CANANDAIGUA, NY – What began as a blustery late afternoon turned into a whirlwind night for Kevin Root as the Geneva racer blew into victory lane for the first time in his career in the Pepsi Big-Block Modified ranks at Land Of Legends Raceway to close out a fantastic Ferris Mowers night of action at the fairgrounds.
“This is one of the best places to race at … I grew up here. Just can’t believe I got my first Big-Block win, its a dream come true,” beamed Root, 43, already an eight-time Sportsman feature winner, after becoming the 106th Modified winner at LOLR since the headline division’s inaugural show staged in 1953.
In two more tightly contest main events, Kane Bristol ended a three-year drought after capturing the 25-lap Speed Connection Sportsman feature while Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car winner Darryl Ruggles returned to victory lane after copping the season-opener in April.
Defending points champion Jimmy Grant posted his second win of the ’22 campaign in the Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock feature while Wayne Ellison made it 4 for 6 in the Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock class. Greenley George dominated the all-female field to claim her second trophy in the MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman finale to close out a sensational ‘Saturday Spectacular’ just as raindrops began to fall for a second time over the Ontario County oval.
“First of all, hats off to Paul Cole (LOLR promoter) and everybody at the track, amazing race, the way this place used to be,” remarked Root, noting the superb surface conditions that resulted in just four caution periods for minor mishaps in 122 laps of high-speed, side-by-side feature racing. “You could race top and bottom, I even felt good in the middle a couple times even in the slick. I know sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate but they did a wonderful job. They do give us the best they can and we appreciate that.”
Pole-sitter Robbie Johnston towing in from Lockport out-dueled front row partner Greg Birosh to launch the 30-lap Big-Block headliner, and five circuits later sixth-starting Root had his #34 F.X. Caprara Honda-Keizer Aluminum Wheels/Bicknell mount riding in the runner-up position wanting more. The non-stop action carried the cream to the front with Kyle Coffey dicing for second while Matt Sheppard stormed from 14th on the starting grid to fourth with 10 laps in the books.
Traffic became a factor halfway through as last week’s winner Tim Fuller, reigning track points king Justin Haers and second-generation standout Erick Rudolph joined the fray up front; Hears and Rudolph still in search of win number one on the season in wine country.
Root finally ducked under Johnston rounding turns three and four to lead lap 24 and the next time around Sheppard grabbed third from the early leader as Coffey maintained a strong second-place showing. Scorers finally received a break when Peter Britten suffered a flat left-rear tire to incur caution on lap 27, at the same time Sheppard suddenly stopping after a rear-end yolk broke in the driveshaft.
Despite the lone caution erasing Root’s seemingly comfortable advantage, the Geneva pilot was back on the gas with a clear track ahead when chief starter Scott Hixson flashed the green flag leaving only four laps to go. Fuller slipped under Coffey for second on lap 28 yet still fell a half-dozen car-lengths behind under the checkered flag with points leader Haers and Rudolph settling for Top-5 finishes.
“I’m not gonna go anywhere bigger than where we are right now, I know that and believe DIRT racing is where its at,” figured Root, who was joined by his son and Sportsman rookie Nick in their customary rooftop victory lane celebration. “Asphalt is for getting there and dirt is for racing. Not gonna say one win makes a difference but it certainly helps. Think a lot of it is momentum in this sport and we’ve been down so I hope this means more good things to come.”
“We did great in the Sportsman. Vinny Salerno gave me the most amazing opportunity to go Big-Block racing last year and I flat-out sucked. But it wasn’t for lack of effort. I have the best crew in the world, they work their asses off every day. Also gotta thank Scott Jeffery, I work for him but lean on him an awful lot and have a lot of great sponsors. Know I’ll forget everybody but I might not get here again,” added Root, as he rolled off numerous financial backers including Donath Motor Worx, Kevlar Racing Engines, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, Kosakowski Plumbing & Heating and Salerno’s Four Star Racing Products.
Himself in competition against Root when the newest Mod winner captured the LOLR Sportsman points championship in 2019, Bristol scored his last win that same year, making Saturday’s Sportsman triumph that much more rewarding for the Farmington favorite.
“Been a nasty last couple years, seemingly one worse than the next and always waiting for something bad to happen,” underscored Bristol, 37, after jumping from third to first on the current points chart with career win number nine in Canandaigua. “This year we’ve got some consistency, built off that momentum and it finally paid off. Tried something different tonight because these guys are so good around the bottom. Kinda stiffened things up to crash that top (lane) if it was there, and it was there and no one else was.”
