCAS OIL EMPIRE SUPER SPRINTS (25 laps): Steve Poirier, Lance Yonge, Chuck Hebing, Michael Parent, Chris Jones, Kevin Ward Jr., Jeff Cook, Brian McDonald, Tommy Wickham, Tyler Rice, Mike Stelter, Lee Ladouceur, Anthony Cain, Devin Caron, Paul Pekkonen, Justin Barger, Alain Bergeron, Dan Kaszubinski, Carey Terrance, James Hanson, Jami Russell, Zach Weigand. DNQ: Tim Smythe, Mark Zemcik.
FRENCHIE'S CHEVROLET DIRTcar 358 MODIFIEDS (25 laps): Carey Terrance, Todd Stone, Roy Tarbell, Mike Perrotte, Perry Francis, John Lazore, Tom Jock Jr., Gardner Stone, Roy Delormier, Clayton Benedict, Jeff Sykes, Dave Heaslip, Ryan Jacobs, Brad Shova, Todd Stewart, Preston Forbes, Casey Swamp, Billy Cook, Derrick Martin, Del LeGrow, Pat O'Brien, Gage Morin.
DIRTcar SPORTSMAN (20 laps): Chris Raabe, Dylan Evoy, Travis Back, Brent Kelsey, Kristian Smoke, Brad Winters, Bruce Makinson, Josh Jock, Tom Benedict, Sheldon Hoogwerf, Jenna David.
BANDITS: Darryl Mitchell, Bennett White, Owen White, Joey Foster, Gary Sharlow, Peter Cename, Nolan Swamp, Derek Colbert, Cory Castell, Scott Mere, John Green, Henry Lamica, Jason Crites, Rick Finch, Joseph Barnes.
DNS: Kevin Thompson. Justin Barger looked like he was ready to cash the first-place $2,500 check for the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints on Friday night at Mohawk International Raceway (MIR), but a red flag with five laps to get set into motion several wild turnabouts that found Barger in the pit area and Steve Poirier in victory lane at MIR for the second straight year.
Mohawk International Raceway is located midway between the Seaway International Bridge to Cornwall, ONT and the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino. From Route 37, turn south onto Frogtown Road. Racing is held on Friday nights at 7:45 PM from May through September, featuring the Frenchie's Chevrolet DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, Sportsman and Pro Stocks, as well as the Bandit division.
The web is at www.MohawkInternationalRaceway.com. The MIR office is 518-358-3225 and on race days, the track number is 518-358-9017. The track is owned and operated by Mohawk International Raceway, LLC.