EVANS MILLS, N.Y. (June 9, 2013) – Kevin Ward Jr., had a rough outing on Memorial Day weekend at the Utica-Rome Speedway when he got upside down at the start of the A-Main event. The Port Leyden, N.Y., star has since recovered and now has two wins and three top fives to his credit since then.
Ward, driving his family owned, WPC backed No. 13, powered by Doug Emery just after the halfway point of Saturday night’s SUNY Canton Assault on the Asphalt at the Evans Mills Speedway to become the first ever driver to win a Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint (ESS) 25-lap A-Main on pavement. The win paid Ward a hefty $2,500 for his efforts.
“This is pretty cool,” said Ward. “I’ve raced asphalt one time in a four-cylinder light truck and it was totally different than this. It wasn’t too much different than dirt. It was a lot more fun than I expected it to be and I’m glad we did it tonight.”
A four car inversion placed Doug Emery and Cory Sparks on the front row for feature. At the green, Emery won the race into the first with Sparks and fourth starting Jeff Cook spinning in the second turn before a lap could be complete.
The second attempt went much smother as Emery beat Matt Tanner into the first corner to take the top spot with Ward settling in behind them in third.
That’s the way the top three remained as they entered slower traffic by lap six. Emery patiently stayed on the bottom with Tanner drawing closer as the traffic slowed the pace. Emery made some nifty moves in traffic to hang onto the lead.
On lap 11 the second and final caution of the race came out when Cook got into the back of Paul Pekkonen as they battled for the fifth position. The contact caused Cook to spin for a second time in the feature.
Emery picked up right where he left off at the green with Tanner and Ward now battling for second. Tanner eventually surrendered the runner-up spot to Ward with ten laps to go. Once in second Ward now set his sights on Emery as he again found himself in traffic.
“After the last caution I noticed the race was about half done,” commented Ward. “I wasn’t too concerned about saving my tires at that point. I started driving the car harder. We got to lapped traffic there and I was waiting for the moment to happen where I could make a move.”
Ward closed in on Emery and made his move on lap 18 as he drove to the outside of Emery in turns one and two to take over the lead.
“I was expecting to pass him on the bottom,” said Ward. “I never thought I would go high but I saw the bottom was taken up so I figured I’d try the top. That’s what I did and it worked out.”
After getting by Emery for the lead, Ward settled in on the bottom of the speedway and worked lapped traffic flawlessly en route to the win. Emery, of South Onondaga, N.Y., was forced to settle for second in his self-owned No. 33.
“I was waiting for him,” said Emery of Ward. “Early in the race I kept thinking I was seeing a shadow back there. It was a matter a time. I was hoping that if I hit the lapped traffic at the right time I could keep him behind me. Everyone told me I was out there until we hit traffic so at least I know I had a car that was comparable to his.”
Tanner was able to hold off Sparks in the closing laps to grab the final podium finish in his first ever asphalt event.
“That was pretty good,” said Tanner. “I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve never run pavement before. To get third to Kevin (Ward) and Doug (Emery) is cool. They seemed to be the class of the field and I’m pretty happy with it.”
Sparks come home in fourth while Cook drove his way back up through the field a second time to finish in fifth.
ESS/Evans Mills Notes: The first ever event for the tour celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary played host to a record crowd at the history filled speedway…Fans were seen walking a quarter-mile to get to the track as the parking lot was completely filled…Randy Brunell, who has had tremendous success at Evans Mills in a pro stock, was Jeff Cook’s teammate and showed good speed and was a threat on the night…George Quintana and Tom Fletcher came from the Wyoming County Speedway area where they run sprints on asphalt bi-weekly and were welcome additions…With the success of the event plans are already underway for a second annual Asphalt Assault at the Teresa Caprara promoted 1/3rd mile.
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints/SUNY Canton Asphalt Assault – Evans Mills Speedway
SUNY Canton A-Main – Kevin Ward Jr. ($2,500), Doug Emery, Matt Tanner, Cory Sparks, Jeff Cook, Randy Brunell, Paul Pekkonen, Mike Stelter, Billy Jaycox, Tom Fletcher, PJ Peworchik, George Quintana, Steve Hutchinson Jr.
Heat 1 – Cook, Sparks, Brunell, Stelter, Pekkonen, Jaycox, Peworchik.
Heat 2 – Ward Jr., Emery, Tanner, Fletcher, Quintana, Hutchinson Jr.
Lap Leaders – Emery 1-17, Ward Jr. 18-25.