2023 FONDA SPEEDWAY TRACK CHAMPIONS HONORED BEFORE THE FONDA 200
By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – On Saturday September 16 before the running of the Fonda 200, the 2023 Fonda Speedway Track Champions were honored for their achievement on victory lane. This was the first time that the champions could be honored due to a rain out on championship night back on Augst 12 before the track was closed for the annual Fonda Fair.
2023 Fonda Speedway Track Champions were as follows: Demetrios Drellos (Amsterdam Truck Center Modifieds), Payton Talbot (Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Ivan Joslin (Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks), Kyle Dingman (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Ken and Kerrie Hollenback (SOHC & DOHC respectively) in the Fonda Fair Four Cylinders.
Not only were the drivers mentioned named as the 2023 Fonda Speedway Track Champions but with Fonda being sanctioned by NASCAR they were also named as “NASCAR Advanced Auto Parts Weekly Series Track Champions”. For the Drellos team it was their first ever title at Fonda despite having different drivers drive the family owned #111 throughout the history of the Fonda Speedway.
For those of you who may have not been present for the championship ceremony here is a recap of what the champions had to say to Mimi Lazzaro during the ceremony at Fonda in their own words. Please note that the Hollenback brothers were not present for the ceremony.
“It’s everything, its everything that we worked for, it was the goal at the beginning of the season,” Drellos said. “I’ve never been in this position before, so it means a whole lot. We have a lot of history here and its cool to etch yourself on a short list of champions at this place, not only is it so important getting a Track Championship here, but I got my first Modified Championship at the Track of Champions and everyone in racing knows how hard it is to get that at this place.”
“It means a whole lot to me, it means a whole lot to my family, its everything. The old timers know about our family history at Fonda, the younger generation doesn’t, but if you look back at the whole Fonda 200 lineup you can see the #111 & #111A back in the 60’s. It means a lot to bring the #111 to the championship level here and to be able to etch my name into it it’s just huge.”
“We set our goal at the beginning of the year to do this, and we were able to execute and do a good job doing it. Week three or four we definitely had our goal set on what we had to do; the mentality of our racing changed about a month in, and we said okay lets hunker down and start playing it not safe, keep doing what we’re doing, but don’t be ridiculous about it.”
“I think we finished out of the top five just one time, that’s huge. Look how close it came between me and Matty (DeLorenzo), its awesome to do it with him, he’s a fierce competitor, we’re good friends and now we park next to each other. Its just crazy how that worked out and we had a great time doing it.”
“Yeah our car was real good,” Talbot said. “We had those six wins and that really helped us out a lot. We fell off a little bit the last two or three weeks and had a couple of unfortunate races, we blew up the one night other than that we tried to be consistent. The car has been good this year. I can’t thank everybody that has been behind us this year enough and we’ll see how tonight goes.”
“Consistency is key at both tracks (Utica Rome & Fonda), it is really important. We struggled at Utica Rome this year and ran second to Matt (Janczuk) for the championship but we’re slowly figuring that place out, its just time. I can’t wait to get back here next year and hope that we can finish out tonight real good we’ll see what happens.”
“I figured it would be two or three maybe even four years before we even got close to a championship. We got lucky with the championship here last year, picked up the Thunder on the Thruway Series title again this year and last year so we’ve made some huge strides with the #14T team.”
“It’s been a long time, putting the time and effort into this,” Joslin said. “Twenty-one years of racing and we finally got one (championship). To get a win here at Fonda is something but to get a championship is even better. We started off the year with a win and that set everything into place. Momentum kept us going with only two finishes outside the top five.”
“That is what you need is consistency. We had fast guys we had to compete against, Kenny Gates and all of the others, the All-Time winningest driver who had six wins this year. To be able to beat him and the other guys too it’s something you can’t imagine. Kenny (Gates) told me consistency is key, that’s what we had to do, and that is what I was focused on this year, focusing on one track weekly, and doing what we had to do. Fonda is a great place to race, I love Fonda.”
“It’s just a lot better competition really,” Dingman said to Mimi Lazzaro about the move up from Limited Sportsman to regular Sportsman competition which he will do next year. “All these guys show up and they are on their “A” Game every week, so it makes us have to step our game up a little bit better and we’re excited to switch over to coils over the winter, that’s gonna be a big learning curve in its own but we’re excited.”
“We were gonna move up this year, but we were like lets go for a Limited Sportsman Championship one more time. We were so close last year, and our main goal was to be consistent as we possibly could this year. Our worst finish this year was seventh, we kept our heads clean, worked together, everything pretty much worked out, and we were lucky enough to get the job done. It’s a huge family team effort.”