By TOM SKIBINSKI
CANANDAIGUA, NY – Tradition Automotive Group Night opened the final full month of activity at Land Of Legends Raceway and it was Justin Wright and Steve Poirier taking center stage with decisive open-wheel victories in the Aug. 4 ‘Super Saturday Spectacular.’
Wright gave himself the best birthday gift of all with his first career Pepsi Big-Block Modified victory at the Ontario County Fairgrounds while Poirier bested a track record 43 Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint entries to capture round three of the four-race LOLR 360 Sprint Classic Series.
Canandaigua’s own A.J. Lloyd and division points leader Dave Marcuccilli split 25-lap Donath Motor Worx Sportsman features, with Tyler Vinson scoring his second New Legends Sportsman victory. Darryl Ruggles collected a fifth checkered flag in the 20-lap Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Main and Marc Minutolo copped win #4 in the full-fender 15-lap Big Dog Country Street Stock finale.
Adding to the evening fanfare was the induction of ‘Barefoot’ Bob McCreadie onto the growing Land of Legends Wall of Fame.
McCreadie and his reputed no. 9 convoy quickly emerged as one of the most popular pilots and charasmatic crews ever to contend at Canandaigua Speedway. Although McCreadie was unable to attend the ceremony in his honor, track chief videographer Matt Thomas produced a special 5-minute highlight clip showcasing some of the popular Watertown driver’s biggest achievements at the speedway which was shown to grandstanders on the frontstretch jumbotron.
Canandaigua became McCreadie’s Saturday night home in 1983 and the bearded and bespectacled veteran tallied 99 feature wins and six speedway point titles over the next 20 years. Scoring his first fairgrounds feature win in June of 1983, the Watertown warrior took his final Canandaigua checkered flag on July 27, 2002, in between racking up an all-time track record 15 victories in 1994 aboard the iconic #9 Modified.
From 1992 thru 1996, ‘Barefoot’ stepped into victory lane an unprecedented 54 times, including back-to-back Super DIRT Series triumphs in 1993 & ’94 as well as a pair of Mr. DIRT wins; the richest being the big season-ending Finger Lakes Championship 200-lapper in 1993 sporting the familiar orange & blue paint scheme on his Kinney Drug Stores Special.
Wright added to his own highlight reel on Saturday, grabbing the lead from veteran Steve Paine on a lap eight restart then out-distancing himself from an elite array of series followers to finally etch his name into Land of Legends lore.
“This win is 6 years in the making after getting my ass kicked every Saturday night,” remarked Wright, now 32, who scored a pair of Sportsman wins at the Canandaigua half-miler in 2010-11 before embarking on his Big-Block journey. “You’re racing with the best in the business each week. The top-six in tour points are here tonight so you had to be on your game from the opening lap.”
Piffard’s Wright started fourth on the 20-car grid surrounded by track favorites Paine, Justin Haers and Alan Johnson while current Super DIRTcar Series top-six point chasers Matt Sheppard, Erick Rudolph, Max McLaughlin, Jimmy Phelps and new teammates Danny Johnson and Peter Britten settled in further back. Outside pole-sitter Paine took the early lead before a multi-car tangle exiting turn one knocked out Kyle Coffey and Brian Sage to incur the lone caution period seven laps in.
Wright out-dragged Paine down the front chute on the ensuing restart and never looked back as the final 28 laps clicked off non-stop. The competition was keen in the rear-view mirror of his his no. 19W Mercer Milling-Dairyman’s Edge/Bicknell mount as the area all-stars diced for position lap after lap over the remaining distance.
Fifteenth starting Phelps moved into second on lap 22 while Sheppard pulled into third four laps later. Contending among the front-five throughout the race, fourth-running James Sweeting suddenly dropped to the back stretch infield after engine woes forced him off the pace on lap 31. McLaughlin and Billy Dunn filled the void as Wright passed under the checkers with a two-thirds straightaway advantage.
“There’s always been good support, family is always behind me with what we’ve been able to accomplish against the big teams,” said an emotional Wright, after reaching victory lane for the first time. “Just can’t put it into words what this (win) means.”
“You watch guys like Sheppard and Paine and legends like that you grew up idolizing and learn the lines to run. When you’re leading and just trying not to screw up, it gets harder and harder as the laps go down. We’re just part-timers going up against racers that make a living at it. Fortunately everything worked tonight, the car was good and here we are … finally,” added Wright, who moved into seventh on the current LOLR points chart after ending last season fifth in the standings.
