By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – Cody Clark started the 2023 racing season in a new ride, in a new division after moving up to the Amsterdam Truck Center Modifieds in the Laudy Hoyenga #4. Impressive runs throughout the season placed Clark sixth in points going into Saturday evenings events at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway and when the checkered flag flew to complete the 30-lap $4,000 to win F.X. Caprara Car Companies Thunder on the Thruway Series event, he entered victory lane as the 142nd different driver to win at Fonda in a total of 1427 events.
“I have such a good group of people behind me I wouldn’t be standing here if it wasn’t for them,” Clark told Mimi Lazzaro in victory lane. “Thank you to Laudy Hoyenga for giving me the opportunity to drive his car, all the guys at DKM, my wife and kids who put up with a lot of crap, all of my crew and sponsors. This is a lot more work than the Sportsman car was.”
Other winners on AIM Autism/One Zee Tees Autism Awareness Night were Butchie Irwin (Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Shane Playford (Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks), Tim Wilmot (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Ken (SOHC) and Kerrie (DOHC) in the Fonda Fair Four Cylinders. For Irwin, Playford, and Wilmot it was the first win of their careers in their respective divisions.
Illyria Escher sang the National Anthem after Pastor Greg Nitz’ prayer to begin Opening Ceremonies with the 50/50 girls doing an amazing job as always with the $2,518 prize won by Samantha from Spencertown.
A redraw for starting positions placed Cody Clark and Dave Camara on the front row for the start with Clark taking the early advantage in the caution plagued event. When the caution came out on lap two for Jessey Mueller who slowed with a flat tire, the restart led to a lead change with Alex Yankowski getting by Clark for the number one spot.
By lap seven, Yankowski was a straightaway ahead of Clark and two laps later he was in lap traffic, running so high on the track that he nearly got into the wall in between turns one and two on lap ten. Somehow he saved the car, got it straightened out, and continued on. At the halfway point Yankowski was the leader followed by Clark, Ronnie Johnson, 12th place starter Matt DeLorenzo, and ninth place starter Stewart Friesen.
Three consecutive yellow flags flew through lap 19 with Yankowski choosing different lines for the restart each time, the last restart choosing the inside groove to maintain his lead. Behind the leader the race for the top five was a good one with DeLorenzo and Friesen swapping positions numerous times over a couple of laps with both drivers getting by Johnson for the third and fourth positions on lap 21.
Demetrios Drellos started the event in the 15th position and got by Johnson for a spot in the top five on lap 22 with the best race on the track at the time occurring for the third position between DeLorenzo and Friesen. The final in a total of six yellow flags came out on lap 27 for Rocky Warner who got into the wall in turn two while running seventh. On the restart, Yankowski maintained the lead until the next lap when he went down low coming out of turn four allowing Clark to get by for the lead on the outside to complete lap 28.
Yankowski and Clark made contact as the pass was made with Clark throwing sparks out of the left rear over the final two laps. Clark was able to cross under the checkered flag first despite the damage with Yankowski, Drellos, DeLorenzo, and Friesen completing the top five.
“The restarts were killing me,” Clark said in victory lane. “I had a 56 compound tire on the car, and it kept cooling off under caution and took a few laps to come back in. Mid race we were rolling pretty good and closing up on the 84Y (Yankowski). I stuck to the top in turn four, I had a good run, and I had my shot to get him, so I just hit my marks on the top. All the credit goes to my guys, I get the easy job to sit in the seat and drive.”
Clark has a total of 17 wins in the Crate 602 division at Fonda, the first one coming on 4/12/2014 and his last on 9/17/2022 before moving up to the Modified division this year.
Stephen Gray led the first lap in the 25-lap Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature from his outside pole position start with an early caution out just after the leader completed lap one for Jason Reome, Brian Calabrese, and Tanner Warner in turn four. Reome and Warner were done for the night while Calabrese was able to restart at the rear of the field.
Butchie Irwin took over the lead on the restart on the inside of turn three and four after starting third with another yellow flag out on the second lap for defending track champion Payton Talbot who dropped fluid on the track and was smoking heavily in turn four. Talbot was done for the evening with Irwin leading on the restart and stretching it out to a straightaway lead by lap eight.
