YANKOWSKI, SOWLE, FRIESEN, & BERNIER WIN FONDA 200 QUALIFIERS WHILE GATES WINS PRO STOCK MAIN EVENT
By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – Day two of the 2023 edition of the Fonda 200 weekend took place on Friday evening at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway. Four heat races were on the schedule to qualify for the $53,000 Fonda 200 on Saturday with Alex Yankowski, JaMike Sowle, Stewart Friesen, and Steve Bernier taking the wins in the four 15-lap events. Each of the winners received $500 thanks to sponsorship from Fastline Performance, DKM Fabrications, Upstate Auto, and SHR Scott Hamlin Racing.
Other winners on Friday evening included Kenny Gates (Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks), Ken Hollenback (SOHC) and Jay Ingersoll (DOHC) Fonda Fair Four Cylinders, Jordan Hutton (CRSA Sprints), and Jason Meltz (Street Stocks).
Greg Nitz started opening ceremonies with a prayer followed by the singing of the Canadian Anthem by Stephanie May and then the National Anthem by Mimi Lazzaro. Congratulations to Cathy from Conklin who won the $3,029 50/50 and special thanks to the 50/50 sellers for all their hard work to benefit the drivers point fund.
STSS Modified Fonda 200 Qualifier #1 presented by Fastline Performance saw Alex Yankowski lead every lap to go on for the win and the $500 bonus from Fastline Performance.
“Really we’ve just busted our butts all year long,” Yankowski said after the win. “Murray is doing a heck of a job with the engine program, he saw something he didn’t like when doing motor maintenance, so we did what we thought was best, took it out of the car on Monday, stripped it down to the block, and rebuilt it on Tuesday and Wednesday and put it back in the car.”
“I’ve had years where I’ve won a race but wasn’t really that great and I feel like we are a lot more deserving of it now,” Yankowski continued to say. “But we’re just gonna keep plugging away at it and if its meant to be its meant to be. All we can do is to keep putting ourselves in position, bringing fast race cars to the track, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
“I have to thank the people that are able to make this possible for me, Cory Wilcox with Wilcox Construction, Ryan Wilcox with Wilcox Sealing & Paving, Jason Broedel with Broedel Fuel Group, Training Tails, Murray, Joe, my dad, Kevin Bates, they are all awesome and they all know who they are. I’m super grateful to have them all,” Yankowski concluded.
STSS Modified Fonda 200 Qualifier #2 presented by DKM Fabrications was won by JaMike Sowle who led every lap on his way to the $500 bonus from DKM Fabrication.
“It’s a great bunch of guys and girls on our team that Carole and Alton set us up with for success,” Sowle said. “I guess that we had a valve cover gasket leaking thank God, that caused the smoke on the last few laps.”
Stewart Friesen led every lap in STSS Modified Fonda 200 Qualifier #3 and won the $500 bonus presented by Upstate Auto.
“This is our home, we love racing here at Fonda,” Friesen said after the win. “Feels good to get a good draw obviously to start off the night and finish it off with a heat race win. Thanks to Upstate Auto for sponsoring the heat race, thanks to the whole Halmar Team, Ferris, Bart Contracting, all of our sponsors and product sponsors, and everyone watching on Flo we appreciate the support.”
“We’ll go tune on this thing and hopefully get it a little better for tomorrow,” Friesen continued. “This is our first time out with this car, we had this car put together for Jess with some different motor situations as the season progressed it was ready to go, and we had a fresh motor to go in it for this race so everything kind of went together.”
“Alex (Yankowski) shook it down for us last night (Thursday) and its pretty good,” Friesen concluded. I think we’ve got a couple of tweaks to work on it for tomorrow. This is one of our favorite weekends of the year and we’re proud to be here.”
Steve Bernier led every lap in STSS Modified Fonda 200 Qualifier #4 and won the $500 bonus presented by SHR Scott Hamlin racing.
“I think I have a good car for this weekend,” Bernier said. “Thanks to Brandon Plank and Randy Williamson, he helped me this week to have a good setup for Fonda and I’m very happy.”
The 20-lap Below Zero Ice Cream feature began with Johnny Rivers Jr. leading at the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag from his pole position start. 2023 Fonda Speedway Pro Stock Track Champion Ivan Joslin started the event in row two in the fourth position and moved to the front quickly, taking the lead from Rivers on lap two with a pass on the outside of turns three and four.
Also moving up quickly was Fonda Speedway All-Time Pro Stock wins leader Kenny Gates who started in the sixth position and by lap three Gates was already in the second position after getting by both Beau Ballard and Rivers. The top two of Joslin and Gates pulled away from the rest of the field on lap six with the yellow flag coming out at that point closing up the field.
