CANANDAIGUA, NY – Waterloo’s Matt Sheppard started 12th, took the lead on lap 12 and from there staved off a late-race charge by Tim Fuller to capture his first checkered flag of the season in the headline Pepsi Big-Block Modified feature Saturday night at Land Of Legends Raceway.
“Think we just caught some really good breaks tonight,” remarked Sheppard, 39, following his 86th career Big-Block victory at the storied routes 5&20 speedplant nestled in NYS’s Finger Lakes region. “We had a good car but we got some good breaks in traffic and took advantage of that. Just really wanted to get out front and kinda run my own race.”
Fellow Waterloo wheelmen joining ‘Super Matt’ in the winner’s circle were defending division point champions Matt Guererri (Speed Connection Sportsman) and Justin Eldredge Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock) along with seasoned chauffeur Bobby Parrow (Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car).
Veteran Carl Johnson (Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock) and talented teenager Kasey Coffey (MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman) also pulled into victory lane to close out another ‘Saturday Spectacular’ presented by Seneca Meadows & Genesee Beer/Coors Light/Twisted Tea. Seneca Meadows added $400 worth of LOLR Pit Passes to the total post-race prize package for the ‘Hard Charger’ in each of the top five divisions.
Continuing to support the local Canandaigua community and the work done by numerous organizations within, LOLR designated half the proceeds from Saturday’s weekly 50/50 benefit fund to Mia Babies. Mia Foundation www.miafoundation.com members are passionate about giving animals with birth defects the opportunity to lead full lives.
Coming off a pair of Top-5 tallies in the opening two shows won by Larry Wight, his third chance was a charm for Sheppard as he wasted little time advancing from his outside row six starting position in the 30-lap Big-Block finale. Wight stayed racing closer to his CNY home this weekend to end the early-season streak.
“Thought we had a pretty good car last week but Larry started on the outside-pole and got out to the lead,” noted Sheppard, who emerged as the new points leader with nine LOLR titles already in the books. “We were pretty good so I decided to try the same (set-up) today. A little different track conditions but the car was again pretty good tonight and it gives us something to work on. We’re getting to the point where our notebook gets a little bigger … sometimes it helps, sometimes it hurts.”
Only the competition left the track scarred on this night as Sheppard methodically maneuvered through the star-studded 23-car field, grabbing the lead from James Sweeting a dozen laps in on his way to the $2,000 payoff. Pole-sitter Derrick Podsiadlo paced the pack early before Sweeting ducked under exiting turn four to forge the first lead change on lap four.
Sheppard had his #9s Hurlock Auto & Speed-Westmoreland Golf Glub-St. Lawrence Radiology/Bicknell mount on cruise control at the midway mark while Sweeting, ninth starting Fuller, second-generation standout Alex Payne and fellow Big-Block rookie Zach Payne diced among the front-five. After first-year Modified driver Troy Sperring spun low at the end of the back chute to initiate caution, Fuller took over second on the ensuing lap 20 restart with Sweeting slipping to fourth.
A final yellow flag flew following a flat tire for Danny Johnson on lap 26 giving Seneca Meadows ‘Hard Charger’ Fuller one last chance, yet at the stripe it was Sheppard by nearly 2-seconds over the Watertown warrior who won Friday night up north at Can-Am Speedway. Fresh off his own win at Outlaw Speedway the previous night, Payne crossed the line third ahead of tour travelers Erick Rudolph and Peter Britten.
“There was a good bottom (groove) but the middle and top were a little bit tricky,” added Sheppard, who won Friday at Utica-Rome Speedway and now has seven victories circuit-wide in 2022. “The middle was just about as good as the top, kinda moved around a little bit. At the end of the race didn’t really know where I wanted to run … but who cares, we’re here in victory lane.”
And victory lane is all that really matters for Guererri. The two-time reigning LOLR Sportsman points king made a triumphant return after opening the ’22 campaign with a pair of performances well below his standards.
