CANANDAIGUA, NY – A short delay for a late afternoon shower was all that could slow down Matt Sheppard as the second-generation standout captured his second straight Pepsi Big-Block Modified feature in the ‘Saturday Spectacular’ presented by VanBortel Trucking & Sherwin Williams Paint at Land Of Legends Raceway.
“Sometimes this place can be fun when you get a little afternoon rain,” smiled Sheppard, after the nine-time LOLR points champion dominated the competition for a second consecutive Saturday. “This car was outstanding tonight.”
Joining Sheppard in victory lane was opening day Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock winner Jimmy Grant while reigning track point kings Matt Guererri (Speed Connection Sportsman) and Tyler Burnell (Lloyd’s Contracting) claimed their first checkered flags of the young season.
Last weekend’s Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car victor Bobby Parrow was credited with first-place in the SuperGen Products with Champion Power Equipment CRSA Sprint Car Series showdown after the winged machine of top finisher Alysha Bay came up short in the customary post-race technical inspection.
After leading the entire 35-lap Modified main the week prior, ‘Super Matt’ needed seven times around the lightning fast half-miler on this night to overtake Australian all-star Peter Britten and cruise home for the decisive victory.
“We didn’t pick a very good number in the re-draw,” noted Sheppard, who pulled his #9S Hurlock Auto&Speed-Westmoreland Golf Glub-St.Lawrence Radiology/Bicknell entry into ninth on the 20-car starting grid. “I’ve driven a lot of good race cars here but I don’t know if I’ve ever driven one that rolled the bottom in turns three and four as good as this one did tonight. Seems like I could just get in and there was enough bite where I could just hold it to the floor and steer.”
Britten paced the stacked field early aboard his black no. 21A Pepsi Bicknell ride, from the drop of starter Scott Hixson’s initial green flag chased by veteran Tim Fuller and big-block rookie Garrison Krentz. Sheppard wasted little time charging through the pack, nabbing the runner-up spot just four times around in the 35-lap headliner.
The first of four caution periods on lap seven for the slowing mount of Western New Yorker Robbie Johnston down the front stretch proved pivotal as Sheppard ducked under ‘Batman” back under green leaving only the race for second up for grabs the rest of the way. The only other setbacks resulted from a turn two tangle on lap nine involving Lance Dusett and Eric Williams, and backstretch slowdowns by Gil Tegg Jr. (lap 11) and Torrey Stoughtenger (17).
“I know at this place if you run the top too long you can burn your tires off so I didn’t want to get too excited too early,” stated Sheppard, on the heals of career win number 83 at the historic Ontario Co. Fairgrounds oval. He triumphed another 10 times in the Sportsman division before notching the inaugural big-block victory in 2003.
“The caution came out and (Britten) picked the top on that restart so I was kinda stuck on the bottom there. Was just amazed what a good run I got through (turns) three and four. Once I cleared him I thought I needed to be on the top in one and two and thought I’d stay on the bottom in three and four to try and save my tires a little bit. At least that way I wasn’t beating on them on the high side all the way around,” Sheppard figured.
While the top spot remained intact, the battle behind Sheppard was a good one as Justin Haers cracked the front-five on the lap seven restart and continued forward until stealing second from Britten by the midway mark. Erick Rudolph rallied from 12th starting position to take fourth halfway through as Alan Johnson, Tim Fuller and Kyle Coffey contested further back.
Fuller wrestled fifth from Johnson on lap 31 in the final exchange up front yet at the wire it was still Sheppard authoring another convincing win, this one by nearly 5-seconds over runner-up Haers followed by Britten and Rudolph.
“We’re starting to get a little momentum going here now running the weekly tracks with some good cars,” added Sheppard, who continues to rank among DIRTcar Northeast’s top travelers, cracking the winner’s circle on many occasions out of state. “This was a brand new race car we brought out tonight. We’ve been saving it, thinking about running it in the series stuff with the holiday coming up. Then thought we should maybe shake it down at Canandaigua tonight so I guess its 1 for 1.”
