‘Racin’ Jason’ Outsmarts, Outlasts ESS Competition at Weedsport

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WEEDSPORT, N.Y. – Aug. 16, 2015 – When the Empire Super Sprints returned to the Weedsport Speedway Sunday night for the first time in four years, “Racin’ Jason” Jason Barney lived up to his nickname.

The Brewerton, N.Y. racer dominated the 25-lap Night of Legends feature after starting from the outside of the front row, but he had to use a last-lap pass on Sammy Reakes IV in order to seal the win.

After Barney led the first 21 laps, Reakes sped into the top spot on a restart with four laps to go and then pulled the same maneuver on another restart one lap later.

Barney said his No. 87 sprint car was running low on fuel in the final stage of the race, affecting the machine’s handling and giving Reakes the edge to take the lead.

“I tried to change my restart point and how I handled the corner,” Barney said from Weedsport’s victory hill after the win. “There are only so many tricks you can throw on him.”

On the second restart, Barney stuck with Reakes that time around and looked for a way around using both the low line and the high line. When the racers took the white flag for the final lap, Barney dove under Reakes in the first turn and came out with the lead as they traveled down the backstretch.

Barney said his car handled better into the corner, but Reakes’ car was better off the corner and fast on the straightaways so the eventual winner knew he needed to make a big move on his competitor if he was going to come out on top.

“Me and Sam are really good friends,” he said, adding they maintain an on-track rivalry. “I wasn’t going to let him have it. That wasn’t going to happen.”

Reakes, who set the fastest time during qualifying with a lap of 13.680 seconds on the three-eighths mile clay oval, ended up 0.841 seconds behind Barney when the checkered flag dropped. Series points leader Steve Poirier wound up third, followed by Bryan Howland and Cory Sparks.

Tommy Wickham, Dave Axton, polesitter Chris Steele, Paul Kinney and Darryl Ruggles rounded out the top 10.

The runner-up said he thought he could have drag-raced the winner down the backstretch on the last lap, but he was not expecting the move that Barney brought into the final corner.

“The last thing I anticipated was Jason’s slide job,” Reakes said. “He got me so flustered I just overdrove it by four car lengths.”

After rising from the 11th starting spot, Reakes said he struggled at Weedsport in sportsman competition but seemed to hit on something running with the ESS racers.

“To come here with these guys, especially starting as deep as we did, it feels really good,” he said. “Overall, a good night.”

The feature saw a total of nine cautions – six of them for multicar wrecks – and Poirier said that is what allowed him to climb up to the podium from the 19th starting spot.

“I thought I just had to survive and pay attention not to be part of a wreck,” the points leader said. “The car was decent and really good for at least two-third of the race.”

A longtime ESS standout, Poirier ran with the series when it last competed at Weedsport in 2011 with Lance Yonge the winner then, but he said nothing from then translated to now.

“The notes we had were with different cards and different bodies,” he said. “We did rely on them a little bit. We mostly looked at same configurations of tracks we’ve run this year.”

In the 25-lap crate sportsman feature that was also on the card Sunday night, Dave Marcuccilli made Weedsport his personal playground once again as he appeared headed to his fourth victory of the season at the track.

But, on a restart with six laps to go, James Michael Friesen charged into the lead and then held off Marcuccilli over the remaining laps to pick up the victory by a margin of 0.883 seconds at the checkered flag.

Kevin Root finished third, followed by Jim Spano and Steve Gray. Joe Kline, who started on the pole, Ricky Newton, Shawn Beardsley, Ronnie Davis III and A.J. Lewis rounded out the top 10.

On victory hill, Friesen said it was his setup that both hindered him in the beginning but helped him at the end. He also noted that Marcuccilli seemed to be losing power and perhaps overheating in the final laps.

“We had a touch more gear than him,” Friesen said. “On long runs, I was winding it out. It helped on the restarts though.”

Friesen won the inaugural Sportsman Classic last year – the first race run on the new surface at Weedsport – but a wreck in this year’s edition thwarted his efforts for a repeat when he hit the wall while leading and handed the top spot – and the win – to Marcuccilli.

This time around, Friesen said he felt he got some redemption with the win.

“We didn’t make it. We had something to prove,” he said. “I was fast. It was fun.”


Empire Super Sprints (25 laps): 1) Jason Barney, 2) Sammy Reakes IV, 3) Steve Poirier, 4) Bryan Howland, 5) Cory Sparks, 6) Tommy Wickham, 7) Dave Axton, 8) Chris Steele, 9) Paul Kinney, 10) Darryl Ruggles, 11) Rob Dietrick, 12) Paulie Colagiovanni, 13) Shawn Donath, 14) Chuck Hebing, 15) Joe Trenca, 16) Dylan Swiernik, 17) Justin Barger, 18) Doug Emery, 19) Tim Axton, 20) Keith Granholm, 21) Mike Stelter, 22) Matt Tanner, 23) Parker Evans, 24) Derrick Juliono.

Crate Sportsman (25 laps): 1) James Michael Friesen, 2) Dave Marcuccilli, 3) Kevin Root, 4) Jim Spano, 5) Steve Gray, 6) Joe Kline, 7) Ricky Newton, 8) Shawn Beardsley, 9) Ronnie Davis III, 10) A.J. Lewis, 11) Robert Humphreys, 12) Chris Doughery, 13) Rich Townsend, 14) Tyler Trump, 15) Matt Guererri, 16) Todd Root, 17) Zack Sobotka, 18) Tony Komuda, 19) Kyle Inman, 20) Taylor Jackson, 21) Austyn Fugle, 22) Kevin Ridley, 23) Earl Rudy, 24) Todd Town.