By Tom Skibinski
CANANDAIGUA, NYThe cream once again rose to the top Saturday night at Land Of Legends Raceway as division point leaders Justin Haers and Mike Welch tightened their stronghold while Matt Guererri regained his advantage as they each scored their third feature wins in the stretch runs toward their respective season-long championships.
In contrast, Johnny Kolosek and Nate Peckham both registered their first victories of the ’22 campaign to end lengthy droughts as Geneva Club Beverage, Ballard Sports and VP Racing Fuels presented Prelude To SummerFAST at the historic Ontario County Fairgrounds clay oval.
After a three-year absence from the fairgrounds, 16 youngsters and their parents converged on the homestretch in a return of the popular Power Wheels races that featured a trio of 5-lap events. Jeter Vaughn (5 yrs) from Hopewell and Shelby Walker (5 yrs) from Phelps captured wins in the 3-5 years-old age group while Riley Hixson (7 yrs) from Stanley won the combined dash for 6-8 & 9-11 year-olds. Alani Everett (9 yrs) from Canandaigua was the lone racer in the 9-11 yr. bracket and was also presented a first-place prize.
In the fourth and final LOLR Wall of Fame installment for 2022, long-time racer Gary Tomkins was honored during special pre-race ceremonies highlighting his distinguished career spanning over 40 years in Canandaigua.
Debuting in 1981 steering a 1970 Plum Crazy Dodge Challenger in Canandaigua’s Amateur Street Stock Rookie division, Gary took his first checkered flag the following season as a Novice, then added a handful more to finish second in the final ’82 point standings. He ended his tenure in the full-fender ranks scoring six more wins competing as an Expert during the ’83 & ’84 seasons.
After a three-year stint as a crewman for Modified racer Johnny Birosh, Gary launched his open-wheel career big-time in ’88 with three Sportsman wins. Six more triumphs rewarded him with the ’89 track title yet it wasn’t until the 1991 season rolled around when he would officially declare himself a Big-Block rookie.
Behind the wheel of the Simmons Racing #32, Tomkins forever etched his name in the Canandaigua Speedway recordbook as he won his first Modified feature in August of 1992. He later teamed with car owners Bill Trout and Doug Dulen before earning the overall Mr. DIRT Championship aboard Jim Beachy’s prized Pillsbury no. 1 entry. Gary made his final trip to the fairgrounds fabled victory lane on June 25, 2016 and today ranks 7th all-time on the LOLR list 106 drivers strong with 52 Modified victories.
Authoring one of his most spirited runs in the Modified ranks, Haers continued his own climb up the career win ladder in Canandaigua as the popular Phelps chauffeur collected his 20th checkered flag to fall in 9th on the legendary list begun in 1953.
“We had a really good car, just the cautions fell at the wrong spot but it all worked out in the end,” remarked Haers, who is just two events away from capturing a second successive Pepsi Big-Block Modified title at the fairgrounds. “Awesome race coming from 15th that wasn’t easy tonight, to have all those good guys in front of me. Very happy that things worked out for us, great for our family and crew.”
For the second straight week Garrison Krentz took off at the initial start, this time charging past front row partners Greg Birosh and Ricky Newton to lead the headline 30-lapper. A quick spin in turn one the second time around by Robbie Johnston tightened the 24-car pack stacked with some of the best in the Big-Block business.
Back under green Krentz extended his advantage over Newton while three- and four —at one time five-wide!— racing was the norm for this true ‘Saturday Spectacular’ farther back in his rear-view mirror. A third of the way through, 11th starting Kyle Coffey had chased down Newton with only Justin Wright, Alan Johnson and Dave Allen separating high-flying Haers in his black no. 3 Honeoye Auto Parts-Phelps Cement Products-FLX Home Solutions/Bicknell entry.