Coming of a solid third-placing showing last Saturday, Guererri is now 1 for 2 in his quest for a second successive Sportsman title at the Land of Legends.
“The re-draw wasn’t too good, had to come from 12th,” said Guererri, 31, driver of the #12G Tradition Chevrolet-Waterloo Container-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell ride, who like fellow Waterloo pilot Sheppard drew his own car number to determine his feature race starting assignment. “In a re-draw race its tough to do with the cars we have here but our car was great.”
While Sheppard dismantled the big-block field once out front, Guererri forged the seventh and final lead change with seven to go in the 25-lap main event, winning over Zach Payne by a scant .506-sec as the lead duo diced through traffic in the closing stages.
Frank Guererri Jr. jumped out early from his pole-position start before major contact involving track rookie Justin McKay and Andrew Jacobson incurred a red flag situation to clear their bent up cars blocking the track in turn one. Also joining in the scrum were Tim Lafler and Brandon Grover, with all four racers done for the night after just three laps scored.
Second-generation chauffeur Nick Cooper nosed ahead of Frank Guererri on the ensuing lap four restart but Zach Sobotka quickly moved to the point with visions of a second straight Saturday night victory getting clearer once out front on lap six. While seventh-starting Payne moved in to shadow Sobotka on lap eight, Matt Guererri had an even brighter outlook. Storming into third with 10 laps complete, Matt led the Guererri parade followed in order by Paul, Frank and Nick.
After contact between Loren Lincoln and Dalton Martin required a yellow flag on lap 13, on the restart Matt Guererri darted into the lead for the first time followed closely by Payne as Sobotka was suddenly drop-kicked from first to third without any notice. Payne continued to press, inching ahead low across the line on lap 14.
Guererri quickly returned to the point on lap 15 riding the high side yet Payne retaliated with another move underneath the next time around. Payne bobbled low exiting turn three rewarding Guererri with the lead for the final time rounding four and that’s the way they finished despite lapped cars bottling up the leaders in a mad dash to the stripe.
“Had a good restart as (leaders) kinda dove to the bottom there, then I just made a last-ditch effort to go to the top to try and get around,” described Guererri detailing his first lead of the race. “Really just hoped that it stuck and we got a good run.”
“Track was fast so its tough when we’re all the same speed, fortunately it worked out tonight. The car was great and I’ve got a lot of good people behind me. To be honest, I didn’t touch a thing on the car (from heat to feature), the track was so fast. When it slickens up we adjust things a little bit more, but with the track being so heavy you’re kinda on the gas most of the time,” added Guererri, who tallied five feature wins last season to earn the track title in a tie-breaker over Sobotka, who settled for third Saturday night.
In the first of three CRSA Series stops slated for Canandaigua this season, Parrow and Bay traded the lead on four occasions before fans could finally exhale in the closest finish of the night. But despite Bay surviving for a dramatic two car-length victory, a post-race valve spring pressure issue under the hood of her potent pink and white No. 48A Batzel’s Auto Service-Danny Willmes Enterprises-Alysha’s Cut & Curl/Eagle forfeited the first-place finish.
“Its tough when you’re leading to know where all the others are getting fast,” said Parrow, who joined last weekend’s Penn Can (Pa.) Speedway winner Kyle Pierce as first-time entries in the CRSA recordbook. Parrow is the seventh different winner in 12 CRSA events staged at LOLR and the 20-lap win worth $770 was also the first tour triumph for team owner Tom Fletcher. “Car was great in turns three and four, should’ve changed my line and run a little lower in turns one and two but up top was working good early on.”
Including 11 of the 15 drivers contending in the Penn Can series opener on May 14, a solid field of 23 winged warriors filled the LOLR pits for round two with VanBortel Trucking laying down an additional $500 to the A-Main purse.
After placing third in her heat, Bay started third by luck of the draw among the top-12 qualifiers. From there she out-sprinted pointman Dana Wagner to the opening green, with fourth starting Parrow in hot pursuit. While a pair of yellow flags for minor mishaps kept the field tight early on, with five laps showing on the Elab Boutique Scoreboard it was three-time CRSA points champion Jeff Trombley advancing from 13th to fourth then sliding into the top-three halfway through.
