THE 2023 FONDA 200 TAKES PLACE NEXT WEEKEND
By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – History. Prestige. Payout.
The famed Fonda 200 at Fonda Speedway is set for Thurs.-Sat. Sept. 14-16 in Montgomery County, N.Y., assembling the top names in Northeast dirt-track auto racing for a three-day racing festival.
The Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco competes for its largest total purse of the season in a 200-lap grind offering points toward both the Ollie’s Elite Series and River Valley Builders North Region.
The ‘200’ headlines a program that includes an Amsterdam Truck Center Modified ‘Underdog’ event, the STSS Crate 602 Sportsman, CRSA Sprint Cars, Montgomery County Office for Aging Limited Sportsman, Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks, Stone Motorsports/Online Performance Street Stocks and Fonda Fair Four Cylinders.
A complete information center has been set up for the Fonda 200 weekend on both the Short Track Super Series and Fonda Speedway websites.
A LOOK BACK AT THE 2022 FONDA 200 WEEKEND
Fonda, NY – Day 1 of the 2022 Fonda 200 weekend presented by Southside Beverage saw the #2 Benson’s Pet Center Modified of Jack Lehner in victory lane for his first win of the 2022 season and the second of his career at Fonda in the “Underdog 33” event. Lehner’s first win at Fonda was back on 5/1/2021 in the Nelson Motorsports #85 but last night the win came in his self-owned #2 powered by a motor borrowed from Paul Pinkerous.
“I have a lot of cool people that make this all happen for me and thanks to Paul Pinkerous, this is his motor that he let us use this week,” Lehner told Mimi Lazzaro in victory lane.
The other event held on Thursday evening was a 20-lap event for the Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman cars and it was Kyle Dingman taking home the $1,100 win in the Sickler Construction car #1D. For Dingman it was his fourth win of the 2022 season and the sixth of his career in the division at Fonda.
“When I ended up getting up to second with Butchie (Irwin) there, I knew that he’s been doing this stuff for a long time,” Dingman said in F.X. Caprara Car Companies Victory Lane. “My only thinking was I knew he was gonna fire there at the first sign and I just had to drive it harder into the turn. He did that but it stuck for me, and I drove out to a lead and never looked back after that.”
Day 2 of the 2022 Fonda 200 weekend presented by Southside Beverage was held on Friday evening at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway with five different classes of race cars in action including the STSS Modifieds, the Algonkin Motel Pro Stocks, the Fonda Fair Four Cylinders, the CRSA Sprint Cars, and the Street Stocks all in action.
STSS Modified Fonda 200 Qualifier #1 presented by Park’s Companies saw Billy Decker take the lead from Jack Lehner on lap eight and go on for the win and the $500 bonus from Park’s Companies. In victory lane afterwards, Decker had a great quote about the Fonda 200 coming up tomorrow.
“The outside was a little slippery there when we were doing the pace laps but then it felt pretty good under that caution, so I sailed it in there, it stuck, and I got away with one,” Decker told Mimi Lazzaro in F.X. Caprara Car Companies Victory Lane. “It would be big; we didn’t come here to get our hair cut. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow now and I certainly would like to knock this one off. These new lights help a guy like me see better.”
STSS Modified Fonda 200 Qualifier #2 presented by Fastline Performance was won by Stewart Friesen who led all 15-laps on the way to the $500 bonus from Fastline Performance.
“You get a better look at the front stretch with these new lights that’s for sure,” Friesen said in victory lane afterwards. “The place looks good, and the track is in good shape. The Halmar #44 is fast, more motor problems with the #1Z which is unfortunate, but I’m proud of the Halmar Team, we’ve got a fast hot rod here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. The track is very fast right now but it’s going to change a lot for tomorrow for sure.”
STSS Modified Fonda 200 Qualifier #3 presented by Upstate Auto saw Max McLaughlin lead every lap on his way to the $500 bonus from Upstate Auto.
“I just had to float it through the corner through the black,” McLaughlin said in victory lane. “The lap traffic got a little interesting there a couple of times, my car really got free around the lap cars. I was pretty happy with the car, but we’ll make a couple more changes to it to get it a little bit better and hopefully come tomorrow we’ll be able to give them a run for their money. Fonda isn’t one of my better tracks, but it sure has been good so far this weekend.”
Bobby Hackel IV led all 15-laps of the STSS Modified Fonda 200 Qualifier #4 taking home a $500 bonus from Dave Prime Jr. Mac Tools.
“Yesterday (Thursday) was a good precursor for tonight,” Hackel said in victory lane. “Unfortunately, it’s one race you almost never want to qualify for (the Underdog 33 for non-winners). We’ve had a really good season and getting out here to Fonda and running Utica Rome, getting my ass out on the road is helping our program racing with Brett Deyo and his staff, I just love what they are doing.”
“I’m trying to chase the coat tails of the big guys,” Hackel continued saying. “I learn from them every time and we’re getting close. I want to be better out on the road, race with the best of the best, keep chasing them around and learning things. They do it full time, so they better be good, so if I want to get there someday, I better go out and do it and learn to race with them. I’ve got great people behind me that are leading me to do this, so I’ll keep trying to roll with it, keep making notes, and learn how to drive these things better.”
Fonda Speedway Pro Stock All-Time win leader Kenny Gates took the lead on lap seven of the 25-lap Pro Stock feature event and went on to his first win of the 2022 season at Fonda, and his first win since the same event at the Fonda 200 weekend in 2021.
“It’s taken us all year to get here,” Gates said in victory lane. “I couldn’t be happier. I just had to run clean laps because I knew that the Utica Rome Track Champion (Ballard) was right up my tail, so I had to turn good laps, or he was gonna go by us. I was able to hit my marks and finish the race out clean to get here to victory lane. There was grip on the bottom tonight and that suits me perfectly. They call me the catfish and the catfish swam on the bottom tonight.”