The high-speed action continued non-stop with Haers grabbing fourth by the halfway point before veteran Pat Ward slid to a stop high in turn three to require the second caution on lap 20. Coffey wasted little time overtaking Krentz high out of turn two on lap 22 yet Haers’ bid to follow suit fell short when Birosh slowed down the front chute to force the third and final yellow flag from the hand of starter Scott Hixson with seven to go.
When green lights reappeared Haers was quick on the gas, ducking under Coffey across the stripe to complete lap 25 and secure a lead he would not relinquish. After falling from the point, Coffey slid high off the track rounding turns one and two to drop to fourth while the impassioned pair of Alex Payne and Peter Britten filled the hole just as fast.
At the line it was Haers cruising home for a commanding 10 car-length victory, his 13th Top-5 tally in 14 events at LOLR this season. After logging a pair of third-place feature finishes, rookie Payne gave a career-best runner-up performance ahead of bad luck Britten, Coffey, Johnson, Tim Fuller and Krentz.
“When they dropped the first green I was on the bottom and stuck down there, couldn’t move,” stated Haers, now in prime position to retain Canandaigua’s coveted crown with nearly a 50-point lead over Britten. Only show-up points will be awarded in Thursday’s Super DIRTcar Series mid-week special while double points are on the line August 27 in the last Saturday show when a Big-Block champ is declared.
“Finally I made a couple moves around some guys, was able to clear and get to the outside. As soon as I did there was a gaggle of cars with Fuller and Peter off (turn) four there and I was able to get to the top and then pass them.”
“Definitely gearing up for Thursday. Going back to the shop tonight, work to get this car turned around and ready. We’ll run our other car at Weedsport (Monday), just take it one race at a time,” added Haers, still in search of his first career SDS win at Canandaigua after falling four laps shy in the June 30 heart-breaker.
While Haers extended his lead in the Big-Block ranks, Guererri regained the top rung in the standings after a lap two crash knocked out Sportsman points leader Tyler Corcoran.
“You don’t want to see anybody have bad luck and you want to beat them on the track,” said Guererri, who entered the show 19 points behind Corcoran and tied with Zach Sobotka, then headed home 14 ahead of Sobotka and 21 out front of Corcoran with three point events remaining. “Tough luck for Tyler tonight but we were fortunate to capitalize with a win.”
J.T. Sperring edged past outside pole-sitter Mark Potter to kick off the 25-lap Speed Connection Sportsman feature yet his lead was short-lived following the lap two melee. Tim Baker got sideways between turns one and turn and with no room to escape, Corcoran slammed in to send his own mount airborne and ultimately behind pit wall for the night. Sobotka, Frank Guererri Jr. and debut driver Dave DiPietro II from Sanborn joined the scrum although all three returned to pick up at the rear of the field.
Potter returned the favor, vaulting past Sperring on the ensuing lap two restart, yet couldn’t hold back hard-charging Dalton Martin in a lap six exchange up front. Sperring looped his mount high out of turn one to bring out the yellow with recent Legends grad Kasey Coffey and Guererri shadowing the leaders on the lap eight restart.
Guererri grabbed second from Potter on lap 10 then tracked down Martin to make the winning move rounding turn four with 14 laps complete. And with 10 to go ’21 LOLR Street Stock points king Jimmy Grant seemed to appear out of nowhere, showing in third as he played the high line to perfection ahead of Potter and Coffey.
Grant finally disposed of runner-up Martin on lap 19 yet Guererri was well out of reach in his #12G Tradition Automotive Group-Mohawk Northeast-Sunset Bowl-Mojo’s Tavern/Bicknell machine as the Waterloo warrior’s margin of victory ballooned to three-quarters of a straightaway under the checkers. Making just his sixth Spt start, Grant settled for second ahead of Martin, Paul Guererri and Coffey.
“I feel bad for (Martin), he’s a good buddy of mine and been working hard at it trying to get a win,” noted Guererri, now with 17 career Sportsman wins at the fairgrounds to sit 10th all-time. Only Dave Marcuccilli (2015-18) has earned more than two straight Sportsman track titles and Guererri is first in line to make it three in a row.
