By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – Believe
“I’ve been horrible the last month and they stuck by me,” Max McLaughlin said in victory lane on Saturday at Fonda while pointing to his pit crew. “Just about everybody here believes in me except myself so this feels pretty damn good.”
McLaughlin scored the $4,000 Thunder on the Thruway Series/Amsterdam Truck Center Modified win at Fonda on Saturday evening in the Al Heinke owned F.X. Caprara Harley Davidson sponsored #8H. “Mad Max” as he is called in the racing world is now the 141st different driver to win a feature at the Fonda Speedway in a total of 1425 events!
Other winners on Palmer’s Service Center Hall of Fame Night at Fonda were Payton Talbot (Thunder on the Thruway Series/Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Beau Ballard (Thunder on the Thruway Series/Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks), Tyler Bobar (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Ken Hollenback (SOHC) and Corey Valade (DOHC) in the Fonda Fair Four Cylinder division.
The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS) was also in action with the winners including Cliff Haslun (Antiques), Matt Mosher (Late Models), George Palmer (Mystiques), Randy Delaney (Modifieds), and Brian Gray (Sportsman).
Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame inductions were held earlier in the day at the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame & Museum with the class of 2023 including Danny Ballard, Jack Miller, Jack Blackwood, Jeff Carter, and Billy Peek. Congratulations to all!
Greg Nitz said the prayer during opening ceremonies while Joe Kriss did a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. Congratulations to Kevin from Knox who was the winner of the $2,237 50/50 prize! Great job by Rose, Julie, and Heather as always!
A redraw for starting position placed Jessica Friesen and Ronnie Johnson on the front row for the start of the 30-lap Amsterdam Truck Center Modified feature with a three wide battle going into turns one and two for the lead between Friesen, Johnson, and third place starter Matt DeLorenzo. Friesen led lap one, but DeLorenzo was the new race leader on lap two after getting under Friesen in turns one and two.
By lap four DeLorenzo was out to a straightaway advantage with seventh place starter Max McLaughlin the new second place car after getting by Friesen for the position. The first of three yellow flags in the event flew on lap five for Bobby Varin who slowed in turn two and retired from the event at that point. DeLorenzo held the lead on the restart from the inside row with McLaughlin not letting him stretch out his lead as much this time around.
Two consecutive yellow flags flew on lap six, the first for David Schilling who came to a stop in turn three with a left front flat and the second for Stewart Friesen who got into the tire wall between turns three and four. Schilling was out for the night at that point with more damage than just the flat tire while Stewart Friesen took one more lap before retiring from the event.
On the inside of turn three on lap seven, McLaughlin was the new race leader after getting by DeLorenzo and from that point on he pulled away to a comfortable lead with the top five at the halfway point consisting of McLaughlin, DeLorenzo, Johnson, eighth place starter Tim Fuller, and Jessica Friesen who were now all battling with lap traffic.
“I knew that we had speed,” McLaughlin said. “I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to get by Matt DeLorenzo, we were able to maneuver through the holes in turn one better than everybody else was.”
Lap 16 saw Matt Sheppard retire from the event while running in the eighth position with the top four of McLaughlin, DeLorenzo, Johnson, and Fuller all comfortable in those positions. The best battle on the track at that time was for the fifth position between Jessica Friesen, 12th place starter Mike Mahaney, 16th place starter Demetrious Drellos, and Alex Yankowski swapping the position many times over the final laps in the event.
Drellos’ great run cam to an end with one lap to go while running in the seventh position with McLaughlin going on to his first career win at the “Track of Champions” with DeLorenzo, Johnson, Fuller, and Jessica Friesen completing the top five.
“We started out the year winning in Florida and then came back to win at Brewerton but after that we’ve been horrible,” McLaughlin told Mimi Lazzaro in victory lane. “This is a place where I have been awful at for years. We were good here at last years 200 but I never thought that I’d win here so it’s pretty cool. This is a really prestigious place, one of my favorite places to come to as of recently.”
The 25-lap Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature was an exciting event that saw five lead changes before the winner was decided. Pole position starter Clayton DuMond led the first two laps before outside pole position starter Tanner Warner took over the lead with a pass on the outside on the backstretch.
DuMond and Warner then swapped the lead position twice, DuMond leading lap five after Warner slid up high in turn two with Warner taking the lead back on the next lap. Chad Edwards started the event in the seventh position and on lap seven was the new second place car with eighth place starter Payton Talbot now in the third position.
At the halfway point the top five consisted of Warner, Edwards, Talbot, Butchie Irwin, and DuMond with the top two of Warner and Edwards battling amongst each other for the lead while Talbot was playing catch up behind them in third. Lap traffic came into play on lap 17 with Edwards able to get by Warner for the lead one lap later on the inside of turns three and four.
