Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – BATAVIA, NY – The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints kicked off their 2021 season with a $2000 to win, 25 lap showdown at Genesee Speedway, the first trip for the 360 Sprint Tour there since 2007.
The finish did not disappoint with Davie Franek making a high-side move by Matt Farnham with five laps to go to take home the W for his 7th career feature win.
The feature under the cool, 40 degree air, started with the last winner of an ESS event at Genesee, Chuck Hebing, on pole alongside Farnham to his outside. Hebing held serve on the start for four laps until the first yellow came out for Dan Craun spinning in turns one and two. The story of this race though was cautions breeding cautions. A lap or two would go on the board, but a yellow usually followed. The lap seven restart would be a notable one as Farnham challenged Hebing for the lead looking to the inside in turn three, but Hebing ripped the cushion on the outside which turned out to be the fast way around the 1/3 mile clay oval.
Lap ten though is where things start to get wild.
As Hebing approached lap traffic for the first time in the night, he spun out by himself in turn two while leading, completely changing the complexity of this race. This would give Farnham the lead with teammate Scott Kruetter in second. On the restart heading into turn one, Kreutter would strike the outside wall after making contact with Dylan Swiernik. Trying to straighten the car, Kreutter then came down into Shawn Donath to trigger a seven-car pileup that ended in Donath on his door, leading to the lone red flag of the race.
Lap 15 would see the final restart of the race and the beginning of the longest green flag run. It looked like a common race for Farnham to run away with, but lapped traffic was an issue to him. Enter Davie Franek, who came from 10th on the grid, quietly moving his way up through the field in the first half of the race to get up to 2nd in the final restart. In the final five laps, he handled lapped traffic better than Farnham and “No Panic” passed Farnham on the outside and didn’t look back to open the 2021 season with a win.
“I felt like I was good with him in speed even in clean air, so I knew once we got to lapped traffic, we were gonna be good, and he just couldn’t move around, like he wasn’t that good… he messed up one lap and that’s really all it took,” Franek told Race Pro Weekly following the win.
“I ended up taking the lead and just at the end, there were just too many caution laps and we didn’t put enough fuel in it. Should’ve had a little bit more with how cold it is tonight. But we still finished 2nd, on to the next one,” Farnham said on his runner-up finish.
While it was a race filled with carnage in the first half, Dean Reynolds, series director for the Empire Super Sprints in addition to his DIRTCar Northeast gig, looked at a bunch of positives.
“We had a good track, we had a racy track. I think we had a lot of drivers that hadn’t raced in a while. You know, opening night. It turned out to be a good race, good finish, but we just wish we didn’t have that many accidents. Being at Genesee for the first time since 2007, we had a ball being here. We can’t wait to come back,” Reynolds commented to RPW.
In addition to the 360 Sprints, track promoters Jim and Pam Johnson added on an undercard of their weekly RUSH Late Model, DIRTCar Sportsman, Street Stock, Mini Stocks, Bandits, and Novice Sportsman events. Their flagship Cornerstone Eye Associates RUSH Late Models featured invader Jason Knowles, based out of the Woodhull area, picked up his first RUSH Weekly win this season. Knowles last season ended the 2020 Pace Performance RUSH Late Model National Weekly standing in 4th position.
A long race for the Stirling Lubricants DIRTCar Sportsman saw Jim Harbison take the season opening win under caution after a hard battle that came from Phil Vigneri, Harbison’s first win at “The Place To Race” since 2019.
Tom Kemp made his season debut at Genesee in the Yasses Trucking Street Stocsk and took on last week’s winner Bill Taylor in a one-lap dash to the finish. Taylor had attempted to setup a pass on Kemp for the win to his inside in turn 3, but Kemp got back on gas in the center of the corner to hold off the defending co-champion.
Other winners tonight included Brandon Shepard in the Mini Stocks and Tyler Guzzardi in the Novice Sportsman. This story will be updated with Bandits results.
129 cars signed in according to the track PA, 27 of those cars being 360 Sprints.
Next up for the Empire Super Sprints is a $2000 to win shootout down at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Center Lisle on May 22nd. In 2019, Jason Barney took the win leading all 25 laps. As for Genesee Speedway, it is a full card in the Brian Ace Memorial, featuring a 30-lap Street Stock Memorial, and Sportsman/Mini Stock Make-Up features from the postponement of last week’s season opener.
For the full interviews with Franek, Farnham, and Reynolds in addition to interviews with Knowles and Harbison, check out the RSN Trackside Facebook page tomorrow night in addition to our race recap on RSN Trackside, Wednesday nights at 7pm ET on the ROC Sports Network Facebook page.
