By TOM SKIBINSKI
CANANDAIGUA, NY – Land Of Legends Raceway was the site of ‘Friday Night Fights’ presented by Champion Power Equipment/SuperGen Products & VP Small Engine Fuel, with short-track heavyweights Alysha Bay, Kyle Inman and Josh Pangrazio topping the special three-round race card in Canandaigua.
Bay survived six caution periods and a pair of red flags to score her first career SuperGen Products with Champion Power Equipment CRSA Sprint Car Series victory, charging past veteran Dan Bennett then holding off Matt Tanner on the final restart in the thrilling 20-lap A-Main for 305 sprinters.
“Not only our first CRSA win, its our first of the season,” remarked a relieved Bay, 24, following her sixth career sprint car triumph —her last logged in June of 2016— at the hallowed half-miler to open the two-day program. “We’ve been trying so hard, so finally getting a win means a ton tonight.”
Western New Yorkers Inman (Darien Center) and Pangrazio (Oakfield) added their names to the Land of Legends recordbook, with each taking their first-ever checkered flags at the Ontario County Fairgrounds. Inman led flag-to-flag in the 25-lap 911 Restoration GRIT Sportsman Series Wild West Hoosier Tour showdown while Pangrazio pulled away by the halfway mark to win the 20-lap Fight Night All Star Street Stock Series special.
“It was crazy out there at the end with all those stops, just tried to stay focused and things worked out in our favor,” noted local favorite Bay from nearby Gorham, after three restarts alone on lap 19 tested her attention span in the 45-minute marathon. “Little mistakes at the end were costly for a lot of guys, I was able to keep it clean all the way around.”
Bay’s father, Darryl Ruggles, was not as fortunate after pacing the 26-car field for all but two laps from his outside-pole starting position. Contact between Ruggles and last week’s winner Dan Bennett on the first lap 19 restart sent around Ruggles winged machine in turn four and ended any chance for LOLR’s current 305 points leader to claim a second career CRSA triumph on home soil.
Ruggles led at the drop of chief starter Scott Hixson’s initial green flag yet a turn four skirmish forced out the first yellow even before lap one could be completed. Yellow lights flashed two more times for minor mishaps before a rare red flag flew to stop the action with eight laps scored; the same time light rain became a factor for officials monitoring track conditions as well as drivers devising their own startegy with the possibility looming of inclement weather shortening the feature race distance.
The lapped car of Bobby Gardner looped all alone high in turn four, and with nowhere to go, Memorial Day weekend CRSA winner Jeff Trombley slammed in while looking to hold off low running Bay for third and flipped over as a result. David Ferguson then plowed into Trombley while Billy VanInwegen slid into the pile. Track regular Brandyn Griffin and downstate invader Tanner wove their way between the mangled mounts before race officials quickly stopped the action to clear the track. No injuries were reported.
Two more brief caution periods kept the field close before Bennett made his best run on Ruggles on the high side exiting turn one with two laps to go. Bennett assumed the point after Ruggles’ turn four spin with fourth-starting Bay, Tanner and Griffin locked into a torrid battle on his bumper.
A second red flag unfurled when young Pete Dance banked off the cement barrier outside turn one although his bent up ride came to rest on all fours in the aftermath. Back under green for the final time, Bay bolted under Bennett in her “hotter than pink’ painted sprinter with Tanner moving in just as fast to seize second.
Steering her eye-catching Mike Mastin-powered no. 48A Danny Willmes Enterprises-Van Bortel Trucking-Ruggles World of Auto Body/Eagle, Bay got the needed bite on the last lap and pulled away for a dramatic five car-length victory while VanInwegen and Griffin both found their way past Bennett in the wild dash to the checkers. Runner-up Tanner was ultimately disqualified for a weight infraction in the customary post-race inspection, moving Emily VanInwegen into the front-five.
