Paul Kinney Strong in Gary Cunningham Memorial ESS A-Main at Merrittville
THOROLD, ONT. - Paul Kinney made the change to Sprint Car racing at the start of the 2012 season and so far it’s proved to be a good decision. On Saturday night the Canastota, N.Y., driver captured his second career Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint series win.
The win came in the 25-lap, Gary Cunningham Memorial, at the Merrittville Speedway as part of Le Groupe Ultra Tour of Canada. Kinney led the entire distance en route to the victory.
“This feels awesome,” said Kinney. “We do so good in these things. We struggled a lot in the Modifieds. I’m just happy that I can do this every weekend. I can’t thank everyone enough that helps me out.”
Kinney started on the outside of the front row via the redraw and jumped out to the lead at the start as the pole starter, Jamie Collard, popped a wheelie coming to the green flag.
Kinney set a quick pace early on the top side of the speedway with Collard challenging early before he gave way to sixth starter Glenn Styres on lap four.
Styres tracked Kinney as he raced out in front. Both drivers utilized the top groove making it more difficult for Styres to make a move until the pair reached traffic on lap 10. In traffic, Kinney kept diving to the bottom opening the door for Styres on the top-side.
Before Styres could get a run, Kinney made several quick moves in traffic to put a couple cars between himself and the second place car. Styres meanwhile began dealing with the challenges of Kevin Ward as he moved into third from his ninth starting spot on lap 13.
The top three raced through traffic but remained unchanged until a caution on lap 20 when Chuck Hebing spun in the fourth corner. Hebing got in too high on the topside causing the rear of the car to come around.
That setup a double-file restart in which Kinney again got the jump on Styres as he quickly put his car to the outside lane. Styres tried to slide-up front but he was unable to pull off the pass. It would have been all for naught as the caution came out quickly again as Jeff Cook and Brad Malloy got together in turn one.
The second caution led to a single-file restart allowing Kinney to open up the advantage on Styres. Styres tried several times to work by Kinney but he was unsuccessful. Kinney went on for his second career victory with the series.
“It doesn’t matter who is there when you get a caution and you are out front you aren’t real happy about it especially with five laps to go,” stated Kinney. “I was happy to see that last caution and that put us single-file. That gives you a better chance to stay out in front.”
Styres, of Ohsweken, Ont., settled for the runner-up position. Styres gave Kinney all he had over the final laps only to come up one position short.
“We were just a little bit free,” commented Styres. “If we could have stayed green with the slower cars it would have given me a chance to get him. After that he was pulling away from me and I really couldn’t do anything about it.”
Ward advanced from the ninth starting position to finish in third. He made a run over the final few laps to regain the third spot after Chris Steele worked his way by on the bottom before Ward blasted back by on the outside to take the spot at the checkered flag.
“Podium finishes keep us up there in points and that is what we are looking for,” said Ward. “That last caution was tough because my car was fast on the long run. I was able to keep my spot there and I’m glad we brought it home in third place.”
Steele, of St. Catherines, Ont., finished in the fourth while Collard faded back to finish in fifth after starting on the front row. Rounding out the top ten were, Lance Yonge, Quebec mates, Michael Parent and Steve Poirier, dash winner Chris Jones and Jim Huppunen.
ESS/Merrittville Notes: - A nice field of 30 sprints filled the pits…Even with weather all around the area a capacity crowd was on hand…Good to have the Ohsweken/SOS drivers joining the ESS contingent making for a diverse field…Jared Zimbardi was plagued with electrical problems all night and was a surprised DNQ.
Gary Cunningham Memorial A-Main - Paul Kinney ($1,725), Glenn Styres, Kevin Ward Jr., Chris Steele, Jamie Collard, Lance Yonge, Michael Parent, Steve Poirier, Chris Jones, Jim Huppunen, Matt Tanner, Travis Cunningham, Patrick Vigneault, Keith Dempster, Chuck Hebing, Jason Barney, Mitchell Brown, Jeff Cook, Kyle Moffit, Dylan Swiernik, Joe Trenca, Todd Hoddick, Mike Stelter, Brad Malloy.
Did Not Qualify - Stan Zanchin, Havard Daniels, Jared Zimbardi, Jeremy Hughes,
Lap Leader - Kinney 1-25
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 1 - Collard, Poirier, Kinney, Styres, Steele, Hebing
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 2 - Yonge, Huppunen, Ward Jr., Brown, Dempster, Cunningham
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 3 - Jones, Tanner, Moffit, Vigneault, Malloy, Hoddick
Best Western Cairn Croft/Cobra Coaches Dash - Jones
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main - Cook, Parent, Swiernik, Stelter.
Added Starters - Barney, Trenca.
Westward Painting Company Halfway - Kinney $100
Ohsweken Speedway Winners Bonus - Kinney $100
Fondations 4 Saisons Hard Charger - Parent (13 pos.) $50
North East Pool and Spa Power Pick - Hoddick, Cunningham $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 - Collard $50
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main - Cook $50
Go Nuclear Late Models Fast Lap - Kinney (15.249) $25
Jimmy D's Speed and Machine Fast Time - Ward Jr. (14.258) $25