“I was surprised, he likes the top (lane) like I do so I was hoping when he got the lead he might run the bottom for a few laps and we might be able to squeak by him. The longer the green flag run we had, the better the car was running on top, and in the middle we were pretty good at the end as well,” Guererri added.
Kolosek was simply good everywhere as the 21 year-old speedster finally shook off the gremlins to claim his fourth career victory in the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Main.
“This is awesome,” beamed Kolosek, who’s first three wins came in 2019 when he finished second in points to current leader Darryl Ruggles. “We’ve had a dark cloud over our head for awhile now so its great to come out here, get over it and bring it to victory lane.”
Todd’s Towing-Pet Passages Crematory teammates Tori Kaplin and Kolosek filled the front row to begin the 20-lap feature and it was rookie Kaplin sliding ahead in her #29T Maxim with the #10 J&J right alongside. The lead pair swapped spots on the lap three restart after Ethan Gray broke into turn three to incur the lone caution.
After Kolosek took over for good back under green, the Marion motorist methodically pulled away from the winged contingent building up nearly a straightaway advantage by the halfway mark. Alysha Bay battled with Kaplin in the early stages and took over second on lap 14 but even before the lap was scored it was Ruggles stealing away runner-up laurels as the trio crossed the line in tandem to the crowd’s delight.
Opening up a half-track gap on the competition by lap 15, Ruggles cut it to a ¾-straightaway deficit as Kolosek feathered the throttle in traffic during the closing circuits. Ladies Alysha and Tori finished next followed by Shortsville’s Jason Whipple, who was racing with a heavy heart after the loss of his father, Jesse Whipple, at age 75 the Sunday prior.
“This car has been great, we’ve definitely been dialing it in and I think we found the sweet spot tonight,” added Kolosek, after finding the winner’s circle in just his fifth event of 2022. “Could just stick it up there and go, that’s all you can ask for. Can’t thank Todd Kalpin enough for the opportunity and everybody else that helps out. This is just awesome, the opportunity is amazing.”
Grinding on the Canandaigua clay every week at age 56 seems normal nowadays for Welch, and finding his way into victory lane has become rather routine lately. Nothing short of amazing for the majority of racers competing at even half his age.
“The car was fantastic,” beamed Welch, as the Lyons veteran continued to tack on to his all-time track-best total of 85 full-fender feature wins in the Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock class. “The track was great as well, to have this much bite this time of the night … just hats off to Rich (track prep chief) and the rest of the Land of Legends team.”
Pole-sitter Aksel Jensen jumped out early ahead of Parker Smith and Nick Dandino as the 20-lap finale got underway in the final event of the night. A past Pure Stock winner at the fairgrounds still in search of that elusive first Street Stock triumph, Rick Crego rolled into the runner-up position while eighth-starting Welch cracked the front-five after a handful of laps.
Welch overtook Dandino followed by Crego on lap eight, then slipped under Jensen and the Rockstar Energy Drink No. 00 Chevrolet Camaro was on its way in the caution-free race that needed only 7-1/2 minutes to complete.
Jensen held on to finish a career-best second, although a straightaway behind, while Crego settled for third as Carl Johnson and late-charging Adam DePuy rounded out the top-5.
“(Aksel) was running a real good line, wasn’t sure if I could get by but he slipped up high a little bit there,” added Welch, who pocketed an additional $100 for winning the ‘Prouty’s Bar Bonus’ as he stopped Johnson’s recent win streak at two. “And everybody knows I’m a bottom feeder so when you do that you’re in trouble.”
Although its been a decade since Peckham last graced victory lane in Ontario County, the 52 year-old veteran from Seneca Falls had little trouble proving he still has what it takes to come out on top after winning the 15-lap Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock.