Talbot also got by Warner for the second position and when Edwards hit the rough in turn one it got him out of shape enough that Talbot was able to get by for the lead in turn two on lap 21. From that point on Talbot pulled away to his fourth win of the season and the eighth of his career in the division in the Ted’s Body Shop #14T over Edwards, Warner, Irwin, and Chip Constantino.
“We’ve got some tech going on so we’re gonna get that situated and be ready to go,” Talbot told Mimi Lazzaro before his car got to victory lane to celebrate his victory. “I felt like I could enter better in turns one and two and go higher around the bumps. Down in three and four the car was pretty good, but I didn’t know if I was gonna have enough time to get to Chad (Edwards) and Tanner (Warner). We were aways back, but the car was really good, and we got it done.”
The 20-lap Below Zero Ice Cream feature was another exciting lead changing event with Kenny Gates leading at the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag. Gates led until lap four when his motor expired handing the lead over to Ivan Joslin. Joslin’s lead only lasted one lap when fourth place starter Nick Stone took over the point on lap five with a pass on the inside of turn four.
Luke Horning slowed to bring out the first of only two yellow flags in the event with ninth place starter Beau Ballard the new second place car on the restart. While Stone was running the top groove, Ballard was trying to make the bottom-line work for him and showed Stone his nose many times in the turns with Stone able to keep up his momentum on the outside and hold on to the lead.
That all changed when the yellow came out with one lap to go, setting up a one lap dash to the checkered flag. Ballard stayed with Stone on the restart and through turns three and four, and coming out of turn four made the inside groove work for him as he took the win by only 0.056 seconds for his second win of the season, the fifth of his career in the division, and his third consecutive win in the Thunder on the Thruway Series!
Stone, Joslin, Shane Playford, and Caden Dumblewski completed the top five in the event.
“Usually, you can get some sort of a good draw and start the feature further ahead than you normally would, but I went and screwed myself and drew ninth,” Ballard said in victory lane. “I never would have got Nick (Stone) without that last caution at the end, he was checked out. I fell like I used my stuff up a little bit, but when the yellow came out I got everything cooled back down.”
“Riding around under the caution I was thinking with Kenny (Gates) blowing up that it was gonna be a good points night but then I said to myself screw that I want to win this thing,” Ballard continued to say. “I knew that if I could be door to door with him into turn three that I could get the bite on the bottom and get it done and sure enough here we are. To come here tonight after losing a motor at Utica Rome last night and do this, especially on Hall of Fame induction Night after inducting my dad earlier today, this is a pretty sweet win.”
Steve Wagoner led the first three laps in the 15-lap Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman feature until fourth place starter AJ Greco took over the lead on lap four. Greco crossed the checkered flag first only to be light at the scales disqualifying him from the win. Tyler Bobar was the benefactor from the disqualification and took his first career win at Fonda over Mike Hill, Bobby Rhinehardt, Michael Kalkbrenner, and Wagoner.
“Here we are,” Bobar said in victory lane. “The car was fast, not enough for AJ (Greco) but you can’t be light right? We run at Utica Rome every Friday and got a second place finish out there last night and a win here at Fonda on Saturday. All we can do is keep chugging.”
Ken Hollenback led all 12-laps to win the overall Fonda Fair Four Cylinder feature in the SOHC class while Corey Valade finished second and was the winner of the DOHC class. For Hollenback it was the sixth win of the 2023 season and the 91st of his career in the division while for Valade it was his first career win in the division at Fonda.
“It was kind of a one lane track,” Hollenback said in victory lane. We got to the front quick and I could hear the #21 car (Valade) behind me, so I had to get to the bottom and be defensive, but it all worked out.”
“This is my first time ever winning here,” Valade said after his first career win at Fonda. “The 12 (Hollenback) was fast. Coming out of turn two he would take my line away and that hindered me a little bit, but he was fast. He’s here every week and knows the track, I got used to it now and I think next week will be even better.”
Next week on Saturday, July 8, Dirt Track Digest will present the Bill Ag Memorial Modified Elimination Races. All other divisions will also be in action, and it will also be “Bike Night” for the Fonda Speedway Kid’s Club!
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.