“You have your frustrating weeks, was kinda discouraged after last week,” admitted Guererri, 32, who scored his 15th win in Canandaigua after posting fifth and 9th-place finishes to kick off 2022. “Worked really hard this week, put in a lot of work. Don’t know how big of a lead you have so you just keep telling yourself to run it as hard as you can.”
With his foot to the pedal throughout the 25-lap feature, the potent #12G Tradition Automotive Group-Mohawk Northeast-Sunset Bowl-Mojo’s Tavern/Bicknell entry ran to perfection from the drop of starter Scott Hixson’s initial green flag. Mark Potter’s ride sputtered to a stop in turn two o the opening circuit for the only race stoppage before Guererri could begin his rush to the front.
Back under green, Timmy Borden Jr. nosed by front row partner Tim Baker to take the early lead before Dalton Martin gained control on lap three. Starting ninth on the 23-car grid, Guererri blasted into second after just five laps around the fast half-miler. Tracking down leader Martin lap after lap, Gibbz finally bolted high between turns one and two and made the winning pass with still nine laps to go in the near non-stop affair.
“The track was awesome and we knew we had a good car,” Guererri said. “Dalton had a good lead on me, think I was over-driving a little bit there for awhile just trying to get him. He ran a great race, held his line and hit his marks every lap. It was hard to catch him. Switched my lane in turns one and two to get a little more momentum coming off two and ended up running him down.”
Martin settled for a career-best runner-up finish followed by returning racer Justin Henderson, brother Nick Guererri and Seneca Meadows ‘Hard Charger’ Ryan Shanahan, who was listed 12th in the starting line-up.
“Get a lot of help from a lot of people but wouldn’t be where I am today without Randy Kisacky,” Guererri added. “He stays behind the scenes and doesn’t get the credit for all that he does for this sport.”
On the heels of his own first win of the season at the Ontario County Fairgrounds oval, MEM 305 A-Main victor Parrow was quick to credit a trio of men that proved essential in another successful drive to the front.
“Gotta thank my crew along with Doug Shaw and Doug Berryman with set-up, they’ve been helping me all week,” stated Parrow, 53, who opened last season with two wins en route to 7th-place in the final point standings. “We’ve been pretty much out to lunch since the beginning of the year. This is the same car I drove with the 360s for Chuck Zack back in 2014 and Tommy (Fletcher) bought it last summer. Jeff Hand provided the 305 so this is his first win with a sprint car.”
With car owner Fletcher still in search of a major backer for Parrow in the #53 Hand’s Performance-powered GF1 winged machine, fresh tires and money mattered little in the final outcome. It was apparent that experience behind the wheel and track knowledge paid the biggest dividends for Parrow who overtook track newcomer John Smith in traffic with just four to go in the 20-lap feature and fashioned a comfortable half-straightaway advantage under the checkers.
“When you get in traffic you’re supposed to figure out where the lapped cars are going to go,” Parrow said. (Smith) is a good runner, unbelievable coming up in just his third race here. Very good for him … I just used the lap car to get by.”
“The track really came to us. I could run the middle and top in turns one and two. Turns three and four took a couple laps to figure out that the top was the fastest. Have to thank all the people from Seneca Meadows for coming out tonight, got a lot of friends there and that makes it more special,” Parrow added.
After losing out in a three-wide turn four scrum that sandwiched Tyler Emmons between Parrow down low, high-flying Smith’s gallant run ended with the white flag out as he coasted pitside on lap 19 to wind up unlucky 13th on Friday The 13th. Jason Whipple finished a solid second ahead of CRSA series star Dalton Herrick, Trevor Years, Brandyn Griffin and Alysha Bay, the Seneca Meadows ‘Hard Charger’ who started 17th after wheel issues sidelined her in qualifying.
While Sheppard, Guererri and Parrow continue to raise their status in the LOLR recordbook, Johnson had not graced victory lane in nearly 36 years, his first year wheeling a stock car around Canandaigua’s hallowed half-miler.