“Another (win) for the old guys,” quipped Peckham, who scored a dozen Street Stock wins at LOLR from 2005-12 before earning his first victory in Hobby competition. “Knew the high side was a little wet in turn four but the car worked well all the way around.”
Contending on both dirt and asphalt this season, Peckham nosed past Justin Eldredge on lap three and kept his blue #90 Peckham Racing Chevrolet Camaro up front for the duration as he held off fast-closing Marc Minutolo by three car-lengths at the wire. Eldredge, Tyler Burnell and his father, points leader Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., filled out the final front-five.
“On the dirt you gotta just drive it,” stated Peckham, who has a second Chevy Camaro saved solely for running pavement specials. In three outings on the ’22 New York Super Stock Series, three Top-10 finishes at Oswego (2) and Lancaster speedways have been the end result. “You can carry the car on dirt, not on pavement, got to be all ready with the right set-up when you get there. Its still fun to run both, especially when you can finish up front and have a chance. As you can see, no sponsors, I foot the bill. That makes it even better to pick up a win.”
SUMMERFAST ’22 UP NEXT
Super DIRTcar Series SummerFAST ’22 is set to kick off next week with a big four race swing through Central and Western New York. Weedsport Speedway opens with the rescheduled Hall of Fame 100 paying $10,000 to win on Mon. Aug. 15 followed by a trio of 60-lap $7,500-to-win main events at Brewerton Speedway on Tuesday, Fulton Speedway on Wednesday and Land Of Legends on Thursday. Max McLaughlin copped the SDS showdown in June at LOLR besting Justin Haers, tour points leader Matt Sheppard, Erick Rudolph and Stewart Friesen after 76 laps.
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 Big-Blocks and Sportsman in the third Gerald Haers Memorial Qualifier.
While there will be no racing at the fairgrounds this coming weekend, Tradition Automotive, Ontario County Fairboard and Vance Metal Fab present Big-Block Modified Season Championship Night on Aug. 27 with the headline division champ crowned. Speed Connection Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock, Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock and MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman complete the final show of the month in Ontario County.
Double points are on the line for Big-Block title contenders in their final ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the month when the 2022 champion is officially crowned. In quest of his second straight season championship, Haers leads Britten, 813-765, followed by all-time fairgrounds feature winner Alan Johnson (725) and north country traveler Fuller (682).
Practice sessions kick off on-track activity at 5:30pm and heat race qualifiers go green at 6:30pm. Pit gates open at 3:30pm and spectators gain admittance into the main 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 all LIVE streaming will once again be offered FREE in 2022. On-line registration at https://landoflegendstv.com/
Also available for download is the LOLR mobile app found at Google Play
In 2022 regular weekly ticket prices remain $15 Adults, $13 Seniors, Kids under 16 FREE. Pit Admission is $40 for all ages. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or cell 716-799-5669.
With the 59th season winding down in wine country, 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 – August 13, 2022
Geneva Club Beverage / Ballard Sports / VP Racing Fuels
present Prelude To SummerFAST
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 3-Justin Haers ($2,000), 2. 70a-Alex Payne, 3. 21a-Peter Britten, 4. 23c-Kyle Coffey, 5. 14j-Alan Johnson, 6. 19-Tim Fuller, 7. 56-Garrison Krentz, 8. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 9. 19w-Justin Wright, 10. 7z-Zach Payne, 11. 34-Kevin Root, 12. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 13. 42p-Pat Ward, 14. 27z-Dylan Zacharias, 15. 11j-James Sweeting, 16. 11n-Ricky Newton, 17. 33j-Robbie Johnston, 18. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 19. 88-Dave Allen, 20. f1-Nick Fratto, 21. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 22. 29ny-Greg Birosh, 23. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 24. 7-Troy Sperring.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Krentz, Z.Payne, Britten, A.Payne, A.Johnson, Dinkins, Zacharias, Sperring.
