By JORDAN DELUCIA
Another Saturday night at Fonda Speedway, another win for Stewart Friesen. Nobody seemed to have anything for the now-three-time winner at the Track of Champions in 2017, as he took the lead on lap six of the 30-lap feature and never looked back. At one point, Friesen’s lead stretched as long as the front straightaway over then-second-place Justin Boehler.
Friesen seemed to have the Halmar International number 44 hooked-up on Saturday night like never before, putting on a dominating display of speed and driving skill in front of a packed house.
Friesen said the track conditions were challenging, but they did not seem to slow him down at all.
“We were lucky enough to have a little bit of a top to be able to get up there and make some moves, then be able to get through the middle and the bottom near the end,” he said.
Despite getting eliminated in the first round, Friesen also felt happy to compete in the Bill Ag Memorial Modified Elimination Race.
“Thanks to all the sponsors that support that for Bill,” he said. “Bill was a great guy and a big fan of Fonda Speedway from the Winner’s Circle so that was cool to be a part of.”
Ronnie Johnson also had a solid night, finishing second in his heat race and in the feature. He also expressed his enjoyment in taking part in the Bill Ag Memorial Race.
Bobby Varin completed the podium with a third-place finish, but not without some difficulty early on. He spun out in turn two and was forced to restart from the rear of the field, but was able to pull it together within 30 laps and pick up some valuable track points.
Varin also said the track conditions were rough, making for a challenging drive to find a suitable racing groove.
“The racetrack was really difficult tonight, kind-of single-lane around the bottom,” he said. “I guess you’ll get that every now and then – everybody has to race on the same racetrack. But we were able to come from fairly deep and make it to the top five.”
Varin was seen in the Palmer’s Service Center number 76, an unusual ride for him at Fonda, but he said the Dover Brake double-zero was having mechanical issues prior to the event.
“The Palmers were kind enough to say ‘hey come on up and get the 76 car and let’s go racing.’ They just love racing so much and it’s a total pleasure to be their driver,” he said.
The evening had a couple small twists – the first coming in heat race number one, when Pep Corradi looped it coming out of turn two, and hit the backstretch wall. The hit was not incredibly hard, but still managed to leave Corradi slightly shaken after he climbed out of his number 21p. He was examined in the track’s ambulance, and released in time to drive Dave Manchester’s 4m car in the feature. Corradi would retire the race after two laps…
The second specialty event was the 3rd edition of the Bill “Ag” Anagnostopulos Memorial Modified Elimination Race, sponsored by the fine folks here at DTD. These five two-lap dashes were a much different story than the 30-lap feature, as Tim Fuller dominated right from the first round, knocking out Friesen in the first race, Jeremy Wilder in the second, Bobby Varin in the third and Josh Hohenforst in the fourth. Then came the fifth and final round.
“RJ” Ronnie Johnson had lane choice for round five against Fuller, and chose to stay on the bottom. Fuller had won the previous three races from the top-side, but it didn’t seem to matter, as RJ powered by the Graham Racing number 19 on the inside to take the lead away on the first lap, and held it for the next one-and-a-half laps to take home the $1,300 check and his second-straight Bill Ag Memorial Race championship.
“I got lane choice and I just felt like the bottom was the place to be,” Johnson said. “He [Fuller] ran me side-by-side all the way through [turns] one and two but I got the extra bite off of two and finished it off.
“Tim’s an outsider here at Fonda but he sure doesn’t act like it,” Johnson continued. “He adapted very well to this racetrack, which is unique. He’s just a good racer, and he’s certainly doing well here.”
In victory lane, announcer Mike Mallett asked Fuller about RJ’s move in turn one to take the lead. Fuller jokingly replied, “Ahh, if Jack wasn’t his father, I would’ve punted him.”
Johnson won the event in 2016 as well for car owner Jake Spraker. Spraker has now had the winning car in all three of the Bill Ag Memorial events.