PALMER’S SERVICE CENTER HALL OF FAME NIGHT – F.X. CAPRARA CAR COMPANIES THUNDER ON THE THRUWAY SERIES
AMSTERDAM TRUCK CENTER MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – $4,000 TO WIN – MAX MCLAUGHLIN, Matt DeLorenzo, Ronnie Johnson, Tim Fuller, Jessica Friesen, Alex Yankowski, Mike Mahaney, Rocky Warner, Dave Constantino, Jack Lehner, Cody Clark, Brian Calabrese, Chris Curtis, Ryan Odasz, Pep Corradi, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Tucker O’Connor, JaMike Sowle, Brian Pessolano, Dave Camara, Demetrious Drellos, Matt Sheppard, Ryan Walther, Bobby Hackel IV, Stewart Friesen, David Schilling, Bobby Varin, Ancel Collins
1st career win for McLaughlin at Fonda
LAP LEADERS – 1 Jessica Friesen, 2-6 DeLorenzo, 7-30 McLaughlin
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Fuller, Yankowski, Warner
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – $1,500 TO WIN – PAYTON TALBOT, Chad Edwards, Tanner Warner, Butchie Irwin, Chip Constantino, Clayton DuMond, Mark Mortensen, Brendan Gibbons, Blaine Klinger, Dan Santabarbara, Troy Zilles, Brett Mortensen, Jason Greco, Michael McCallion, Josh Kane, Stephen Gray, Harry Shaffer, Jason Reome, Zach Dufel, Jeremy Tyrrell, Dylan Eldred, Seth Martin, Cody Clark, Jeremy Slosek, Clyde Peek, Matt Perry, Don Bellen, Kadon Hohensheldt, Wesley Sutliff (DNS), Roger Hummer (DNS)
4th win of 2023 and 8th of his career in the division for Talbot at Fonda.
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 DuMond, 3-4 Warner, 5 DuMond, 6-17 Warner, 18-20 Edwards, 21-25 Talbot
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Santabarbara, Klinger, Perry
GRECO’S NAPA HARD CHARGER AWARD – Stephen Gray +10 26th to 16th
BELOW ZERO ICE CREAM PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – $1,000 TO WIN – BEAU BALLARD, Nick Stone, Ivan Joslin, Shane Playford, Caden Dumblewski, Devon Camenga, Andy Graves, Josh Coonradt, Jim Normoyle, Jason Morrison, Gary Silkey, Michael Achzet, Jordan Modiano, Johnny Holmes, Randy Cosselman, Nick Santuccione, Don Collins, Luke Horning, Kenny Gates
2nd win of 2023 and the 5th of his career in the division for Ballard at Fonda.
LAP LEADERS – 1-3 Gates, 4 Joslin, 5-19 Stone, 20 Ballard
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Stone, Graves
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-LAPS – TYLER BOBAR, Mike Hill, Bobby Rhinehardt, Michael Kalkbrenner, Steve Wagoner, Kirsten Swartz, Kyle Dingman, Tim Wilmot, Lance Hill, Chris Kugler, Ryan Sweet, Dylan Huston, Jonathan Feagles, Tavien Blowers, Bob Rowback, Brandon Tyler, Bella Pickard, Brandon Hazzard, Maddy Broedel, Matt Strauss, Cian DiMezza, Joel Knudsen Jr., John Anderson, Dale Van Allen (DNS), Lucas Duncan (DNS) AJ Greco (DQ weight)
1st career win for Bobar at Fonda
LAP LEADERS – 1-3 Wagoner, 4-15 Greco DQ’d for weight
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Kugler, Greco, Swartz
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), COREY VALADE (DOHC), Kerrie Hollenback, Len St. Andrews, Wayne Russell Jr., Tim Warner, John Ray, TJ Marlitt
6th win of 2023 and the 91st of his career in the division for Ken Hollenback
1st career win in the division
LAP LEADERS – 1-12 Ken Hollenback
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) ANTIQUE FEATURE – CLIFF HASLUN, Don Briggs, Bryan Scofield, John Wood, Mike Wheeler, Jimmy Hyde, John Orsini, Mark Reardon, Mike Gray, Sean Searson, Tony Kamberelis, Dustin Chapman (DNS).
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) MYSTIQUE FEATURE – GEORGE PALMER, John Marks, Dan Karl, Carl Cram, Peter Nowicki, George Berbench, Mark Anatriello, Terry Graves, Frank Brown, Harry Baldwin.
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) LATE MODEL FEATURE – MATT MOSHER, Frank Hoard, Will Reed, John Roese, Dennis Joslin, Adam Warner, Ed Docskalik, Curtis Condon.
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) SPORTSMAN FEATURE – BRIAN GRAY, Malachi Matthews, Nathan McFadden, Jon Treadeau, Merv Blackwell, Jimmy Fugel, Mike Francisco, John Constantino, Mark Hahn, Joe Trudeau.
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) MODIFIED FEATURE – RANDY DELANEY, Jack Miller, Don Colvin, Darral Hulbert, Anthony Cardamone, Joe Rando