By: Tom Skibinski
CANANDAIGUA, NY – Anyone that missed last week’s SuperGen Products ‘Saturday Spectacular’ at Land Of Legends Raceway received a second showing as Larry Wight, Zach Sobotka and Josh Pangrazio each scored their second straight feature race wins.
Also taking a second checkered flag in the June 27 Canandaigua speedfest, female flash Alysha Bay closed out the month the same way she kicked off the season by capturing the Mike Emhof Motorsports 20-lap A-Main for 305 Sprint Cars.
Charging from 13th to first in a dozen laps last weekend, Sobotka was just as dominant in round two of the DIRTcar Northeast Central Region Series on Saturday, leading flag-to-flag to earn his first career tour victory in the Speed Connection Sportsman 30-lap finale at the Ontario County Fairgrounds oval.
“Definitely a lot of excitement with my first series win, certainly helps drawing the pole,” remarked Sobotka, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Thursday. “Definitely helps running here, got the car tuned in pretty well last week getting ready for tonight.”
Including 12 of the top-15 Sportsman Series point chasers, a colossal field of 54 race teams signed in for the second tour special of 2020. Fresh off a fifth-place tally in the series opener at Utica-Rome Speedway last Sunday, Sobotka finished second to Canandaigua regular Kevin Ridley in his heat race yet selected the number one position in the customary pre-race draw involving the top-2 from each of the five qualifiers. Ridley was less fortunate, grabbing the highest (10th) spot.
The #38 Northern Coat & Blast-Stirling Lubricants-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell entry was quick from the drop of chief starter Scott Hixson’s initial green flag, as Sobotka bolted out to nearly a two-second lead after just a handful of laps around the smooth half-miler. Front row partner Paul Guererri, young gun Payton Talbot and Utica-Rome winner Matt Janczuk diced together for position while ’19 DIRTcar Northeast rookie of the year Alex Payne from nearby Hopewell and reigning overall DIRTcar points king Kevin Root raced further back.
Leader Sobotka reached traffic 11 laps in and at the halfway mark built a sizable advantage over Janczuk, Guererri and Root, as Ridley moved in on Talbot looking to crack the front-five. While Sobotka continued to methodically weave his way under and around slower cars, the battle for runner-up honors remained intense as the laps dwindled. Root ducked under Janczuk for second on lap 20 before Janczuk regained the spot a mile later.
Root returned to second on lap 23 and Ridley moved into fourth past Guererri the next time around. With Sobotka on cruise control up front, rim-riding Ridley blasted from fourth to second on lap 29 steering the no. 20x Fred’s Fab’N Fold-Champion Power Equipment-Lakeshore Auto Mall/Bicknell machine yet still fell a half straightaway shy under the final checkered flag.
“About every five laps I’d kinda look up at the (score) board to see who was in second and third,” added Sobotka, who also tops the track points chart over Zach Payne after ‘show up’ points were awarded on Saturday. “Saw Ridley got up to second with a couple to go but I didn’t know how far he was behind me.” The difference was 2.9-sec. at the stripe, easily enough to post his third win of the season and pocket the $1,000 winner’s share.
“I just needed to figure out the car sooner,” summed runner-up Ridley from Waterloo, LOLR Sportsman points champion in 2008 and ’13. “We figured out the top (lane) where nobody else was going and that gave me a free line. When I was kinda bad on top I had to pin them down on the bottom and roll right on their door not to let them slide out. So if they could stay off the gas I could run with them down the straights and get them in the turns. Tonight we had a really good run, hopefully can keep it going.”
Already a two-time winner in six races staged at the fairgrounds this season piloting the familiar no. 34 F.X. Caprara Car Co.-Stirling Lubricants-Slack Karts-SJP/Bicknell car, Geneva’s Root settled for the show position after copping his qualifying heat and re-drawing seventh on the 30-car starting grid.