#2: Coffey, Birosh, Podsiadlo, Fuller, D.Johnson, Sweeting, Tegg, Lawrence.
#3: Allen, Haers, Newton, Wright, Root, Ward, Johnston, Fratto.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 12g-Matt Guererri ($750), 2. 36-Jimmy Grant, 3. 132-Dalton Martin, 4. 7-Paul Guererri, 5. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 6. 25g-Nick Guererri, 7. 38-Zach Sobotka, 8. 10-Karl Comfort, 9. 31-Kane Bristol, 10. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 11. 00-Sam Hoxie, 12. 30-Nick Root, 13. 18h-Justin Henderson, 14. 28-Mark Potter, 15. 51-Tim Lafler, 16. 35-Nick Cooper, 17. 7j-JT Sperring, 18. 68-Dave DiPietro II, 19. 21v-Tony Velez, 20. 36b-Brandon Grover, 21. 04-Eric Years, 22. 9-Tim Baker, 23. 64-Tyler Corcoran.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: P.Guererri, Grant, Bristol, Sperring, Baker, F.Guererri, Grover, Henderson.
#2: Martin, N.Guererri, Corcoran, M.Guererri, DiPietro, Lafler, Years, Velez.
#3: Sobotka, Coffey, Root, Potter, Comfort, Cooper, Hoxie.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 10j-Johnny Kolosek ($500), 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 48a-Alysha Bay, 4. 29t-Tori Kaplin, 5. 38-Jason Whipple, 6. 77-Matt Rotz, 7. 2-Randy Years, 8. 13t-Trevor Years, 9. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 10. 18c-Dan Craun, 11. 14-James Layton, 12. 17e-Ethan Gray.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Kolosek, Bay, Layton, Ruggles, Griffin, T.Years, Gray.
#2: Rotz, Kaplin, Whipple, Craun, R.Years.
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 00-Mike Welch, 2. 9-Aksel Jensen, 3. 5c-Rick Crego, 4. 87-Carl Johnson, 5. 99-Adam DePuy, 6. 57j-Nick Dandino, 7. 55p-Parker Smith, 8. 122-Chris Beyea, 9. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 10. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 11. 63-Mike Fellows, 12. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 18-Jeff Almekinder(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Welch, Johnson, Crego, Dandino, Smith, Fellows, Metcalf.
#2: Jensen, Beyea, DePuy, Hobbs, Almekinder, Minutolo.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 90-Nathan Peckham, 2. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 3. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 4. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 5. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 6. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 7. 61-Daniel Kerrick, 8. 86L-Alex Trautman, 9. 11k-Dan Korpanty, 10. 17a-Jon Almekinder, 11. 25BL-Kyler Lloyd, 12. 88-Justin Jacoby, 13. 22-Craig Dingy, 14. 55b-Blane Smith, 17jr.-Jamie Eldredge Jr.(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: T.Burnell, Peckham, F.Burnell, Trautman, K.Lloyd, Ja.Eldredge, Dingy, Minutolo.
#2: Ju.Eldredge, Kerrick, B.Lloyd, Smith, Korpanty, Almekinder, Jacoby.
UPCOMING EVENTS: Thursday Super Spectacular, August 18 @ 6pm; Honeoye Auto Parts, Seneca Auto Sales & Service, DC Rauscher Contractor, Monroe Tractor present Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified “SummerFAST 60” plus Gerald Haers Memorial Sportsman Qualifier #3 and Hospeace House Benefit.
Saturday Spectacular, August 27 @ 6:30pm; Tradition Automotive, Ontario County Fairboard, Vance Metal Fab present Big-Block Modified Season Championship Night plus Sportsman/305 Sprint/Street Stock/Hobby Stock and New Legends Sportsman and Rise Up Therapeutic Horsemanship Benefit.
*No Racing Sat., August 20.
Track Instant Info
Live Stream: https://landoflegendstv.com/