By RON SZCZERBA
FONDA, NY – On Saturday evening September 16, the sportsman division took center stage at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway with the running of the Don Warner Memorial event known as the “Grand Daddy” presented by Tom & Sharon Spencer and Adirondack Leather. A long list of other sponsors also added money and other items to make this a truly special event.
Special is a word that was used in victory lane by the race winner Chad Edwards who had a special friendship and bond with the late Don Warner who the event was named after.
“Rocky’s father Don was one of my best friends,” an emotional Edwards said in victory lane. “He was like a second father to me.”
Other winners at Fonda on Saturday evening were Bobby Varin (modified), Ivan Joslin (pro stock), Johnny Young (street stock), and PJ Bleau (4-cylinder/cruisers).
The luck of the draw saw Rocky Warner and Aaron Burton on the front row for the start of the 50-lap event with Warner the early race leader. Fourth place starter Jeremy Pitts got by Burton for the second position on lap four with fifth place starter Chad Edwards also getting by Burton for third. Pitts quickly caught the leading car of Warner by lap nine and challenged for the lead only to be forced to the pit area with mechanical issues on lap 12.
That put Edwards in the second position while 10th place starter Tim Hartman Jr. made his way up to third. By lap 13, Warner was in lap traffic with Edwards now pressuring him for the race lead. On the inside of turns one and two on lap 16, Edwards took the lead while Hartman Jr. also got by Warner for the second spot. At the halfway point Edwards was the race leader followed by Warner who had gotten back around Hartman for the second spot, Hartman, sixth place starter Nick Scavia, and Ray Zemken.
The yellow flag flew on lap 27 for Burton who came to a stop in turn three but was able to pit and continue on at the rear of the field. Edwards chose to restart on the outside groove with Warner alongside and at the drop of the green flag Edwards raced away to the lead. Scavia and Zemken both got by Hartman for the third and fourth positions on the restart putting Hartman back to fifth. Lap 30 saw the caution out again with Hartman pitting for a flat left front tire and restarting at the rear of the field.
Edwards again chose the outside for the restart and again pulled away at the drop of the green flag in the lead. By lap 34 Edwards held a straightaway lead which he would maintain to the checkered flag for his first win of the season at Fonda and the third of his career in the division in the Spencer Racing #37. Warner, Scavia, 12th place starter JaMike Sowle, and ninth place starter Willy Decker completed the top five while Connor Cleveland was named the “Hard Charger” of the race after starting 22nd and finishing sixth.
“When Rocky drew the pole I knew it was going to be a tough night,” Edwards told Danny Haslun in victory lane. “We finished second a lot this year and really wanted a win. It was crazy pulling him (Rocky) in like we did but once I got the lead I just kept hitting my marks and got the win.”
“The bottom was fast tonight but I didn’t want to tear the car up and I wanted to save the tires so that came back to bite me in the butt,” Warner said during victory lane ceremonies. “Hats off to Chad and his team, Chad had a special bond with my father so if I didn’t win it I’m glad that he did.”
“The track was pretty aggressive tonight but Chad was due,” Scavia said after the race. “I raced with some of the best tonight and it has been an awesome year.”
Pole position starter Demetrious Drellos took the lead at the drop of the green flag in the 30-lap modified feature with outside front row starter Josh Hohenforst second. Bobby Varin started the event in the fourth position and at the completion of lap one he was already in the second spot. On the inside of turn three on lap three, Varin took the lad away from Drellos and built it up quickly to a straightaway advantage by lap seven.
While one Varin was leading the event another was making his way to the front after starting seventh as Bobby’s son Danny went down the middle in between Shaun Pangman and Justin Boehler to take over the fourth position on lap five. On lap eight, Danny Varin got by Drellos for the third position while Bobby Varin was now in lap traffic with the caution out on lap 13 taking away Bobby’s big lead in the event.
On the restart, sixth place runner Jeremy Wilder ended up in the turn one wall with Cody Bleau, Jessey Mueller, and Bobby Vedder all involved as they had nowhere to go. Only Bleau was able to restart at the rear of the field while the other cars were done for the evening. Danny Varin took over the second position on the next restart with the top five at the halfway point consisting of Bobby Varin, Danny Varin, Hohenforst, Boehler, and Pangman.
