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Racing Around: Zemken running well with old ride

June 17, 2010
By JAMES?A. ELLIS, The Leader-Herald

Sometimes you have to take a step back and regroup before you can move forward.

That is what Jessica Zemken did.

The 2010 sprint car season did not start out the way she anticipated it would. She had new cars, a new crew, new sponsors, but success was not in the equation.

Then the team made a decision that turned her season around.

"We ended up bringing out the old car, my old car, that is about six years old," she said. "We thought it was just going to be sitting in the shop all year in case we needed it. We didn't plan on running it because the equipment we had to replace it was supposed to be a lot better. We just couldn't get those cars going and I couldn't get comfortable in them. We brought out the old car and it has been like night and day difference."

Since making the change, Zemken has posted a pair of ESS A-main victories (Utica-Rome, Granby) a second and a third. The lone setback came at Fonda Speedway where, after winning the dash for cash and moving forward in the main, she clipped the wall and restarted at the rear to finish 19th.

When the 410 All-Star sprinters came to Fonda on June 9, Zemken's confidence was building.

"We have only run the 410, I think, four times this year, but this is the first time with it in this car," she said. "We ran against the World of Outlaws at Paducah, Kentucky. We ran half-decently in our heat race and got by some cars to make the show. We ran at Granby (June 7) and finished second to Tim Shaffer, so that was a big confidence builder. When we run against these guys, it is always a learning experience."

Zemken won her heat race at Fonda against stout competition and won her second straight sprint car dash at The Track of Champions. She held the lead early in the 25-lap feature before finishing third behind Daryn Pittman and Tyler Walker.

"There is not supposed to be a whole lot of difference between the chassis, but obviously I feel a lot more comfortable in this car," Zemken said. "There are just a couple of minor differences in the chassis, but we are definitely going to have to regroup and get rid of those chassis and get something more like this because I don't even want to get into those cars now. We have a new one sitting in the top [of the hauler] right now [that] I don't want anything to do with. This old thing here works and everything we do I can feel every adjustment. It is my favorite car."

Zemken said the season, so far, has afforded her many new opportunities.

"I am getting a lot of experience and getting more comfortable running a lot of different tracks, meeting a lot of people, getting some really good experience and learning a lot," she said. ""It is awesome. I have awesome sponsors. Tony Stewart Racing, Eldora Speedway and Pro Tech Merchandising are huge supporters and even when the season wasn't going so good, they were still there and stuck with me. Now we are getting them good results. Hopefully, we can keep it going."

Looking back

With five rainouts so far this season at Fonda, that puts them ahead of last year, which had nine rained-out events.

In 2009, Mother Nature won three straight races from June 12 to June 26, with Bobby Varin winning on June 5. Matt DeLorenzo snapped Mother Nature's win streak on July 4, but she won again on July 11.

Rescheduled races

Two races that were rained out on May 8 have been re-scheduled.

The Thunder Series Sportsman Best of Four event will now be run on Aug. 3, while the as a companion event to the 60-lap $6,000 to win Thunder on the Thruway Modified Series event. A rain date for that night has been set for Aug. 4.

The Thunder Series Pro Stock Best of Four event will now be run as the Hondo Classic event on July 10.

A new date for the Dave Lape Tribute night has yet to be scheduled.



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