By: Tom Skibinski
CANANDAIGUA, NY – As temperatures plummeted into the unseasonably high 40s come feature time, Erick Rudolph and Kevin Root remained hot, two recent track point champions both winning qualifying heats, redrawing the pole then leading flag-to-flag to dominate their respective feature events in the ‘Saturday Spectacular’ at Land Of Legends Raceway.
2018 Pepsi Big-Block Modified season champion Rudolph captured his first victory while defending Speed Connection Sportsman points king Root racked up a second straight win, his last coming Tuesday night on the fast Ontario Co. Fairgrounds oval.
Veteran wingman and 2019 points champion Darryl Ruggles returned to the cockpit to triumph in the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Main while Jimmy Grant (Street Stock) and Tyler Burnell (Hobby Stock) scored popular victories in full-fender action.
“We’ve had a string of bad luck lately, hopefully we can put that behind us,” commented Rudolph, 28, after the Ransomville rocket posted his 10th career Modified win at LOLR where his father Charlie reached victory lane 17 times from 1983-88. “Different circumstances, whether it was a flat tire or something else. Just seemed like we couldn’t put the gremlins behind us and hopefully I think we did just now.”
Rudolph was quick from the start, turning the best time in hot laps for his heat then taking the win before luck of the draw among the front four qualifiers positioned him on the point for the 35-lap Modified main. The caution-free finale did little to help his challengers, with the potent Bob Bruneau-powered no. 25 reVive Spine Center-Blue Cross/Blue Shield-Mohawk NE-NMCC/Bicknell entry creating a comfortable 12 car-length margin of victory at the stripe.
Central New Yorker Chris Hile logged his best finish at the fairgrounds, holding second until Tuesday’s winner Larry Wight rolled past running his customary high side to take second on lap 24. Billy Dunn rallied from 11th on the 25-car starting grid to grab fourth from Kyle Coffey on lap 28 while Alan Johnson remained the only driver to place among the Top-5 in the first three events.
“Track was a little slippery out there tonight,” noted Rudolph, who had little trouble getting around traffic for the duration, lapping up to 12th-place finisher Matt Farnham, with 20 of the 24 starters taking the checkered flag; Gil Tegg Jr. did not start after suffering critical engine issues. “But the car was still very maneuverable.”
“We started out on the bottom (lane) and the car seemed to like it so I stayed down there the whole time. Really proud of the car we had today, really proud of my team. Want to thank my whole crew and everybody at home that bought the pay-per-view, appreciate it. That way we can stay out here and keep doing what we’re doing. Also want to thank every sponsor on board here,” added the third-generation driver, who scored his first win of the season in Florida at All-Tech Raceway during the ‘Sunshine Swing’ in February.
Another big field of Sportsman racers signed in Saturday with 2018 & ’19 overall Northeast DIRTcar Series titlist Root easily the best of the 41 cars turning trackside.
“Its not easy when you’re leading the race and don’t know where everybody else is running,” remarked Root, 41, who matched Rudolph by securing the top spot among 26 starters after three re-drew from four qualifying heats. “Figured the bottom would be the preferred line tonight so just made sure I didn’t screw up and get off it.”
“You never know leading the race, sometimes its not a good thing because you don’t know what the other guys are doing. We’ve got a pretty good hot rod under us this year. I can’t thank everybody enough just giving me the opportunity to keep coming out here and doing what I love,” Root said.
Root led a strong trio of Canandaigua kingpins with top point chasers Kane Bristol and opening night winner Matt Guererri running in his shadow the entire distance. Four caution periods were all that could slow #34 F.X. Caprara Car Co.-Stirling Lubricants-Slack Karts-SJP/Bicknell ride, with the Geneva wheelman still gaining a three-quarters straightaway victory margin under chief starter Scott Hixson’s final checkered flag.
Kevin Ridley placed fourth ahead of Mike Fowler and Paul Guererri, Canandaigua’s all-time Sportsman feature race winner.
“(Top) got kinda dirty up there. I think certain spots up high you could get some bite but I don’t think you could get anybody coming off the corner and that’s what you need here. Bottom was the preferred line in the heats.”
“Said since day one to surround yourself with good people. I have great sponsors and great help, had a helluva year last season. We changed everything this year to a different package. Sometimes change is good, sometimes not, but right now things are rolling for us,” added Root, following his second win in five nights.
As time permitted, Promoter Cole made sure no driver went home empty handed, offering a 15-lap Sportsman B-Main. Steering the blue no. 70A Speed Connection-Rick’s Wheels-New Generation Racing Engines/Bicknell car, second-generation pilot Alex Payne from Hopewell topped the field of 15 in the final event of the night that closed out the five-division show at 10:40pm. Rocco Leone, Sam Hoxie, Ray Bliss Jr. and J.T. Sperring rounded out the Top-5.