Joslin chose the outside groove on the restart with Gates and Ballard making it a three wide race for the lead on lap 11. Joslin was able to hold on to the lead at that point but two laps later Gates was able to get underneath both Joslin and Ballard in turns three and four and took over the lead. Gates led the remaining laps for his sixth win of the season and the 92nd of his career in the division at Fonda followed in the top five by Joslin, Ballard, Jim Normoyle, and Steve Cosselman.
“Well, I thought when there was a little pressure on the outside where Beau (Ballard) kind of came up there I could hear someone was out there and I thought well Ivan would move up to protect the high groove and it would open the door for me,” Gates said after the $1,000 race win. “It did and we were able to hold him off. The car was on a rail all night and luckily we held together, there were a couple of tricky spots off of turn two and we were able to bring it home.”
A big field of 20 Fonda Fair Four Cylinders were on hand for a 15-lap feature event starting off with Rudy King Jr. taking the lead at the drop of the green flag. 2023 Fonda Fair Four Cylinder SOHC Track Champion Ken Hollenback started the event in the 15th position and by lap four he was already up to the third position.
On lap five, Hollenback went from third to first with a pass in turns three and four and led the remaining laps for his 11th win of the season and the 95th of his career in the SOHC class. Jay Ingersoll was the winner in the DOHC class with a second place overall finish for his first career win in the division at Fonda. Damien Ward, Kyle Coley, and Shawn Hemstreet completed the top five finishers in the event.
“I like racing here, its my favorite track of any I’ve ever raced,” Hollenback said in victory lane. “Fonda Speedway means a lot to me, next year I probably won’t be here the whole year but probably pretty close.”
“This is awesome,” Ingersoll said after his first career win in the division at Fonda. “Twenty-five years ago, I raced here with a Hobby Stock (he has one career win in the Hobby Stock division) and now I started out all over again. We’ve got a championship to win on Sunday, so we brought the backup car out to see what it would do, and it got us here.”
The Street Stocks made their one and only appearance of the season at Fonda on Friday with Stone Motorsports/Online Performance sponsoring the $500 to win event. Adam Tranka led at the start of the 20-lap event and was never seriously challenged despite many caution flags slowing the event.
Tranka led through lap 18 when he slowed in turn three to bring out the 10th caution of the event handing the lead over to Jason Meltz. One more lap was run with another caution coming out and the race was checker flagged at that point with Meltz taking the victory followed by Chris Murray, PJ Cram, Andrew Fitzgerald, and Lou Gancarz.
“That was a quick race, I mean we took the green and it felt like we took the checkered flag right away,” Meltz joked in victory lane. “Too bad it was a wreck fest; I would have liked to put on a better show here at Fonda for the Street Stocks. I fell bad for Adam (Tranka), he had that one covered, I couldn’t get him, but he broke on the last lap.”
Mike Kiser led at the start of the 20-lap CRSA Sprint main event after starting on the outside pole and was already in lap traffic on lap six when the red flag came out for Tyler Chartrand who flipped his car in turn two while running fifth. Chartrand was not injured in the wreck with Kiser continuing to lead on the single file restart.
The yellow flag was out again on the restart for Cory Sparks who slowed in turn three with Kiser again leading after another single file restart with Blake Warner, Jordan Hutton, Billy VanInwegen, and Tomy Moreau completing the top five at the halfway point. On lap 11, Kiser slowed to a stop on the frontstretch bringing out the caution and handing the lead over to Warner with Hutton now the second place car.
Warner and Hutton raced side by side for two laps until Hutton took over the point on lap 13 and went on to the win followed by Warner, VanInwegen, Dalton Herrick, and Moreau.
“I love this place inside and out,” Hutton said after his CRSA Sprint win. “When you get here to Fonda its always racy, always fun. He (Blake Warner) gave me a heck of a run, he was better than me towards the end, and he is gonna make a hell of a driver out here someday. I’m very confident here at Fonda and know the track after racing here before. This is a dream come true, win number eight on the year.”
“It was very fast,” second place finisher Blake Warner said. “I was very happy with my crew, Ricky, my dad, Jeff, Grandma, and everybody that comes and helps us and helped us have a really good car. Me and Jordan are good friends so its always fun doing that we just fell one spot short tonight.”
“We had everything going our way all night,” VanInwegen said after his third place finish. “Drew the pole, I just hate stuff like this getting away. We’ll take tomorrow off, go camping, and shake this off. Gotta work harder I guess, I’m definitely frustrated but congrats to those guys (Hutton and Warner) they did a great job. On to the next one.”
The 2023 Fonda 200 weekend concludes today (Saturday) with the running of the Fonda 200 along with the Swagger factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman.
Fonda Speedway Weekly Report
Miss any action from last week’s racing? The Fonda Speedway weekly report can take care of that. A 90 second summary of the previous Saturday racing action will air throughout the week across seven local radio stations including:
WCSS 1490 & 106.9 in Amsterdam/Schenectady
WIZR 930 & 102.9 in Johnstown/Fonda/Gloversville
WKAJ 1120 & 97.9 in St. Johnsville/Canajoharie
WYVS 96.5 in Speculator and the North Country
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!