“A lot of stout competition out here, this class is really, really tough,” declared a modest Johnson, 55, who registered his only other win at the fairgrounds on July 19, 1986 in the Rookie Amateur division. He had a short stint steering a Big-Block that ended in 1993. “Won here way before my Modified days, unfortunately never able to strike victory lane against these guys, they were some of the best drivers anywhere.”
Johnson proved to be the best on Saturday, with his renumbered red #87 Heart of Gold Veterinary Care-Zimmerman Bros. Fertilizer Chevrolet Monte Carlo now sporting a three race old CRS chassis. The popular Penn Yan pilot took advantage of tacky track conditions after the light rain that started just past 8pm subsided in time to give full-fender teams a return to green flag racing at 8:35.
Pole winner Parker Smith held back Nick Dandino, on this night driving Jared Hill’s red 93 car, until losing the top spot on a lap five restart. Already rolling his mount from seventh to third, Johnson slipped past Smith to put himself in prime position for the final lead change on a lap nine restart.
Brad Steinruck Jr. got sideways entering turn four to collect Rick Crego and Hill, with the multi-car tangle putting Johnson on Dandino’s bumper for the restart. Johnson pulled away at will before yellow lights flashed again, this time after contact from Jimmy Grant sent around Adam DePuy in turn one and left Mike Welch no place to go. All three continued racing from the rear of the field.
It remained Johnson at the front despite a flat rear tire curtailing the effort of third running Marc Minutolo and incurring the last slowdown on lap 16. From there he turned away a final bid by Dandino to secure the long-awaited trip to victory lane in the 20-lap program opener.
“Saw (93x) on a restart, we were coming out of turn two and saw a nose underneath me,” Johnson recalled. “The car was handling pretty well tonight so I was hoping I could drive a little deeper into the corners and hold him off. This new chassis is very reactive to change and very responsive on the track.”
“So many people to thank, so little time. Zimmerman Fertilizer, Heart of Gold, 84 Lumber, Paul Gavenda Race Engines and CRS, a lot of help along the way,” added the soft-spoke Johnson, humbled further by the out-pouring of support from both racers and fans alike in the aftermath.
Crego placed third at the line ahead of Welch, who matched Bay by starting last (17th) after heat race issues and was named Seneca Meadows ‘Hard Charger’ for rebounding again from the lap 13 mishap. Smith placed fifth in front of Patrick Hobbs, Grant and DePuy.
Sharing the front row with weekly adversary Tyler Burnell, Eldredge jumped out to a lead he would never relinquish in the 15-lap Hobby event. The caution-free finale proved no contest for the rest of the field as the #25J Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling-Big Mike’s Auto Chevrolet Monte Carlo ran flawless the entire distance.
After a race-long back-and-forth battle with Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., Wayne Ellison took third behind Tyler while Nate Peckham added a third straight top-5 tally.
“Figured Wayne and Bubba would be coming so I tried to make the car as wide as I could,” revealed Eldredge, 24, who claimed the 2021 Hobby crown with seven wins in 13 starts. He pocketed an additional $100 after ending Ellison’s 2-race win streak that provided him the first ‘Prouty’s Bar Bounty’ of the season. “We knew the track was gonna have a little bit of bite. My dad actually made a spring adjustment on the right front, we messed with staggers and off-sets and really turned this car on.”
Street Stocker Johnson opened the six-star show as the oldest winner on Saturday and young Coffey concluded Canandaigua’s weekly card as the youngest victor in the entry-level Legends Sportsman division.
“Hopefully move up into regular Sportsman at some point this season, or maybe even next year, we’ll get to it when it comes,” said Caledonia’s Coffey, who turned 14 in April. It was the the first race for the son of two-time Super DIRT Week Big-Block winner Vic Coffey (2002 & ’07), crossing the stripe driving a familiar looking #32C Carl Myers Enterprises-CoffeyMcCreadie Enterprises-Stirling Lubricants/Bicknell car. “We tested the car on Wednesday and came here, definitely had fun tonight.”
