By TOM SKIBINSKI
CANANDAIGUA, NY – Season Championship Night’ presented by Filer’s Powersports and American Equipment closed out the 2018 Canandaigua campaign and it was Dave Marcuccilli, Darryl Ruggles and Adam DePuy capturing division point crowns under first-year Land Of Legends Raceway promoter Paul Cole.
Double points were on the line in the final ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the year with Tyler Cartier (Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint) and Marc Minutolo(Big Dog Country Street Stock) joining Marcuccilli (Donath Motor Worx Sportsman) in victory lane over Labor Day Weekend.
Veteran Steve Paine pocketed $2,000 after taking the checkered flag in the 35-lap non-points “open” Pepsi Modified main while teenager Timmy Borden Jr. brought the curtain down on the 55th season of oval track racing at the historic Ontario County Fairgrounds clay oval after his first New Legends Sportsman triumph. Erick Rudolph earned the LOLR Big-Block Modified track championship last week while Saturday’s race runner-up Tyler Vinson tallied the highest point count in the entry-level New Legends class.
“Pretty awesome being able to win the race. Being a track champion here four years in a row and finishing second before that says something,” remarked a relieved Marcuccilli, 41, who trailed top challenger Matt Guererri by four points entering the Saturday showdown. Guererri extended the margin after qualifying heats before Marcuccilli marched mostly uncontested to an unprecedented fourth straight championship at the fairgrounds by 15 markers over 4th-place race finisher Guererri.
“We did everything we had to do. Had a couple rough weeks there. Last week something was wrong with the car so we put some new bars in and changed some other stuff. Went to Brewerton (Speedway) for a test session last night, got lucky enough to come out with a win with this car and another one tonight. Track was fast, good thing I started (8th) up farther as it was probably tough to pick your way up through with a lot of fast guys out there,” noted Marcuccilli, whose division-high seventh win of the season pushes his career count to 28 in Canandaigua, third-best in the track recordbook.
Outside pole-sitter Nate Peckham led his first laps of the season before Land of Legends lifer Loren Lincoln took over on a lap three restart. Point leaders Guererri (11th), Marcuccilli (6th) and Paul Guererri (9th) ran further back in the 24-car field, with each maintaining mathematical chances of wearing the track crown.
The odds turned quickly in favor of Marcuccilli as the Montezuma driver stormed into second on lap six, disposing of both Doug Smith and Peckham on the same circuit before ducking under Lincoln exiting turn two with still 15 to go. He opened up a commanding half-straightaway lead aboard the familiar blue no. M1 Page Trucking-All Star Contractors-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell entry at the midway point of the 25-lap feature, while the Guererris (Paul-4th, and Matt-7th) battled for position in traffic.
With victory clearly in sight, a rare red flag flew on lap 23 after eight cars tangled in turn two to tighten the pack for a final dash to the stripe. Marcuccilli was primed for any late-race challenge, building back up the margin to 15 car-lengths over Lincoln at the line. Paul Guererri, Matt Guererri and Steve Gray filled out the final front-five.
“Was surprized with Matt, he really stepped up this year,” added Marcuccilli following his 19th victory circuit-wide this season. “He never fell off, was good week in and week out. When I had my bad luck he was right there to pounce. When you’re leading the points coming down to the end you can only lose. Except for the last couple weeks we’ve been lucky here, and again tonight. And that’s what it takes to win these races, a fast car and a lot of luck.”
Ruggles left little to luck in the championship outcome, settling into second behind Cartier on the opening circuit of the 20-lap A-Main and remaining there the entire distance to clinch his fourth 305 Sprint Car title in Ontario County..
“We had a really good car running consistent up high all night, just looking to finish as we didn’t really need to win the race,” said Ruggles, 52, who garnered 305 point championships 2013, ’14 & ’15. Eight victories in 2018 give the Hopewell driver 35 career winged wins at LOLR, more than double the second-best driver. “Just needed to finish the race tonight but congratulations to Tyler and all his guys, they worked hard all year long and deserve it.”
While Ruggles had won the last six races —including a trio of CRSA shows— heading into Saturday’s season-ender, the victory for Cartier was the first in 17 starts with only a single lap led this season. The personable pilot from Mexico, N.Y. out-lasted Ruggles for the duration to add his name to Land of Legends lore.
