Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – AFTON, NY – Kreg Crooker led from green-to-checkered to win the Precision Hydraulic and Oil Short Track Super Series 602 Sportsman race Saturday at Afton Motorsports Park.
Crooker beat Tim Hartman Jr. and Travis Green to take the $1,500 victory in the 25 lap event.
Crooker became the first repeat winner in the North Region Series this season, having previously picking up a win at the Outlaw Speedway.
“I wish we had this kind of car every time we left the trailer, this thing was just perfect tonight. I drew 74 out of 75 tonight and I wondered why I wasn’t in a tree stand instead,” Crooker chuckled after the event. ” Usually, it’s tough to pass on a short track like this, everybody going for the same spot. But the car handled like a dream.”
Despite several early restart challenges from Hartman, Crooker was able to maintain a safe lead. And cautions did work in his favor.
“It worked out well. I kind of gambled on a tire. It’s cold. It just felt right and we did it. Seemed like every time we got to lapped traffic, we got a caution. It felt good on short runs and it all worked out.”
And Crooker was grateful to win one of the special events on the Short Track Series circuit.
“Any time that we can win with these guys, it’s special. The series does a ton for racers. It’s cool to be able to show up and be competitive.”
Second place finisher Hartman made some early restart bids for the lead, but was never able to get to the lead.
“We were good, a little bit tight there. Kreg would get away from me, then we would even out. My only hope was that we would get into traffic there. It just never happened. Congratulations to those guys. I wish we could have been one spot better, but I’ll take a 2nd with a car in one piece,”
Green moved into 3rd place early in the race and he did a masterful job. He held off 4th place finisher, Steve Davis, who applied pressure for many laps, to take the final podium position.
“I thought we were really good early, with a chance to win. After the yellow, I don’t know if I sealed a tire up or what. It just didn’t feel the same and by the end, I was hanging on and hoping for a podium. A good night overall, I just wish I was two spots up.”
Finishing 5th behind Davis was Brian Klinger. Alan Hodge in 6th, AJ Digsby 7th, Tyler Peet 8th, Matt Brewer 9th and Mike Nagel Jr. 10th completed the top 10.
With his 4th place finish, Davis clinched the Precision Hydraulic and Oil North Region 602 Sportsman championship. It wasn’t an easy go for Davis as he raced some tracks in the North Region series that he wasn’t too familiar with.
“We’re used to the shorter tracks. Utica-Rome and Fonda, they’re nice tracks, but tough. I’m not good there. Luckily, we came here for the end. It was nice coming in tonight heads up with Payton (Talbot). I wish we could have started like 7th and 8th and raced it out. They are a great bunch of guys.”
The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series was in action on Saturday at Afton and here are the winners:
Brian Moore, Vintage Antique
Billy Leonard, Vintage Sportsman
Carl Cram, Vintage Mystique
John Roese, Vintage Late Model
Jack Miller, Vintage Modified