Seven was the lucky number to begin the 25-lap Sportsman feature with JT Sperring (#7J) and Paul Guererri (#7) dicing for the ead. Sperring won out while Bristol bolted from six to first on the opening circuit to show his intentions early steering the potent #31 Flower City Glass-Schuler Haas Electric-Lynnie Lou’s Ice Cream/Bicknell entry.
Sperring pulled away from veteran Guererri in the initial stages yet once Bristol moved into second he quickly closed the gap on the first-place orange machine. May 7 winner Tyler Corcoran and rising star Nick Root chased the top trio at the halfway mark with season-opening victor Karl Comfort, Dalton Martin, brothers Nick and Matt Guererri giving chase as three-wide racing continued all over the track.
With just a single yellow flag slowing the Big-Block final, the caution-free Sportsman main supplied short time for Bristol to run down Sperring, but he ultimately forged the lone lead change as the pair exited turn two on lap 16. A quick move in traffic from fourth garnered Corcoran second-place a half-mile later yet Sperring took back the spot on lap 18. Corcoran regained runner-up laurels on the final lap but it was Bristol ballooning the margin to a dozen car-lengths at the stripe with Paul Guererri and Comfort securing front-five payouts for eight minutes of work.
“This (win) is huge,” stated Bristol, who finished second to Root in the final ’19 Sportsman points tally prior to struggling with coils as they went away from the bar cars. “You’re always thinking something’s going to break running the top side. I’m trying to clear my head up and rid all that negative stuff, just stay at it. 2019 was so good and when you’re not up here you’re deciding what you can do better. But this feels pretty close to what it did (in ’19) so far, hopefully we can continue and build from this.”
Still turning his ‘safety yellow’ #48jr. Stirling Lubricants-Champion Oil-Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling-VanBortel Trucking Eagle mount left every Saturday night at age 56, Ruggles doesn’t have much left to build on. After his latest romp in the 20-lap MEM A-Main, the Hopewell hustler has a LOLR-best 44 sprint wins along with six track titles in an open-wheel career matched by few at the fairgrounds.
“Started out the season with the old ‘weed’ car and this brand new one sat there in the corner and I just looked at it every week,” said Ruggles, who logged his first feature win at Canandaigua contending in the 1989 Expert Amateur Street Stock division. “My old car has been awful good to me but today I woke up and said the ole girl is going in the barn and I gotta get the new one out. This is the first night with this car, a brand new Eagle. Can’t thank Mike Mastin (engine builder) enough and so many others that help out with this deal every day of the week.”
Ethan Gray blasted from fourth to first on the opening circuit to set a blistering pace around the ultra-fast half-miler. Ruggles followed runner-up Craun with daughter Alysha Bay holding onto fourth with five laps complete.
Thomas Radivoy ducked into the pits and Brandyn Griffin slowed immediately after to bring out the first yellow flag on lap nine. The ensuing restart was just what Ruggles needed as he out-gunned Gray down the homestretch to secure a lead he would never relinquish.
Ruggles remained in command the second half of the race while Gray, Bay and Jason Whipple battled among the front-five in and out of traffic. Despite rookie Tori Kaplin slowing for a reported fuel leak on lap 18, Ruggles would not be denied as he still authored a convincing 10 car-length margin of victory under the final checkers.
“Kept trying to run the bottom, just wasn’t good there,” mentioned Ruggles, after collecting the $100 Prouty’s Bar Bounty bonus for stopping fifth-place finisher and points leader Bobby Parrow’s two-race win streak. “Had nothing to lose so I just sailed this baby to the top. Ethan was good tonight but this new car was just that much better.”
For the second time this season, 2021 Street Stock points champion Grant proved better than the rest as the popular Penn Yan pilot copped the 20-lap full-fender feature coming from sixth-place in the 17-car field.
“The car was really good, probably had more and shoulda drove a little harder but that (score) board saved me,” divulged Grant, who won the inaugural Ovens Memorial in early May and now has an even dozen stock car wins in Canandaigua. “Saw the double-zero (Mike Welch) and knew I had to lock down the bottom.”
Grant surged from sixth to second on lap one before sliding under early leader Parker Smith to complete lap eight in another caution-free finale. Welch filled in eighth on the starting grid directly behind Grant yet needed 13 laps to overtake Smith for the runner-up position. Josh Pangrazio followed Welch into third the next time around with traffic tightening up the top-three by lap 15.
The leader remained unfazed as the laps clicked off, pushing his black #36 Hands Performance & Powder Coating-Washburn Excavation Chevrolet Camaro across the finish line first followed three car-lengths back by all-time full-fender winner Welch, Pangrazio and CJ Guererri in his first race of the season. Smith faded to fifth in the late stages.