“I’m just trying to catch my breath, this is the best feeling I’ve ever had,” exclaimed a jubilant Cartier, 23, as he posed in victory lane. “I really don’t want this season to end now. We’ve been chasing down this win for awhile, been running up front a lot and finally found what worked tonight and was able to get it off. Its not gonna do me any favors having to wait for next year, I mean I want to keep coming back here every Saturday.”
Outside front row starter Cartier took off at the drop of head flagman Scott Hixson’s green in his Mike Mastin-powered #23 Chuck Taylor’s Body Shop-Crisafulli Fabricating/Eagle while Ruggles bolted from sixth to second in just one lap around the fast half-miler. Tim Smith looped his mount in turn two and collected Jason Whipple and Bobby Gardner to incur the lone caution the second time around.
Back under green, Cartier resumed control ahead of Ruggles’ #48jr. Willmes Enterprises-VanBortel Trucking/Eagle while Johnny Kolosek moved in to challenge. Kolosek slipped under Ruggles out of turn four on lap 12 although the track champ returned the favor three laps later, taking the low side exited the first corner. Ruggles bid for victory fell five car-lengths short, leaving Cartier with his first career win in the 305 ranks. Kolosek, 14 year-old Jesse Pruchnik and Whipple completed the top-five.
“My brother raced mini-sprints for 14 years, we were always close but never got a win so this isn’t for me, its for our whole family,” Carter noted. “Saw him second on the scoreboard but was hoping the #48 wasn’t too close to me. On that restart I wanted the outside as that’s where I was running fast tonight. Figured he would dive low coming out of (turns) three and four and I could hold some speed around four and into one and hopefully never see him anymore.”
Once fourth starting DePuy dove past Jason Quigley the second time around in the 15-lap Street Stock finale, not many expected to see much more of the black no. 99 Fox’s Auto-Nance’s Mustard-A.E.Y. Enterprises/Chevrolet Camaro car of the eight-time winner. That was until Minutolo tracked down the Macedon chauffeur to make the winning pass on lap six. Every lap thereafter however, DePuy faded further toward the rear, eventually crossing the finish line eighth, still enough to top Minutolo in the final standings, 926-914.
“I knew I had to finish in the Top-10 tonight, thank God we were far enough ahead that we held onto it,” said DePuy, 44, after successfully defending his title in Canandaigua’s top full-fender division. “Came out to give fans a show, feel bad we had a terrible night but still got the job done.”
“Had a heck of a night last week, broke everything from the back of the motor on back. Just took everything out and replaced everything. We were going to test at Paradise (Speedway) and they got rained out so we came here and had a vibration. Tried to take care of it and ride it out but it got really bad and I was just hoping it would hold together for a couple laps. Believe me, I was counting cars at the end and fortunately we held on just long enough. Congratulations go out to Mark though, he had a great season.”
Minutolo started fifth on the grid aboard his #25B Tradition Automotive Group-Big Mike’s Auto/Chevrolet Camaro and charged into second prior to a lap two restart when Quigley slowed down the backstretch in front of the charging pack. Minutolo shadowed DePuy until getting by as the #99 began a gradual retreat to the rear.
“I did what I had to do and let nature run its course,” stated Minutolo, 26, following his sixth win of ’18 that pushed his track total to an all-time third best 58. “I won the battle, he won the war but that’s okay. I had a lot more bad luck than him this year but I tip my hat to him. He was consistent and was tough to beat all year.”
“Tonight he opened the door and I was trying to come in. Just ended with some contact. Knew I had to win the race so I was just doing what I had to do without dumping him. Almost got my (car) nose ripped off but I don’t care, I’m here in victory lane again,” added Newark’s Minutolo, son of Mike Minutolo Sr., a 33-time stock car feature winner at LOLR who provided enough engine work to keep Marc two car-lengths ahead of Mike Welch at the stripe. Quinn Sutherland, Brad Steinruck and Dakota Sharp followed in the front-five.
With Rudolph earning the Big-Block title a week earlier, 16 Modifieds signed in for “fun” season-ending non-points special that boasted half the field donning side panels come feature time; a list that included qualifying race winners Alan Johnson and Paine, two of the top-three winningest drivers in LOLR history.
Incorporating a unique starting line-up format on this occasion, the top-six qualifiers redrew on the front straightaway with their selection then given to a remaining driver of their choice. Heat one winner Johnson drew #1 and handed over the pole-position to Derrick Podsiadlo while heat two victor Paine was provided the fifth starting assignment from Justin Hears.