“Would’ve been nice to start on the pole, have to use up your (equipment) to come up through from where we did,” noted Root, who won last summer’s Central Region stop in Canandaigua and returned to claim the 50-lap Fall Championship in September. “We’re still learning this coil car, didn’t like it very much tonight but it still got us up to third.”
“Think I overheated the right-rear (tire) trying to get through traffic and racing Matt. Third is not bad considering the caliber of guys we’re racing against, they’re pretty awesome. Got up to second but got caught up in traffic. Was being a wimp, should’ve probably just sucked it up and got up on the wheel a little bit. We’ll just have to move on from here,” Root added.
With track promoter Paul Cole providing every team the chance to go home not empty-handed, open-wheel veteran Stacey Jackson from Addison made his first LOLR appearance in two years worthwhile as he claimed the 15-lap Sportsman B-Main that boasted a 19-car starting field. “Haven’t run here in two years, still learning these Hoosier tires,” said Jackson, aboard his tested #22J B&H Logging-Howard Hanna Realty/HigFab mount. “Knew it was gonna be tough running against these (tour) guys tonight but we’ll be back whenever we can, gotta learn the place sooner or later.”
Now declaring Canandaigua his Saturday night hangout the remainder of the year, Wight has learned the fast way around quicker than any of his competition in 2020. After not winning a Pepsi Big-Block Modified main at LOLR until this season, ‘Lightning Larry’ can’t seem to stop winning as the Phoenix, NY driver extended his division points lead with a third triumph in five events.
“We’ve got something figured out and (car) is running really well, we’re able to come back here with the same set-up and really haven’t made too many changes,” relayed Wight, who holds a 167-147 margin over Justin Haers in the current point standings. “Everything we try in the heat seems to be not quite as good so we revert back to what we know works for the feature.”
For the second week in a row pole-sitter Gil Tegg Jr. jumped out to an early lead in the headline 35-lapper yet on this night only stayed ahead for three circuits before Watertown traveler Tim Fuller sped past using the outside groove on a lap four restart.
Yellow lights around the speedway for the turn four spin by Matt Hulsizer on lap four was a sign of things to come as 10 caution periods eventually slowed the action resulting in a 41-minute Modified main.
Filing in 15th on the 28-car starting grid buckled into his trusty #99L FX Caprara Honda-Tracey Road Equipment/Bicknell ride, Wight took advantage of every delay, rocketing from eighth to fifth on lap seven and breaking into the top-three by lap 10.
Western New Yorker Matt Farnham moved past runner-up Tegg on lap eight yet could not hold off Wight with a dozen laps complete, eventually suffering a flat right-rear tire to fall out of contention with 14 on the scoreboard. The caution flag for Farnham was all Wight needed as he got under Fuller exiting turn four then slid ahead in turn one to forge the final lead change with 20 laps still to go.
Despite Wight easily winning by two-thirds of a straightaway, positions 2-5 weren’t decided until the checkers finally waved. Fuller fended off a late race rally by season-opening winner Pat Ward while Dillon Groover, who advanced as high as second on lap 31, and Haers rounded out the top-5 at the stripe.
“We were just picking them off once we got to the top in (turns) one and two, that’s where we made up a lot of ground,” Wight said. “Think we were getting two or three cars a corner and it was able to propel us to get up there and give us time to pick away at the last couple cars. All the cautions were really starting to get me nervous, wish we would’ve went single file sooner so we could get the laps in. But it was still a good race and the track was phenomenal, just a couple holes here and there but nothing you couldn’t race through.”
“I’ll be here the rest of the year, that’s the plan to support the track for still putting on a show for us. Have to support those that are trying to make something happen and have to thank the whole speedway here to put this on and give us somewhere to race in these unprecedented times,” Wight added.
The MEM 305 Sprint feature unfolded like a typical family affair for the father/daughter tandem of Darryl Ruggles and Bay, with the second-generation pilot getting the best of her dad for career win #12 at the Land of Legends speedplant.
“Tonight was definitely the funnest race I’ve had in a long time,” beamed Bay, after swapping the lead three times with her father before grinding out a five car-length victory margin over Canandaigua’s all-time sprint car feature winner. “I knew he was right beside me so I was racing a little harder and concentrating even more on (running) my lines.”