Buckled in behind the wheel of the #53 D.C. Rauscher-Waterloo Auto-Wings For Cystic Fibrosis/Eagle, Parrow swept around Bay exiting turn two to take his first lead on lap 11, yet Bay nosed ahead across the line as head flagman Hixson signaled five laps to go. Parrow once again blasted high out of turn four to regain the top spot on lap 16 but with the grandstand crowd rising to its feet Bay rebounded in traffic with one to go and held on for the thrilling but short-lived .462-sec. victory.
Still in search of his ninth career CRSA Series checkered flag, two-time LOLR 305 winner Trombley moved up to second on the final scoresheet followed by Trevor Years, 2020 CRSA high-point earner Darryl Ruggles and David Ferguson, Canandaigua’s first-ever 305 points titlist in 2012 making his first appearance in wine country since ’19.
“You need to keep your lap times consistent and I felt pretty consistent running the top side when out in front,” said Parrow, who credited his key set-up guys on race day Mike Forde and Charlie Doverspike for managing another top performance. “Those two watch the track and consider the ever-change surface conditions then figure out any adjustments to make with the car. After that it was up to me to make all their work pay off.”
For a second straight week Grant has proven a lot of off-season hard work as well as a new car can certainly pay big dividends. Leading the final 13 laps last Saturday, the Penn Yan pilot dominated up front all 20 to score the runaway victory.
“Hey, we work hard and this is what we get,” exclaimed early season Street Stock points leader Grant following his sixth career division win. “We knew we had a heavy race track and actually pulled some gear out of it and we got a good run tonight.”
The black #36 Hands Performance & Powder Coating-Washburn Excavating backed CRS ride was more than good, opening up a 15 car-length advantage over all-time LOLR stock car winner Mike Welch at the line. Dennis Cummings, C.J. Guererri and Adam DePuy filled out front-five positions at the checkered flag.
A fast field of 21 full-fender entries launched the 10-mile finale with fourth starting Grant beating Guererri to the line and never looking back. Contact with Bob Buono at the end of the front straightaway sent Dakota Sharp airborne after smacking the cement barrier ending Sharp’s chances with just two laps complete.
Brief slowdowns for Pat Hobbs stopping on the backstretch (lap 10) and Marcus Springer looping between turns 1-2 (lap 15) did their best to keep in Grant in check yet runner-up laurels were all that remained the rest of the way.
“The track was awesome, you could drive it in (corner) and it would stick. It was a great time, a lot of fun. Can’t wait for Josh (Pangrazio), c’mon and get your car done man,” added Grant, who finished second behind six-time feature winner Pangrazio last year in the final point standings and is looking to move up one more rung on the LOLR ladder.
Getting back on track following a four-win season that culminated with the overall 2020 Hobby Stock title, second-year star Burnell posted his first victory to once again sit atop the LOLR points chart.
“This track was awesome tonight, a lot better after the rain,” said Burnell, 19, after holding off Josh Oles for the entry level division triumph. “Have to thank all my sponsors that jumped on board this year. They saw what we did last season and said go do it again so we’ll give it our best. We want that 2021 championship.”
With the 11pm curfew shortening the final feature of the night from 15 to 12 laps, the heads-up start pitted heat winners Justin Eldredge and Burnell. Opening night winner Eldredge spun in turn two without a single lap complete, relegating him to the rear of the 11-car field with the 10 others reclaiming their original spots.
From there Burnell only needed to fend off fourth starting Oles and stay focused as a handful of yellow flags flew to keep on-track action to a minimum. With the top two drivers remaining on course for the duration, Eldredge methodically worked his way into third disposing of Brian Lloyd and Marc Minutolo as the last laps clicked off.
“Going into turns one and two I let the car do its thing, slide up into two and then just take right off,” said Burnell, after parking his no. 57jr. L&S Services-Peck Electric-Phelps Cement Products Chevrolet Camaro in victory lane for closing ceremonies. “Going into three I let off a little bit then got back on it, it stayed and hooked up and away we went.”
