Story By: DEAN REYNOLDS / EMPIRE SUPER SPRINTS – BATAVIA, NY – Very few drivers in attendance Saturday night at the Genesee County Fairgrounds have seen the 1/3rd mile oval. After all it’s been since 2007 that the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) last visited the Genesee Speedway.
But it was experience that helped Wantage, NJ’s Davie Franek take the opening event on the 2021 Tour and take home over $2,000.
It wasn’t experience on the oval, Franek never seen to Batavia, NY where the dirt track lies. It was that Franek has been on the road virtually every weekend since the end of January. While some teams in the pits haven’t raced a lap in over a year and a half due to COVID shut down, Franek took to the road to find races.
Passing Matt Farnham with just five laps to go in lapped traffic, the familiar #28F never looked back for his seventh career ESS win. “I think racing early in the season helps you, you’re already in a groove and feel comfortable,” he went on, “Especially on restarts, when you don’t know anyone’s tendencies out there you kind of treat them all like Donny Schatz and buckle down to focus. Restarts were key for me, I kept on getting a car or two on each one.”
Franek started in the 10th position after the redraw but methodically moved his way to the front. When he got to second behind Farnham, he actually knew he had the advantage. “It’s always best to be in second, especially when it comes to slower traffic. You just go where they aren’t,” Franek said, “He (Farnham) was getting loose in the corners and with the slower car in front of him it just opened up the door for me to go around.”
For Franek, he’s had a good start with many organizations and has some decisions to do. “I will be at the next race at Thunder Mountain and we will go from there,” Although Franek did point out one fact, “ESS is the only organization we haven’t won the championship with yet, but we will see what the schedule plays out this year.”
For Farnham, the sometimes sprint car driver, sometimes big block modified driver, it was his first ever ESS appearance and he was hoping to bring home the checkered. “We had a real good car all night, I was able to put it pretty much anywhere on the track and get by cars,” said the Towanda, NY pilot, “When Chuck (Hebing) went off the track we got the lead, and I was just trying to go as hard as I could out front. But the car just started to lose a little bit at the end and when I got behind the slower car, he (Franek) got me,”
He went on with a smile, “Hey it was a good finish for our first ESS race and we got to do it real close to home.”
Hebing drew the pole for the 25-lap finale and he led the first 10 laps of the feature until his car just slipped off the top of turn two giving the lead to Farnham. Unfortunately, just one lap later was a large eight car mishap in turn one happened on a restart that ended Hebing’s bid to come from the back.
Farnham then controlled the race from there. As the final 14 laps went non-stop, Franek used the laps to gain momentum and the eventual pass for the win.
Defending ESS champion Paulie Colagiovanni took advantage of Danny Varin slipping off turn two on the last lap to bring home his #10 on the last podium spot. “We just didn’t come out of the box strong tonight but the crew just kept digging all night long,” said the recently turned 20 year old, “We learned from the dash and then just tried to move up as much as we could on the feature. Third isn’t bad from where we started out.”
Varin did come home in fourth with Denny Peebles recovering from a heat race turn over to win the B-Main and collect $150 in hard charger bonuses to take fifth. Rounding out the top ten were, Dylan Swiernik, Joe Trenca, Kelly Hebing, Chad Miller and Jeff Cook.
Genesee Notes: A strong field of 27 sprints kicked off the 2021 season for the Lucas Oil Tour….It’s was shaking off the rust for many with no less than six sprints finding their way on their wings during the night…Franek set a new track record in his timed hot lap session, the time of 14.763 now sets the stage….After a weekend off the Empire Super Sprints head to Thunder Mountain followed by Brewerton and Fulton on Memorial Weekend.
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints A-Main – Genesee Speedway – May 8th, 2021 – 1. Davie Franek ($2,035), 2. Matt Farnham ($1,085), 3. Paulie Colagiovanni ($885), 4. Danny Varin ($630), 5. Denny Peebles ($730), 6. Dylan Swiernik ($495), 7. Joe Trenca ($430), 8. Kelly Hebing ($420), 9. Chad Miller ($645), 10. Jeff Cook ($400), 11. Dan Craun ($385), 12. Keith Granholm ($320), 13. Tyler Cartier ($325), 14. Jason Barney ($300), 15. Matt Tanner ($400), 16. Chuck Hebing ($375), 17. Scott Kreutter ($325), 18. Shawn Donath ($300), 19. Jake Karklin ($325), 20. Darryl Ruggles ($300), 21. Dan Bennett ($350), 22. Nick Fratto ($300), 23. Sammy Reakes IV ($300), 24. Scott Just ($300).
DNS – Billy VanInwegen.
DNQ – Parker Evans, Jeremy Barnard.
Indy Cart Raceway Hard Charger – Danny Peebles ($100 -14 Pos.)
PJC Spray Foam Hard Charger – Denny Peebles ($50 – 14 Pos.)
Rifenburg Contracting Halfway – Matt Franham ($50).
Pinnacle Pole Award – Chuck Hebing ($50).
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Denny Peebles ($50).
E&V Energy Heats – Swiernik, C. Hebing, Farnham ($25)
ESS Media Team Fast Time – Kreutter, Franek (NTR), Karklin. ($25).
Stan’s Harley Davidseon/Cobra Coaches Dash – Tanner ($100), Colagiovanni ($75), Bennett ($50), Miller ($25), Craun ($25), Cartier ($25).
Ashley Lynn Winery Podium – Franek, Farnham, Colagiovanni – $10
Hoosier Tire – Miller ($210)