Sheppard’s third-place tally combined with Rudolph’s seventh-place run was just enough for ‘Super Matt’ to regain the track points lead, 743-739, with just three point races remaining on the Big-Block schedule.
Poirier’s no. 28FM FM Industries-4 Seasons Foundations-Fuzion Electric-Mega Pumping/Eagle sprinter was also fast, and as it turned out just quick enough to stave off Chuck Hebing, winner of the last ESS stop in Canandaigua on July 5. Hebing was actually turning in lap times at least one mile per hour faster than the winner yet after starting 13th trailed by 10 car-lengths at the finish in the caution-free affair that lasted just under nine minutes.
“Was really surprised how the lower lane cleaned out tonight,” noted seven-time Empire Super Sprint points champion Poirier, 46, with his French accent prevailing throughout the victory lane review. “We set up to run the middle and the cushion was good up top, but we were able to stay low too. Its always fun to win and coming out on top with this group is big as its one of top sprint organizations in the Northeast.”
A pre-race draw among the top-3 finishers in four qualfying heats placed Poirier sixth in the 26-car line-up. Pole-sitter Josh Pieniazek gave way to front row partner Paul Kinney on lap six before Poirier shot past out of the second corner to forge the final lead change after two more times around.
Eighth starting Jason Barney cracked the top-five by lap 10 and passed runner-up Pieniazek seven laps later. Earlier in the night surpassing the 100mph barrier en route to his Willmes Enterprises Dash triumph, Hebing was also on the move. ‘Cobra’ stormed into the front-five halfway through and never backed off until overtaking Barney, winner of the LOLR Patriot Sprint Tour show on May 5, for second on lap 19.
Time finally ran out on Hebing as the French ‘Fireball’ from St-Mathieu-de-Beloeil, Quebec sped on for his ESS-best 68th career A-Main victory worth a cool $2,000 in U.S. currency. On the heels of a pair of fourth-place finishes in LOLR’s inaugural 360 Sprint Classic Series races in May and July, Poirier’s third ESS win of 2018 was also his fifth career sprint car triumph at Canandaigua in the track’s 34th ESS event dating back to 1985. The fourth and final leg of the 360 Series is slated for Wed., Aug. 29 with Hebing (178), Poirier (174) and Barney (169) topping the points chart prior to the mid-week Patriots tour return.
Matt Tanner slipped by Barney for third on the final lap while Pieniazek rounded out the top-five. Ruggles (17th) and his daughter Alysha Bay (26th) were the lone Canandaigua 305 sprint car regulars to qualify from the record turnout of winged machines, with 40-car fields the previous highs registered in both 2001 and 1997.
The make-up Sportsman main from July 21 kicked off Saturday’s seven feature program with Lloyd resuming the point as six laps were complete before rain soaked the speedway. His no. 1F Fox’s Auto-Dar’s Auto-Uptown Tire & Auto Service/Bicknell machine never faultered, leading the remaining 19 laps to edge Eric Williams by a half-dozen car-lengths at the finish.
“Two weeks ago the car was phenomenal and I almost cried when the race got cancelled,” recalled Lloyd, who’s third and most recent win at LOLR came on the same weekend exactly two years earlier. “Heading into tonight I had the gut ache that we’re not going to have the same track (conditions). But the car was pretty good tonight, a little tight in the turns, so just slowed it down and made it work.”
“You always think you hear something behind, then (Williams) showed me his door. After that I just tried to hit my marks and things worked out pretty good at the end,” added Lloyd, after holding off Williams, still in search of his first win, as Kyle Kiehn, Loren Lincoln and Nick Guererri completed the top-five at the wire.
Settling for seventh in the first feature after suffering a hole in the radiator in his primary #M1 Page Trucking-All Star Contractors-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell ride, Marcuccilli brought out his back-up car and was even better in the nightcap.
“This is my kind of track, smooth and slippery,” smiled Marcuccilli, following a division-best sixth win to extend his points lead in search of a fourth consecutive Sportsman points championship. “It kind of slows things down, puts a lot of set-up and driver into the mix. So far that’s been a good formula for us this year.”
Kane Bristol blasted from third to first on the opening circuit and despite two slowdowns for multi-car mishaps (lap 2, lap 15) kept his spot for nearly 24 laps. Starting 15th on the 25-car grid, Marcuccilli moved into the top-five on lap eight and methodically made his way forward as the race wore on.