“I go through (car) every week and see if I don’t like something or it doesn’t seem right. In the heat race is it tight or too loose, just make one change and that’s all we’ve got to do. Made a left-rear spring adjustment tonight and the car was just on rails,” Burnell added.
The third and final ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the month is set for May 29 with the mighty Pepsi Big-Block Modifieds headlining VP Lubricants Night at Land Of Legends Raceway over the Memorial holiday. Speed Connection Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock and Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock fill out fast-paced program with heat race qualifying starting at 6:30pm. Practice leads off trackside activity at 5:30pm with pit gates opening at 3:30pm and spectators admitted into the grandstands at 5 o’clock.
If you can’t make it out to the race track this season, LIVE video coverage of every event can still be enjoyed weekly through Land of Legends TV as for the first time ever all LIVE streaming will be offered FREE in 2021. On-line registration at https://landoflegendstv.com/orders/customer_info for a free account is the only step to take.
Also available for download is 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.
In 2021 weekly ticket prices are set at $15 Adults, $13 Seniors, Kids under 16 FREE. For those youngsters needing pit access, Child Season Pit Passes are $30 for 2 & Under and $150 for kids 3-14. Camping is FREE at all race events. To purchase ticket and pit pass bundle packages in advance or discuss marketing opportunities available at the track this season, please contact LOLR Marketing Director Tana Robinson via e-mail email@example.com or cell 716-799-5669.
With the 58th season now officially underway, be sure to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com.
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 – May 22, 2021
VanBortel Trucking and Sherwin-Williams Paint Store of Canandaigua
present Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard ($2,000), 2. 3-Justin Haers, 3. 21a-Peter Britten, 4. 25-Erick Rudolph, 5. 19-Tim Fuller, 6. 14j-Alan Johnson, 7. 23c-Kyle Coffey, 8. 7-Matt Farnham, 9. 19w-Justin Wright, 10. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 11. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 12. 21xEric Williams, 13. 56-Garrison Krentz, 14. 27j-Daniel Johnson Jr., 15. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 16. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 17. 77-Lance Dusett, 18. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 19. 33j-Robbie Johnston III, 20. 10m-Henry Maier.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Haers, Rudolph, Krentz, Dinkins, Podsiadlo, Johnson, Williams.
#2: Sheppard, Fuller, Wright, Dusett, Stoughtenger, Farnham.
#3: Coffey, Britten, Johnston, Tegg, J.Maier, H.Maier.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 12g-Matt Guererri ($750), 2. 7z-Zach Payne, 3. 38-Zach Sobotka, 4. 7-Paul Guererri, 5. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 6. 25g-Nick Guererri, 7. 35-Nick Cooper, 8. 70a-Alex Payne, 9. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 10. 36m-Zachary George, 11. 11n-Ricky Newton, 12. 132-Dalton Martin, 13. 9-Tim Baker, 14. 21v-Tony Velez, 15. 00-Sam Hoxie, 16. 28-Jordan Moden, 17. 2-Loren Lincoln, 18. 93-Rich Vinson, 19. 90-Nathan Peckham, 20. 31-Kane Bristol, 21. 61-Andrew Jacobson, 22. 3-Justin McKay, 23. 42-Brandon Grover, 24. 51-Tim Lafler.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: F.Guererri, N.Guererri, Velez, Lloyd, Lincoln, Grover, Years, Bristol.
#2: Vinson, Sobotka, Cooper, Martin, Lafler, Hoxie, McDonald, G.George.
#3: P.Guererri, Z.Payne, Baker, Newton, McKay, Doty, Borden, K.Payne.
#4: A.Payne, M.Guererri, Moden, Z.George, Peckham, Jacobson.
Consolation (8 laps)
#1: Hoxie, Jacobson, Bristol, Grover, Zac McDonald, Jason Doty, Eric Years, Timmy Borden Jr., Greenley George(DNS), Kennedy Payne(DNS).
