By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – The opening ceremonies at any event can be special, the one at the 29th edition of the Fonda 200 on Saturday was one of the best that I think that I have ever seen. Drivers were introduced according to their starting positions and walked to their cars in front of the fans in the grandstand.
Fonda Speedway and Short Track Super Series starter Joe Kriss sang the Canadian National Anthem while Mimi Lazzaro performed the National Anthem. What made this moment so special was that Mimi invited the crowd to sing along with her and it was spectacular to hear the huge crowd on hand sing it along with her.
A replica of one of Jack Johnson’s orange and white coupes built by Larry Lauler, Brian Rounds, and Slugger Charlew paced the field four wide before the green flag was thrown to begin the Fonda 200 featuring the biggest payoff in Northeast Dirt Modified racing as announced by Fonda Speedway announcer Chris Moore.
Congratulations to Dawn from Albany, NY who was the winner of the 50/50 worth $10,553! Great job by all the 50/50 girls and thanks for all of your hard work this 2021 season.
When Joe Kriss’ green flag was thrown to start the Sunoco Modified “Fonda 200” event, pole position starter Jeff Rockefeller took the early lead as the drivers all settled in for a long 200 laps. Outside pole position starter Danny Varin took the lead away from Rockefeller on the outside of turn two with sixth place starter Stewart Friesen up to the second position by lap 12 after getting by Rockefeller.
Varin stretched his lead to a full straightaway by lap 15 with four lap cars in between himself and Friesen at that time. The first caution of the event was out on lap 22 for Alex Yankowski with a unique format in place under yellow flag conditions. Drivers were allowed to go to the hot pit under caution without going laps down even though the first three laps under yellow counted in the event.
Varin chose the inside on the restart and maintained his lead over Friesen, going between the lap cars of Darwin Greene and Steve Akers on lap 34 to keep pace over Friesen. Varin and Friesen were side by side for the lead on lap 39 with two more lap cars racing side by side in front of them. Varin shut the door on Friesen and maintained the lead at that point.
On a lap 46 restart, fourth place starter Rocky Warner took the second position away from Friesen as they swapped the position twice before Friesen gained control of it again on lap 48. Ninth place starter Mike Mahaney challenged Warner for the third position on lap 59 and took it away from Warner at that point.
Friesen took the lead away from Varin on the inside of turns three and four on lap 66 only to have Varin get back by for the lead on the backstretch of the next lap. The race took a turn for the worse on lap 67 for Friesen who cut down a right front tire to bring out the caution. Friesen would pit to change the tire and discovered that he also had a broken right rear shock which his crew changed, and he went back out on the track in the 24th position.
Ronnie Johnson started the event in the 14th position and moved past Warner for the second spot on lap 72 just before another caution slowed the field two laps later. At that point there were twenty cars still on the lead lap with the top five consisting of Varin, Johnson, Warner, 11th place starter Tyler Dippel, and 22nd place starter Matt DeLorenzo.
Varin maintained the lead through the restart with Dippel getting by Warner for the third position on lap 81. On lap 87 in lap traffic, Johnson took the lead away from Varin after going by both Varin and a lap car with Warner also getting by Varin for the second position four laps from the halfway point.
At the lap 100 break which was ten minutes in length, drivers were allowed two options, one was to go to the hot pit for any adjustments to your car with the other being going to the infield for fuel and air pressure adjustments only. DeLorenzo, Friesen, David Schilling, Mahaney, Brian Gleason, and Josh Hohenforst were the only drivers to choose the infield option while others went to the hot pit for adjustments to their cars including Johnson who was the race leader at the time.
DeLorenzo was the leader when the green flag dropped to start the second half of the event while Johnson was the first of the cars out of the hot pit in the seventh position. Lap 101 saw Friesen get by DeLorenzo for the lead with Mahaney getting by Schilling and DeLorenzo for the second position on lap 109 with Friesen now out to a straightaway advantage.
Warner came out of the pit at the halfway point in the ninth position and got by two cars on a lap 115 restart to get back into the second spot. Warner got right up to Friesen’s rear bumper in lap traffic on lap 129 with Varin now in the third position after coming out of the pit at the halfway point in the eighth spot.
Through two more cautions Friesen pulled away on each restart to a straightaway lead each time including lap 155 with lap traffic coming into play three laps later. As Friesen was leading by a comfortable margin focus turned to 33rd place starter Adam McAuliffe who was sweeping around the outside of the track to gain positions every lap.
McAuliffe was in the fifth position when the yellow came out on lap 186 for Johnson who slowed in turn one. On the restart Craig Hanson was the driver on the move as he was the new fifth place car after starting 17th with one final caution coming out with ten laps to go. Friesen led the remaining laps for his 11th victory of the season at Fonda and the 79th of his career at the Track of Champions.”
Warner, Mahaney, Varin, and Dippel completed the top five, ironically the top three were the same three drivers who finished the 2019 “Fonda 200” event in the top three!
“Pretty wild out there today, I could get to the 93 (Varin) but then he would get away from me,” Friesen told Chris Moore in victory lane. “Had the tire go down and a broken shock and thanks to my crew for getting things changed for me to get back out there. The best race in New York State was here at Fonda today.”