Podsiadlo led early in the 35-lap Modified main before Johnson grabbed the point on the second circuit. Paine moved into the picture shortly after and the Waterloo warrior forged the final lead change on lap 10 around ‘A.J. Slideways’ as the top two battled for speedway supremacy.
Brian Sage came to a stop at the end of the back chute to force the only slowdown on lap 13, and back under green Paine was never to be seen as his margin of victory ballooned to almost a half-track over Johnson and Haers.in the near caution-free affair. Although Paine had registered 93 feature wins at LOLR since 1984, Saturday’s dominating performance was his first in an almost entirely orange car that sported aerodynamic side panels.
“Orange is the new yellow,” smiled Paine, 57, after ending the year with his first victory at the fairgrounds in 2018 steering a brand new Modified that was unlike any of his other traditional yellow entries. “I’ve always liked orange and this is as much as we were able to finish after a year working on it. Have to thank my sponsors that didn’t make it on the car the lasy two nights. Along with my normal crew, also have to thank Randy McCulloch and Tony Burgos who helped out a lot with this car. Until this weekend we only had one win all year, so maybe we’ll race a few more times to end the season.”
While Paine, who also won the previous night at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee, was untouchable at the front of the field, Johnson and Haers put on the best show well beyond his rear-view mirror. Johnson finally found the better bite low in the closing laps, leaving Haers to settle for third with rising stars James Sweeting and Justin Wright rounding the final top-five.
“This is absolutely the best car I’ve ever driven,” declared 11-time LOLR Big-Block points champion Paine, whose son Billy made his Sportsman division debut at LOLR over the summer. “Its a brand new HigFab (chassis) that took us about a year to put together. Its just really, really good. You can run it anywhere on the race track. And its really, really easy ro drive.”
“Would like to make it to 100 wins here but don’t know how many more years I can do it. My second son is gonna race next year so we’ll need another car. We’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out in between,” added Paine, who established the track mark of nine straight point titles at Canandaigua from 2000 to 2008.
Making just his fifth start in LOLR’s entry-level Sportsman class, Borden led from flag-to-flag to best the six-car field in the non-stop 10-lap feature race. High points earner Vinson maneuvered into second on lap three and pulled alongside Borden with two to go yet fell two car-lengths shy in his bid for win number four this year.
“Good just to be here and race after last week, the fan went into the radiator and we also lost a water pump,” divulged Borden, 19, from Interlaken. “Never saw anybody all night but I didn’t look back either. Just kept going forward.”
Prior to the start of the Street Stock feature, pace laps were taken ahead of the field in the Michels Racing Krazy 8 car by Ken Michels in tribute to his brother Brian Michels. A four-time full-fender feature winner at the fairgrounds from 1994-2000, including the Les Whyte Memorial Mr. DIRT Pro Stock race in Sept. Of ’00, Canandaigua resident Brian passed away August 25 at age 52 after suffering a massive heart attack.
After wet grounds washed out the mid-week show on Wednesday (Aug. 29), veteran driver Chuck Hebing from Ontario was declared champion of the inaugural Land of Legends 360 Sprint Car Classic. Hebing (178 pts) out-scored all-time Patriot Sprint Tour A-Main winner Steve Poirier (174) and CNY standout Jason Barney (169) in the rain-shortened 3-race series, with all three wingmen making trips to victory lane.
With their own points battle also scheduled to be settled last Wednesday, leading GRIT Sportsman Series title chasers are still waiting to learn from race officials if another venue can be secured to stage the final event. Canadian Adam Leslie leads LOLR regular Ricky Newton in the BEI Wild West standings while James Henry hopes to advance from third position on the current division points chart.
Wednesday’s DIRTcar Sportsman Series feature postponed due to rain after qualifying heats were completed on June 23 was cancelled altogether as a feasible make-up date could not be found.
The next event on the LOLR agenda takes place after the new year arrives as King’s Party House, 4031 Routes 5&20 in Canandaigua, hosts the Land Of Legends Raceway Awards Banquet. Mark down on the calendar Sat., Jan. 12, 2019 when nearly $40,000 in cash and contingencies will be handed out to race teams. Banquet tickets will go on sale Super DIRT Week (early October) with additional information publicized as more details are confirmed for this festive occasion.