Outside pole-sitter Bobby Parrow out-gunned front row mate rookie Ethan Gray on lap one before sixth starting Ruggles surged past the next time around. Bay began alongside in fifth and moved past Parrow for second on lap four to set her sights on homefront bragging rights.
A slowing winged machine of Kyle Pierce on lap nine incurred the lone yellow flag of the race and Bay took advantage slipping under Ruggles on the ensuing restart. Points leader and last week’s winner Brandyn Griffin first made it three-wide in turns three and four before Ruggles rode him to the front wall, opening the door down low for Bay to snag her first lead just short of the halfway mark.
Undaunted by his daughter’s daring maneuver down low, Ruggles raced back high for the lead on lap 14 but it was the pretty in pink no. 48A Batzel’s Auto Service-Danny Willmes Enterprises-Ruggles World of Auto Body/Eagle returning to the point again low out of turn four with five to go to add the finishing touch.
“I give (Ruggles) his space and he usually gives me my space, on the bottom tonight this track was awesome” added the Gorham gal after becoming the first repeat winner in four 305 races yet still trails third-place finisher Griffin, 224-222, in the updated point standings. Parrow secured fourth ahead of Jason Whipple, making his first start of the 2020 season. “I was just really focused on my lane (at the end) and really trying to stay in my spot. It definitely paid off.”
While falling short after leading the initial two full-fender features of the season, Pangrazio has now racked up six victories in his last eight starts at the Ontario Co. Fairgrounds dating back to 2018. Saturday night’s fender-to-fender finish was easily the closest of his short Street Stock career in Canandaigua.
“Kinda sucked getting a yellow flag coming out of turn two with one lap to go but it is what it is,” stated Pangrazio, after the green/checkered flag finish was the tightest of the night. Not sure who started behind me on that (last) restart but he timed it just right because he got in my back bumper as soon as I hit the gas and I lit ’em up. Its points racing, stick (car) on the bottom and bring it home to victory.”
Jason Quigley out-dragged pole starter Bob Buono to lead off the 20-lap Street Stock nightcap while fifth starting Pangrazio jockeyed into third on the opening circuit. Three slowdowns for minor spins the first half of the race kept the field bunched and the lap eight restart proved pivotal as Pangrazio made what amounted to the final lead change.
From there the sparkling #7 Skyline RV Sales & Service-Houseman Refrigeration-Impressions Concrete Ford Mustang opened up a seemingly comfortable lead although Jimmy Grant quickly closed the gap with less than a handful of laps remaining. As Grant cozied up to Pangrazio’s rear bumper on the white flag lap, yellow lights suddenly flashed as contact between Pat Hobbs and C.J. Guererri sent Hobbs high off the track in turn two.
All-time LOLR Street Stock feature winner Welch threw his double-zero numbered mount low into turn one on the restart, dropping Grant to third while allowing little error for Pangrazio with only a half-mile left to navigate. Contact between the leaders rounding turn four kept the finish in doubt as Welch pulled alongside, only to fall ten feet short of the Oakfield outsider at the line.
“Have to thank a lot of people, got a big crew that helps us out here every week,” added Pangrazio, after climbing to the top of the standings with 222 points followed by Welch (218) and Grant (216) through four events. “My girlfriend Rebecca, my mother and Josh. Need everybody to make this all happen.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic remaining at the forefront, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.44 on June 21st to extend current restrictions to businesses such as racetracks until July 21st, 2020. This executive order was put into effect at the beginning of the month and read: “Any licensee or franchisee of a racetrack in the State is hereby permitted to operate such racetrack as of June 1 2020, provided such racetrack does not permit any visitor or fan into the facility, and allows on site only essential personnel.”
With the extension of the latest order, Land of Legends Raceway is prepared to react and adapt with a July schedule of events marked by the following changes:
*Grandstands will remain closed with no fans at this time for all events, although LIVE video coverage will continue to be available on www.landoflegendstv.com.
