BROCKVILLE, Ontario – In his mind, Steve Poirier considers 2012 an off year for him; but after an impressive performance Saturday afternoon at Brockville Ontario Speedway, he appeared to be as on as ever as he put the cap on what was still a strong sprint season.
Poirier led all 25 laps to bookend the Patriot Sprint Tour season with a win six months after his win at Fulton in April in the season opener. It has been a wild season in between for Poirier, who missed much of the summer events recovering from knee surgery but also scored the Canadian Nationals win. His win Saturday gave him 10 wins in just three starts.
The seven-year sprint car regular drove from ninth to fifth in his heat race, just good enough to get him in the A-Main redraw, where he selected the pole position. With the track taking rubber early in the 25-lap event, that starting spot would pay major dividends on the brisk afternoon.
An amazing field of 31 cars took the green flag for the final sprint feature in the Northeast this season, and did quite well early on with the first seven laps running caution free.
By lap three, Poirier had caught the tail end of the field but would have difficulty getting by. This allowed outside polesitter to close in and make a pair of bids for the lead. When the first caution flag flew it appeared as if Howland was the car to beat, but as the race went along, Poirier’s No. 28FM got better, the rubber on the track began to build up, and the cautions fell right into the leader’s hands.
“I thought the lapped cars would make a big difference,” admitted Poirier after the event. “I was a bit tight on turn entry with lapped cars and it was tough to get around them so probably if I would have raced with them a long time I would have had a problem but every time we got to traffic we got a yellow so it played out in my favor today.”
In the final 18 laps, Poirier was never in lapped traffic for more than a lap. A caution would fly with one lap remaining though and force the veteran to reflect on his racing past to guide him to his third sprint win at Brockville.
“I remembered on the last lap that my first sportsman race I lead the whole race and I got passed in the final corner and I felt that I learned from that mistake from like 15 years ago.”
In this his 12th sprint start at Brockville, Poirier’s fifth place finish in his heat was only the third time he has not won his qualifier at the ¼-mile; interestingly enough, on two of those three occasions now he has gone on to win the feature.
Bryan Howland’s runner-up finish was a solid showing for a multi-time champion that had a season not up to his team’s standards. Howland appeared to have a car capable of chasing down Poirier early on, but in the late stages his No. 51 tightened up and noted afterwards that he was riding the brake the entire way around the track to keep his car turning.
While the front row drivers remained in the top two spots, Jason Barney drove up from eighth to get in the top three early on and round out the podium.
Barney had second late in the race but a caution flag would appear before he could complete that lap. Michael Parent started and finished fourth but had to work his way back up after a slow start.
Justin Barger finished in fifth, which was more than enough to claim the Inaugural PST Canada Championship. Barger was the talk of the heat races as he drove from 10th to the win, but a seventh place starting spot on a track that was difficult to pass on prohibited him from repeating at “The Beast of the East.”