Be sure to check out the final point standings for each division as well as all the track news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. Advance sale tickets will be made available online for the 2019 race season during the months ahead. Once the schedule is posted, log intoLandOfLegendsRaceway.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 – September 1, 2018
Filer’s Powersports & American Equipment present Season Championships
Pepsi Big-Block “Open” Modified(NON-POINTS)
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 7x-Steve Paine($2,000), 2. 14j-Alan Johnson, 3. ,3-Justin Haers 4. 11j-James Sweeting, 5. 19w-Justin Wright, 6. 44v-Phil Vigneri III, 7. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 8. 77-Lance Dusett, 9. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 10. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 11. 55-Ricky Newton, 12. 5-Tom Keyes, 13. 16k-Kaitlin Pashina, 14. 48b-Jeff Lawrence, 15. 3x-Eric Giguere, 16. 12-Brian Sage.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Johnson, Haers, Tegg, Dusett, Maier, Keyes, Newton, Lawrence.
#2: Paine, Vigneri, Podsiadlo, Sweeting, Wright, Sage, Pashina, Giguere
Donath Motor Worx Sportsman Modified(DOUBLE POINTS)
*Feature (25 laps): 1. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 2. 2-Loren Lincoln, 3. 7-Paul Guererri, 4. 12g-Matt Guererri , 5. 29g-Steve Gray, 6. 3m-Mike Stanton Jr., 7.25g-Nick Guererri, 8. 31-Kane Bristol, 9. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 10. 90-Nathan Peckham, 11. 21x-Eric Williams, 12. 11n-Ricky Newton, 13. 50-Tim Downs, 14.67g-Eric Giguere, 15. 13t-Trevor Years, 16. 9-Tim Baker, 17. 35-Nick Cooper, 18. 11-Dan Ferguson, 19. 77-Benny Karlsen, 20. 01-Doug Smith, 21. 1-Billy Paine, 22. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 23. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 24. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 2k-Anthony Kimble(DNS), 7j-J.T. Sperring(DNS), 7s-Troy Sperring(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Peckham, Williams, M.Guererri, Lincoln, N.Guererri, Stanton, T.Sperring, Downs, Lawrence.
#2: Bristol, Smith, Years, JT Sperring, Kimble, Newton, Karlsen, F.Guererri, Lloyd.
#3: Baker, Gray, Giguere, Marcuccilli, P.Guererri, Ridley, Ferguson, Paine, Cooper.
2018 Track Champion: Dave Marcuccilli
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint(DOUBLE POINTS)
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 23-Tyler Cartier, 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 26j-Johnny Kolosek, 4. 42-Jesse Pruchnik, 5. 38-Jason Whipple, 6. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 7. 48a-Alysha Bay, 8. 4-Tim Smith, 9. 99-Andy Jacobus, 10. 99j-Aaron Jacobus, 11. 8g-Bobby Gardner.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Cartier, Ruggles, Griffin, Whipple, Smith, Ar.Jacobus.
#2: Pruchnik, An.Jacobus, Gardner, Bay, Kolosek.
2018 Track Champion: Darryl Ruggles
Big Dog Country Street Stock(DOUBLE POINTS)
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 2. 15-Mike Welch, 3. 57j-Quinn Sutherland, 4. 02-Brad Steinruck, 5. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 6. 34q-Jason Quigley, 7. 37x-Carl Johnson, 8. 99-Adam DePuy, 9. 55p-Parker Smith, 10. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 11. 4j-Jason Doty, 12. 30-Steve Pesarek, 69r-Carl Whittaker(DNS), 58d-Darren Phippen(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Minutolo, Welch, Sutherland, Quigley, Sharp, Johnson, Whittaker.
#2: Steinruck, DePuy, Doty, Smith, Pesarek, Metcalf, Phippen.
2018 Track Champion: Adam DePuy
New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (10 laps): 1.23b-Timmy Borden Jr. , 2. 93-Tyler Vinson, 3. 00-Sam Hoxie, 4. 14n-Dwight Nichols, 5. 2h-Adam Haddow, 6. 77-Kirk Karlsen.
NEXT EVENT: Saturday, January 12, 2019 – 2018 Land Of Legends Raceway Awards Banquet @ King’s Party House, 4031 Routes 5&20, Canandaigua.
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.