By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – The drama of Championship Night at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway means a lot of pressure for those who are in the running for a point championship at a historic track where it means so much to be a champion. Every position means so much and one point could be the difference between a championship and a second-place finish in the championship standings.
With four drivers within a 13-point spread at Fonda on Saturday in the Sunoco Modified division, pressure was at its max with Stewart Friesen taking yet another win in dominating fashion. But on this night Friesen wasn’t the show, it was the battle in the top five for positions that meant the difference in the championship point standings.
Rocky Warner started the evening four points ahead of Ronnie Johnson in the Sunoco Modified Championship standings, and during the last half of the 30-lap feature event they battled back and forth among each other along with Craig Hanson who was running a great race of his own. When the checkered flag fell Warner and Johnson were Sunoco Modified co-champions for the first time in the tracks 70-year history in the division!
Other winners besides Stewart Friesen on Benjamin Moore Championship/Fan Appreciation Night/Harry Peek Tribute Night were Payton Talbot (Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Nick Stone (Algonkin Motel Pro Stocks), Stephen Gray (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Ken Hollenback (SOHC) and Kerrie Hollenback (DOHC) in the Fonda Fair Four Cylinders.
The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series was also in action with Randy Delaney (Modified), Curtis Condon (Late Model), Bron Seyfried (Sportsman), George Palmer (Mystique), and Bryon Scofield (Antique) winning the feature events.
Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Series Champions that were crowned on Saturday were Frank Blanchard (Antique), Randy Delaney (Modified), co-champions Carl Cram and Dan Karl (Mystique), Stephen Denton (Sportsman), and Curtis Condon (Late Model).
Northeast Country Music Association Nominee Jenna Sue performed the National Anthem during pre-race ceremonies and the Fonda Speedway Kids Club gave away forty-five backpacks to kids as they get ready for school to start in just a few short weeks. The 50/50 was won by Ben from Fultonville, NY and was worth $6,134! Fantastic job by all of the 50/50 girls!
Special thanks to Todd Cipperly of the Farmers Insurance Cipperly Agency of Central Bridge, NY for the giveaways to the fans at intermission that were tossed into the grandstand and bleacher areas. Mr. Cipperly and his company have sponsored giveaways to the fans the entire 2021 season!
A total of 142 race cars filled the pit area and a capacity crowd enjoyed every minute of the exciting racing action on Championship Night/Fan Appreciation/Harry Peek Tribute Night!
The 30-lap Sunoco Modified/Harry Peek Tribute feature began with Ancel Collins and JaMike Sowle on the front row with Sowle taking the lead at the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag. Collins’ night ended early on lap two when something broke on his car and he limped to the pit area. Fourth and fifth place starters Bobby Varin and Craig Hanson were the new second and third place cars after Collins’ misfortune with Stewart Friesen already in fourth after starting 11th.
Sowle held a straightaway advantage on lap three with the caution coming out at that point closing up the field. Sowle chose the outside for the restart and held the lead at the drop of the green with Friesen the new second place car. Friesen took over the lead on the inside of turns one and two and from that point on pulled away to his 10th win of the season and the 78th of his career in the division despite one more caution flag and lap traffic.
At the halfway point in the event the top five consisted of Friesen, fifth place starter Hanson, Sowle, eighth place starter Warner, and 10th place starter Johnson. Just after the halfway flags were shown, the yellow flag was out for Varin who got into the wall and suffered a flat right rear tire after contact with Warner coming out of turn four. Varin was able to pit for a new tire and restart on the lead lap in front of the lap cars.
The race for the championship came into play over the last half of the race with Warner, Johnson, and Hanson swapping positions lap after lap until the checkered flag. Johnson got by Warner for the third position on lap 17 but still needed to get by the second-place car of Hanson for a shot at the title which at that time would have been a title of his own but the excitement was far from over.
Johnson was able to get by Hanson for the second position on lap 23 in turns one and two with Warner now under pressure to get by Hanson for a shot at a tie for the championship with Johnson. Warner was able to do just that with two laps to go and that was the way the race would finish with Friesen taking the win followed by Johnson, Warner, Hanson, and ninth place starter Jessica Friesen.
“This is the best car that we have had here at Fonda all year,” Friesen said in victory lane. “When Ronnie won a couple of weeks ago, we knew we had to make some changes to the car, and we did that so now we are in good shape for the Fonda 200. Thanks to Halmar, my entire race team, and the Fonda Speedway fans for a great season here at Fonda.”
The 25-lap Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature began with Michael McCallion the early leader after starting in the number one position with Jason Reome in tow. When McCallion spun coming out of turn two after making contact with the inside wall in the turn, fifth place starter Tony Farone took over the lead on the restart with eighth place starter Payton Talbot the new second place car on lap five. On the next lap, Talbot was the new race leader after getting by Farone on the outside at the finish line as lap six was completed.