*Thr. July 2 will now be a Pepsi Big-Block Modified / Speed Connection Sportsman doubleheader awarding ‘show up’ points to both divisions with a 7:30pm start time.
*The Super DIRTcar Series event originally scheduled for July 2 has been postponed and rescheduled for Wed. July 22 featuring the Big-Block Modifieds and a division to be determined in the weeks ahead.
July 2 – Big-Block Modified + Sportsman 7:30pm
July 4 – OFF for 4th of July as already scheduled
July 11 – Saturday Spectacular 7:00pm
July 18 – Saturday Spectacular + Double Points all divisions 7:00pm
July 22 – Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds + division TBD 7:30pm
July 25 – OFF as already scheduled
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.
To keep up to date with all the happenings and secure your Land of Legends raceday pass, download the LOLR mobile app found at Google Play
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 27, 2020
SuperGen Products presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 99L-Larry Wight ($2,000), 2. 19-Tim Fuller, 3. 42p-Pat Ward, 4. 12x-Dillon Groover, 5. 3-Justin Haers, 6. 25-Erick Rudolph, 7. 14j-Alan Johnson, 8. 49-Billy Dunn, 9. 21a-Peter Britten, 10. 7f-Matt Farnham, 11. 23-Kyle Coffey, 12. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 13. 19w-Justin Wright, 14. 44v-Phil Vigneri III, 15. 3b-Chad Brachmann, 16. 77-Lance Dusett, 17. 33j-Robbie Johnston III, 18. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 19. 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr., 20. 21x-Eric Williams, 21. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 22. 63-Adam Roberts, 23. 11j-James Sweeting, 24. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 25. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 26. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 27. 132-Brandon Michaud, 28. 55-Matt Hulsizer.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Marcuccilli, Britten, Rudolph, Groover, Dusett, Podsiadlo, Johnston, Maier, Michaud.
#2: Wright, A.Johnson, Dunn, Tegg, Sweeting, Brachmann, Vigneri, Coffey, Williams.
#3: Ward, Farnham, Phelps, Wight, Fuller, Haers, Payne, Hulsizer, Roberts, D.Johnson.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
DIRTcar Northeast Series Central Region Event #2
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 38-Zach Sobotka ($1,000), 2. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 3. 34-Kevin Root, 4. 33x-Matt Janczuk, 5. 7-Paul Guererri, 6. 70a-Alex Payne, 7. 14t-Payton Talbot, 8. 12g-Matt Guererri, 9. 3m-Chris Mackey, 10. 31-Kane Bristol, 11. 56-Garrison Krentz, 12. 25g-Nick Guererri, 13. 11n-Ricky Newton, 14. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 15. 410-Mike Fowler, 16. 27-Brian Fish, 17. 7t-Troy Sperring, 18. 41-Dalton Rombough, 19. 82-Will Shields, 20. 7j-J.T. Sperring, 21. 117jr.-Kyle Inman, 22. 1-Mark Yorker, 23. 19c-Brandon Carvey, 24. 61-Andrew Jacobson, 25. 12-Addison Bowman, 26. 8-Alan Fink, 27. 132-Dalton Martin, 28. 621-Brian Hudson, 29. 14aj-A.J. Miller, 30. 7z-Zach Payne.
B-Feature (15 laps): 1. 22j-Stacey Jackson, 2. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 3. 9-Tim Baker, 4. 35-Nick Cooper, 5. 22-Noah Walker, 6. 21-R.J. Tresidder, 7. 00-Sam Hoxie, 8. 90-Nathan Peckham, 9. 33-Todd Hayward, 10. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 11. 06-Tim Guild, 12. 93-Tyler Vinson, 13. 79-Brandon Close, 14. 92-Rick Martin, 15. 24-Orval Harris, 16. 07-Brian Harris, 17. 04-Eric Years, 18. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 19. 4-Emmett Waldron, 138-Sean BeardsleyDNS), 94j-Sarah JohnsonDNS), 27z-Ray BlissDNS), 126-Zachary GeorgeDNS), 117jr.-C.J. CastellettiDNS).