“I only saw some rain on the track when we stopped under the reds, didn’t really notice it under yellow or when we were racing so it never bothered me,” added Bay, who remains perfect with seven top-5 finishes in as many starts at LOLR in 2018; she missed the CRSA holiday show at LOLR on May 26 as it was a non-track point event. The “female flash” also missed all of last season as she sat out on maternity leave following the birth of son Logan in early April.
“Its tough racing since we’re not used to the CRSA format. You have to wait single-file coming out of turn four and can’t pass until reaching the cone that sits about 10-feet from the starter’s stand. Its different but we got through so I’m glad I was finally able to get a win. Now I want more,” declared Bay, who along with Billy VanInwegen and Griffin also earned guranteed starting berths in the next day’s $1,000-to-win CRSA main event.
A past visitor to the fast fairgrounds oval during the millennium, Inman was also finally able to grace victory lane in wine country, albeit in more convincing fashion, becoming the 112th Sportsman winner since the class debut in 1987.
“That last restart was tough, honestly I forgot if we were running 25 or 30 laps in the feature,” divulged Inman, 35, the two-time defending season points champion at Genesee Speedway, registering six wins at the Batavia track last summer. The 2004 Mr. DIRT Sportsman Series Rookie of the Year competed in Super Stocks and E-Mods from 2006-2012, returning to the Sportsman ranks in 2014 after a one-year layoff. “I was asking myslef ‘should I pick the top or pick the bottom,’ a lot of times in this crate (engine) racing the top is the way to go and that’s where we got (Steve Gray) on the start. So the way we were going I picked the bottom.”
Inman sped ahead of front-row partner and pole winner Gray at the start and opened up a commanding 10 car-length advantage after the first five laps. Gray, who won the inaugural GRIT Sportsman shootout at Canandaigua in 2014, settled into second ahead of weekly foes Kane Bristol and Matt Guererri, with Canadian traveler Adam Leslie in close pursuit.
Setting a fast pace aboard his no. 20K Turnbull Heating & Cooling-R.J. Nicometo Electrical/Bicknell entry, qualifying heat winner Inman reached traffic on lap 14 allowing Gray to gain ground in the latter stages. A frantic three-wide maneuver by Inman between Frank Guererri Jr. and Benny Karlsen down the back chute and into turn three on lap 18 may have been the biggest decision as Gray got within three car-lengths of the leader with five to go before encountering his owwn trouble in traffic.
The streak of consecutive green flag laps of racing came to a halt when weekly LOLR pilot Jeff Davoli looped low in the middle of turns three and four as he tried to hold position under leader Inman with just four laps remaining. In his own attempt to avoid Davoli’s parked car on lap 22, last week’s LOLR winner Gray hit the implement tire low in turn four and despite parts flying was still able to retain his runner-up status over the final distance.
At the line it was Inman ahead of Gray by four car-lengths, followed by Leslie, who finished second to James Henry in the GRIT opener at Genesee on June 7, and Canandaigua chauffeurs Kevin Ridley, Kane Bristol and track points leader Matt Guererri. Canandaigua’s only two-time Sportsman winner this season, Dave Marcuccilli suffered motor issues in his heat race and a back-up #M1 car was unable to arrive in time to make the 24-car starting grid.
“I learned a lot last year coming here, we threw away two races using up the car too early,” recalled current Genesee points leader Inman, who joins Rocky Warner (2015, 2017), Adam Pierson (2016) and Gray on the elite list of past GRIT wwinners at LOLR. “This time I was just trying to keep it straight and underneath me early on. Luckily for that last 3 lap dash we had a lot left and just hammered it into the corners and was able to run it hard all the way around.”
“This place has some tough, tough competition, all the Guererris, Ridley and Dave (Marcuccilli), I knew he had trouble in his heat race and went back home for a second car. We love coming here. Everybody’s doing a great job with the track now, its real racey. A lot better than it has been in the past when it turned black and slick so this was a ton of fun coming back. Especially picking up a win,” said Inman, after pocketing the lucrative $1,000 top prize.