Tenth place starter Tim Hartman Jr. was in the third position at that point and took the second position away from Farone on lap eight. Hartman was challenging the leader on lap 10 when the caution came out for Brian Borst who stopped in turn four with a collapsed front end. At the halfway point in the event the top five consisted of Talbot, Hartman, 11th place starter Cody Clark, 12th place starter Brian Calabrese, and 18th place starter Tanner Warner.
The yellow flag was out on lap 16 for Addison Bowman who was stopped in the middle of the front stretch after contact with either another car or the wall or both with Kurtis Hohensheldt making contact with the stopped car making the damage even worse on the Bowman car. Fortunately, Bowman walked away after the wreck but favoring his knee after an accident earlier this season.
The yellow flag slowed the field again on the restart when Mark Mortensen suffered a flat right front tire after contact by Aaron Burton in turn three. Mortensen was in the ninth position at the time after starting 28th but was able to pit for a new tire and restart at the rear of the field. Despite lap traffic during the closing laps, Talbot was able to keep Hartman behind him and went on to his first career win in the division at Fonda over Hartman, Clark, Calabrese, and Warner.
“I just tried to get to the top and hang on,” Talbot told Mimi Lazzaro in the Fuccillo Autoplex of Nelliston Mike Cole Memorial victory lane. “This is my first year here and we have been learning week after week.”
Chad Edwards was declared the 2021 Fonda Speedway Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman Track Champion.
Ivan Joslin took the early lead in the 20-lap Algonkin Motel Pro Stock feature and held that position up until lap five when Jason Morrison took over the lead after a side by side with Joslin for a couple of laps. On lap seven 11th place starter Luke Horning was the new third place car on lap seven with 12th place starter Nick Stone in the fourth spot.
At the halfway point Morrison continued to lead followed by Stone, Joslin, Horning, and 10th place starter Kenny Gates completing the top five. The yellow flag was out on lap 11 for Cliff Haslun who was in the wall in between turns one and two after blowing the right front tire with Joslin sliding in and making contact with Haslun as he had nowhere to go. Both drivers were okay after the wreck.
Nick Stone was the new race leader on the restart with Horning following behind in second, but the focus of the race was now on Beau Ballard who started the event in the 20th position but was running in the top five with five laps to go. Ballard gained one more position on lap 18 after getting by Gates but Stone went on to his sixth win of the 2021 season and the 59th of his career in the division over Horning, Morrison, Ballard, and Gates.
“I had to maneuver on the track a little bit tonight, but car owner Todd Hoffman, his crew, and my crew gave me a great car all season allowing me to do it.”
Nick Stone was declared the 2021 Fonda Speedway Algonkin Motel Pro Stock Track Champion.
Lance Hill led lap one of the 15-lap Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman feature until Kyle Dingman took over the point on lap two after starting third. Stephen Gray moved up from his eighth starting position to take over the lead on lap seven and from that point on led the remaining laps for his third win of 2021 and the fourth of his career in the division at Fonda.
Eleventh place starter Jeremy Slosek used the outside line to challenge Gray for the win over the final two laps but had to settle for a close second place finish (only 0.138 sec. behind Gray at the checkered flag) with Dingman, seventh place starter Clayton DuMond, and fifth place starter Carter Gibbons completing the top five.
Carter Gibbons was declared the 2021 Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman Track Champion.
John Napoli led the first two laps of the 12-lap Fonda Fair Four Cylinder feature with Kerrie Hollenback taking over the lead on lap three. Hollenback led the remaining laps for his fourth win of the season in the DOHC class with his brother Ken Hollenback finishing third and being declared the SOHC winner. Slappy White finished second with Billy Hillman and Shawn Hemstreet completing the top five around the Hollenback brothers.
Ken Hollenback was declared the 2021 Fonda Speedway Fonda Fair Four Cylinder Track Champion in the SOHC class while Slappy White was declared the 2021 Fonda Fair Four Cylinder Track Champion in the DOHC class.
The “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway will now take their annual break for the Fonda Fair with the next race on the schedule being the $53,000 to win Fonda 200 weekend on September 16-18.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Here is what the 2021 Fonda Speedway Track Champions had to say during their 2021 championship celebrations:
ROCKY WARNER – Co-Sunoco Modified Track Champion – “My stomach was in knots all week long,” Warner said. “I wasn’t that good tonight, and I really don’t know why. RJ (Ronnie Johnson) is the peoples champion, and it is great to share this championship with him. Now I may have to go back down to the Pro Stock division to try and get my second championship in that division. Jake (Spraker) is retiring this year and it has been a great seven years with him.”
