DRELLOS WINS FIRST OF THE SEASON AT FONDA – RJ SWEEPS BILL AG MATCH RACES ON THE WAY TO A $4451 PAYOFF FOR 10 LAPS RUN
By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – Not even a break in the 30-lap Amsterdam Truck Center Modified feature with 12-laps to go could deter Demetrios Drellos from getting his first win of the season at Fonda on Saturday evening.
The break occurred when the ambulance had to leave the premises after a scary incident in turn one when Kurtis Hohensheldt flipped his car. The ambulance took Hohensheldt to St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam, NY and with no other ambulances available the races could not proceed so the Fireworks display was lit off during that time.
The race stayed clean and green over the final 12-laps with Drellos getting his first win of 2023 and the third of his career at the “Track of Champions”.
“It was like when the lights went out at Afton,” Drellos told Mimi Lazzaro in F.X. Caprara Car Companies Victory Lane. “I said to the guys you might think this is okay but it’s a little nerve wracking for me. We have a good car, we were a little off earlier today, I wish that I could have had a little better showing in the Bill Ag Memorial match races.”
One driver who had no issues whatsoever during the 8th Annual Bill Ag Memorial match races was RJ Ronnie Johnson who swept all five rounds of the event on his way to a $4,451 payout! Johnson is now a four time winner of the event after victories back in 2016, 2017, & 2021. It is also the third time that Johnson swept every round in the event after doing so back in 2016 & 2021!
“It’s pretty cool to see this event get bigger and bigger every year,” Johnson said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Bill was a great guy, and it shows who he was with all of this support of this event. It’s just something special. This race has been great to us, it’s an honor to support Bill and his whole family.”
Other winners on Dirt Track Digest Night at the Fonda Speedway were Payton Talbot (Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Luke Horning (Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks), Jonathan Feagles (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Ken Hollenback (Fonda Fair SOHC Four Cylinder), and Corey Valade (Fonda Fair DOHC Four Cylinder).
David Schilling and Dave Camara started the 30-lap Amsterdam Truck Center Modified feature on the front row with the red flag out at the initial start for a multi car wreck in turn four that occurred when Bobby Hackel IV and Demetrios Drellos got bottled up down low in the turn. Most of the drivers involved were able to continue except for Ronnie Johnson and Bobby Varin.
At the second attempt to start the event, Schilling raced out to an early advantage while seventh place starter Demetrios Drellos made moves to get to the front, getting by Dave Constantino and Dave Camara on the inside of turn four for the second position on lap four. Schilling was out to a straightaway advantage at that point but by lap eight Drellos was closing and closing quickly on the leader.
While Drellos chased Schilling for the top spot, Dave Constantino and Cody Clark were moving up as well, both of them getting by Camara for the third and fourth positions on lap ten. Drellos had caught Schilling at this point and took the lead away on lap 11 with a pass on the inside of the backstretch. By lap 18, Drellos was out to a straightaway plus advantage when Matt DeLorenzo slowed on the frontstretch when he blew an oil line to bring out the caution.
The red flag was out on the restart for Kurtis Hohensheldt who hit the wall in turn one and flipped his car violently. Hohensheldt was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital by ambulance. With no other ambulances available, Fonda Speedway management decided to set off the fireworks display while waiting for the ambulance to return to the track.
When the race resumed, Drellos pulled away to a comfortable lead and went on to his first win of 2023 and the third of his career at Fonda in the Drellos Motorsports #111 over Schilling, eighth place starter Alex Yankowski, Constantino, and Clark. The second place finish by Schilling was put on hold by speedway management for tire testing with samples sent out to Blue Ridge Labs to be examined.
“We tried some stuff tonight and had a good test,” Drellos said. “Hopefully, we can bring back a fast car again next week. You learn a lot of different techniques driving a late model, and a lot of different things that you can do to your car too. Truthfully more racing, I don’t care if it’s a go-kart, it doesn’t matter because it all helps.”
