CANANDAIGUA, NY – For three track champions ‘seven’ was the lucky number on the final points night at Land Of Legends Raceway while the fourth titleist was just as content with #6 in the latest ‘Saturday Spectacular’ that kicked off the month of racing in September.
Entering the customary double points program over Labor Day Weekend atop their respective standings, Matt Guererri (Speed Connection Sportsman), Jimmy Grant (Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock) and Justin Eldredge (Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock) all needed feature race finishes of seven or better to collect division crowns. All three responded with solid Top-3 runs to wrap up the season-long battles for speedway supremacy.
LOLR lifer Darryl Ruggles ranked second on the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint points chart and rose to the occasion with his second checkered flag of the summer to capture an unprecedented sixth season championship at the historic Ontario Co. Fairgrounds clay oval.
Joining Ruggles in victory lane on ‘Season Championship Night’ presented by
Emerson Oil Company/Castrol were first-time Sportsman winner Troy Sperring, 2020 Street Stock points champ Josh Pangrazio and returning full-fender veteran Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr. after the Hobby Stock finale. Tim Fuller triumphed for the second straight Saturday, taking the 35-lap non-point Pepsi “Open” Modified main worth $2,000.
Contesting in the closest points chase of any division, only a win for Ruggles in the 20-lap A-Main would secure the 305 title outright . And the Hopewell hustler did just that, bolting from 10th to third on the opening circuit before overtaking his daughter Alysha Bay, the defending champion, on a lap 8 restart and never looking back.
“I knew all the tie-breaker scenerios right after last week,” remarked Ruggles, 55, after clinching his sixth season title since 305 Sprints became part of the Saturday show in 2012. He arrived on this final night facing a 564-556 deficit to Clifton Springs’ Brandyn Griffin yet departed with career win number 42 and a 676-668 decision on the final points chart.
“Been struggling with my car the past year and a half so I went back behind my body shop and pulled out this one. Its my old Eagle that was sitting in the weeds for the past seven years and we started putting it back together Monday. Danny (Willmes) would be proud, but he probably would’ve bought us a new one by now,” added Ruggles, posing beside his trusty #48jr. Batzel’s Auto Service-Danny Willmes Ent.-VanBortel Trucking Eagle entry in Canandaigua’s Cazbah Victory Lane.
Bay out-dragged pole-sitter Matt Rotz at the drop of chief starter Scott Hixson’s initial green flag to hold the early advantage. Ethan Gray’s winged machine coasted to a stop exiting turn three to force out a yellow flag and put Ruggles alongside Bay for the deciding restart.
With the final half of the 10-mile main run non-stop, Ruggles raced out to a convincing lead by a dozen car-lengths. Settling for third in points with 655, a fading Bay held on for second at the stripe followed by two-time race winners Griffin and Jason Whipple while Dan Craun rounded out the top-five.
While five feature wins last season afforded Guererri the overall championship in a tie-breaker over Zach Sobotka, the Waterloo wheelman left nothing to share this time around despite taking only two checkered flags in 2021. Starting seventh on the 24-car Sportsman grid and needing only to finish there proved less dramatic for Guererri as he lingered among the front-five before advancing to third on lap 16 where he remained in the caution-free 25-lapper.
“Coming in I just tried to keep doing what I’ve done all year and let the points take care of themselves,” said Guererri, 31, who matched Kevin Long (1995-96), Karl Comfort (1999-2000), Dan Wiesner (2011-12) and Dave Marcuccilli (2015-18) as back-to-back champions since the division was launched in 1987. “Still didn’t get much sleep this week thinking about everything that could happen.”
“Definitely tougher with double points on the line, can go either way. Thank God we had a good car, it made things easier. Also had a good starting spot and was able to stay out of trouble so things just worked out like we hoped,” noted Guererri, who logged 11 front-five finishes in 14 races steering the #12G Tradition Automotive Group-Product 9-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell mount. Although he led the division with four feature wins, 7th-finishing Sobotka (755) placed third in points behind Guererri (841) and 8th-finishing Zach Payne (787).
Posting only a pair of Top-10 feature finishes and never leading a single lap in his first nine events this season, Sperring’s flag-to-flag victory was far more than the Williamson warrior ever hoped for in his second year competing in Canandaigua.
“Grew up going to this track watching the races, been a dream for a long time but never really thought I’d get a win,” beamed Sperring, 24, whose older brother JT and mother Angel Sperring also made Saturday’s starting line-up. Bloodlines run deeper as Troy’s cousins Alan and Danny Johnson litter the LOLR record book.
“Hard to believe, just kept trying not to mess up and counting down every lap on the scoreboard. Usually I mess up on the last lap. Not this time, kept it clean from start to finish. Still hasn’t sunk in yet,” added Sperring, a three-time 600cc micro sprint champ at Paradise Speedway in Geneva, after becoming the sixth first-time Sportsman winner at the fairgrounds this season.
