By: Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
CANANDAIGUA, NY – All-time Land Of Legends Raceway feature winner Alan Johnson continues to re-write the record book as he captured his 126th Pepsi Big-Block Modified checkered flag in truly ‘Saturday Spectacular’ fashion.
In his race against time, the Middlesex mainstay has now tasted victory in 48 consecutive seasons with 31 of those years chronicled at Canandaigua’s historic Ontario Co. Fairgrounds half-mile clay oval.
“We don’t get too many of these anymore. Its been awhile since I’ve been here so we’ll take this one,” smiled Johnson, 64, who cracked the winner’s circle for the first time ever at LOLR on May 3, 1975. The five-time track champion now owns over 550 wins at nearly 40 tracks in the U.S. And Canada with Canandaigua remaining his most successful site during the past six decades.
On the other end of the speedway spectrum, weekend warrior Brad Steinruck Jr. garnered his first career win at LOLR in the Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock ranks while full-fender veteran Wayne Ellison continued his mastery in Canandigua’s entry level Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock main event.
Talented teen Tyler Murray returned to victory lane at the fairgrounds with his second Speed Connection Sportsman triumph as did Bobby Parrow after his second straight victory in the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Main. Kasey Coffey provided another dominating performance in the MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman finale to close out a very special Saturday show presented by LSI Solutions.
Making its promotional debut at LOLR in 2022, LSI Solutions provided numerous prizes throughout the night to drivers and race fans, including Visa gift cards to all six feature winners —$250 (Mod & Spt), $150 (305, Sts, Hob, Leg)— valued in excess of $1,000. A 40” Samsung TV and $100 gift card were raffled off in a special giveaway for two lucky fans visiting the LSI table behind the grandstands during the show.
In conjunction with Saturday’s weekly 50/50 fund beneficiary Girl Scout Troop 60487, LSI donated two additional prizes that sent a pair of fans home with $50 Lowes and $50 Amazon gift cards. T-shirts were also given away as well as plenty of mementos at the LSI table including sockets, light up bracelets, pens, ear buds and matchbox cars for the kids.
Johnson authored another lasting memory for race fans on-line and in attendance, out-dueling ‘younger’ brother Danny Johnson in the early stages before fending off Erick Rudolph in closing out the 30-lap Modified main to collect the $2,000 top prize. He also earned the $100 ‘Prouty’s Bar Bounty’ after stopping Larry Wight’s —won the opening two shows before missing the May 14 event— streak at two.
“Good thing they grated (track), the rain did a number on it and it came out good,” remarked Johnson, after parking the trademark #14J Friendly Ford-Cargill-Conley Farms/Bicknell entry in victory lane for owner Mark Spoor for the first time in 2022. “Our car, we’ve been struggling real bad with it in the slick and the rain last night definitely helped us out.”
With light rain continuing to dampen the speedway surface up until 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon, the rough surface conditions that hampered heat race qualifying were remedied by feature time. Nonetheless, a turn one tangle between front row starters Marcus Dinkins and Troy Sperring on lap two initiated a rare red flag situation following the ensuing multi-car pile-up.
Gone from competition with just a single lap scored were Robbie Johnston, Zach Payne and Sperring while Gil Tegg Jr. logged just one more circuit before the early contact forced his mount pitside for the final 28 laps. Matt Sheppard survived the initial hit yet parked his car for good with a flat left-rear tire after just eight laps.
Torrey Stoughtenger inherited the point with Dinkins refiring to the rear yet it was Danny Johnson charging to the front on the lap two restart. Starting eighth on the 26-car grid, Alan Johnson improved to second five laps in followed by Kyle Coffey, Stoughtenger, Justin Haers and Wight.
A pair of yellow flags flew on lap nine to keep the field tight, first for Sheppard’s flat then Greg Birosh’s slowing car, with Dinkins causing another caution three laps later as he came to a stop high in turn four. The lap 12 restart proved pivotal as the brothers Johnson traded paint before ‘A.J. Slideways’ took command for good to settle the family feud.”
“We both got a good run on that restart,” noted Johnson, also a two-time Small-Block Modified winner at the fairgrounds. “You couldn’t go low as it was pretty slow so I went for the middle (lane). I think we both went for the middle there and rubbed a little. My car was just strong, came off turn two real good and we got the lead.”
“We’re limited on the equipment we have and you just can’t get (parts) anymore. And we want to get through the year. It was just our track tonight, could’ve been completely different and we could have been 10th again like we’ve been all year,” added Johnson, who posted 7th, 10th and 11th-place feature finishes at LOLR before finally finding the winner’s circle as the month May came to a close.