“Slow was fast tonight,” figured the seasoned chauffeur, now 14, who finished 13th in the 2019 LOLR Sportsman point standings and was named DIRTcar NE Rookie of the Year to close out a successful inaugural campaign. “Just way off in qualifying, got things right now. Had a lot of help and the car got much better in the end.”
Making a triumphant return after missing the 2020 track opener the previous weekend, Ruggles overtook winged veteran Bobby Parrow a third of the way through on Saturday and staved off a late-race charge from Brandyn Griffin to secure victory in the 20-lap MEM 305 finale.
“A little sore but I’m alright,” down-played Ruggles, 54, who slammed the wall exiting turn four in 360 Sprint Car practice on June 4. Canandaigua’s all-time Sprint winner from nearby Hopewell was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester after suffering from a concussion, two broken ribs, fractured right thumb and an undisclosed left knee injury.
“Earlier I wasn’t even going to race but we got here and I fired up the car since they didn’t do it at the house. Thought I’m just going to go around the parking lot for a couple minutes but I came back and thought ‘that’s not so bad.’ And my wife (Wendy) looked at me and she knew it. Said before to my friend Ike, if the car feels good I’m probably gonna race tonight, and he figured it,” smiled Ruggles, now with 39 career 305 wins at Canandaigua.
Seventh starting Ruggles ran down outside pole-sitter Bobby Parrow on lap seven yet the familiar ‘safety yellow’ no. 48jr. Batzel’s Auto Service-Danny Willmes Ent.-VanBortel Trucking/Eagle with a Mike Mastin-prepared powerplant never had a chance to put it on cruise control.
Despite holding nearly a straightaway advantage at the halfway mark, Griffin moved past runner-up Parrow on lap 13 and set his sights on the leader. While dueling with opening night winner Alysha Bay, Parrow clipped the uke tire low between turns three and four and the resulting broken front-end incurred the lone yellow flag on lap 18. And that brought Ruggles and Griffin bumper-to-bumper with just three to go.
Ruggles was undaunted as he sped ahead on the ensuing restart, establishing a six car-length margin at the stripe with Griffin, Josh Pieniazek, Bay and Steve Glover next in line across the line.
“Knew I was faster than Bobby when he was ahead of Brandyn, knew I had a little bit of room and never heard anything once I got by (Parrow),” assessed Ruggles, as he began his quest for a third straight 305 points crown in wine country. “He had quite a distance on me and I reeled him in. I started to slow down on the bottom and on that restart thought Brandyn would probably try the top. The bottom got me to where I was and that’s where I rolled.”
“We cut off the cast last week but the doctor knows the Ruggles family and knew I was going to race. He said I still need one so he gave me a portable cast. I cleared concussion protocol and he said do what you gotta do, adding that if you can hold on to the steering wheel, go get it done,” Ruggles added.
Knocking down pre-race favorite Josh Pangrazio in the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Grant got the job done in fitting fashion as the Penn Yan pilot made the winning pass with four to go and held on for the narrow three car-length victory.
“Didn’t know if I was going to reel him in but he pushed up and gave me the opportunity,” beamed Grant, 34, on the heels of a thrilling second career win in his second season contending on the fast half-miler. “Know I was gaining on him the whole time. He kept pushing from the center out and I was trying to diamond the corner to get the bite coming out because you get a heck of a run out here. Man this thing runs like hell!”
Calling Canandaigua home on Saturdays this season, seventh starting Pangrazio blasted by both Blane Smith and lap one leader Bob Buono in a daring three-wide maneuver exiting turn two on the third circuit. The Oakfield invader then went around leader Jason Quigley the next time around and appeared primed for a fifth career victory at the fairgrounds.
Grant had other ideas as he stormed into second by lap six after starting eighth aboard his sleek black no. 36 Washburn Excavating-Hands Performance & Powder Coating-Champion Scrap Chevrolet Monte Carlo. While Pangrazio and Grant proceeded to pull away from the pack, the battle in their rear-view mirror was just as fierce as Quinn Sutherland, Mark Minutolo, opening day winner Mike Welch and Quigley diced for position, at one-time throwing it four-wide in their won full-fender frenzy.
Once trailing Pangrazio by well over two seconds, Grant closed to within a tick on the stopwatch on lap 16. As Pangrazio slid up high in turn three just a half-mile later, Grant was quick to fill the hole and authored the final lead change with three to go.
At the wire it was Grant outlasting Pangrazio followed by Welch, Minutolo and Jared Hill in the front-five.
“(Dave) Guererri was coming out of turn four at the end and I got behind him. Was gonna push him across the line if I had to. Feels really good to get a win. Just amazing, and I’m very grateful to get the job done with a lot of good help behind me,” Grant added.