“I saw the 97 (Warner) along side of me at one point and knew that I had to get going,” Friesen continued. “On the restarts I just tried to get a good launch and get back to the top. Congratulations to Jake Spraker who was a great car owner that I got to drive for at one point in my career.”
“I gave it all that I had tonight,” Warner told Mimi Lazzaro in victory lane following his second-place finish. “Marc Johnson came here tonight to help us out, so I have to thank him and the rest of my crew. A special thank you to Jake Spraker who I drove for the last seven years. He gave me the opportunity to move up to the modifieds and that’s a chance that not a lot of people often get.”
“We had a great car and have a great team that I am very proud of,” Mahaney said after his third-place finish. “I knew that I had to conserve my tires after the final stop, I didn’t have much left that’s for sure.”
McAuliffe was the Hard Charger of the race going from 33rd to finish seventh saying afterwards “My guys gave me a good car tonight; I didn’t need that last yellow but thanks to Laudy Hoyenga for standing by me as it has been a tough year.”
It took two tries to get the 25-lap $2,000 to win Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature underway with Michael Sabia getting to the lead early from his third place starting position with Corey Cormier in tow. Fifth place starter Tucker O’Connor and seventh place starter Chad Edwards were the new second and third place cars on lap seven and began pressuring the leader at that point.
The yellow flag was out on lap 10 for Brett Mortensen who started the event in the 19th position and was moving into the top ten when he got to the inside of Tim Dwyer in between turns three and four. Dwyer made contact with Mortensen resulting in a broken spindle on the right front of the #1B ending his night.
Edwards got by O’Connor for the second position on the restart and started pressuring Sabia for the lead as the two ran side by side for many laps. Edwards took the lead away from Sabia on the inside of turns one and two on lap 18 and led the remaining laps for his fourth victory of the season and the 13th of his career in the division.
Twenty fourth place starter Payton Talbot finished second followed by 20th place starter Will Shields, O’Connor, and Sabia.
“The track was real racy tonight, the car had a lot of speed,” Edwards said following his win. “I have to thank my car owner John Kollar for going above and beyond to give us what we need to race and be successful.”
That concludes the 2021 racing season at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway. Please keep up to date on off season news by going to the track website www.thefondaspeedway.com
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.
STSS SUNOCO MODIFIED “FONDA 200” FEATURE – 200-LAPS – $53,000 TO WIN – STEWART FRIESEN, Rocky Warner, Mike Mahaney, Danny Varin, Tyler Dippel, Craig Hanson, Adam McAuliffe, Matt DeLorenzo, Darren Smith, Bobby Hackel IV, David Schilling, Ronnie Johnson, JaMike Sowle, Brett Haas, JR Hurlburt, Pep Corradi, Chris Curtis, Brian Gleason, Addison Bowman, Roger Henion Jr., Steve Akers, Rich Christman, Jessica Friesen, Darwin Greene, Jeff Rockefeller, Josh Hohenforst, Alan Johnson, Brian Pessolano, Anthony Perrego, George Foley, Andy Bachetti, Matt Sobiech, Dave Constantino, Alex Yankowski, Ray Zemken, Tanner Warner, Tanner Warner, Will Shields, Tim Dwyer, Aaron Jacobs, Billy VanPelt DNS
LAP LEADERS – 1-3 Rockefeller, 4-65 Varin, 66 Stewart Friesen, 67-86 Varin, 87-100 Johnson, 101-200 Stewart Friesen
“B” MAIN RACE WINNERS – Darren Smith, JaMike Sowle
DID NOT QUALIFY – Bill August, Jason Reome, Tanner Forbes, Corey Lowitt, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Ancel Collins, Corey Cormier, Dan Santabarbara, Brian Calabrese, Ronnie Holmes, Rich Eggers
STSS SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – $2,000 TO WIN – CHAD EDWARDS, Payton Talbot, Will Shields, Tucker O’Connor, Michael Sabia, Jeremiah Munson, Troy Palmer, Tim Hartman Jr., Brian Borst, Tanner Warner, Jeffrey Gallup, Corey Cormier, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Jeremy Tyrell, Chip Constantino, Kevin Crave, David Manchester, Scott McCoy, Brian Calabrese, Brendan Gibbons, Tyler Peet, Dale Welty, Hunter Lapp, Cody Clark, Tim Dwyer, Troy Zilles, Michael Ballestero, Brett Mortensen, Aaron Burton, Mark Mortensen DNS
LAP LEADERS – 1-17 Sabia, 18-25 Edwards
HEAT RACE WINNERS – O’Connor, Borst, Cormier, Clark, Manchester, Palmer
CONSOLATION RACE WINNERS – Brett Mortensen, Shields, Hohensheldt
DID NOT QUALIFY – Carter Gibbons, Jason Reome, Michael McCallion, Taylor LaPlante, Aaron Jacobs, James McIntosh, Willy Decker Jr., Jeremy Slosek, Maverick Eldridge, Nikki Ouellette, Ricky Quick, Rich Eggers, Walt Hammond Jr., Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, David Hackett Jr., Billy Eggers, Karl Barnes, Kyle Dingman, Stephen Gray, Peter Carlotto, Lance Hill, Zach Dufel, Travis Green, Clayton DuMond, John Santolin, Ron Proctor, Walter J Hammond, Butch Wilcox, Griffen Mansmith, Walter Cook, Wesley Sutliff