When a trio of cars tangled in turn three in front of the leader on lap 15 to bring out a yellow flag, Marcuccilli rode fourth with only leader Bristol, Paul Guererri and Steve Gray ahead on the scoresheet. The Montezuma chauffeur took third on the restart, seized second from Guererri on lap 21 and then went around Bristol out of turn four with starter Scott Hixson’s white flag in hand. Marcuccilli cruised home by four car-lengths to collectt career win #27 at LOLR, followed by Bristol, Paul Guererri, Matt Guererri and Gray.
“Hard to believe how good we’ve been running this season,” beamed Marcuccilli, who tallied a career-best count of 20 feature wins in 2017 and has already taken 17 checkered flags circuit-wide this year. “We figured out a shock package that we can use when the track is slick or heavy and get the same results. And anybody will tell you, a good handling car makes a driver look good.”
Looking better and better each passing week, 305 Sprint winner Ruggles bolstered his own track points lead after logging a fourth victory in his last six races and only finishing outside the top-two once in his past 10 starts.
“We found a set-up that works good and we’re just sticking with it,” stated Ruggles, after adding his track-high 32nd career win in the sprint car ranks. “I’m very comfortable with the dry, slick track conditions out here lately.”
Brandyn Griffin darted out to the early lead ahead of front row partner Aaron Jacobs and early season winner Dan Bennett with Ruggles bolting from seventh to fourth on lap one. Mike Jackson stopped high in turn four to slow the action on lap eight before a multi-car crash out of turn one on the restart sidelined Johnny Kolosek, David Ferguson, Jesse Pruchnik and Dan Craun for the duration.
Ruggles moved his neon yellow no. 48jr. Danny Willmes Enterprises-VanBortel Trucking/Eagle to the point on the second lap eight restart leaving Griffin and Alysha Bay to battle for runner-up laurels behind the Hopewell pilot. The order remained the same the last half of the race with ’17 Canandaigua points king Jason Whipple and Erik Karlsen filling out the final front-five.
Taking top dollar on his sponsor’s night, Minutolo was the class of the Street Stock field in his black and white #25B Tradition Automotive Group-Big Mike’s Auto/Chevrolet Camaro. What has evolved into a weekly war with points leader Adam DePuy, Minutolo was first to the front on this night with ‘Mr. Smooth’ coasting home for an eight car-length victory over seven-time winner DePuy.
“You always want to win for your sponsor so its nice to pick one up tonight with the (Tradition) guys in the tower,” said Minutolo, after notching his 56th career stock car win at the fairgrounds. “Tonight the car was money in the feature. Not too sure after the heat but it did a 360 after qualifying. The car was set up good for the middle although we weren’t going to wait for Adam to find out so we got to the front first.”
Jason Quigley led early before fifth starting Minutolo took command out of the first turn on lap five. Beginning in row four behind Minutolo, DePuy grabbed second from Mike Welch on lap seven and set his sights on the top spot.
Dakota Sharp looped his mount low in turn two in front of Minutolo on lap 12 to give DePuy one final shot yet the Newark driver was up to the challenge and held on for a convincing victory. Welch settled for third ahead of Quigley, C.J. Guererri and Todd Hayward in a dramatic three-wide ending to the full-fender finale.
Five Legends Sportsman turned trackside for their 10-lapper and race-long leader Vinson needed only four minutes to dispose of his counterparts in the five-mile jaunt. Sam Hoxie finished second a straightaway behind the no. 93 Jocoy’s Collison/Bicknell winner after holding off Adam Haddow who towed in from Ithaca for his first start. Also making their Land of Legends debut were Timmy Borden (4th) and Eric Years (5th).
“The track was real slick but as long as you keep under control it could be very fast,” summed up third-generation driver Vinson from Sanborn. “Real smooth track, had to keep it on the bottom, only place you could really make it go.”
Max McLaughlin made his first-ever sprint car appearance yet failed to qualify aboard owner Darrell Bragman’s no. 9x Collectibles Galore-RTC Construction/J&J entry normally driven by Tyler Trump … Car owner Ray Graham expects to have Danny Johnson back behind the wheel of his no. 21G Troyer ride for the remaining shows at the fairgrounds, helping provide Canandaigua with the premier Big-Block Modified field in the Northeast.