Carl Johnson forced out a rare red flag situation on lap five when his #37x Chevy Camaro slid sideways entering turn one, catching the uke tire down low before performing a slow rollover with the car ending up on its side. Johnson was shaken yet reportedly uninjured although his night ended on the hook with a tow into the pits.
Forever etching his name into the Land of Legends recordbook, second-generation driver Tyler Burnell joined his father on the all-time track win list after taking top honors in the 15-lap Hobby Stock main.
“This (win) certainly means a lot with my dad racing here at Canandaigua for so long,” said Burnell, 18, after parking the Waterloo family’s no. 57jr. Castle Harvester-Touhey Insurance Chevrolet Camaro in the winner’s circle just his second time out. “Our bigger goal is to get the track championship and this is a good start.”
Justin Eldredge jumped out to the early lead and after running side-by-side from the drop of the green was finally unseated up high by Casey Wagner on lap four as Burnell and Shawn Lloyd jockeyed close behind. Burnell grabbed second on lap seven and two more times around ducked under Wagner rounding turn four for the final lead change.
Burnell cruised on to build a comfortable 10 car-length victory margin in the caution-free affair that lasted only six minutes, just a little longer than it took Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell to join his son in the winner’s circle following the landmark event.
“This kid drove his butt off today like a veteran, this is just awesome,” added an emotional father, Bubba himself a 27-time Street Stock winner and 2010 track points champion at LOLR, during the victory lane celebration. “Got my girlfriend’s motor in this car until his is done, and everybody’s busted their fannys working on this thing. It was great to watch him do his thing, and he actually listened for once!”
Wagner settled for runner-up laurels followed by Eldredge, Lloyd and Jamie Eldredge Jr., while opening day winner winner Brian Lloyd placed sixth with 13 laps complete after mechanical issues forced him pitside to end his effort.
WEDNESDAY WING SPECIAL
With the 2020 motorsports season now up and running full throttle, Land of Legends Promoter Paul Cole has inked a 360 Patriot Sprint Tour special to headline the Wed., June 17 card with the 30-lap A-Main victor pocketing $2,000. Sportsman return for another shot at the $1K top prize in 30 laps of feature racing.
Pit gates open at 4:00pm and race time is 7:30pm for the second mid-week special of the young season. With grandstand attendance once again not permitted due to the social distancing mandates currently in place, LIVE video coverage will be provided for each scheduled race date and can be viewed on Land of Legends TV for $15.
Download the LOLR mobile app found at Google Play
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/land-of-legends/id1508128970?uo=4 to secure your raceday pass today.
With the 57th season now officially underway, be sure to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. To discuss marketing opportunities available at the track in 2020, please contact LOLR GM Greg Emerson via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 13, 2020
SuperGen Products presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 25-Erick Rudolph ($2,000), 2. 99L-Larry Wight, 3. 5h-Chris Hile, 4. 49-Billy Dunn, 5. 14j-Alan Johnson, 6. 19w-Justin Wright, 7. 23-Kyle Coffey, 8. 42p-Pat Ward, 9. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 10. 3-Justin Haers, 11. 12x-Dillon Groover, 12. 7f-Matt Farnham, 13. 19-Tim Fuller, 14. 11j-James Sweeting, 15. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 16. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 17. 77-Lance Dusett, 18. 21x-Eric Williams, 19. 33j-Robbie Johnston III, 20. 1L-Jeff Lawrence(SB), 21. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 22. 1r-Adam Hilton, 23. 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr., 24. 29m-Ed Lawrence(SB), 22g-Gil Tegg Jr.(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Wight, Ward, Marcuccilli, Groover, Farnham, Williams, Maier, Johnston.
#2: Hile, A.Johnson, Coffey, Dunn, Haers, Dusett, J.Lawrence,, Tegg(DNS).
#3: Rudolph, Fuller, Wright, Sweeting, Payne, Podsiadlo, Hilton, D.Johnson,
Group Time Trials (2 laps / 25 cars)
#1: Larry Wight 18.880sec. (95.339 mph), Pat Ward, Dave Marcuccilli, Dillon Groover, Matt Farnham, Eric Williams, Robbie Johnston III, Jimmy Maier.
#2: Chris Hile 19.310sec. (93.216 mph), Kyle Coffey, Alan Johnson, Justin Haers, Billy Dunn, Lance Dusett, Jeff Lawrence, Gil Tegg Jr.(-NT-).