SuperGen Products with Champion Power Equipment CRSA Sprint Car Series
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 53-Bobby Parrow ($770), 2. 3a-Jeff Trombley, 3. 13t-Trevor Years, 4. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 5. 45-David Ferguson, 6. 18c-Dan Craun, 7. 56d-Peter Dance, 8. 25w-Dana Wagner, 9. 2-Randy Years, 10. 121-Steve Glover, 11. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 12. 38-Jason Whipple, 13. 41j-Josh Flint, 14. 66-Jordan Hutton, 15. 28-Ronnie Greek, 16. 410-Jerry Sehn Jr., 17. 41-Chase Moran, 18. j27-John Cunningham, 19. 77-Matt Rotz, 20. 11-Jacob Lynch, 21. 17e-Ethan Gray, 22. 9k-Kyle Pierce, 23. 48a-Alysha Bay(DSQ).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Wagner, R.Years, Dance, Greek, Cunningham, Hutton, Whipple, Griffin.
#2: Craun, Ruggles, Bay T.Years, Trombley, Glover, Sehn, Lynch.
#3: Parrow, Flint, Gray, Pierce, Rotz, Ferguson, Moran.
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant, 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 74d-Dennis Cummings, 4. cj1-C.J. Guererri Jr., 5. 57j-Adam DePuy, 6. 37x-Carl Johnson, 7. 5c-Rick Crego, 8. 9-Aksel Jensen, 9. 34q-Jason Quigley, 10. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 11. 93-Jared Hill, 12. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 13. 64b-Bob Buono, 14. 24j-Marcus Springer, 15. 55p-Parker Smith, 16. 63-Mike Fellows, 17. 510-Brad Steinruck Jr., 18. 122-Chris Beyea, 19. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 20. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 21. 25-Blane Smith.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Quigley, Cummings, Springer, Minutolo, Hill, DePuy, P.Smith, Buono, Sharp, Fellows, Beyea.
#2: Guererri, Grant, Welch, Johnson, Steinruck, Hobbs, Crego, Jensen, Metcalf, B.Smith.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (12 laps): 1. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 2. 1-Josh Oles, 3. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 4. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 5. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 6. 36-Willy Grant, 7. 15k-Jeremy Trank, 8. 42-Casey Wagner, 9. 54-Allison Pierce, 10. 52-Amber Pierce, 11. 28-Brandon Barron.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Eldredge, Wagner, Lloyd, Trank, Minutolo, Al.Pierce.
#2: Burnell, Oles, Grant, Barron, Am.Pierce.
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, May 29 @ 6:30pm; VP Lubricants presents Big-Block Modified/Sportsman/305 Sprint/Street Stock/Hobby Stock with Hospeace House Benefit.
Track Instant Info
Live Stream: https://landoflegendstv.com/
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 2021 division sponsors Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling, Mike Emhof Motorsports, Pepsi Geneva Club Beverage, Speed Connection, Lloyd’s Contracting; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, Always Locked Self Storage, Auction Direct USA, Auto Value Parts Stores, A-Verdi Storage Containers, DC Rauscher Contractor, Emerson Oil Company/Castrol, Genesee Beer/Coors Light/Twisted Tea, Geneva Club Beverage, Honeoye Auto Parts/Auto Value Parts Stores, Howell Properties LLC, iFreeze Storage & Distribution Center, MP Delivery, Midstate Basement Authorities, Phelps Cement Products, Regional Truck & Trailer, Seneca Auto Sales & Service, Sherwin Williams Paint, Tradition Automotive Group, VanBortel Trucking; promotional partners Baker’s Externinating, Cazbah Internet Marketing, Champion Power Equipment, Lee DePew & Son Trucking, Dig Safely New York 811, Elab Smokers Boutique, FLX BBQ Company, Hoosier Racing Tire, Lisa Johnson Real Estate Services, Mac’s Dairy Bar & Mini Golf, MighTea Boba, On The Rocks Bar & Grill, Ontario County Fairboard, The “Original” Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, Schultz Heating & Cooling, Seneca Auto Sales & Service, Superior Plumbing Service, VP Racing Fuels, Weedsport Hall of Fame, Young Real Estate Agency.