Action during the month of August continues next week when L&L Transmissions and the Ontario County Fairboard present another ‘Saturday Spectacular’ featuring a full show of Pepsi Big-Block Modfied, Donath Motor Worx Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car, Big Dog Country Street Stock and New Legends Sportsman racing plus a Power Wheels Demo Derby.
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 – August 4, 2018
Tradition Automotive Group presents Super Saturday Spectacular
360 Sprint Classic Series Race #3
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints
*A-Main (25 laps): 1. 28fm-Steve Poirier ($2,000), 2. 45-Chuck Hebing, 3. 90-Matt Tanner, 4. 87-Jason Barney, 5. 9-Josh Pieniazek, 6. 19k-Paul Kinney, 7. 10-Jeff Cook, 8. 00-Danny Varin, 9. 10c-Paulie Colagiovanni, 10. 33m-Mike Mahaney, 11. 53-Shawn Donath, 12. 7x-Dan Douville, 13. 56v-Billy VanInwegen, 14. 82-Jared Zimbardi, 15. 14-Coleman Gulick, 16. 98-Joe Trenca, 17. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 18. 29-Dalton Herrick, 19. 91-Scott Holcomb, 20. 36-Matt Billings, 21. 2-Dave Axton, 22. 17-Sammy Reakes IV , 23. 3a-Jeff Trombley, 24. 97-Cory Turner, 25. 36d-Steve Doell Jr., 26. 48a-Alysha Bay.
Heats (10 laps/5 qualify)
#1: Douville, Donath, VanInwegen, Zimbardi, Colagiovanni, Miller, Bay, McLaughlin, Bennett, Carlson, Hanson(DNS).
#2: Kinney, Poirier, Varin, C.Hebing, Trenca, Trombley, Kiser, Flint, Karlsen, K.Hebing, Hutchinson.
#3: Tanner, Cook, Mahaney, Axton, Ruggles, Reakes, Holcomb, Turner, Granholm, Kuhn, Sparks.
#4: Pieniazek, Gulick, Barney, Doell, Herrick, Preston, Billings, Richardson, Durand, Juliano.
B-Main (10 laps/2 qualify)
#1: Trombley, Bay, Kiser, Flint, Karlsen, K.Hebing, McLaughlin, Bennett, Hutchinson, Miller, Hanson, Carlson(DNS).
#2: Reakes, Turner, Preston, Holcomb, Billings, Granholm, Juliano, Durand, Richardson, Kuhn(DNS), Sparks(DNS).
Provisionals: Billings, Holcomb.
Willmes Enterprises Dash (4 laps): C.Hebing, Zimbardi, Axton, Doell.
DNQ: X-Dan Bennett, 1j-Derrick Juliano, 1hd-Cory Sparks, 2h-Steve Hutchinson Jr., 9c-Kevin Carlson 9x-Max McLaughlin, 10h-Kelly Hebing, 13-Keith Granholm, 22-Jonathan Preston, 41j-Josh Flint, 66-Erik Karlsen, 67r-Pete Richardson, 76sd-Sean Durand, 88c-Chad Miller, 99-Mike Kiser, 99k-Dan Kuhn, 514-James Hanson.
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 19w-Justin Wright ($2,000), 2. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 3. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 4. 6h-Max McLaughlin, 5. 3rs-Billy Dunn, 6. 14j-Alan Johnson, 7. 25-Erick Rudolph, 8. 21a-Peter Britten, 9. 21g-Danny Johnson, 10. 7x-Steve Paine, 11. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 12. 77-Lance Dusett, 13. 3-Justin Haers, 14. 5-Tom Keyes, 15. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 16. 11j-James Sweeting, 17. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 18. 16k-Kaitlin Pashina, 19. 23-Kyle Coffey, 20. 12-Brian Sage.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Wright, Phelps, Coffey, Britten, Maier, Pashina, Sage.
#2: Paine, Rudolph, Dunn, Haers, Sweeting, D.Johnson, Daugherty.
#3: Tegg, A.Johnson, Sheppard, McLaughlin, Dusett, Keyes.