Once out front the former Williamson H.S. wrestler only needed to hold off young Alex Payne for the memorable win. His yellow no. 7x J&T Contracting-Speed Connection-Cam’s Pizzeria-Auction Direct USA/Bicknell car was up to the challenge, out-distancing the second-generation standout by eight car-lengths at the line.
A.J. Lloyd and Zachary George filled in the front-five finishing positions followed by ’21 winners Frank Guererri Jr., Sobotka and Zach Payne.
Holding a commanding points lead in the Street Stock standings coming in, Grant did what he always does and the Penn Yan pilot notched his 12th Top-5 tally in 13 events to claim the coveted Canandaigua crown in LOLR’s top full-fender division.
“The car was way better than what we showed tonight but we came here for the championship so third is good enough,” stated Grant, 35, who hopes to land a Big-Block Modified ride in ’22 after three years at LOLR in a street stock. He used six wins aboard his #36 Hands Performance & Powder Coating-Washburn Excavating Chevrolet Camaro to outgain all-time LOLR stock car winner Mike Welch, 788-762, in the final point standings. “Just wanted to keep Mike in view the whole race, really my only concern out there.”
Undoubtedly the hottest driver at the fairgrounds, 8th-starting Pangrazio showed little concern for the rest of the field as he powered past pole-sitter Adam DePuy for second on lap four then disposed of leader Welch with still 13 to go in the 20-lap feature. From there the no. 7 Skyline RV Sales & Service-Houseman Refrigeration-Cummings Trucking Ford Mustang was untouchable as the Oakfield ace established a 5.6-sec. victory margin at the stripe.
“Good track tonight, definitely had the car dialed in and it was a joy to drive,” said Pangrazio, 38, whose fourth straight win makes him 6 for 8 since the ‘Honky Tonk Express’ season debut on June 26. Grant settled for three thirds and a runner-up finish in those last four events. “After going over the edge last week, didn’t want to dabble too much up high. Kept our line lower tonight and everything went according to plan.”
Identical to Guererri starting seventh and just needing to stay there for the title —as well as a post-race celebration mobbing victory lane with family and friends— Grant ran among the top-5 in the early stages before grabbing fourth from Parker Smith halfway through. He ducked under DePuy on lap 13 and finished four seconds behind Welch under the checkers with DePuy and Marc Minutolo completing the final front-five.
Consistency was also a key for Eldredge as 11 front-five feature finishes in 12 events rewarded the Waterloo driver with the coveted Canandaigua crown in his second season of competition in wine country.
“This is what we set out to do this year,” noted Eldredge, 23, whose white #25J Eldredge & Sons Scrap-Big Mike’s Auto Chevrolet Monte Carlo carried him to a track-best 7 wins in ’21 and a 786-718 final margin over Tyler Burnell in points. “My tire guy put in a lot of work this year so this one’s for him.”
“My game plan kind of went out the window from the start. Just wanted to get into the top-5 and ride around but the car got better so second is a plus. Next year probably move up into a street stock, do double-duty and run for another track title with the Hobby,” Eldredge added.
The caution-marred 15-lap main began with Alex Morris spinning down the back chute on lap one then almost finishing under yellow when Willy Grant slowed to a stop in turn two on lap 14. Taking the top spot away from early leader Marc Minutolo on lap four, Bubba Burnell held on for a narrow car-length victory with Eldredge who provided a thrilling last turn threat on the final lap restart.
“Made my car as wide as I could at the end without making it too wide,” smiled Burnell, 41, a late-season arrival in August, debuting with a 3rd-place showing before copping his last two to push his career total in Canandaigua to 30 stock car wins. “Marc was running good tonight, have to apologize for getting into him a little.”
“Changed this car all around. Not running great but its still been good. Its an awesome track, been getting a good turnout of these cars, will definitely be back next year. The fans should be excited too,” added Burnell, after parking his self-designed #57B JB7 Heavy Hauling-Phelps Cement Products-Scott French Home Improvement Chevy Camaro in the winner’s circle to close out the five-star card.
In the third caution-free feature of the night it was seasoned Watertown chauffeur Fuller returning to the winner’s circle after leading all 35-laps in the Modified main. His second win at LOLR in eight days instills plenty of momentum for the Super DIRTcar Series showdown scheduled in two more weeks.
“Came down here alone and my only crewman never showed up so I have to thank the guys that helped out tonight,” divulged Fuller, 53, following his 8th career win in Canandaigua, once again steering the black #19 St.Lawrence Radiology-G&R Auto Parts-Integra Shocks/Bicknell ride. “But we kept it going and right now we’re rolling here.”