Irwin was in lap traffic on lap 13 just before the yellow came out to close up the field. Irwin maintained the lead on the restart and pulled away while attention turned to 15th place starter Chad Edwards who moved up to fourth on the restart. Edwards gained positions up to the second spot by the time the checkered flag flew with Irwin a straightaway ahead at the finish line in the New Day Motors #117N with Calabrese, Gray, and Chip Constantino completing the top five behind Irwin and Edwards.
“Thanks to Mitchell Poole who revived my racing career,” Irwin said in victory lane. “He had been on us for years to get back into racing and the winter before last he kept prodding me. One day Puppet was with me, and some other guys were in the shop, Mitchell was there, and they just kept prodding me. I said what do you think I should do, and they said do it. I promised him five races, we went and had a good time, had a little success and here we are.”
“This is probably the biggest win he has ever had and I’m very thankful to give it to him,” Irwin continued to say. “I just can’t thank everybody enough; I would not be here if it wasn’t for them. I knew the car would stick and I could do anything I wanted. I really didn’t lift much and when you’ve got something like that here you’re almost unstoppable. No fear, no worries, just go.”
Irwin has a total of 18 wins in the Pro Stock division at Fonda, the first one coming on 8/1/2001 and his last on 8/13/2005 before getting out of racing for a number of years and returning to compete in a Sportsman car. Irwin was also the 2005 Fonda Speedway Pro Stock Track Champion.
Four yellow flags and six lead changes sum up the 20-lap Below Zero Ice Cream feature event with pole position starter Ivan Joslin leading the first two laps. The first lead change occurred on lap three with Shane Playford the new race leader after a two lap side by side battle with Joslin. Joslin led lap four by a nose at the line with Playford leading again on another restart after a caution on lap seven.
At the halfway point, the top five consisted of Playford, Joslin, eighth place starter Nick Stone and ninth place starter Beau Ballard. Stone and Ballard both got past Joslin for the second and third positions on lap 13 and two laps later Playford and Stone were side by side for the lead. Stone took the lead away on the inside of the backstretch with three laps remaining and led the remaining laps for what looked like another win with Ballard, Playford, 10th place starter Luke Horning, and sixth place starter Kenny Gates completing the top five.
In post-race inspection both Stone and Ballard were disqualified for adjustable idler arms handing Playford his first career win followed by Horning, Gates, Joslin, and seventh place starter Josh Coonradt completing the top five.
“Definitely not the way we want to win,” Playford said after the disqualification of Stone and Ballard. “The car has been fast all year, it seems like come feature time we’re a little bit off. I don’t know what else to say, it was fun.”
Dylan Huston led the first seven laps of the 15-lap Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman feature until lap eight when he ended up getting loose on the track and got into the back stretch wall. He was towed away and done for the night, handing the lead over to Tim Wilmot who started the event in the third position. Wilmot led the remaining laps for his first career win in the division followed in the top five by Lance Hill, Kirsten Swartz, Kyle Dingman, and Michael Kalkbrenner.
“I was just hoping that he wasn’t going to come down and hit me,” Wilmot said in victory lane regarding Huston getting loose and into the backstretch wall.
Wilmot carries a HUNTERSTRONG sticker on his race car and said a special shout out to his buddy Hunter saying, “You’ve got this buddy.”
Ken (SOHC) and Kerrie (DOHC) won the Fonda Fair Four cylinder features in their respective divisions. Brandon Ely was the actual winner of the DOHC class but was disqualified for rear camber handing the win to Kerrie Hollenback.
Monday evening, July 17 the rescheduled “Firecracker 50” event will be held for the STSS Modified and Crate 602 divisions with gates opening at 4:00 P.M. followed by hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and racing at 7:15 p.m.
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.