Kadon Hohensheldt led the first two laps of the Swagger factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature until fourth place starter Michael McCallion took over the lead on lap three with a pass on the outside of turn two. Stephen Gray and Blaine Klinger also got by Hohensheldt for the second and third positions on lap five with McCallion now out to a straightaway advantage.
At the halfway point in the event, McCallion was setting a quick pace with a comfortable lead until lap 13 when Chip Constantino spun in turn two. Speedway management felt that Chad Edwards had gotten into Constantino to cause the spin, so they put Edwards to the rear for the restart. After another yellow on the restart, the next one was single file with McCallion holding on to the lead when the green flag was dropped.
At this point all eyes were on point leader Payton talbot who started the event in the 18th position and was running in the top five by lap 14. Lap after lap Talbot would pick off another car, and by lap 18 he was the new second place car after getting by Klinger for the position. With three laps to go, Talbot passed McCallion on the outside of the backstretch and went on to his fifth win of the season and the ninth of his career in the division over McCallion, Klinger, Gray, and Brian Calabrese.
McCallion failed to make weight in post-race inspection and was disqualified after a great run moving Brett Mortensen into the top five.
“This car is awesome,” Talbot said in victory lane. Honestly, I didn’t know if there was gonna be a top side for us tonight. I got a pretty good run off of turn two and I think that is what saved us. I have to thank Mike (Walton) for giving us this rocket ship.”
The best feature of the evening may have been the 20-lap Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stock feature with a lot of three and four wide racing action throughout the event. It all began with fourth place starter Shane Playford leading lap one after a four wide battle at the start in turn two. On lap seven, Luke Horning was side by side with Playford for the lead and one lap later Horning was the new race leader.
Playford got the lead back at the halfway point in the event with the top five at that point consisting of Playford, Horning, 10th place starter Devon Camenga, Andy Graves, and Josh Coonradt. On lap 11, Horning took the lead back from Playford on the inside of turn four with the caution flag out on lap 17 for Kenny Gates who slowed on the frontstretch with a line of fluid dropped on the track. During the caution period, Camenga suffered a left rear flat tire while running second. He went to the hot pit and restarted at the end of the field.
Horning held on for the final three laps for his first win of the 2023 season and the 27th of his career in the division while Josh Coonradt got by Playford on the final lap for the second position. Playford raced the final lap with his hood popping up in the air but was able to finish third with eighth place starter Ivan Joslin and Jason Morrison completing the top five.
“That last caution came out and I heard those two (Camenga and Playford) were second and third and I said oh man,” Horning said in victory lane. “Devin (Camenga) beat me in the heat race and Shane (Playford) has been kicking my butt all year. It was a little nerve wracking, I just wanted to keep my momentum up on the restarts without bottling anyone up and keep the car straight. There was a lot of bite on the bottom, so I wanted to make sure to hit it straight and get back to the throttle.”
Jonathan Feagles led all 15-laps of the Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman feature for his second win of the season and the second of his career in the division. John Anderson, Kyle Dingman, Michael Kalkbrenner, and Bob Rhinehardt completed the top five.
Last week’s winner Corey Valade took the lead on the final lap from Brandon Ely to win the overall Fonda Fair Four Cylinder feature in the DOHC class while Ken Hollenback finished fourth overall but was declared the SOHC winner.
Next Saturday, July 15 One Zee Tees and Aim Autism presents Autism Awareness Night with Thunder on the Thruway events for the Amsterdam Truck Center Modifieds, the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), and the Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks. All other regular divisions will also be in action as well.
If you are a race fan that gets to the track early, be sure to check out the Fonda Speedway Museum & Hall of Fame which is located on the Fonda Fairgrounds at the rear of the parking area going down towards turn four. The museum is open from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on race days and admission is free!
Since 1953, the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway has hosted the best in stock car racing. Under the management of BD Motorsports Media LLC, the speedway will operate weekly on Saturday nights from April through August plus several special events. Fonda Speedway is located on the Montgomery County Fairgrounds off New York State Thruway Exit No. 28 at 21 S. Bridge Street Fonda, NY 12068.
