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Zimbardi returns for a ‘rubber match’

Jared Zimbardi says he will arrive on a mission Friday when the traveling Patriot Sprint Tour makes its only visit of the season to Ransomville Speedway.

Zimbardi, nicknamed “The Juice,” went to the Patriot winner’s circle twice last season at Ransomville but only one counted in the record books.

The defending Patriot Sprint champion and Little Valley native will be seeking redemption of sorts following a post-race technical disqualification that stripped away his victory last August at the Niagara County dirt track oval. Zimbardi suffered a post-race technical disqualification by PST officials for what they deemed an “unapproved” left rear tire. Jason Barney was declared the winner.

He won the earlier Patriot event at Ransomville last June.

Zimbardi, 28, competes in both the Patriot and Empire Super Sprints, with both featuring winged 360 Sprint Cars that sport 360-cubic inch engines. He also competes in select races outside of these series – 410 Sprint Cars.

Zimbardi has enjoyed a stellar driving career, claiming the Patriot Spring American Series championship three of the last four years – 2011, 2013 and 2014. Last season Zimbardi enjoyed what he termed his career year, landing in the winner’s circle 10 times — eight times on the Patriot Tour amd once in his 410 Sprint Car at Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania.

It could have been 11 victories in 2014 if not for the disqualification at at Ransomville. Zimbardi had a 410 Sprint Car style tire on for the 25-lap A-Main at Ransomville but rules allowed for only 360 tires.

“I know that officially that win last August at Ransomville has been wiped away, and I understand that, but as far as I’m concerned I’m still in the mental mindset that I won that race,” said Zimbardi, who resides in Bradford, Pa. “It was a night I’ll never forget going from the high of a win to the low of losing it.

“I did have a 410 style left rear tire on my car but it was an accident. We had competed in a 410 race a few days before Ransomville and forgot to remove it from our trailer before we left for the race at Ransomville. When we put the tire on for the A-Main at Ransomville we accidentally grabbed the 410 tire from the trailer instead of a 360 tire and ran the A-Main with it.”

After starting 12th, Zimbardi gained the second position late in the race and with just a pair of laps remaining was trying to chase down leader Kevin Ward Jr. A lapped car bounced of the wall and began flipping and came in contact with Ward’s car. The damage forced Ward to the pits, unable to continue.

Zimbardi inherited the lead and victory. Or so he thought. After the Victory Lane ceremony the “unapproved” tire was discovered and Zimbardi’s victory evaporated before his very eyes.

“The ironic thing is that having a 410 style tire on the 360 car was no advantage,” Zimbardi said. “Because 410 Sprint Cars are so fast, the 410 style tire is actually designed to unhook the 410 car from the track to lose some traction to slow the car down a bit to make the turns. On a 360 car, the tire also reduces the speed of that car. So if anything it was a handicap to me by running that 410 tire at Ransomville. That’s why in my mind, while I understand the decision, I feel like I still won that race.”

Ironically, Zimbardi tasted Patriot Spring victory at Ransomville earlier last season. On June 6 he began that A-Main from the pole and held off a very competitive Stewart Friesen for the win. Zimbardi’s first career Patriot win at Ransomville occurred June 29, 2007.

As for 2015, Zimbardi has overcome deep starts to produce top-five runs at Stateline Speedway, Eriez Speedway and Raceway 7. He hopes he will enjoy a better A-Main starting position at Ransomville Speedway on Friday.

“If you do well in the heat races you then get a chance to redraw for one of the top-eight starting spots for the A-Main,” Zimbardi said. “This series is so competitive that you can win by starting deep in the field, and I’ve won races from there before. But usually you have to hope to start in one of the first two or three rows to really have a shot at a victory. A top-eight start I think will be vital at a fast track like Ransomville.”

The last time Zimbardi began a Patriot Spring A-Main in the top five was May 15 at the Black Rock Speedway in Dundee. He started fifth and won that race.

Zimbardi is third in Patriot Sprint Tour American Series points but is not running season title because he will miss certain events to go 410 Sprint Car racing elsewhere.

Pit stops

• Bruce Boland captured the Pro-Mod Shootout drag racing special on Tuesday before a large crowd at Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway. Boland turned in his best pass of the evening in his final round victory over Medina’s Mike Stawicki, running a time of 4.13 seconds at 164.64 mph down Lancaster’s one-eighth-mile strip.

“That final run was pretty good for a beat up, old Canadian,” laughed Boland of Stoney Creek, Ont. “I think the record here is a 4.10. The track was a little tricky at first tonight. We had to play with timing and fuel but every run the track came around a little bit better. We figured it out and had a little surprise for him in the final.”

The victory coupled with his top qualifier effort earned Boland a $5,250 payday.

• A major surprise occurred during time trials, when two-time world Pro Mod champion Mike Janis of Lancaster was one of the four non-qualifiers for the eight-car elimination field.

• Other winners Tuesday were: Wes Cayea, Box class and Dale Eckert, No-Box.