“Its very tricky where to be when you’re a lapped car. Was getting nervous, never know where everybody is and Alan is a master of this place. I knew he was always going to be there. Just love this place, smooth and slick track … and no more ruts,” added Fuller, after out-lasting all-time LOLR feature winner Alan Johnson in the non-stop 12-minute affair.
The regular season-ending non-points Modified special attracted 20 entries with Gil Tegg Jr., Ryan Susice and Nick Joy signing in with “open” small-block powerplants while Greg Birosh, returning after a four-year absence, entered his #951 mount carrying a 410 c.i. powerplant. The remaining 16 utilized traditional big-block engines under the hood.
Fuller, Justin Haers and James Sweeting copped the heat races and after the top-three from each qualifier redrew for feature starting positions Fuller joined pole-sitter Daniel Johnson Jr. on the front row. Recently crowned LOLR champion Haers drew worst and filed in 9th but as the race sped on was the only driver to significantly move up the leaderboard.
When Fuller reached traffic nine laps in, he was followed by third-place starter Alan Johnson, 5th-starting Kyle Coffey, James Sweeting and Daniel Johnson, with Haers chasing Steve Paine who last raced at LOLR in 2019. Haers slipped past Paine for sixth on lap 12, tracked down Johnson for fifth a half-dozen circuits later before stealing fourth when Sweeting got jammed up in turn four traffic with eight to go.
‘A.J. Slideways’ closed to within three car-lengths a handful of laps from home, yet Fuller’s precision maneuvering through traffic proved the difference as he cruised on for a half straightaway victory in the end. Johnson, Coffey, Haers and Sweeting retained their positions with sixth-place runner Susice the top small-block finisher.
Action in the month of September continues at Land Of Legends Raceway with a paint-trading, bumper-bruising ‘Full Fender Frenzy’ presented by Howell Properties, LLC. Top area Street Stock and RUSH Late Model traveling teams hit the hallowed fairgrounds half-miler next Saturday, each chasing a $1,000 winner’s share in a pair of 30-lap main events. A top prize of $750 awaits first-place finishers in the Hobby Stock and 4-Cylinder feature races.
Reigning Outlaw Speedway 4-Cylinder points king Jeremy Bunn from Branchport took advantage of an informal practice session Saturday night, logging hot laps in his inaugural visit to the fairgrounds behind the wheel of a soon-to-be numbered 81 Ford Mustang in his first time out anywhere in 2021.
The 10th Les Whyte Top Gun Shootout headliner for Street Stocks is named in honor of the late LOLR Pro Stock champion and driver of the sleek Top Gun #1 machine. Pangrazio is the two-time defending champion while Dave Schulz captured the inaugural race in 1999.
In lieu of the Sept. 11, 2001 fateful strike on the U.S., a special on-track anniversary tribute will be held to area service men & women as well as our very own LOLR safety crew in a fitting pre-race send-off. Fans are encouraged to wear red, white and blue in both support and remembrance of those that were lost that tragic day.
HAERS MEMORIAL CLIMAX IN CANANDAIGUA
Dropping the curtain on the 2021 season at LOLR is the 3rd Annual Gerald Haers Memorial, part of the Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds slated for Sat. Sept. 18. The “Haers 100” winner will collect no less than $10,000 while 20th-place pays $1,000. Adding to thousands in post-race rewards, over $5,000 in lap money is also on the line along with unique 20-lap qualifying heats that provide a separate payout while the special ‘Dash-for-Cash’ carries a $2,000 purse all by itself.
Joining the 2021 season finale presented by Phelps Cement Products and MP Delivery will be a 30-lap DIRTcar Sportsman Series Central Region Championship event paying $1,000-to-win with numerous bonuses bolstering the overall pot. In the first of two Sportsman Series stops staged at the Land of Legends on Aug. 4, Tyler Corcoran led flag-to-flag to claim his first career win in Canandaigua.
As the 58th season comes to a close in Canandaigua, be sure to check out the final point standings for all five divisions 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 – September 4, 2021
Emerson Oil Company/Castrol presents Season Championships
Pepsi “Open” Modified(NON-POINT)
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 19-Tim Fuller ($2,000), 2. 14j-Alan Johnson, 3. 23c-Kyle Coffey, 4. 3-Justin Haers, 5. 11j-James Sweeting, 6. 38-Ryan Susice(SB), 7. 27j-Daniel Johnson Jr., 8. 7x-Steve Paine, 9. 7-Matt Farnham, 10. 77-Lance Dusett, 11. 33j-Robbie Johnston III, 12. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 13. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 14. 56-Garrison Krentz, 15. 10m-Henry Maier, 16. 951-Greg Birosh(410), 17. 716-Corey Lowitt, 18. 12j-Nick Joy(SB), 19. 21x-Eric Williams, 20. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr.(SB).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Fuller, A.Johnson, Coffey, Podsiadlo, Johnston, Birosh, H.Maier.