“Going down the back stretch I saw Bundy (Ron Metcalf) was swaying a little bit. Knew he was gonna hug the bottom and knew I had to go to the top but at the same time didn’t know how far back the guys were behind me. For the most part they all were great, went green to checkers and it was a lot of fun. Not racing for points is a great time, no pressure, just having fun and grateful for everybody that continues to help us out. Right now our goal is to win at five different tracks, and we’ll keep digging with the Sportsman car here,” added Grant, whose four wins in ’22 include trophies at nearby Outlaw Speedway and Ransomville out west.
With a smaller than expected field of Hobby Stocks signed in on Saturday, Ellison had little trouble leading flag-to-flag in the non-stop 15-lap main that took just five minutes off the clock. That turned out to be all the time the Geneva driver wanted to put his no. 18 Moracco Machining-Smith Drywall Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the winner’s circle for a track-best fourth time.
“With rotating the class (features) back-and-forth from first to last every week, it was really throwing us off,” admitted Ellison, after a dominating 3/4-straightaway victory over runner-up and defending points champion Justin Eldredge. “We spent the whole week trying to get this car ready for a slick track so I think we figured it out.”
Slated to start fifth in the eight-car feature, Ellison moved up to the point after the first and third-place cars of pole-sitter Jamie Eldredge Jr. and Daniel Kerrick were scratched following a hard crash in heat race qualifying that also sidelined Marc Minutolo for the night. From there, Ellison never looked back, running uncontested the entire distance ahead of Eldredge, Bubba Burnell, his son Tyler Burnell and WNY invader Chris Dziomba.
“Along with my guys Cory, Tim, Austin and Glen Peters, also want to thank the Eldredge crew. A lot of these parts on the car are from them … shocks, springs and stuff like that so I really appreciate the help. I’m really surprised, even after hot laps. I was worried about the car and every time we came on the track we made some changes. Figured its either gonna go or not, we can’t get any worse on this slick stuff,” Ellison said.
The 12-lap Legends race was all but decided as soon as the initial green flag waved, and when it was over George’s #26 Scotty’s Half Ass Bumper Service-Scott Stopa Attorney/Bicknell ride ran nearly a straightaway ahead under the checkers.
“(Car) felt great, tend to run the same lines as the regular Sportsman and Modified lanes and that’s how I normally get around here,” pointed out George, who won the ’22 opener on April 30. The second-generation driver from Wilson was no match for her female foes, taking top honors ahead of Angel Sperring, mother of Troy and JT Sperring, and Kennedy Payne, daughter of Eldon Jr. and brother of Alex Payne.
“I really wished Kennedy won, told her earlier you deserve to win tonight. But that’s how the scenerio goes sometimes, you don’t always get it done,” added George, despite Payne taking her first checkered flag in the night’s six-lap qualifying run.
The third ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the month arrives June 18 with the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Cars on tap for the first of two CRSA series events. Originally scheduled for May 21 at the fairgrounds, the top tour travelers will help comprise a big six-star car of Pepsi Big-Block Modified, Speed Connection Sportsman, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock, Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock and MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman action at LOLR.
The upcoming CRSA showdown will be round #4 in the 2022 title chase with Billy VanInwegen Jr. winning the opener in May at Weedsport Speedway, four-time CRSA points champion Jeff Trombley capturing the A-Main on home soil at Fonda Speedway and Jordan Hutton taking top honors Friday night at Outlaw Speedway.
A second visit by the CRSA contingent 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 Regional Truck & Trailer and Sherwin Williams Paint Night at the speedway.
In less than three weeks the Super DIRTcar Series makes its return to the Land of Legends when Big-Block Modifieds take center stage in the “Stars & Stripes 76” on Thr., June 30. The mighty Mod Squad will be joined in the holiday happening by Sportsman teams in their own Northeast Central Region Series event that also stands as the second Gerald Haers Memorial qualifier.
Canadian standouts Stewart Friesen and Mat Williamson top the current point standings ahead of Max McLaughlin, Sheppard and Jack Lehner, with Friesen and ‘Super Matt’ each capturing a checkered flag in the opening four Big-Block series stops. Britten and Friesen split Twin 60 SDS shows in Canandaigua last August while Sheppard dominated the 100-lapper in September.
Honeoye Auto Parts, Emerson Oil & Castrol Oil back the big DIRTcar doubleheader with a 30-lap feature closing out the companion Sportsman Series Shootout. The 7-race Central Region tour kicks off the night before (June 29) at Can-A m Speedway while Karl Comfort claimed the first GHM Spt qualifier at LOLR in April.
