Victory Gives Zych NEMA Championship
THOMPSON, Conn. – John Zych Jr. won the 25-lap Northeastern Midget Ass’n feature Sunday during Thompson Int’l Speedway’s season-ending Sunoco World Series.
He captured the 2013 driving championship as well in a series of acts worthy of a classic script.
En route to his fifth win of the season, Zych inherited the lead when a leaking Todd Bertrand fell victim to a black flag. He then beat back two restart challenges from Randy Cabral, who had a five-point edge atop the standings going in.
“I absolutely didn’t want that,” said Zych. “Knowing the way Randy runs here. But I always felt it was in my hands.”
Cabral, who won the last two championships, was actually nipped for second at the line by Bobby Santos III, giving Zych a 17- point bulge in the final standings. Brothers Russ and Greg Stoehr completed the top five.
Zych’s dad has the same edge over Tim Bertrand atop the owner standings.
Pointing out his car “wasn’t perfect,” Zych kept the hammer down and was 1.4 seconds ahead of the Santos/Cabral duel. He was always aware of the five point difference.
The first restart challenge came with 16 to go. Zych and Cabral ran side-by-side into one, Zych coming out of two with the edge. Cabral actually led into three before the eventual winner exited four with a lead he quickly enlarged.
Five laps later yellow showed again. On the single file restart, Cabral again made a bid in three but Zych ran away with what was the quickest lap of the day, a sizzling 17.734.
“I didn’t hand it to John and I feel good about that,” summed up Cabral. “I think everything went the way it was supposed to.”
Cabral came back from a pit stop on lap nine when initial leader Avery Stoehr spun.
“I was way too tight,” he said. “I was afraid of doing too much and I wound up not doing enough.”
Zych took advantage of Cabral’s early handling woes with a pass three laps in and was sitting fourth when Avery spun.
He had climbed to third when yellow showed and, on the caution Bertrand, was black flagged. The hose had come out of the overflow bottle. He went back out only to have the bottle fall out on his return. Prior to that, Bertrand had turned a 17.827 lap, prompting the question; did Zych have enough to run him down?
Zych responded with a smile and a nod.