FONDA, N.Y. – Lance Yonge did everything he had to do on Sunday afternoon at Fonda Speedway in an effort to win his third career series title, but at the end of the day even a feature victory in the 25-lap A-Main with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints wouldn’t be enough.
The popular Penn Yan, N.Y., driver came up a few points short to Chuck Hebing, who claimed his second consecutive tour title.
“This is good,” said Yonge. “It’s an excellent way to end the season. Chuck (Hebing) and I were in the point’s battle and it is unfortunate the way it turned out. He’s the champion and I have to give him a lot of credit. We are just happy to get a win at the end of the year.”
It was his third victory of the season and it came as part of the Universal American Stars and Stripes tour as well as the SUNY Canton racing series. Overall for the veteran driver it was the 39th of his career. It came after he ran near the back of the dash earlier in the afternoon. This forced him to change the car for A-Main which paid off.
“That one wasn’t easy,” said Yonge. “We struggled in that dash and that let me know I had to change the car. I knew what I had to do after that. I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it because they were calling us to the line and I was changing torsion bars and shocks and everything like that. It all worked out.”
Hebing started on the pole of the feature and took the lead early with Yonge taking over the runner-up spot on lap one. The two paced the field early on until Hebing slipped up in turns three and four on lap four allowing Yonge to drive by underneath for the lead.
Yonge set a torrid pace on the daytime surface. By the seventh lap he had a new challenger behind him in the form of Justin Barger. Barger, a multi-time Fonda winner in the past, moved into the second spot on lap seven after starting fifth at the green.
The pair remained glued together through the middle portions of the race. Barger applied constant pressure to Yonge but he was unable to find a way around. At the halfway point Yonge led Barger and local favorite Jessica Zemken.
Slower traffic was a factor for Yonge and several times he was forced to alter his lines in an attempt to get through. On lap 18 he drove extremely low in turns three and four with Barger getting run to the outside. They raced three wide as they exited the fourth turn with Yonge barely able to hold onto the lead.
On lap 21 Tommy Wickham spun exiting the fourth turn and did a complete 360 degree spin and kept going right in front of the lead. The green remained out and the top three remained unchanged.
The first caution of the race was displayed with 23 laps complete as Cory Sparks spun in turn four. This allowed everyone another opportunity to get by Yonge. On the double-file restart Mike Stelter and Danny Varin got together in the second turn bringing out a second caution.
With the restart now single-file, Yonge easily drove away over the final two laps for the win.
Barger, of Montrose, N.Y., gave it all he had in the closing laps but couldn’t find the groove to enable him to make the pass on Yonge for the lead.
“Lance (Yonge) has been around this deal a long time and he’s smart enough not to leave the bottom there,” commented Barger. “I tried everything I could to get by him. I ran out of track and tires. So to come out of here in second the way track was I’ll take it.”
Zemken, of Sprakers, N.Y., settled for a third place finish driving a car outfitted with a powerplant supplied by Michael Parent and company. Zemken missed the setup slightly but ultimately was pleased to finish in third.
“We’ll take third here at my home track,” commented Zemken. “I have to thank the whole Parent family. It is their motor in the car and without them I wouldn’t be able to race here tonight. So we’ll take a third.”
Shawn Donath motored his way forward from the 11th starting position to finish in fourth while Paul Kinney, of Canastota, N.Y., ran a steady race to complete the top five at the checkered flag.
Hebing secured his second consecutive championship on the back of a sixth place tally. The Ontario, N.Y., secured four feature wins throughout the 2012 racing season.
“It was a good year up until this race,” joked Hebing. “It seems like every year we come here racing for the title and miss the setup. At the end the track laid rubber and I wasn’t setup for that. Lance (Yonge) did what he had to do and he just came up a little short. We had a great year and I’m happy to get another championship.”