Mike Kiser started the CRSA Sprint feature in the 10th position, made a cross over move in turn four to get the lead on lap 15, and led the remaining five laps for his first win of the season at Fonda and the fifth of his career at the “Track of Champions”, placing him in the number one position on the All-Time Win List in the division at Fonda.
“It came together really well,” Kiser told Brady Houser in victory lane. “I normally don’t run the bottom, but I tried the top and it just wasn’t working. It’s too far around, I’ve never hit the bottom so hard for so many laps in my life so I guess that I can drive in the slick a little bit. Jeff (Trombley) is a great guy, he’s always helping me, so I’ve got to thank him and the Warren Alexson #3 Team for all of their help. This motor from John Grant has great power so I have to thank him as well.”
Stone Motorsports/Online Performance put up $1,000 total ($500 to win, $300 for second, and $200 for third) to bring the Street Stocks back to Fonda for Fonda 200 weekend with Chris Murray leading every lap of the 20-lap event for the win after starting the race in the second position. In post-race tech, Murray was disqualified for an illegal exhaust handing the win over to pole position starter Adam Tranka who finished behind Murray before the disqualification.
“You’ve got to be in it to win it,” Tranka said in victory lane. “Chris (Murray) had a very fast car; I was just trying to settle in there. The last couple of laps I was getting closer and closer, but I just couldn’t get to him. This is a really great win for us, I’ve come here since I was a little kid so to get a win here at Fonda, Oh My God.”
The 15-lap Fonda Fair Four Cylinder feature saw Brandon Ely take the lead on lap six and went on to his first career win at Fonda in the DOHC class. Ken Hollenback finished second overall and was the SOHC winner.
Day 3 of the 2022 Fonda 200 weekend saw Matt Sheppard start the $53,000 to win event in the 11th position and when he came out of the pit area after the halfway break he restarted the event in the 13th position. Sheppard took over the lead on a lap 132 restart and survived two more caution flags to take the win.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” Sheppard told Chris Moore in victory lane regarding the last few laps of the event. “I felt pretty comfortable but there with three or four laps to go I felt like the thing dropped down on the left rear and I thought that I was getting a flat tire. I was scared to death but then it kind of took back off.”
“We had a decent car all weekend, decent but not really good enough to win,” Sheppard continued. We just kept working on it and working on it and took one last stab at it during the halfway break. This thing came to life in the second half of the race, and I finally found the balance that I was looking for. Such a great season, and I can’t say enough about this whole team, but I can’t wait to see my picture on this trophy with all of the other winners.”
Cody Clark led from his pole position start in the Crate 602 Sportsman feature, lost the lead for a few laps but took it back for good on a restart with nine laps to go and went on to the win in the event.
“When I came in after the heat race, I had no idea if we were gonna be able to make it out for the feature,” Clark said in victory lane. “All the guys from DKM along with guys from other race teams came over to help, it’s amazing how other people come and help out everybody. We’ve had a decent year in my book, a lot of bad luck more than anything, we put a lot of preparation coming into this race, all we wanted to do is win and end the year on a good note, so we were able to do that.”
A LOOK AHEAD TO THE 2023 FONDA 200
A place in history.
The most lucrative winner’s share in Northeast Modified racing will be distributed in Montgomery County, N.Y., Sept. 14-16 with the annual Fonda 200 at Fonda Speedway.
The stars of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco clash with Fonda Speedway’s best in pursuit of a $53,000 grand prize.
The historic – and now annual – event offers a total purse nearing $140,000 for Saturday’s main event.
The ‘Fonda 200’ also plays a hand in both the Ollie’s ‘Elite’ Series (Round No. 3) and the River Valley Builders North Region (Round No. 10), paying $15,000 each, respectively, to their champions.
The 2023 Fonda 200 weekend begins next Thursday (Sept. 14) with the Amsterdam Truck Center Modified ‘Ultimate Underdog 33’ taking place. Any driver unable to pick up a Modified victory at any speedway this season will be eligible to participate.
The Montgomery County Office of the Aging Limited Sportsman join the program as well. Open Practice for all other divisions participating during the weekend will also be available.
On Friday (Sept. 15) the STSS big-block/small-block Modifieds take part in 15-lap Qualifying Races for Saturday’s main event.
Joining STSS Modified Qualifying Races will be the CRSA Sprint Cars, the Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks, Stone Motorsports/Online Performance Street Stocks and Fonda Fair Four Cylinders.
The weekend concludes on Saturday, Sept. 16. The STSS Modifieds take part in Last Chance Races to set the final starting field for the $53,000-to-win ‘Fonda 200’ headliner paying $1,000 to take the green flag.
The Swagger Factory Apparel STSS Crate 602 Sportsman join the Saturday program, battling for 25-laps in Round No. 6 of the Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region.
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 or follow the speedway on Twitter: @thefondaspdwy or Instagram: @fondaspeedway.
To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.
The Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, FloSports, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Rent Equip/Party Central, BDR Speed, Bicknell Racing Products, Ollie’s, Penske Racing Shocks, Wegner Automotive, River Valley Builders, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, DIG Race Products, Velocita-USA, Franklin Products, Design for Vision & Sunglass Central, Belmont’s Garage, Quality Drywall, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, Prime MAC Tools, F.X. Caprara Car Companies, Algonkin Motel, Beyea Custom Headers, Dirt Track Digest, EIBACH, Electric Neon Custom Signs, Fastline Performance, Flach Performance Products, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, Schultz Racing Fuel Cells, Spyder Filters, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO & Wilwood.