Colby Adamczak blew past front row starters Angel Sperring and Justin Liechti before a yellow flag waved as brother Dillon Adamczak slowed without a single scored in the 12-lap nightcap. With his ride suffering from a stuck throttle throughout the night, Coffey spun by himself exiting turned one immediately after the Adamczak incident yet refired in time to start last with one lap lit on the scorebeoard.
While Adamczak drove alone out front, Coffey chipped away lap after lap until reaching second before the midway point. Lap eight proved pivotal as the leaders barreled down the frontstretch side-by-side with Coffey getting the nod as the new leader four laps from the finish.
“Throttle stuck first in the heat so we changed a couple springs on the throttle linkage,” Coffey added in his winner’s circle wrap-up. “Hoped it wouldn’t happen again but obviously it did.”
Colby Adamczak finished second in the six-mile dash followed by Justin Liechti, Angel Sperring, Kennedy Payne and Dillon Adamczak.
Veteran track photographer Don Romeo from Watkins Glen NY passed away on Friday, May 6 following a long hard fight with cancer that took his life at age 75.
Described as an inspired cameraman who photographed many Watkins Glen H.S. sporting events, Don’s passion remained taking photos for Land of Legends Raceway — his ‘ Happy Place’ — where he began shooting for Gater Racing Photo News and Dirt Trackin’ Magazine in the 1970’s and 80’s.
An inductee into the Empire Super Sprints (ESS) Hall of Fame Class of 2021, Don also took photos regularly at Dundee Raceway during his career and often appeared at many other race tracks and sports car events throughout the Northeast.
Born in Montour Falls, NY in August of 1946, Don attended Morrisville College and took classes at Corning Community College. He was a drafting designer for Shepard Niles Crane and Hoist, American LaFrance, Corning Glass and World Kitchen.
The third ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the month arrives May 21 with another quick six fix headlined by the mighty Pepsi Big-Block Modifieds and joined by Speed Connection Sportsman, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock, Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock action and MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman along with the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Cars competing in the first of two CRSA tour events scheduled at the fairgrounds.
The upcoming CRSA showdown will be the 2022 series opener after Thunder Mountain Speedway was snowed out on April 22 and Penn Can Speedway fell victim to rain on May 6. Round two of the CRSA in Canandaigua is slated for Aug. 6. Check out the most updated info regarding the series, schedule, results and points by visiting www.crsasprints.com throughout the season.
Pit gates swing open Saturday at 3:30pm, spectators are admitted at 5 o’clock, hot laps start at 5:30 and the first qualifier goes green at 6:30 sharp on A-Verdi Storage Containers Night at the speedway.
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 all LIVE streaming will once again be offered FREE in 2022. On-line registration at https://landoflegendstv.com/orders/customer_info for a free account is the only step to take.
Land of Legends Raceway Quick Results – May 14, 2022
Seneca Meadows & Genesee Beer/Coors Light/Twisted Tea present Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard ($2,000), 2. 19-Tim Fuller, 3. 70a-Alex Payne, 4. 25-Erick Rudolph, 5. 21a-Peter Britten, 6. 11j-James Sweeting, 7. 3-Justin Haers, 8. 7z-Zach Payne, 9. 34-Kevin Root, 10. 23c-Kyle Coffey, 11. 14j-Alan Johnson, 12. 27z-Dylan Zacharias, 13. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 14. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 15. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 16. 19w-Justin Wright, 17. 33j-Robbie Johnston, 18. 7-Troy Sperring, 19. 88-Dave Allen, 20. 29ny-Greg Birosh, 21. 27j-Danny Johnson, 22. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 23. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger.
Seneca Meadows Hard Charger: Tim Fuller.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: A.Payne, Rudolph, Podsiadlo, Britten, D.Johnson, Johnston, Allen, Birosh.
