Lance Yonge wins Lucas Oil ESS event at Fonda
Lance Yonge did everything he had to do on Sunday afternoon 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 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 points 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 Yonge's 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.
Barger 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 the track was I'll take it."