Fonda Speedway is on the web at www.thefondaspeedway.com. To learn more, call the office at 518.915.4395, like Fonda Speedway on Facebook www.facebook.com/thefondaspeedwy or follow the speedway on Twitter: @thefondaspdwy.
DIRT TRACK DIGEST PRESENTS THE 8TH ANNUAL BILL AG MEMORIAL NIGHT
AMSTERDAM TRUCK CENTER MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – DEMETRIOS DRELLOS, David Schilling (finish being held for tire testing, samples were sent out to Blue Ridge Labs), Alex Yankowski, Dave Constantino, Cody Clark, Danny Varin, Rocky Warner, Chris Curtis, Pep Corradi, Dave Camara, Jack Lehner, Matt DeLorenzo, Tucker O’Connor, JaMike Sowle, Ronnie Holmes, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Brian Calabrese, Shawn McPhee, Brandon Daley, Bobby Hackel IV, Dale Gray, Brian Pessolano, Ronnie Johnson, Bobby Varin, Ryan Walther, Daniel Morgiewicz (DNS)
1st win of 2023 and the 3rd of his career in the division for Drellos.
LAP LEADERS – 1-10 Schilling, 11-30 Drellos
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Schilling, Clark, Corradi
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – PAYTON TALBOT, Blaine Klinger, Stephen Gray, Brian Calabrese, Brett Mortensen, Clayton DuMond, Tanner Warner, Chad Edwards, Brendan Gibbons, Jason Greco, Butchie Irwin, Zach Dufel, Kadon Hohensheldt, John DuMond, Tim Dwyer, Chip Constantino, Jeremy Tyrrell, Jason Reome, Wesley Sutliff, Don Bellen, Troy Zilles, Matt Perry, Mark Mortensen, Harry Shaffer, Tavien Blowers, Clyde Peek, Zack McSpirit, Michael McCallion (DQ weight)
5th win of 2023 and the 9th of his career in the division for Talbot.
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 Hohensheldt, 3-21 McCallion, 22-25 Talbot
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Edwards, McCallion, Shaffer
GRECO’S NAPA HARD CHARGER AWARD – Talbot 18th to 1st.
BELOW ZERO ICE CREAM PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – LUKE HORNING, Josh Coonradt, Shane Playford, Ivan Joslin, Jason Morrison, Andy Graves, Caden Dumblewski, Randy Cosselman, Slater Baker, Devon Camenga, Michael Achzet, Don Collins, Nick Santuccione, Kenny Gates, Beau Ballard, Gary Silkey, Jim Normoyle
1st win of 2023 and the 27th of his career in the division for Horning.
LAP LEADERS – 1-7 Playford, 8-9 Horning, 10 Playford, 11-20 Horning
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Camenga, Playford
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-LAPS – JONATHAN FEAGLES, John Anderson, Kyle Dingman, Michael Kalkbrenner, Bobby Rhinehardt, AJ Greco, Mike Hill, Tim Deffer, Tyler Bobar, Lance Hill, Tim Wilmot, Kirsten Swartz, Bob Rowback, Corky Warner, Jim Malia, Brandon Tyler, Bella Pickard, Steve Wagoner, Jason Palumbo, Dale Van Allen, Dylan Huston, Aaron Armitage (DNS), Brandon Goodell (DNS)
2nd win of 2023 and the 2nd of his career in the division for Feagles
LAP LEADERS – 1-15 Feagles
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Kalkbrenner, Rhinehardt, Dingman
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – COREY VALADE (DOHC), Brandon Ely, Kerrie Hollenback, KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), Damien Ward, Len St. Andrews, Tim Warner, Hayleigh Gates, Jacob Kimball, TJ Marlitt, Tom Hill, Brittany Ladd, Wayne Russell Jr., David Peek Britten, John Ray
7th win of 2023 and the 92nd of his career in the division for Hollenback
2nd win of 2023 and the 2nd win of his career in the division for Valade.