Despite AJ holding onto a comfortable 10 car-length advantage over Wight, Rudolph, Haers and Coffey through 25 laps, Rudolph suddenly found himself on Johnson’s rear bumper when Wight shredded a right rear tire with just three to go. Yet back under green Johnson pulled away with nearly a second separating Rudolph under chief starter Scott Hixson’s checkered flag.
Hears crossed the line third chased by new points leader Peter Britten while Danny Johnson settled for fifth-place in the final rundown. Coffey, Alex Payne, Garrison Krentz in his season debut, lap two crash victim Tim Fuller and Kevin Root completed the Top-10.
Calling Canandaigua his weekly home for the first time this season, Murray hauling in from Hannibal turned his dream into reality Saturday as he ran down Sam Hoxie then survived a late-race Zach Sobotka’s bid en route to the 25-lap Sportsman feature win.
“Told my girlfriend this morning when I woke up I had a dream that I was gonna win tonight so its a little deja-vous,” revealed Murray, 18, who turned race-long leader Hoxie’s chance for career win number one into a nightmare just four laps from the end. “There are so many people behind this deal, a lot of thanks to go around.”
“We were good but have been struggling a bit. Went back to all basics, kinda went back to the drawing board last week with Matt Caprara. He’s been helping me try a lot of stuff not being able to race two nights a week. So that’s helped translate into our program and hope that helps translate into his,” Murray figured.
Hoxie out-dragged pole-sitter Jimmy Grant to begin the feature while Murray rolled from seventh on the 26-car grid. The non-stop action finally slowed when a backstretch hiccup by Eric Years brought out the first yellow flag on lap 15. The sizable advantage for Hoxie was suddenly erased with frontrunners Tim Lafler, Sobotka, Justin Henderson and Murray given new life 10 laps from the finish.
Murray wasted little time back under green, darting into third on lap 16 then disposing of Lafler three circuits later. Navigating on the high side, Murray bolted by Hoxie exiting turn two to forge the final lead change on lap 22. In pursuit of another solid top-five run, Dalton Martin’s night came to end as his broken mount slid high off turn one to incur the last caution with two to go.
After grabbing third from Lafler on lap 23, Sobotka seized second from Hoxie on the lap 24 restart yet a last lap dash fell just a car-length shy of Murray’s red #1M Lightning Management-Scott Jeffery’s Performance Plus-Donath Motor Worx-99 Line Performance Enhancements/Bicknell at the wire.
“Was trying to look around not really looking at the (score) board but I knew (Sobotka) was in third and I figured he would try the top,” added Murray, who ironically posted his first win at LOLR in a last-lap, last-corner slide job under Sobotka in the 2020 DIRTcar OktoberFAST. After leading 29-1/2 laps, Sobotka settled for second in the Oct. 10 heartbreaker, yet could not turn the table on Saturday.
“Driving into turn one after that last yellow my car went in and stumbled. Then I thought I was gonna get driven underneath. Fortunately we were able to hold on for the win,” said Murray, who vaulted from 9th to 4th in the point standings while Sobotka climbed to the top in search of his first crown.
Hoxie still posted a career-best third-place finish followed by Lafler and 17th-starting Matt Guererri, who stole fifth from young Nick Root at the stripe. Kane Bristol, Henderson, Nick Guererri and Timmy Borden Jr. rounded out the Top-10.
Needing 16 laps to take the lead two weeks earlier, Parrow moved Tom Fletcher’s #53 Hand’s Performance-powered GF1 sprinter to the point after just six times around the hallowed half-miler to score his second straight victory.
“Got a lot of good help, a perfect crew,” declared Parrow, on the heels of his sixth career 305 win in Canandaigua. “Tom does a great job for us all and Jeff Hand built the motor that’s been outstanding so far, spot on.”
Looking for a top finish after three disappointing weekends at LOLR, Ethan Gray took charge early ahead of front-row partner Tim Lotz and Matt Rotz. Contact out of turn four between Dan Craun and Alysha Bay —nursing a sore foot after a heat race brush with Craun— ended with Craun on his side down the frontstretch and Bay parked in the infield to necessitate the first red flag of the night with four laps run.
Parrow was the first to pounce on the lap five restart, blasting from fourth to second before ducking under Gray in turn four on his way to the $750 payday. Halfway through the 20-lap affair Parrow’s margin was three-quarters of a straightaway over runner-up Gray and Rotz while Darryl Ruggles and Jason Whipple came next in the best battle of the race.
Less than a mile from the finish, John Smith slowed out of turn two to slow the action yet that only delayed the inevitable as Parrow forged ahead for a convincing five car-length victory at the line followed by Gray, Rotz, Whipple and Ruggles.