Pit gates unlock Thursday at 3:30 p.m., grandstand seating opens at 5 o’clock and practice sessions start at 6:00. Group time trials go off the line at 6:30 then opening ceremonies at 7:00 followed by qualifying races for both divisions.
Land of Legends Raceway Quick Results – June 11, 2022
Ferris Mowers presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 34-Kevin Root ($2,000), 2. 19-Tim Fuller, 3. 23c-Kyle Coffey, 4. 3-Justin Haers, 5. 25-Erick Rudolph, 6. 70a-Alex Payne, 7. 14j-Alan Johnson, 8. 7z-Zach Payne, 9. 42p-Pat Ward, 10. 33j-Robbie Johnston, 11. 21a-Peter Britten, 12. 11j-James Sweeting, 13. 7-Troy Sperring, 14. 29ny-Greg Birosh, 15. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 16. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 17. 11n-Ricky Newton, 18. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 19. 27j-Danny Johnson, 20. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 21. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 22. 21x-Matt Guererri, 23. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 24. 88-Dave Allen.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Root, Sheppard, Birosh, D.Johnson, A.Johnson, A.Payne, D.Johnson Jr., Newton.
#2: Fuller, Britten, Johnston, Z.Payne, Podsiadlo, Tegg, Guererri, Lawrence.
#3: Coffey, Sperring, Rudolph, Haers, Ward, Sweeting, Dinkins(DNS).
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 31-Kane Bristol ($750), 2. 64-Tyler Corcoran, 3. 7j-JT Sperring, 4. 7-Paul Guererri, 5. 10-Karl Comfort, 6. 12g-Matt Guererri, 7. 132-Dalton Martin, 8. 30-Nick Root, 9. 25g-Nick Guererri, 10. 38-Zach Sobotka, 11. 1m-Tyler Murray, 12. 18h-Justin Henderson, 13. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 14. 35-Nick Cooper, 15. 51-Tim Lafler, 16. 9-Tim Baker, 17. 21v-Tony Velez, 18. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 19. 36b-Brandon Grover, 20. 5-Brent Ayers, 21. 30m-Mike Root, 22. 28-Mark Potter, 23. 04-Eric Years.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: P.Guererri, N.Root, Henderson, M.Guererri, Sobotka, Velez, Potter, M.Root.
#2: Kane, N.Guererri, Cooper, F.Guererri, Baker, Lafler, Ayers, Grover.
#3: Sperring, Corcoran, Murray, Comfort, Martin, Borden, Years.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles ($500), 2. 17e-Ethan Gray, 3. 48a-Alysha Bay, 4. 38-Jason Whipple, 5. 53-Bobby Parrow, 6. 2-Randy Years, 7. 13t-Trevor Years, 8. 18c-Dan Craun, 9. 77-Matt Rotz, 10. 22-Tomy Moreau, 11. 10-Nathan Pierce, 12. 29-Tori Kaplin, 13. 14-James Layton, 14. 1Q-Thomas Radivoy, 15. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 18-Timmy Lotz(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Ruggles, Layton, Craun, Whipple, Griffin, T.Years, Parrow, Kaplin.
#2: Bay, R.Years, Radivoy, Gray, Rotz, Lotz, Moreau, Pierce.
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant, 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 7-Josh Pangrazio, 4. cj1-CJ Guererri, 5. 55p-Parker Smith, 6. 5c-Rick Crego, 7. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 8. 99-Adam DePuy, 9. 87-Carl Johnson, 10. 510-Brad Steinruck Jr., 11. 122-Chris Beyea, 12. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 13. 34q-Jason Quigley, 14. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 15. 24j-Marcus Springer, 16. 63-Mike Fellows, 17. 12s-Dakota Sharp.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Minutolo, Smith, Guererri, Welch, Quigley, Beyea, Metcalf, Steinruck, Hobbs.
#2: Johnson, Pangrazio, Grant, Crego, DePuy, Sharp, Fellows, Springer.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 18-Wayne Ellison, 2. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 3. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 4. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 5. 55d-Chris Dziomba, 17jr.-Jamie Eldredge Jr.(DNS), 61-Daniel Kerrick(DNS), 17j-Marc Minutolo(DNS).
Heat (6 laps)
#1: Ellison, F.Burnell, Ju.Eldredge, T.Burnell, Dziomba, Ja.Minutolo, Kerrick, Minutolo.
MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (12 laps): 1. 26-Greenley George, 2. 56a-Angel Sperring, 3. 31k-Kennedy Payne.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: Payne, George, Sperring.