One more caution slowed the event on lap 16 but after that it the race was under the green flag for the remaining laps with Bobby pulling away in the closing laps to take his third win of the season and the 58th of his career at Fonda in the Palmer’s Service #76 Teo car over Danny Varin, Hohenforst, Pangman, and 11th place starter Jimmy Davis.
“It’s been a pretty darn good weekend,” Bobby Varin said in victory lane after also winning the night before at Albany Saratoga. “I am very proud to be on this Palmer’s Service team with a lot of support from Dave Cruickshank of Dover Brake as well. This is a fantastic team and we are having a good time, of course when you win you are always having a good time.”
The start of the 20-lap pro stock feature saw the red flag out as Jason Morrison flipped his car in turn three and ended up with the front of the car resting on top of the tire wall. Morrison was okay but was done for the evening. On the original restart, outside pole starter Ivan Joslin took the lead with AJ Walters second. Another yellow on lap four slowed the event and on that restart Joslin maintained his lead on the event.
Eighth place starter Chuck Dumblewski was the new second place car on the restart with ninth place starter Kenny gates now fourth behind Walters. Gates kept marching to the front getting by both Walters and Dumblewski for the second position by lap 13 with Joslin now a half straightaway ahead. Gates closed in during the final laps but ran out of time as Joslin went on to his third win of the season and the ninth of his career in the division over Gates, Dumblewski, Walters, and Cassidy Wilson.
“This team is running on all eight cylinders and everything is going right,” Joslin said in victory lane. “I could put the car anywhere I wanted to tonight, this is a total team effort.”
Ellis “Bubby” Shaffer led the first nine laps of the street stock feature until Johnny Young took over the lead on a lap 10 restart and went on to his fifth win of the season and the eighth win of his career in the division over Joey Wilson, Shaffer, Bill Yager, Michael Arnold, Harold Chadderdon, Jim Groncki, and Cliff Haslun.
PJ Bleau was the winner of the 4-cylinder/cruiser feature over Wayne Russell, Pat McSpirit, Dale VanAllen, and Zach McSpirit.
On Friday and Saturday September 22 & 23 the Fonda Speedway will close out the 2017season with a huge two days of racing. Please check out the website www.newfondaspeedway.com for more information on this two day event as the week goes on.
THE GRAND DADDY DON WARNER MEMORIAL SPORTSMAN FEATURE PRESENTED BY TOM & SHARON SPENCER AND ADIRONDACK LEATHER – 50-LAPS – CHAD EDWARDS, Rocky Warner, Nick Scavia, JaMike Sowle, Willy Decker, Connor Cleveland, Tim Hartman Jr., Zach Sobotka, Ray Zemken, Joe Orlando, David Schilling, Dan Santabarbara, Josh DeMagistris, Casey Pavlick, Charlie Tibbitts, Justin Auspelmyer, Joel Hall, Aaron Burton, Cody Clark, Nick Heywood, Willy Decker Jr., Bobby Hackel IV, Dave Constantino, Jeremy Pitts, Griffen Mansmith, David Manchester DNS
DIRTCAR MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – BOBBY VARIN, Danny Varin, Josh Hohenforst, Shaun Pangman, Jimmy Davis, Cody Bleau, Ryan Odasz, Demetrious Drellos, Tony Pepicelli, Darwin Greene, Ed Harris, Aaron Jacobs, Vinnie Sanganetti, Justin Boehler, Cass Bennett, Jeremy Wilder, Jessey Mueller, Bob Vedder, Pep Corradi, Willy Decker, Rocky Warner, Craig Hanson DNS
DIRTCAR PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – IVAN JOSLIN, Kenny Gates, Chuck Dumblewski, AJ Walters, Cassidy Wilson, JJ Courcy, Justin Knight, Jason Samrov, Josh Coonradt, Nick Arnold, Matt Roberts, Jeff McPhail, Randy Cosselman, Jim Normoyle, Kyle Hoard, Jason Morrison, George Miles DNS