Empire Super Sprints (25 Laps)
28f Davie Franek, 2. 7ny Matt Farnham (1.931s), 3. 10c Paulie Colagiovanni (3.811s), 4. 00 Danny Varin (5.235s), 5. 3 Denny Peebles (8.332s), 6. 7c Dylan Swiernik (8.601s), 7. 98 Joe Trenca (10.082s), 8. 10h Kelly Hebing (12.461s), 9. 88c Chad Miller (13.007s), 10. 10 Jeff Cook (14.897s), 11. 18c Dan Craun (-1L), 12. 13 Keith Granholm (-1L), 13. 23 Tyler Cartier (-1L), 14. 87 Jason Barney (-14L), 15. 90 Matt Tanner (-14L), 16. 45 Chuck Hebing (-15L), 17. 49 Scott Kreutter (-15L), 18. 53 Shawn Donath (-15L), 19. 5k Jake Karklin (-15L), 20. 48jr Daryl Ruggles (-15L), 21. X Dan Bennett (-15L), 22. 36 Nick Fratto (-18L), 23. 17 Sam Reakes IV (-20L), 24. 54jr Scott Just (DNS), 25. 56v Billy VanInwegan (DNS)
Fastest Lap: 45 C. Hebing 15.109
Heat Winners: Swiernik, C. Hebing, Farnham
RUSH Late Models (25 Laps)
4 Jason Knowles, 2. 51 Austin Hauser, 3. 13 JJ Mazur, 4. 01 Doug Ricotta, 5. 225 Bud Watson, 6. 1 TJ Downs, 7. 2 David Parker, 8. 91 Chad Homan, 9. 32 Austin Allen, 10. 64c Alan Chapman, 11. 10 Austin Kotarski (-1L), 12. 94 Mark Sundt (-20L), 13. 85 Jon Rivers (-22L), 14. 85jr Austin Fugle (-22L), 15. 39j Jimmy Johnson (-23L), 16. 21b Billy DuBois (-23L), 17. 012 Dave DuBois (-23L), 18. 8 Bill Holmes (-23L), 19. 129 Brian Kotarski (-23L), 20. 26 (-23L), 21. 71 Bill Button (-23L)
Fastest Lap: 4 Knowles 17.620
Heat Winners: Knowles, Holmes, Ricotta
Sportsman (25 Laps, Feature finished under caution)
18w Jim Harbison, 2. 12v Phil Vigneri III, 3. 45 TJ Newton, 4. 126 Zach George, 5. 35t Cameron Tuttle, 6. 132 Brandon Machaud, 7. 22 Noah Walker, 8. 86n Tim Nies, 9. 21 Ryan Barrett, 10. 27z Ray Bliss, 11. 4 Emmett Waldron, 12. 26 Kyle Richner, 13. 28 Jordon Moden, 14. 44 Dave Conant, 15. 14 Adam Hilton (-1L), 16. 44k Dan Kolb (-1L), 17. 2v Larry Vick (-1L), 18. 22m Michael McMurdy (-1L), 19. 104 Zack Sam (-6L), 20. 94m Tony Mascoto (-9L), 21. 5 Clayton Cain (-16L), 22. 11n Ricky Newton (-17L), 23. 63 Jessica Kriegisch (-19L), 24. 70a Alex Payne (-22L), 25. 94 Tom Richau (22L)
Fastest Lap: 18w Harbison 17.964
Heat Winners: Harbison, TJ Newton, Conant
Street Stocks (20 Laps)
28 Tom Kemp, 2. 1 Bill Taylor (0.346s), 3. 53 Pat Powers (1.175s), 4. 36 Jimmy Grant (1.315s), 5. 87 Brandon Sherwood (1.825s), 6. 26 Kurt Stebbins (1.947s), 7. 58 Carl Shetler (2.665s), 8. 13b Shawn Hazlett (3.038s), 9. 72 Phil Schepis (3.844s), 10. 88 Ted Mascho (4.410s), 11. 93b Tom Baker (4.899s), 12. 0 John Zimmerman (-1L), 13. 44m Daniel Brumsted (-1l), 14. 00 Damian Long (-2L), 15. 25 (-5L), 16. 2z Dale Rissinger (-9L), 17. 84m Mike Kelly (-12L), 18. 2q Jesse Qutermous (-12L), 19. 33 Justin Neff (-12L), 20. 89k Robbie Knapp (-14L), 21. 66 (-16L)
Fastest Lap: 36 Grant 18.953
Heat Winners: Byron DeWitt, Zimmerman, Hazlett
Mini Stocks (15 Laps)
8s Brandon Shepard, 2. 62 Chris Leone (0.244s), 3. 717jr Rocco Conte (6.355s), 4. 17 Cody Wise (6.587s), 5. 27 Andy Schumaker (7.044s), 6. 46 Brad Whiteside (7.400s), 7. 98 Cole Susice (7.665s), 8. 8 Don Whiteside (12.525s), 9. 23 Jessica Schleede (17.931s), 10. 23h Gary Hopkins (18.392s), 11. 10 James Gayton (-2L), 12. 6j (-3L), 13. 10a Andy Gayton (-5L), 14. 6k Shauna Knapp (-5L), 15. 004 Olivia Coniber (-10L), 16. 24r Curtis Rung (-10L), 6 Ashley Harbison (-12L)
Fastest Lap: 62 Leone 20.541
Heat Winners: Schumaker, Gayton
Novice Sportsman Make-Up (15 Laps)
71 Jake Bansmer, 2. 7 Tyler Guzzardi (2.085s), 3. 16 Allison DeWitt (4.283s), 4. 79 Brandon Close (5.643s), 5. 76m Andrew Joy (6.859s), 6. 14 Bailey Logsdon (6.922s), 7. 26 Greenley George (-3L), 8. 1j John Livingston Jr. (-3L)
Fastest Lap: 71 Bansmer 17.709
Novice Sportsman Feature #2 (15 Laps)
7 Tyler Guzzardi, 2. 16 Allison DeWitt (2.986s), 3. 76m Andrew Joy (5.576s), 4. 71 Jake Bansmer (6.121s), 5. 14 Bailey Logsdon (6.732s), 6. 79 Brandon Close (7.188s), 7. 1j John Livingston Jr. (11.636s), 8. 26 Greenley George (-5L)
Fastest Lap: 7 Guzzardi 18.416
Bandits (8 Laps) 1. Alexis Traxler, 2. Jonathan Logsdon, 3. Morgan Coniber.