The races at Lake Erie Speedway were cancelled Saturday night due to weather, and though Cassadaga's Joelle Dziduch was looking forward to competing, the rainout also allows her another week on Cloud 9.
Dziduch, who has been racing for more than two years, recorded her first ever victory in the Compact Division last weekend.
Making the feat all the more impressive was the fact she was using a 4-cylinder vehicle, in a division where 6-cylinder cars compete.
Pictured from left are Justine Dziduch, Jenna Dziduch, Joelle Dziduch, Joe Dziduch Jr. and Lori Dziduch.?Joelle Dziduch took first place last Saturday in the Compact Division at Lake Erie Speedway.
Dziduch barely qualified for the feature race, as she finished the eight-lap heat race with a sixth-place finish.
"I spun out on the last lap and took sixth," Dziduch recalled. "The first round is a heat races - like qualifying. In my heat races, I have finished top five, but nothing better than top four."
In the 20-lap feature race, Dziduch started in ninth place.
"The first lap around, I came up to third place and battled for quite a while," Dziduch recalled. "We had one caution in the race. After that, it was smooth sailing. After that caution, I started second and fell back to fourth, then I moved up to second. There was one guy ahead of me, but with six or seven laps to go, his car overheated and leaked fluid. With four laps to go, I took the lead and won. I thought my car ran great the entire day during practice and in the heat. We had bought new tires a month ago. That has helped. But really nothing felt out of the ordinary."
For Dziduch, racing has been a sport which has brought the family closer together as she works on her car with her father Joe Jr., boyfriend Chad Graves and grandfather Joe Sr. Also part of the support group includes mother Lori, sisters Jenna and Justine, and grandmother Marcia. So when Joelle Dziduch crossed the finish line, it set off an emotional family celebration.
"I didn't want to mess up," she said about the final straight away. "It didn't sink in until I crossed the finish line. I had to stay in my lines and drive like I knew I should. At the end of race, there is a man that takes photos and hands you the checkered flag. When I got to him, I told him I had no idea what to do. I was crying and was so excited. I did a victory lap and met my parents. It was a mixture of emotions. There was crying and big hugs. They were so proud of me and I couldn't believe it actually happened. It was as exciting as anyone can imagine."
For the past week, Dziduch admits to constantly looking at the point standings and posting pictures to Facebook of her win.
"I can't believe it happened," she said. "It is incredible. I owe it all to my dad, boyfriend and grandpa. They have worked hard. All the hard work has paid off. I think people are in it for me this week because I am a girl and I drive a 4-cylinder car."
With just more than two years experience under her belt. Dziduch feels herself getting better and is raising the bar for where she wants to finish each week.
"I am finally getting the hang of it," she said. "I am staying in my lines and picking the correct lines. My mindset is a bit different, too. I definitely have gotten much better. This season has been a big, big change. Everyone says they can see changes in the way I can drive.
"Top five, we would be so happy with," she concluded about where her goals are finishing. "The division is so split. If we can finish top 5, I would be excited. But definitely want to shoot for first now."