Heats (8 laps / 4 qualify / top-2 redraw)
#1: Ridley, Sobotka, N.Guererri, Newton, Fish, D.Martin, Jacobson, Johnson, Castelletti, Years.
#2: Janczuk, Talbot, Yorker, Shields, Carvey, Peckham, Guild, Close, Hayward, Vinson, R.Martin(DNS).
#3: Root, Krentz, F.Guererri, J.T. Sperring, Jackson, Z.Payne, O.Harris, Bliss, M.Guererri, Inman.
#4: Bristol, Mackey, Rombough, Bowman, Hudson, Lloyd, Baker, Walker, George, B.Harris, Stoughtenger.
#5: P.Guererri, A.Payne, T.Sperring, Fowler, Fink, Miller, Tresidder, Hoxie, Beardsley, Cooper, Waldron, Borden.
Last Chance Showdowns (10 laps / 4 qualify)
#1: Fish, M.Guererri, Fink, Jacobson, Jackson, Tresidder, Lloyd, Walker, Peckham, Beardsley, O.Harris, Stoughtenger, B.Harris, Close, Borden, Vinson, Castellettii(DNS).
#2: Carvey, Hudson, Z.Payne, D.Martin, Miller, Baker, Cooper, Hoxie, Guild, Hayward, Waldron, R.Martin, Years, Johnson(DNS), Bliss(DNS), George(DNS), Inman(DNS).
Provisionals: Inman, Miller.
Group Time Trials (3 laps / 54 cars)
#1: Kevin Ridley 19.430 sec. (92.640 mph), Zach Sobotka, Brian Fish, Nick Guererri, Ricky Newton, Andrew Jacobson, C.J. Castelletti, Dalton Martin, Sarah Johnson, Eric Years.
#2: Matt Janczuk 19.497 (92.322 mph), Payton Talbot, Mark Yorker, Will Shields, Brandon Carvey, Tyler Vinson, Brandon Close, Nathan Peckham, Rick Martin, Tim Guild(-NT-), Todd Hayward(-NT-).
#3: Kevin Root 19.647 (91.617 mph), Matt Guererri, Kyle Inman, Garrison Krentz, Zach Payne, Frank Guererri Jr., J.T. Sperring, Orval Harris, Stacey Jackson, Ray Bliss.
#4: Kane Bristol 19.804 (90.891 mph), Chris Mackey, Addison Bowman, Dalton Rombough, Noah Walker, A.J. Lloyd, Brian Hudson, Tim Baker, Torrey Stoughtenger, Zach George, Brian Harris.
#5: Paul Guererri 20.037 (89.834 mph), Troy Sperring, Alex Payne, A.J. Miller, Emmett Waldron, Alan Fink, Timmy Borden Jr., Nick Cooper, Sean Beardsley, Mike Fowler, R.J. Tresidder, Sam Hoxie.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48a-Alysha Bay, 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 4. 53-Bobby Parrow, 5. 38-Jason Whipple, 6. 18c-Dan Craun, 7. 121-Steve Glover, 8. 17e-Ethan Gray, 9. 13t-Trevor Years, 10. 9k-Kyle Pierce, 410-Jerry Sehn Jr.(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Ruggles, Years, Gray, Whipple, Pierce, Glover.
#2: Bay, Parrow, Griffin, Craun, Sehn.
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 7-Josh Pangrazio, 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 36-Jimmy Grant, 4. 64-Bob Buono, 5. 93-Jared Hill, 6. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 7. 55p-Parker Smith, 8. 122-Chris Beyea, 9. 34q-Jason Quigley, 10. cj1x-C.J. Guererri Jr., 11. 57j-Mike Wonderling, 12. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 13. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Pangrazio, Wonderling, Grant, Hill, Smith, Beyea, Metcalf
#2: Buono, Welch, Quigley, Minutolo, Hobbs, Guererri.