#2: Z.Payne, Root, Sheppard, Fuller, Tegg, D.Johnson Jr., Zacharias, Sperring.
#3: Sweeting, A.Johnson, Haers, Coffey, Wright, Dinkins, Stoughtenger.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 12g-Matt Guererri ($750), 2. 132-Dalton Martin, 3. 18h-Justin Henderson, 4. 25g-Nick Guererri, 5. 32rs-Ryan Shanahan, 6. 64-Tyler Corcoran, 7. 38-Zach Sobotka, 8. 1m-Tyler Murray, 9. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 10. 31-Kane Bristol, 11. 9-Tim Baker, 12. 30-Nick Root, 13. 10-Karl Comfort, 14. 51-Tim Lafler, 15. 35-Nick Cooper, 16. 7-Paul Guererri, 17. 7j-JT Sperring, 18. 00-Sam Hoxie, 19. 21v-Tony Velez, 20. 36b-Brandon Grover, 21. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 22. 28-Mark Potter, 36-Jimmy Grant(DNS).
Seneca Meadows Hard Charger: Ryan Shanahan.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Sperring(DSQ)., N.Guererri, Murray, Martin, Shanahan, Cooper, Velez, Grant.
#2: M.Guererri, Borden, Baker, Root, Comfort, Bristol, Grover, Kimble.
#3: Sobotka, Henderson, Lafler, Corcoran, P.Guererri, Hoxie, Potter.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 53-Bobby Parrow ($500), 2. 38-Jason Whipple, 3. 29-Dalton Herrick, 4. 13t-Trevor Years, 5. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 6. 48a-Alysha Bay, 7. 22t-Tanner Emmons, 8. 18c-Dan Craun, 9. 18-Timmy Lotz, 10. 77-Matt Rotz, 11. 25h-Tyler Emmons, 12. 7w-Calvin Wheelock, 13. 23-John Smith, 14. 14-James Layton, 15. 66-Jordan Hutton, 16. 17e-Ethan Gray, 17. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 2-Randy Years(DNS).
Seneca Meadows Hard Charger: Alysha Bay.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Parrow, Smith, Gray, Herrick, Whipple, Griffin, Rotz, Ty.Emmons, R.Years(DNS).
#2: Ruggles, Lotz, T.Years, Ta.Emmons, Hutton, Craun, Layton, Wheelock, Bay.
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 87-Carl Johnson, 2. 93x-Nick Dandino, 3. 5c-Rick Crego, 4. 00-Mike Welch, 5. 55p-Parker Smith, 6. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 7. 36-Jimmy Grant, 8. 99-Adam DePuy, 9. 93-Jared Hill, 10. 510-Brad Steinruck Jr., 11. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 12. 63-Mike Fellows, 13. 9-Aksel Jensen, 14. 34q-Jason Quigley, 15. 24j-Marcus Springer, 16. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 17. 36ww-Jeff Hand
Seneca Meadows Hard Charger: Mike Welch.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Minutolo, Smith, Crego, Jensen, Hill, Springer, Metcalf, Fellows.
#2: Grant, Dandino, Johnson, Steinruck, Hobbs, DePuy, Quigley, Hand, Welch.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 2. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 3. 18-Wayne Ellison, 4. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 5. 90-Nathan Peckham, 6. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 7. 17jr.-Jamie Eldredge Jr.
Seneca Meadows Hard Charger: Wayne Ellison.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Peckham, F.Burnell, T.Burnell, Ju.Eldredge, Ellison, Minutolo, Ja.Eldedge.
MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (12 laps): 1. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 2. 42-Colby Adamczak, 3. 57-Justin Liechti, 4. 56a-Angel Sperring, 5. 31k-Kennedy Payne, 6. 55-Dillon Adamczak.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: C.Adamczak, Coffey, Liechti, Sperring, D.Adamczak, Payne.