DATE – 7/15/2023 AIM AUTISM/ONE ZEE TEES PRESENTS AUTISM AWARENESS NIGHT – F.X. CAPRARA THUNDER ON THE THRUWAY SERIES
AMSTERDAM TRUCK CENTER MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – $4,000 TO WIN – CODY CLARK, Alex Yankowski, Demetrios Drellos, Matt DeLorenzo, Stewart Friesen, Ronnie Johnson, David Schilling, Chris Curtis, Jessica Friesen, Brian Calabrese, Ryan Odasz, Bobby Varin Bobby Hackel IV, Dave Constantino, Bill August, Rocky Warner, Jessey Mueller, JaMike Sowle, Jack Lehner, Dave Camara, Tucker O’Connor, Pep Corradi, Brian Pessolano, Shawn McPhee, Ronnie Holmes (DNS)
1st career win in the division for Clark
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 Clark, 3-27 Yankowski, 28-30 Clark
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Curtis, Constantino, Clark
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – $1,500 TO WIN – BUTCHIE IRWIN, Chad Edwards, Brian Calabrese, Stephan Gray, Chip Constantino, Brendan Gibbons, Michael McCallion, Brett Mortensen, Tony Farone, Troy Zilles, Jeremy Tyrrell, Clayton DuMond, Matt Perry, Kaydon Hohensheldt, Seth Martin, David Hackett Jr., Harry Shaffer, Josh Kane, Zach Dufel, Mark Mortensen, John DuMond, Payton Talbot, Jason Reome, Blaine Klinger, Tanner Warner
1st career win in the division for Irwin
LAP LEADERS – 1 Gray, 2-25 Irwin
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Irwin, Clayton DuMond, Shaffer
CONSOLATION RACE WINNER – Zilles
DID NOT QUALIFY – Dave VanBuren, Wesley Sutliff, Don Bellen, Clyde Peek, Tim Dwyer, Dylan Eldred
GRECO’S NAPA HARD CHARGER AWARD – Edwards +13
BELOW ZERO ICE CREAM PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – $1,000 TO WIN – SHANE PLAYFORD, Luke Horning, Kenny Gates, Ivan Joslin, Josh Coonradt, AJ Walters, Jim Normoyle, Caden Dumblewski, Jason Morrison, Randy Cosselman, John Holmes, Nick Santuccione, Don Collins, Andy Graves, Michael Achzet, Devon Camenga, Gary Silkey, Joe Wilson (DNS), Nick Stone (DQ adjustable idler arms), Beau Ballard (DQ adjustable idler arms)
1st career win in the division for Playford
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 Joslin, 3 Playford, 4-6 Joslin, 7-8 Playford, 9 Joslin, 10-16 Playford, 17-20 Stone (DQ)
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Coonradt, Gates
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-LAPS – TIM WILMOT, Lance Hill, Kirsten Swartz, Kyle Dingman, Michael Kalkbrenner, Jonathan Feagles, Tyler Bobar, Mike Hill, Ryan Sweet, Chris Kugler, John Anderson, Jim Mallia, Jason Palombo, John Santolin, Corky Warner, Dylan Huston, Tim Deffer, Bob Rowback, AJ Greco, Bobby Rhinehardt, Connor Prokop, Brandon Goodell, Brandon Tyler, Maddy Broedel, Steve Wagoner (DNS), Bella Pickard (DNS), Gus Kamberelis (DNS), Brandon Hazzard (DNS)
1st career win in the division for Wilmot
LAP LEADERS – 1-7 Huston, 8-15 Wilmot
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Swartz, Wilmot, Huston
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – KERRIE HOLLENBACK (DOHC), Corey Valade, John Napoli, Shawn Hemstreet, Billy Hillman, KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), Len St. Andrews, Wayne Russell Jr., Tim Warner, Hayleigh Gates, David Peek Britten, Dan Valade, TJ Marlitt, Brandon Ely (DQ rear Camber).
8th win of 2023 and the 93rd of his career in the division for Ken Hollenback
5th win of 2023 and the 39th of his career in the division for Kerrie Hollenback
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 Kerrie Hollenback, 3-12 Ely (DQ)
CAPTAIN CARL’S LUXURY CRUISES/DONE BETTER POOLS NON-QUALIFIERS RACE FOR SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN CARS – 5-LAPS – Dylan Eldred