“That red flag wasn’t really a factor, the longer the race went the faster the car got I felt,” added Parrow, who overtook Brandyn Griffin in the points chase. “Track was real good. Around the top, around the middle, you could run pretty much anywhere you wanted to.”
While Alan Johnson added to his track-best win total on Saturday, Steinruck emerged as the newest entry in the record book after see-saw battles with fellow second-generation foe Parker Smith and Canandaigua’s all-time stock car winner Mike Welch.
“I just didn’t let off, stayed on the gas the whole time around the top,” stated second-generation chauffeur Steinruck, 27, who’s father Brad Sr. netted four Pure Stock wins at the fairgrounds from 2011-15. Brad Jr. actually took the checkered flag last June before an illegal rear spring location was discovered in the customary post-race inspection.
On Saturday there was no denying the final outcome as the Watertown wheelman had his #510 Dirty Deeds Janitorial-Loomis Farms-D&M Grocery Chevrolet Camaro dialed in from the start in arguably the most competitive feature of the night.
It all started with Parker Smith leading the opening circuit before Steinruck nosed ahead the second time around in the 20-lap headliner. Smith regained the point on lap three before suddenly slowing under yellow on lap seven to turn the top spot back over to Steinruck.
With the green flag flying it was Welch’s turn to lead on lap eight as he slid under Steinruck as the pair circled turns three and four. They ran side-by-side down the front chute in a crowd-pleasing effort on lap 12 before Steinruck took control seemingly for good the next time around.
Two more cautions after spins by Marcus Springer (lap 13) and Patrick Hobbs (lap 17) kept the field bunched yet Steinruck failed to flinch on either restart. Staring 10th on the 19-car grid, recent winner Carl Johnson joined the fray but fell two car-lengths short in a dramatic last lap surge. Welch placed third ahead of Marc Minutolo and Rick Crego.
“Can’t thank my dad enough, he busts his ass on this car everyday,” beamed Steinruck, in a fitting tribute during Memorial Weekend as he dedicated his first win to the service men and women who fought and continue to represent our country. Steinruck himself serves in the U.S. Navy as an active recruiter in Watertown while the car is stationed throughout the week with his father in Waterloo. “Dad and mom are actually camping tonight so they’re probably watching it.”
The race season is only a month old at LOLR yet Ellison is already recognized as the hottest driver with three wins in four starts, easily pacing the Hobby points chart heading into June. Yet his latest triumph was filled with drama as mechanical failure with a a handful of laps to go nearly ended any chance of returning to victory lane.
“Could see sparks coming up but I didn’t think it was that bad,” admitted Ellison, after the Waterloo pilot still cruised home for an uncontested 3/4-straightaway victory over Nate Peckham in the 15-lap finale. The mini light show came as a result of the upper ball joint shaft snapping in half and the wheel rim hitting the upper control arm. “We spend more time working on the right side of the car and I’ve heard some rumors that that you don’t really need the left front. Well, I think that’s the proof right there because that thing is cranked sideways.”
Pole-sitter Jamie Eldredge Jr. lost the lead to Bubba Burnell on lap two while ninth starting Ellison never let off the gas until he got out front on lap eight. Brian Lloyd stopped high in turn three to incur caution on lap 11 and despite visible mechanical issues affecting his #18 Moracco Machining-Smith Drywall Chevrolet Monte Carlo, nothing could keep him away from a final destination in the winner’s circle.
“Noticed (front end) just before that caution, like we had about five laps to go,” Ellison recalled. “Bubba pulled up next to me and was pointing at it. Knew it but figured I’d give it a couple laps and if it felt like it was darting around then I’d pull to the infield. Crazy as it sounds, actually felt faster and to be honest, didn’t really feel it pull one way or the other.”
Burnell chased Peckham to the finish followed by reigning division points king Justin Eldredge and birthday boy Jamie Eldredge Jr. while Casey Wagner placed sixth shaking down Shawn Lloyd’s no. 86L Monte Carlo.
On paper the odds may have been stacked against him but once on the track Coffey was easily the pre-race favorite. The lone male in the field, the fearless 14 year-old from Caledonia led flag-to-flag to claim his second entry-level Legends Sportsman feature steering the potent #32C Carl Myers Enterprises-CoffeyMcCreadie Enterprises-Stirling Lubricants/Bicknell machine.
“Just feeling more comfortable in the car every lap,” said Coffey, who out-distanced Angel Sperring, Kennedy Payne and Greenley George in the 12-lap event designed for up-and-coming drivers. “Trying to figure out the line in the track so when we move up will be better in traffic instead of just being fast on an open track.”