LAP LEADERS – 1-11 Ely, 12 Valade
BILL AG MEMORIAL MODIFIED MATCH RACES
ROUND 1 – Ronnie Johnson defeated Demetrios Drellos
ROUND 2 – Ronnie Johnson defeated Matt DeLorenzo
ROUND 3 – Ronnie Johnson defeated Rocky Warner
ROUND 4 – Ronnie Johnson defeated Alex Yankowski
ROUND 5 – Ronnie Johnson defeated Cody Clark
Johnson also swept the Bill Ag event back in 2016 & 2021 while Tim Fuller swept the event back in 2018.
|Bill Ag Dash Listing|
|Random Draw in Pits – Demetrios Drellos (111) (LC)||Lap 1 Leader||David Schilling (20)|
|Random Draw in Pits – Ronnie Johnson (2RJ)||WINNER|
|17th on Lap 2||Jack Lehner (85)|
|Round 1 Winner – Ronnie Johnson (2RJ)||WINNER||3rd on Lap 3||Dave Constantino (34)|
|1st Pick – Matt DeLorenzo (3D) (LC)|
|Lap 11 Leader||Demetrios Drellos (111)|
|Round 2 Winner – Ronnie Johnson (2RJ)||WINNER||11th on Lap 11||Tucker O’Connor (42)|
|Pick – Rocky Warner (1) (LC)|
|Halfway Leader||Demetrios Drellos (111)|
|Round 3 Winner – Ronnie Johnson (2RJ)||WINNER||4th Finish||Dave Constantino (34)|
|Pick – Alex Yankowski (84Y) (LC)|
|5th Finish||Cody Clark (4)|
|Round 4 Winner – Ronnie Johnson (2RJ) (LC)||WINNER||6th Finish||Danny Varin (93)|
|Last Pick – Cody Clark (4)|
|7th Finish||Rocky Warner (1)|
|Fastest Elimination Lap – Overall||Ronnie Johnson (2RJ)||18.687|
|8th Finish||Chris Curtis (35)|
|Final Driver 7-11 in Points (No Jess Friesen)|
|Fastest in Hot Laps||Cody Clark (4)||18.183||9th Finish||Pep Corradi (21P)|
|2nd Fastest in Hot Laps||Bobby Hackel IV (97H)||18.406|
|3rd Fastest in Hot Laps||Chris Curtis (35)||18.543||10th Finish||Dave Camara (24)|
|4th Fastest in Hot Laps||Jack Lehner (85)||18.653|
|5th Fastest in Hot Laps||David Constantino (34)||19.025||11th Finish||Jack Lehner (85)|
|12th Finish||Matt DeLorenzo (3D)|
|Hot Lap Hero||Cody Clark (4)||18.183|
|Alex Yankowski (84Y)||18.226||13th Finish||Tucker O’Connor (42)|
|Heats||14th Finish||JaMike Sowle (76)|
|Heat 1 Winner||David Schilling (20)|
|Heat 2 Winner||Cody Clark (4)||15th Finish||Ronnie Holmes (82)|
|Heat 3 Winner||Pep Corradi (21P)|
|16th Finish||Kurtis Hohensheldt (54H)|
|First Car on Hook||Ronnie Johnson (2RJ)||2nd Heat||17th Finish||Brian Calabrese (21C)|
|18th Finish||Shawn McPhee (M2)|
|19th Finish||Brandon Daley (44T)|
|20th Finish||Bobby Hackel IV (97H)|
|21st Finish||Dale Gray (61)|
|22nd Finish||Brian Pessolano (24P/15A)|
|23rd Finish||Ronnie Johnson (2RJ)|
|24th Finish||Bobby Varin (18)|
|Last Car on Lead Lap||JaMike Sowle (76)|
|1st 1 Lap Down||Ronnie Holmes (82)|
|Feature Hard Charger||Kurtis Hohensheldt (54H) – +9, 25th to 16th|
|Hard Luck||Kurtis Hohensheldt (54H) – Destroyed Car|
|Bill Ag Award||Pep Corradi (21P)