All races at Fonda Speedway – will be broadcast live on FloRacing (www.floracing.tv) as part of the $150 annual subscription.
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 and Instagram: @thefondaspdwy.
FONDA 200 STSS QUALIFYING HEAT 1 $500 TO WIN FROM FASTLINE PERFORMANCE 15-LAPS 7 QUALIFY 3 REDRAW – ALEX YANKOWSKI, Demetrios Drellos, Mat Willaimson, Marc Johnson, Rocky Warner, Pep Corradi, Tucker O’Connor, Michael Trautschold, Brian Calabrese, Neil Stratton, Dave Camara, Ancel Collins
FONDA 200 STSS QUALIFYING HEAT 2 $500 TO WIN FROM DKM FABRICATION 15-LAPS 7 QUALIFY 3 REDRAW – JAMIKE SOWLE, Jessica Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Bobby Varin, Bobby Hackel IV, Michael Parent, Cory Costa, Dillon Steuer, Darren Smith, George Foley, Derek Bornt, Ajay Potrzebowski Jr.
FONDA 200 STSS QUALIFYING HEAT 3 $500 TO WIN FROM UPSTATE AUTO 15-LAPS 7 QUALIFY 3 REDRAW – STEWART FRIESEN, Andy Bachetti, Danny Bouc, Tyler Dippel, David Schilling, Max McLaughlin, Mike Mahaney, Anthony Perrego, Ryan Odasz, JR Hurlburt, Dan Santabarbara, Stephen Gray
FONDA 200 STSS QUALIFYING HEAT 4 $500 TO WIN FROM SCOTT HAMLIN RACING 15-LAPS 7 QUALIFY 3 REDRAW – STEVE BERNIER, Billy Decker, Matt DeLorenzo, Dave Constantino, Ronnie Johnson, Brian Pessolano, Chris Curtis, Cody Clark, Tim Fuller, Danny Varin, Jason Reome, Matt Sobiech
BELOW ZERO ICE CREAM PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – KENNY GATES, Ivan Joslin, Beau Ballard, Jim Normoyle, Steve Cosselman, Randy Cosselman, Shawn Perez Jr., Johnny Rivers Jr., Michael Achzet, Dennis Joslin, Nick Santuccione, Slater Baker, Mike Dianda, Dan Krajewski, Jordan Modiano
6th win of 2023 and the 92nd win of his career in the division at Fonda for Gates
LAP LEADERS – 1 Rivers, 2-12 Joslin, 13-20 Gates
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Ballard, Gates
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), JAY INGERSOLL (DOHC), Damian Ward, Kyle Coley, Shawn Hemstreet, Pat McSpirit, Tom Hill, Todd Morey, Brittany Ladd, Robert Burch, TJ Marlitt, Rudy King Jr., John Napoli, Kerrie Hollenback, Kamrin Krause, Luke Sheldon, Len St. Andrews, Keith Tesiero Jr. (DNS), Jordan Ryder (DNS), Wayne Russell Jr. (DNS)
11th win of 2023 and the 95th win of his career in the division at Fonda for Ken Hollenback
1st career win in the division at Fonda for Ingersoll
LAP LEADERS – 1-4 King Jr., 5-15 Ken Hollenback
STREET STOCK FEATURE $500 TO WIN SPONSORED BY STONE MOTORSPORTS/ONLINE PERFORMANCE – SHORTENED TO 19-LAPS – JASON MELTZ, Chris Murray, PJ Cram, Andrew Fitzgerald, Lou Gancarz, Wayne Russell Jr., Adam Tranka, Matt Moshier, Josh Samrov, Rob VanAernam, Keri Vandenburg, Chris Stalker, Bob Gibson, Jason Barrett, James Dellea, Rowdy Burch, Ray Pierre Jr., Jason Samrov, Matt Wells, Donald Kennedy, Michael Martindale (DNS)
1st career win in the division at Fonda for Meltz
LAP LEADERS – 1-18 Tranka, 19 Meltz
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Murray, Stalker
CRSA SPRINT CAR FEATURE – 20-LAPS – JORDAN HUTTON, Blake Warner, Billy VanInwegen, Dalton Herrick, Tomy Moreau, Bobby Parrow, John Cunningham, Ray Preston, Timmy Lotz, Tyler Graves, Mark Taylor, Aaron Shelton, Ronnie Greek, Dustin Sehn, Jeremiah Munson, Trevor Years, James Layton, Steve Glover, Kirsten Dombrowski, Jerry Sehn Jr., Fred Proctor, Mike Kiser, Tyler Chartrand, Cory Sparks
3rd career CRSA Sprint car win at Fonda for Hutton
LAP LEADERS – 1-11 Kiser, 12 Warner, 13-20 Hutton
HEAT RACE WINNERS – VanInwegen, Preston, Taylor
CONSOLATION RACE WINNER – Glover