Land of Legends Raceway Quick Results – May 28, 2022
LSI Solutions presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 14j-Alan Johnson ($2,000), 2. 25-Erick Rudolph, 3. 3-Justin Haers, 4. 21a-Peter Britten, 5. 27j-Danny Johnson, 6. 23c-Kyle Coffey, 7. 70a-Alex Payne, 8. 56-Garrison Krentz, 9. 19-Tim Fuller, 10. 34-Kevin Root, 11. 28-Jordan McCreadie, 12. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 13. 11j-James Sweeting, 14. 99L-Larry Wight, 15. 27z-Dylan Zacharias, 16. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 17. 88-Dave Allen, 18. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 19. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 20. 19w-Justin Wright, 21. 29ny-Greg Birosh, 22. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 23. 7-Troy Sperring, 24. 33j-Robbie Johnston, 25. 7z-Zach Payne, 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr.(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Sweeting, Dinkins, Johnston, Haers, Z.Payne, Sheppard, Wright, Krentz, D.Johnson Jr.(DNS).
#2: Stoughtenger, Tegg, A.Johnson, Sperring, Britten, McCreadie, Root, Birosh, Zacharias.
#3: D.Johnson, A.Payne, Rudolph, Coffey, Fuller, Wight, Podsiadlo, Allen.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 1m-Tyler Murray ($750), 2. 38-Zach Sobotka, 3. 00-Sam Hoxie, 4. 51-Tim Lafler, 5. 12g-Matt Guererri, 6. 30-Nick Root, 7. 31-Kane Bristol, 8. 18h-Justin Henderson, 9. 25g-Nick Guererri, 10. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 11. 7-Paul Guererri, 12. 64-Tyler Corcoran, 13. 7j-JT Sperring, 14. 32rs-Ryan Shanahan, 15. 35-Nick Cooper, 16. 10-Karl Comfort, 17. t69-Travis Green, 18. 9-Tim Baker, 19. 21v-Tony Velez, 20. 04-Eric Years, 21. 132-Dalton Martin, 22. 36b-Brandon Grover, 23. 30m-Mike Root, 24. 36-Jimmy Grant, 25. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 28-Mark Potter(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Henderson, Grant, Baker, N.Root, Corcoran, Bristol, F.Guererri, Green, Grover.
#2: Lafler, Murray, P.Guererri, Hoxie, Martin, Comfort, Shanahan, M.Root, Potter.
#3: Sobotka, Borden, N.Guererri, Sperring, M.Guererri, Cooper, Velez, Years.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 53-Bobby Parrow ($500), 2. 17e-Ethan Gray, 3. 77-Matt Rotz, 4. 38-Jason Whipple, 5. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 6. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 7. 66-Jordan Hutton, 8. 18-Timmy Lotz, 9. 13t-Trevor Years, 10. 2-Randy Years, 11. 33-Scott Landers, 12. 4t-Ray Preston, 13. 14-James Layton, 14. 23-John Smith, 15. 48a-Alysha Bay, 16. 18c-Dan Craun.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Hutton, Landers, Layton, Gray, Ruggles, Smith, Bay, Craun.
#2: Parrow, Whipple, Lotz, Rotz, Griffin, Preston, T.Years, R.Years(DNS).
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 510-Brad Steinruck Jr, 2. 87-Carl Johnson, 3. 00-Mike Welch, 4. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 5. 5c-Rick Crego, 6. 99-Adam DePuy, 7. 9-Aksel Jensen, 8. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 9. 93x-Ely Mangiarelli, 10. 122-Chris Beyea, 11. 93-Jared Hill, 12. 24j-Marcus Springer, 13. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 14. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 15. 57j-Nick Dandino, 16. 55p-Parker Smith, 17. 36-Jimmy Grant, 18. 63-Mike Fellows, 34q-Jason Quigley(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Minutolo, Steinruck, Smith, Welch, DePuy, Crego, Jensen, Fellows, Beyea, Grant.
#2: Dandino, Johnson, Sharp, Mangiarelli, Hobbs, Hill, Metcalf, Quigley.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 18-Wayne Ellison, 2. 90-Nathan Peckham, 3. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 4. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 5. 17jr.-Jamie Eldredge Jr., 6. 86L-Casey Wagner, 7. 17a-Jon Almekinder, 8. 61-Daniel Kerrick, 9. 19-David Yehl, 10. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 11. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 12. 54m-Scott Mack.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Peckham, Ja.Eldredge, Ju.Eldredge, Lloyd, Yehl, Kerrick(DNS).
#2: Ellison, F.Burnell, T.Burnell, Wagner, Almekinder, Mack.
MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (12 laps): 1. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 2. 56a-Angel Sperring, 3. 31k-Kennedy Payne, 4. 26-Greenley George.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: Coffey, Sperring, George, Payne.