With no track experience to draw from in his maiden voyage to the Land of Legends, Pangrazio was up to the challenge as he dialed in to perfection his potent black no. 70 Cummings Trucking-BDK Construction & Trucking-Impressions Concrete Chevrolet Camaro to collect the $600 winner’s share.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been here, its awesome,” stated Pangrazio, after taking advantage of a stellar Paul Gavenda-prepared powerplant to dominate the 13-car full-fender field. “The track is fast and there’s a lot of grip out there. I got something going on with the power steering, she didn’t want to turn, so all those restarts were not too much fun.”
Penciled in seventh on the starting sheet after a flat tire curtailed his winning effort in qualifying rounds, Pangrazio watched as early leader Dennis Cummings staved off bids from LOLR regulars Marc Minutolo and Adam DePuy on the opening circuits. Cummings suddenly looped by himself exiting turn two, leaving Minutolo and DePuy no room to escape and Canandaigua’s only two winners in ’18 were done for the night after crashing together with only two laps in the books.
Outlaw Speedway 29-year veteran Quinn Sutherland overtook Rick Crego on the ensuing lap three restart before LOLR mainstay Jason Quigley slowed in turn one with a flat tire. Ron “Bundy” Metcalf spun on lap five to require a third yellow flag, keeping Crego, hard-charging Cummings, C.J. Guererri and Pangrazio in the hunt.
Pangrazio flat-footed it into second on the lap five restart and ducked underneath Sutherland for good as the lead duo exited turn four to complete lap nine. The difference was a half-straightaway after 15 laps and only a final caution for Crego with four to go kept anybody close to Pangrazio. Guererri improved from fourth to second following the lap 16 restart although Pangrazio stretched the lead to 20 car-lengths when the checkers finally waved. Sutherland, Jared Hill and Cummings rounded out the top-five at the line.
“Genesee is my hometrack but we’re not running there weekly,” noted Pangrazio, after copping Canandaigua’s inaugural ‘Fight Night’ stock car feature, with this unique series created by Dick Stark and his son Nick in 2016 designed to attract full-fender teams from New York State & Northern Pennsylvania. The same promotional duo also launched the GRIT Sportsman trail in 2013.
“We’re picking and choosing where we want to go. We want to travel a little bit, not just run the same track every single week. I’ve raced against some guys here that got a lot of laps at this place. I just had one heat under my belt and now a feature. But everybody knows that races are won in the shop. You come here with a basic set-up and tune from there. Tonight we hit it right,” Pangrazio said.
The big doubleheader at Land Of Legends Raceway concludes tomorrow (June 23) when Product 9 presents the ‘Saturday Spectacular’ featuring a DIRTcar Sportsman Series race along with Pepsi Big-Block Modfieds and a return visit by CRSA Sprints on the second Legends Inductee Night that honors DIRT Motorsports founder Glenn Donnelly, who will be joined in the special midway celebration by popular ‘This Week On DIRT’ television show host Doug Logan.
Continue to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. Advance sale tickets are also available for purchase online throughout the upcoming months. Log into the website (LandOfLegendsRaceway.com), hit the red “Buy Tickets” button on the homepage, then make a selection from the list of dates & events highlighted.
Land of Legends Raceway is located at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, east of the city on Town Line Road (County Road 10), with easy access off either Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) of the New York State Thruway, just ½-hour southeast of Rochester.
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – June 22, 2018
Champion Power Equipment/SuperGen Products &
VP Small Engine Fuel present Friday Night Fights
911 Restoration GRIT Sportsman Series /
Bellinger Electric Wild West Hoosier Tour Race #2
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 20k-Kyle Inman($1,000), 2. 29g-Steve Gray, 3. 15-Adam Leslie, 4. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 5. 31-Kane Bristol, 6. 12g-Matt Guererri, 7. 11n-Ricky Newton, 8. 25g-Nick Guererri, 9. 2k-Anthony Kimball, 10. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 11. 9-Tim Baker, 12. 2-Loren Lincoln, 13. 22j-Stacy Jackson, 14. 126-Zach George, 15. 01-Doug Smith, 16. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 17. 77-Benny Karlsen, 18. 90-Nathan Peckham, 19. 1-Billy Paine, 20. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 21. c21-Jeff Davoli, 22. 27jr.-Ray Bliss, 23. 86-Matt Steffenhagen, m1-Dave Marcuccilli(DNS), Ray Bliss Jr.(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Inman, Gray, M.Guererri, Newton, Smith, Lawrence, Paine, Karlsen.