RONNIE JOHNSON – Co-Sunoco Modified Track Champion – “We got this new car a few weeks ago,” Johnson said. “We ran with a big block all season long until we got this small block, and I don’t know but running the big block may have really helped us. Nothing will ever duplicate my first title here at Fonda in 2011 but I’m glad that we decided to make Fonda home this year because Fonda is home to us. I am happy to have raced for Jake (Spraker) years ago and to be a part of history here at Fonda in the first ever tie for a Modified Championship with Rocky who races for Jake now. Many of the members of my fathers 12A crew are still with me today and many of them were part of my father’s crew before I was even born. I really feel that I have the best team in dirt track modified racing right now.”
CHAD EDWARDS – 2021 Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman Track Champion – “This is two in a row for us,” Edwards said. “It’s great, we started out the season with three wins and stayed consistent the rest of the season and that is what it takes. I’m really happy to give John (car owner John Kollar) his second track championship.”
JOHN KOLLAR – “This is the 54th year that the 10% has been here at the Fonda Speedway,” Kollar said. “We have a new car for next year so we will be back for my 55th year to try to do it again.”
NICK STONE – Algonkin Motel Pro Stock Track Champion – “Two in a row, this is great, I love Fonda Speedway,” Stone said. “I have been racing here since 1998, have a lot of laps here, and because of that I have figured out a lot of different track conditions. This is one of if not my favorite track, I have a great team behind me and I need to thank them for all of this.”
CARTER GIBBONS – 2021 Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman Track Champion – “We never set the world on fire this year, but we stayed consistent,” Gibbons said. “I raced motocross in 2013 and looking forward to next year moving up to the regular sportsman division and trying to keep up with my brother.”
KEN HOLLENBACK – 2021 SOHC Fonda Fair Four Cylinder Track Champion – “It has been a pretty good year after totaling my car the second week of the season,” Hollenback said.
SLAPPY WHITE – 2021 DOHC Fonda Fair Four Cylinder Track Champion – “This has been an amazing year,” White said. “It has been great racing with all of these guys.”
BENJAMIN MOORE CHAMPIONSHIP NIGHT/FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE – HARRY PEEK TRIBUTE – $2,700 TO WIN – 30-LAPS – STEWART FRIESEN, Ronnie Johnson, Rocky Warner, Craig Hanson, Jessica Friesen, Mike Mahaney, JaMike Sowle, Tyler Dippel, Josh Hohenforst, Bobby Varin, Dave Constantino, Adam McAuliffe, Brian Calabrese, Pep Corradi, Ryan Odasz, Brian Pessolano, Derrick McGrew Jr., Steve Akers, Dylan Scribner, Rich Christman, Ronnie Holmes, Tim Dwyer, Jim Introne Jr., Aaron Jacobs, Alissa Cody, Ted Starr, Anthony Cardamone, Ancel Collins, Ray Zemken
10th win of 2021 and 78th of his career in the division for Friesen
LAP LEADERS – 1-4 Sowle, 5-30 Friesen
HEAT RACE WINNERS – $270 BONUS TO EACH WINNER – Mahaney, Hanson, Friesen
2021 SUNOCO MODIFIED TRACK CHAMPIONS – ROCKY WARNER & RONNIE JOHNSON a tie for the first time in Fonda Speedway history in the Modified division
Third career track championship in the division for Johnson (2011, 2016, 2021)
Second career championship in the division for Warner (2019, 2021)
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – PAYTON TALBOT, Tim Hartman Jr., Cody Clark, Brian Calabrese, Tanner Warner, Aaron Burton, Chad Edwards, Tony Farone, Brett Mortensen, Tucker O’Connor, Jason Reome, Chip Constantino, Brendan Gibbons, Tim Dwyer, Michael McCallion, David Manchester, Mark Mortensen, Troy Zilles, Dylan Eldred, Bill Port, Nikki Ouellette, Isabella VanOrden, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Greg Havlichek, Griffen Mansmith, Addison Bowman, Brian Borst, Kathy Bellen, Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald
First career win in the division for Talbot
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 McCallion, 3-5 Farone, 6-25 Talbot
HEAT RACE WINNERS – McCallion, Talbot, Burton
GRECO’S NAPA HARD CHARGER AWARD – Tanner Warner 13 spots from 18th to 5th
2021 SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN TRACK CHAMPION – CHAD EDWARDS third career track championship in the division (2018, 2020, 2021)
ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – NICK STONE, Luke Horning, Jason Morrison, Beau Ballard, Kenny Gates, Kyle Hoard, Jim Normoyle, Frank Hoard Jr., Chuck Dumblewski, Bill Knapp, Gary Silkey, AJ Walters, Ivan Joslin, Chuck McSpirit, Randy Cosselman, John Holmes, Dennis Joslin, Dan Krajewski, Don Collins, Steve Cosselman, Mike Baker, Mike Kalkbrenner, Cliff Haslun, Chris Daughtry
Sixth win of 2021 and the 59th of his career in the division for Stone
LAP LEADERS – 1-4 Joslin, 5-9 Morrison, 10-20 Stone
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Normoyle, Morrison, Gates
2021 ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK TRACK CHAMPION – NICK STONE third career track championship in the division (2014, 2020, 2021)
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-LAPS – STEPHEN GRAY, Jeremy Slosek, Kyle Dingman, Clayton DuMond, Carter Gibbons, Ryan Sweet, Zach Dufel, John Anderson, Lance Hill, Connor Prokop, Cole Lawton, Walter Cook, Bob Rowback, Jeff Lutes, Zach Port, Taylor LaPlante, Jeremy Tyrrell, Josh Kane, Justin Howe DNS, Yule Cook DNS
Third win of 2021 and the fourth of his career in the division for Gray
LAP LEADERS – 1 Hill, 2-6 Dingman, 7-15 Gray
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Hill, LaPlante
2021 MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. TRACK CHAMPION – CARTER GIBBONS
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – KERRIE HOLLENBACK (DOHC), Slappy White, KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), Billy Hillman, Shawn Hemstreet, Rob Lanfear, Cole Lawton, Zack McSpirit, Chris Duffney Jr., John Mason, Jean Foster, Josh Gordon, TJ Marlitt, David Peek Britten, Daniel Joubert, Lee Horning, John Napoli, Riley Pedrick, Car #83D, Ariana Schultz
12th win of 2021 and the 67th of his career in the division for Ken Hollenback
Fourth win of 2021 and the 21st win of his career in the division for Kerrie Hollenback
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 Napoli, 3-12 Kerrie Hollenback
2021 FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER TRACK CHAMPION (SOHC) – KEN HOLLENBACK eighth career track championship in the division for Hollenback (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021)
2021 FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER TRACK CHAMPION (DOHC) – SLAPPY WHITE first career track championship in the division
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES MODIFIED FEATURE – RANDY DELANEY, Jon Kulezco, Darral Hulbert, Phil Beaver, Stanley Wetmore, Fred Workman, Mark Anatriello, Frankie Brown, John Flach, Jack Miller
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES LATE MODEL FEATURE – CURTIS CONDON, Adam Warner, Will Reed, John Roese
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES SPORTSMAN FEATURE – Bryon Seyfried, Stephen Denton, Brian Gray, John Constantino, Mike Francisco, Jon Trudeau
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES MYSTIQUE FEATURE – GEORGE PALMER, Carl Cram, Dan Karl, George Berberick, Mike Brown
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES ANTIQUE FEATURE – BRYON SCOFIELD, Speedy Pidasso, Ed Docskalik, Jeff Mitchell, Scott Gauthier, Harley Shepard, Mark Reardon, Mike Wheeler, Chuck Scofield, Jimmy Fugel, Phil Mitchell, Tex Gordon, Charlie Scofield, Don Briggs, Frank Blanchard
HARRY PEEK TRIBUTE NIGHT LAP SONSORS AND BONUSES PAID OUT FOR THE MODIFIED FEATURE
Lap Leaders Heat Winners
Lap/Place Driver 1st 35 – Mike Mahaney
1 – 9th Rocky Warner 2nd 20C – Craig Hanson
2 – 2nd Ancel Collins 3rd 44 – Stewart Friesen
3 – 3rd Craig Hanson
4 – 4th Bobby Varin
5 – 5th Ronnie Johnson Hard Charger (w/ # of Positions)
6 – Leader Stewart Friesen Stewart Friesen +10 – 11th to 1st
7 – 7th Rocky Warner
8 – 3rd Craig Hanson
9 – 9th Josh Hohenforst 1st Car on Wrecker
10 – 10th Tyler Dippel No one got the hook.
11 – 11th Adam McAuliffe
12 – 12th Adam McAuliffe
13 – 13th Pep Corradi Pole Sitter
14 – 10th Tyler Dippel Ancel Collins
15 – 15th Steve Akers
16 – 10th Tyler Dippel
17 – Leader Stewart Friesen 4th Place Finisher
18 – 12th Bobby Varin Craig Hanson
19 – 4th Rocky Warner
20 – 3rd Ronnie Johnson
21 – 21st Rich Christman
22 – 22nd Tim Dwyer
23 – 4th Rocky Warner
24 – Leader Stewart Friesen
25 – 5th Mike Mahaney
26 – Leader Stewart Friesen
27th – Last Running Car Aaron Jacobs