Donath Motor Worx Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps / *rain-delayed from 7/21): 1. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 2. 21x-Eric Williams, 3. 2kx-Kyle Kiehn , 4. 2-Loren Lincoln, 5. 25g-Nick Guererri, 6. 29g-Steve Gray, 7. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 8. 7-Paul Guererri, 9. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 10. 12g-Matt Guererri, 11. 11n-Ricky Newton, 12. 8-Joe Cook, 13. 31-Kane Bristol, 14. c21-Jeff Davoli, 15. 9-Tim Baker, 16. 13t-Trevor Years, 17. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 18. 01-Doug Smith, 19. 35-Nick Cooper, 20. 77-Benny Karlsen, 21. 50-Tim Downs, 22. 1-Billy Paine, 27z-Ray Bliss(DNS), 1L-Jeff Lawrence(DNS), 90-Nathan Peckham(DNS), 81d-Dalton Martin(DNS), 81r-Rick Martin(DNS).
*Feature (25 laps): 1. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 2. 31-Kane Bristol, 3. 7-Paul Guererri, 4. 12g-Matt Guererri, 5. 29g-Steve Gray, 6. 25g-Nick Guererri, 7. 11n-Ricky Newton, 8. 34-Kevin Root , 9. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 10. 2-Loren Lincoln, 11. 67g-Eric Giguere, 12. 1-Billy Paine, 13. 9-Tim Baker, 14. 42-Daryl Nutting, 15. 21x-Eric Williams, 16. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 17. c21-Jeff Davoli, 18. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 19. 01-Doug Smith, 20. 8-Joe Cook, 21. 13t-Trevor Years, 22. 77-Benny Karlsen, 23. 35-Nick Cooper, 24. 50-Tim Downs, 25. 2kx-Kyle Kiehn.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: P.Guererri, Bristol, Marcuccilli, Williams, Paine, Ridley, Kimble, Years.
#2: Gray, Giguere, Baker, Lincoln, Davoli, Lloyd, Karlsen, Smith.
#3: M.Guererri, Newton, Root, Kiehn, N.Guererri, Nutting, Downs, Cook, Cooper.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 2. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 3. 48a-Alysha Bay, 4. 38-Jason Whipple, 5. 66-Erik Karlsen, 6. X-Dan Bennett, 7. 99j-Aaron Jacobus, 8. 23-Tyler Cartier , 9. 19em-Emily VanInwegen, 10. 4-Tim Smith,11. 3A-Jeff Trombley, 12. 74-Eric Kurtz, 13. 26j-Johnny Kolosek, 14. 45-David Ferguson, 15. 42-Jesse Pruchnik, 16. 18c-Dan Craun, 17. 19j-Mike Jackson, 18. 99-Andy Jacobus.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Ruggles, Bay, Whipple, Jackson, Craun, Kurtz.
#2: Griffin, Bennett, Karlsen, Kolosek, Cartier, Pruchnik.
#3: Ferguson, Trombley, Ar.Jacobus, VanInwegen, Smith, An.Jacobus.
Big Dog Country Street Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 2. 99-Adam DePuy, 3. 8-Mike Welch, 4. 34q-Jason Quigley, 5. cj1-C.J. Guererri, 6. 57j-Todd Hayward, 7. 4j-Jason Doty, 8. 8x-Jayson Smart, 9. 37x-Carl Johnson, 10. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 11. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 12. 86L-Shawn Lloyd, 13. 69r-Carl Whittaker, 58d-Nick DandinoDNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: DePuy, Minutolo, Hayward, Doty, Lloyd, Metcalf, Whittaker.
#2: Welch, Quigley, Guererri, Smart, Johnson, Sharp, Dandino.
New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (10 laps): 1. 93-Tyler Vinson, 2. 00-Sam Hoxie, 3. 2h-Adam Haddow, 4. 23b-Timmy Borden, 5. 4-Eric Years.
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, August 11 @ 7pm; L&L Transmissions and Ontario County Fairboard present Big-Block Modified/Sportsman/305 Sprint/Street Stock plus New Legends Sportsman and Power Wheels Demo Derby.
Track Instant Info
Along with recognizing its weekly 50/50 raffle fund beneficiaries, 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, Red Osier Restaurant, 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 and charitable beneficiaries 4-H Club, American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, Autism Up of Rochester, Camp Good Days, Canandaigua Emergency Squad, Care Net, Colony Caregivers–Cats, Crosswinds Sharing & Caring, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 4 of the Finger Lakes, Embrace Your Sisters–Cancer, Friendship House (Middlesex NY), Hearts for Heroes, Justin Vecchiolo Scholarship, Miss Lizzie Deville & CNY RockaBetties, New 2 U Rescue Dogs, Oasis Adaptive Sports, Safe Harbors, The Spot, Wings For Cystic Fibrosis, Youth Baseball, Youth Football.