#2: Bristol, Leslie, Lloyd, Steffenhagen, Kimball, Davoli, Bliss, Marcuccilli.
#3: Ridley, N.Guererri, Baker, Lincoln, George, Jackson, F.Guererri, Peckham.
Mike Emhof Motorsports CRSA 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48a-Alysha Bay, 2. 56-Billy VanInwegen, 3. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 4. X-Dan Bennett, 5. 19em-Emily VanInwegen, 6. 23-Tyler Cartier, 7. 38-Jason Whipple, 8. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 9. m1-Justin Mills,10. 66-Erik Karlsen, 11. 410-Jerry Sehn Jr., 12. 98t-Tyler Jashembowski, 13. 26j-Johnny Kolosek, 14. 42-Jesse Pruchnik, 15. 29-Dalton Herrick, 16. 19j-Mike Jackson, 17. 56d-Pete Dance, 18. 74-Eric Kurtz, 19. 1q-Thomas Radivoy, 20. 3a-Jeff Trombley, 21. 45-David Ferguson, 22. 18c-Dan Craun, 23. 4-Tim Smith, 24. 8g-Bobby Gardner, 25. 99-Andy Jacobus, 4t-Matt Tanner(DSQ).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Griffin, Karlsen, Trombley, Ferguson, Jackson, Dance, Cartier, Smith, Jacobus(DNS).
#2: B.VanInwegen, Whipple, Pruchnik, Radivoy, Mills, E.VanInWegen, Herrick, Jashembowski, Craun.
#3: Ruggles, Bay, Bennett, Tanner, Kolosek, Sehn, Kurtz, Gardner.
Fight Night All Star Street Stock Series
Feature (20 laps): 1. 70-Josh Pangrazio($600), 2. cj1-C.J. Guererri, 3. 57j-Quinn Sutherland, 4. 93-Jared Hill, 5. 74d-Dennis Cummings, 6. 34q-Jason Quigley, 7. 36-Jimmy Grant, 8. 5c-Rick Crego, 9. 36s-Seth Steele, 10. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 11. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 12. 99-Adam DePuy, 8-Mike Welch(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Sutherland, Minutolo, Crego, Pangrazio, Guererri, Hill, Quigley.
#2: Cummings, DePuy, Welch, Grant, Steele, Metcalf.
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, June 23 @ 7pm; Product 9 presents DIRTcar Sportsman Series/Big-Block Modified/CRSA Sprint and Legends Inductee Night #2.
Track Instant Info
Land of Legends Raceway is proud to salute several sponsors and corporate partners that continue to help bring its fans the best Saturday night racing show in the Northeast. Listed alphabetically are division sponsors Big Dog Country 103.5FM Radio, Donath Motor Worx, Mike Emhof Motorsports, Pepsi/Geneva Club Beverage; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, A-Verdi Storage Containers, Daldry Canvas, Geneva Club Beverage/Mountain Dew, Honeoye Auto Parts/Auto Value, L&L Transmission & Towing, Pampered Parents, Phelps Cement Products, Pilat Graphic Design, Proctor Enterprises, Product 9, Tradition Automotive Group; promotional partners Champion Power Equipment, D.C. Rauscher Inc., Dig Safely New York 811, Hoosier Racing Tire, Ontario County Fairboard, Sherwin-Williams Paint Stores, Star Headlight & Lantern Co., VP Racing Fuels.