Story By: DEAN REYNOLDS / EMPIRE SUPER SPRINTS – LAFARGEVILLE, NY – Paulie Colagiovanni dominated the 2019 season with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints en route to his first career title. On Wednesday night the series returned to action for the first time in 2020 with Colagiovanni not skipping a beat.
The Marcellus, N.Y., driver didn’t have the best of starting position to begin the 25-lap A-Main at Can-Am Speedway, but that didn’t matter. He Jumped into the top three with five laps complete before taking the lead two laps later. He cruised to the win from there for the $2,000 payday.
“The car felt pretty good,” stated Colagiovanni. “We used the same setup as last year. I knew it was going to be pretty good. I just have to thank Doug, my dad, Alicia and Barb, just everyone that helps make this happen. I’m so thankful for them.”
At the start, Matt Tanner got the drop on fellow front row starter Josh Pieniazek. Tanner found the moisture on the top of the race track and rocketed to the lead. He was quickly joined at the front by Chuck Hebing who took second a lap later.
It was a two-car race for the first handful of laps before Colagiovanni made his presence felt after starting sixth. Colagiovanni drove around Hebing for second on lap six before doing the same to Tanner a lap later as he worked the moisture on the bottom of the speedway in turns three and four.
“I tried the outside of three and four early and really didn’t like it so I tried the bottom,” mentioned Colagiovanni. “I felt like if I could arc it in there just right, I could get to the bite. I was able to find it.”
Colagiovanni checked out from there as his car was glued to the inner hub on the speedway in three and four while he navigated the extreme high-side of the race track at the opposite end. As he escaped pressure, Tanner and Hebing kept their battle going for the runner-up position.
With Colagiovanni checked out, Hebing was finally able to clear Tanner for second in traffic on lap 14. Hebing’s rein on the position was short lived as Tanner went back around him on lap 16 to regain the position with Shawn Donath entering the mix.
The top four remained unchanged as the laps were clicked off. It wasn’t until lap 23 when Colagiovanni lost his big lead as the caution was necessary for Tyler Trump as he stopped on the backstretch.
The double-file restart didn’t faze Colagiovanni as he quickly regained the advantage over the competition when the green lights were clicked on. Tanner and Hebing resumed their race for second while Donath attempted to go by both of them on the top.
“I wasn’t too happy to see that caution,” commented Colagiovanni. “I got a good restart, held my line and was able to win.”
As the checkered flag flew it was Colagiovanni claiming the win over Tanner. Tanner fought hard in the closing laps to keep Hebing behind him. He was successful in his quest as he crossed the line behind the defending champion.
“This is a great way to start the year,” said Tanner. “We’ve run second both times out. I guess you can only go up from there. Hopefully we’ll get a win here someday. I think I’ve finished second 10 times here. I’ve never been able to seal the deal.”
Hebing was able to get a run on the final lap on Donath to get back around him off of turn four to finish on the podium.
“Matt, Shawn and I had a good race,” stated Hebing. “Paulie whooped us pretty bad. When I missed the bottom getting off the corner, they’d pass me, when they’d miss I’d pass them. Our three cars were pretty even. This is good after a couple weeks to at least finish in the top three.”
Donath took home the fourth position while former Can-Am winner Davie Franek completed the top five. Rounding out the top ten were Josh Pieniazek, Jason Barney, Ryan Coniam, Tyler Cartier and Kelly Hebing.
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints A-Main – Paulie Colagiovanni ($2,135), Matt Tanner ($1,010), Chuck Hebing ($835), Shawn Donath ($830), Davie Franek ($530), Josh Pieniazek ($470), Jason Barney ($455), Ryan Coniam ($470), Tyler Cartier ($410), Kelly Hebing ($475), Pete Richardson ($360), Chad Miller ($345), Kyle Phillips ($325), Tyler Trump ($390), Denny Peebles ($310).
ESS Media Team Fast Time – Barney, C. Hebing – $25
E&V Energy Heat Wins – Donath, Colagiovanni – $25
Ground Control Lawn and Snow Hard Charger – Colagiovanni (5 Pos.) – $50
Rifenburg Contracting Corp. Halfway – Colagiovanni – $50
Pinnacle Pole Award – Tanner – $50
Precision Line Striping/Cobra Coaches Dash – Trump ($100), K. Hebing ($75), Coniam ($50), Miller ($25), Phillips ($25), Peebles ($25).
Ashley Lynn Winery Podium – Colagiovanni, Tanner, C. Hebing $10
Hoosier Tire Draw – Donath – $200.