#3: Erick Rudolph 19.295sec. (93.288 mph), Justin Wright, Tim Fuller, James Sweeting, Derrick Podsiadlo, Eldon Payne Jr., Adam Hilton, Daniel Johnson Jr., Ed Lawrence.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 34-Kevin Root ($750), 2. 31-Kane Bristol, 3. 12g-Matt Guererri, 4. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 5. 410-Mike Fowler, 6. 7-Paul Guererri, 7. 25g-Nick Guererri, 8. 7z-Zach Payne, 9. 38-Zach Sobotka, 10. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 11. 61-Andrew Jacobson, 12. 56-Garrison Krentz, 13. 11n-Ricky Newton, 14. 9-Tim Baker, 15. 117jr.-C.J. Castelletti, 16. 35t-Cameron Tuttle, 17. 34x-Byron DeWitt, 18. 28x-Jordan Moden, 19. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 20. 90-Nathan Peckham, 21. 1-Andrew Smith, 22. 80x-Zachary George, 23. 27-Brian Fish, 24. 132-Dalton Martin, 25. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 26. 7x-Troy Sperring.
B-Feature (15 laps): 1. 70a-Alex Payne, 2. 87-Rocco Leone, 3. 00-Sam Hoxie , 4. 27z-Ray Bliss Jr., 5. 7j-J.T. Sperring, 6. 93-Tyler Vinson, 7. 63-Jessica Kriegisch, 8. 92-Rick Martin, 9. 35-Nick Cooper, 10. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 11. 31b-Brian Dolbear, 12. 4-Emmett Waldron, 13. 24-Orval Harris, 14. 79-Brandon Close, 15. 04-Eric Years.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: P.Guererri, Bristol, Sobotka, Z.Payne, George, Peckham, Borden, Kriegisch, Close, Years(DNS).
#2: M.Guererri, Baker, T. Sperring, Tuttle, Jacobson, Castelletti, Newton, Hoxie, Cooper, Dolbear.
#3: Fish, Fowler, D.Martin, Lloyd, Stoughtenger, DeWitt, Leone, Bliss, Waldron.
#4: Root, N.Guererri, Ridley, Krentz, F.Guererri, Moden, A.Payne, Smith, Vinson, R.Martin, J.T. Sperring, Harris.
Consolations (8 laps)
#1: Castelletti, Peckham, Newton, Hoxie, Borden, Kriegisch, Dolbear, Close, Years(DNS).
#2: Moden, Smith, DeWitt, Leone, A.Payne, Bliss, J.T. Sperring, Vinson, R.Martin, Cooper, Waldron, Harris.
Group Time Trials (2 laps / 41 cars)
#1: Paul Guererri 19.651sec. (91.598 mph), Kane Bristol, Zach Sobotka, Zach Payne, Zach George, Jessica Kriegisch, Timmy Borden Jr., Brandon Close, Nathan Peckham, Eric Years(-NT-).
#2: Matt Guererri 19.543sec. (92.105 mph), Cameron Tuttle, Tim Baker, Andrew Jacobson, C.J. Castelletti, Troy Sperring, Ricky Newton, Sam Hoxie, Nick Cooper, Andrew Smith(-NT-).
#3: Brian Fish 20.091sec. (89.592 mph), Dalton Martin, Mike Fowler, Byron DeWitt Jr., A.J. Lloyd, Rocco Leone, Brian Dolbear, Ray Bliss Jr., Torrey Stoughtenger, Emmett Waldron.
#4: Nick Guererri 20.021sec. (89.906 mph), Kevin Root, Kevin Ridley, Garrison Krentz, Frank Guererri Jr., Jordan Moden, Alex Payne, J.T. Sperring, Orval Harris, Tyler Vinson, Rick Martin.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 2. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 3. 56-Josh Pienizaek, 4. 48a-Alysha Bay, 5. 121-Steve Glover, 6. X-Dan Bennett, 7. 18c-Dan Craun, 8. 17e-Ethan Gray, 9. 410-Jerry Sehn Jr., 10. 13t-Trevor Years,11. 56v-Ronnie Greek, 12. 53-Bobby Parrow, 13. 9k-Kyle Pierce.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Bay, Parrow, Craun, Bennett, Glover, Pierce(DNS), Sehn(DNS).
#2: Griffin, Ruggles, Pieniazek, Gray, Years, Greek.
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant, 2. 7-Josh Pangrazio, 3. 00-Mike Welch, 4. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 5. 93-Jared Hill, 6. 57j-Quinn Sutherland, 7. 55p-Parker Smith, 8. 122-Chris Beyea, 9. 34q-Jason Quigley, 10. 64-Bob Buono, 11. cj1x-Dave Guererri, 12. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 13. 55b-Blane Smith, 14. 37x-Carl Johnson, 15. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Pangrazio, Johnson, Buono, Hill, Guererri, Beyea, Metcalf, Welch.
#2: Sutherland, Quigley, Grant, Minutolo, B.Smith, P.Smith, Hobbs.
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 2. 42-Casey Wagner, 3. 1j-Justin Eldredge, 4. 86L-Shawn Lloyd, 5. 17jr.-Jamie Eldredge Jr., 6. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 7. 21h-Patrick Hampton.