MERCER, PA — official release by Rich Vleck — The consistency of top finishes for Jared Zimbardi finally combined with some luck Saturday night and resulted in his first PST win of the year.
Zimbardi, of Bradford, PA, scored his 13th career Patriot Sprint Tour win at Mercer Raceway Park on Saturday Night, scoring $2,000 in an event made possible by Bonnell’s Collision Centers. The reigning PST Champion inherited the lead on lap 17 after race-long leader Steve Collins clipped an infield tire and spun around. Zimbardi then had to work hard to hold off Paige Polyak in the closing laps to snag the checkered flag.
“You’ve got to go full-out or you don’t win these things and we got a little bit of luck tonight,” noted Zimbardi in Victory Lane.
Zimbardi dominated his heat race, as did Todd Hoddick and George Suprick in their respective events. The redraw gave him the fourth starting position, but with a stout 20-car field in place things were sure to get interesting.
Coming to the start of the race, polesitter Mitch Brown spun the tires coming out of turn four, allowing the top line of outside polesitter Steve Collins and Zimbardi to take command of the top two spots.
Collins held a quality lead through the first half of the event, with Zimbardi staying within an earshot of the No. 67. As the duo approached lapped traffic just past halfway though, Zimbardi, along with Paige Polyak, had reeled in the leader as they began to move through the back of the pack.
Coming to complete lap 18, Collins moved to the inside in turn three, but got down to low and after making contact with the tire, folded up the front end and spun.
“It was going to get interesting in lapped traffic because here it always comes down to that and I was pretty good around 1 and 2 on the high side but I guess he made it a little easier for me,” noted Zimbardi after the event.
With Zimbardi now in the lead, it appeared that he would capture his first 360 win of the season with ease, but Polyak’s presence, along with an adjustment he made nearly squashed that.
“I wasn’t sure if it was her but I was almost 90% sure it was. I slid the wing back for the restart and the thing hooked up so much I almost drove over the frontstretch cone and she got alongside of me but thankfully we held her off.”
Zimbardi would have to survive one final restart on lap 21, which would actual be to his benefit as Polyak’s No. 19 was better on longer runs. Zimbardi would cruise to a comfortable win in the final four lap sprint.
The two-time series champion added in Victory Lane that his trip to Mercer earlier in the season in a 410 helped him a lot in understanding what the track would do.
Polyak’s runner-up finish came after a win in the Four Laps of Fame Dash for the second-straight night. Despite starting ninth, the Tiffin, OH driver was up to fourth by the second lap. She moved in to third before halfway but needed longer runs to go for the win.
After Mitch Brown’s bobble coming to the initial green flag, the Canadian was able to settle in and run to a smooth third place finish.
George Suprick returned to the site of the last race he ran before his heart attack one year ago this weekend and scored a fourth place finish, as he did in the event in 2013.
Joe Trenca scored his first career top five finish off the strength of a bold three-wide move he made on the final restart, moving by Scott Kreutter, who finished in sixth.
Paul Habeck was in seventh until the final corner, when he folded up the front end, allowing locals CJ Jones and Dennis Wagner to finish seventh and eighth, respectively.
Parker Evans finished in ninth, while Todd Hoddick rebounded from early issues to round out the top 10.
Bonnell’s A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Jared Zimbardi (35), 2. Paige Polyak (19), 3. Mitch Brown (10), 4. George Suprick (87), 5. Joe Trenca (98), 6. Scott Kreutter (10B), 7. Dennis Wagner (38o), 8. CJ Jones (10J), 9. Parker Evans (61), 10. Todd Hoddick (49), 11. Dave Just (54J), 12. Dane Lorenc (00), 13. Brad Knab (38), 14. Clint Ide (3), 15. Scott Just (54JR), 16. Derek Jonathan (81), 17. Paul Habeck (25H), 18. Jeremy Barnard (86), 19. Steve Collins (67), 20. Tyler Graves (25G).
Lap Leaders- Collins 1-17, Zimbardi 18-25.