#2: Haers, Farnham, Paine, Susice, Krentz, Tegg, Joy.
#3: Sweeting, Dusett, D.Johnson, J.Maier, Williams, Lowitt.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified(DOUBLE POINTS)
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 7x-Troy Sperring ($750), 2. 70a-Alex Payne, 3. 12g-Matt Guererri, 4. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 5. 36m-Zachary George, 6. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 7. 38-Zach Sobotka, 8. 7z-Zach Payne, 9. 11n-Ricky Newton, 10. 7-Paul Guererri, 11. 51-Tim Lafler, 12. 1m-Tyler Murray, 13. 00-Sam Hoxie, 14. 31-Kane Bristol, 15. 35-Nick Cooper, 16. 3-Justin McKay, 17. 9-Tim Baker, 18. 18-Mark Potter, 19. 132-Dalton Martin, 20. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 21. 90-Nathan Peckham, 22. 7j-J.T. Sperring, 23. 31k-Kennedy Payne, 24. 56a-Angel Sperring.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: George, Z.Payne, Ridley, Hoxie, Cooper, JT Sperring, Martin, Baker.
#2: A.Payne, M.Guererri, Sobotka, Newton, McKay, Murray, Peckham, K.Payne.
#3: T.Sperring, Lafler, F.Guererri, Lloyd, P.Guererri, Bristol, Potter, A.Sperring.
2021 Track Champion: Matt Guererri
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint(DOUBLE POINTS)
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles ($500), 2. 48a-Alysha Bay, 3. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 4. 38-Jason Whipple, 5. 18c-Dan Craun, 6. 53-Bobby Parrow, 7. 13t-Trevor Years, 8. 9k-Kyle Pierce, 9. 66-Jordan Hutton, 10. 77-Matt Rotz, 11. 121-Steve Glover, 12. 2-Randy Years, 13. 25h-Tanner Emmons, 14. 62-Jacob Lynch, 15. 18-Timmy Lotz, 16. 4t-Ray Preston, 17. 4-Cliff Pierce, 18. 17e-Ethan Gray.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Parrow, Craun, Bay, T.Years, Lynch, Griffin, Lotz, C.Pierce, Preston.
#2: R.Years, Rotz, Ruggles, Gray, Hutton, Whipple, Glover, Emmons, K.Pierce.
2021 Track Champion: Darryl Ruggles
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock(DOUBLE POINTS)
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 7-Josh Pangrazio, 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 36-Jimmy Grant, 4. 57j-Adam DePuy, 5. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 6. 55p-Parker Smith, 7. 5c-Rick Crego, 8. 99-Nick Dandino, 9. 93-Jared Hill, 10. 122-Chris Beyea, 11. 9-Aksel Jensen, 12. 22-Carl Cleveland, 13. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 14. 34q-Jason Quigley.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Smith, Beyea, Minutolo, Hill, Dandino, Metcalf, Quigley.
#2: Pangrazio, DePuy, Grant, Welch, Jensen, Crego, Cleveland.
2021 Track Champion: Jimmy Grant
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock(DOUBLE POINTS)
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 57b-Frank “Bubba” Burnell Jr., 2. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 3. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 4. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 5. 86L-Shawn Lloyd, 6. 42-Casey Wagner, 7. 2-Alex Morris, 8. 22t-John Almekinder, 9. 18x-Jim Claypool, 10. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 11. 36-Willy Grant, 12. 28-Brandon Barron, 13. 14-Ron Hawker, 18-Jamie Eldredge Jr.(DNS), 61-Daniel Kerrick(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Grant, Minutolo, Ju.Eldredge, Almekinder, Barron, Hawker, S.Lloyd, Morris, Kerrick(DNS).
#2: F.Burnell, Wagner, T.Burnell, Claypool, Ja.Eldredge, B.Lloyd(DNS).
2021 Track Champion: Justin Eldredge
UPCOMING EVENTS: Saturday Spectacular, Sept. 11 @ 6:30pm; Howell Properties LLC presents “Full Fender Frenzy” 10th Les Whyte Top Gun Shootout Street Stock 30L-$1,000-to-win plus RUSH Late Models 30L-$1,000-to-win/Hobby Stock $750-to-win/4-Cylinder $750-to-win with The KEYS Program Benefit.
Saturday Super Spectacular, Sept. 18 @ 6pm; Phelps Cement Products and MP Delivery present 3rd Annual Gerald Haers Memorial Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified 100L-$10,000-to-win/DIRTcar Sportsman Series Central Region Championship 30L-$1,000-to-win.
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, Cargill, Cazbah Internet Marketing, DC Rauscher Contractor, Donath Motor Worx, 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, Monroe Mechanical Services, 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, Dig Safely New York 811, Elab Smokers Boutique, Ferris Mowers, 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, Phelps Community Center Head Start, 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.