CANANDAIGUA, NY – It took Erick Rudolph a dozen tries yet the second-generation standout from Ransomville persevered to capture his first victory of the 2022 season at Land Of Legends Raceway.
Justin Haers followed suit with near-perfect weather conditions during the ‘Saturday Spectacular,’ putting an exclamation point on a near-flawless season to garner his second straight points championship in the Pepsi Big-Block Modified ranks.
“Did all that we needed to do and got the job done,” remarked Haers, after emerging as the first repeat Big-Block champion during Paul Cole’s five-year promotional era at LOLR. The popular pilot from Phelps posted 15 Top-10 feature finishes in as many starts, adding a division-best three wins among 13 front-five tallies to secure the season-long crown.
“A lot of hard work from a lot of people so its pretty special to win two (titles) in a row. A lot of support from family and you can see I’ve got a big one out here tonight.”
With just one more week remaining to determine four more titlists, multi-time track champs Darryl Ruggles and Mike Welch also won to stretch their respective point leads while veterans Nick Guererri and Marc Minutolo returned to victory lane at the fabled Ontario Co. Fairgrounds oval. Highly touted teen Behr Grover closed out the big six-card show presented by Tradition Automotive, Ontario County Fairboard & Vance Metal Fab in the final event of the month in Canandaigua.
While Haers has earned the most recent point championships, Rudolph took top honors when Cole gained control of the Canandaigua clay in 2018.
“Hats off to all my guys, they provided me with a good racing car and we’re really proud to be back here,” downplayed Rudolph, 30, following his 13th career triumph in Canandaigua, tying Western New York legends Billy Rafter and Kenny Meahl from the early 1960s on the all-time win list. “Without a couple of those timely cautions I’m not sure we would’ve had a chance at all.”
Filing in 15th on the 22-car grid, Rudolph made the most of the tacky track conditions to weave his way to the front in methodical fashion. Daniel Johnson Jr. blasted by front row partners Troy Sperring and Ricky Newton on the opening circuit while fifth starting Gil Tegg Jr. maneuvered into second with six laps scored.
Halfway through the headline 30-lapper the lead duo had pulled away from the pack with Kevin Root and Kyle Coffey getting by Newton as Zach Payne and Alex Payne diced for rookie bragging rights close behind. Rudolph followed eighth running Peter Britten while Haers was mired in 13th with 15 laps still to go.
Alex Payne’s night suddenly came to an end on lap 20 when he caught the yuke tire down low entering turn two, shearing off the left-front wheel and sending his no. 70A Batzel’s Auto mount up the track directly in front of the on-coming pack. Britten was the first to make contact and somehow escaped a major mishap as did Rudolph, Tim Fuller, Alan Johnson and Haers before caution lights flashed for the first time.
Back under green, Tegg got stuck behind a siding leader Johnson to drop to fourth before Greg Birosh stopped at the turn three pit entrance to incur a second slowdown. The third and final yellow flag flew on lap 23 when Robbie Johnston spun in turns three and four.
The ensuing restart proved pivotal as Root grabbed the lead from Johnson and the relentless Rudolph mirrored the move to secure second immediately after. The lead duo pulled away over the final five laps and with just two to go Rudolph rocketed around Root exiting turn two before rolling under the checkers by a commanding six car-lengths to take home a $2,000 paycheck steering the #25 NMCC-Stirling Lubricants-Highmark BC/BS WNY-reVive Spine Center/Bicknell entry.
Root crossed the line second ahead of Coffey, Britten and Zach Payne, while Tegg settled for sixth in front of Fuller, points king Haers, Daniel Johnson and his uncle, veteran Alan Johnson.
“Don’t think we’ve seen a track like that all season so maybe it was a tough read for everybody,” figured Rudolph, now with 11 wins under the Cole regime. “Finally at the end there we got a little better read on it. Starting deep in the pack you got to be good all over.”
Haers was good but not good enough to track down the leaders, yet plenty good to claim the coveted track crown for a second successive season in wine country. He ended the ’22 points chase with 919 followed by Britten (888), Alan Johnson (825), Fuller (795), Root (747), Coffey (742) and top rookies Zach Payne (713) and Alex Payne (682). Rudolph (672) and James Sweeting (581) completed the Top-10.
“Wasn’t super great but better than a lot of guys in front of me, was just kinda hard to pass,” noted Haers, 42, parked alongside his prized no. 3 Honeoye Auto Parts-Phelps Cement Products-FLX Home Solutions/Bicknell ride on the homestretch. “The bottom (turns 1 & 2) had a hole so I didn’t want to go there and tear up anything, so I was really running part of the race track where I didn’t really want to be but it worked out alright. Once I got out in clean air I could maneuver around and pass a few cars. You could see Erick got up through there but Britten, Fuller and myself didn’t really go too far too quick.”
The Speed Connection Sportsman division continues to be the closest when it comes down to the weekly points race, and Guererri made it even tighter with his second victory of the season on Saturday. Heading into the double-points finale the first weekend in September, younger brother Matt Guererri (799), Zach Sobotka (795), Tyler Corcoran (779) and Paul Guererri (752) are the top contenders along with Nick, who now ranks fourth with 772.
“I knew we had a good car, was fast in (turns) one and two and knew they weren’t going to get by me in three and four so as long as I kept (car) straight I’d be alright,” stated Guererri, after a dominating half-straightaway victory over season-opening winner Karl Comfort. “Top and bottom (lanes) were slick but if you could get your car right through those bumps in the middle there was a lot of bite there.”
Guererri from Seneca Falls filled in outside row five among the 25 starters yet needed only 10 laps to move to the point. Pole-sitter J.T. Sperring paced the field early before Mark Potter grabbed the lead on lap six only to give it back to Sperring with eight circuits complete. When Guererri forged the final lead change, Comfort and Justin Henderson took over front-five spots each in quest of a second win during the ’22 campaign.
As Guererri was on cruise control with 10 to go, Comfort stormed into second followed by Sperring, Potter, Henderson and Tony Velez. It took Henderson only five more laps to take third just before the biggest wreck of the night stopped the action.
Coming down the front chute on lap 20 the #39 ride of rookie Kasey Coffey suddenly locked up and after turning sideways was slammed by Tim Lafler before another recent Legends Sportsman graduate, Justin Liechti, slid into the homestretch pile. No injuries were reported yet the Coffey and Lafler machines were done for the night.
Tony Velez spun low entering turn two to bring out the final caution on lap 21, and from there Guererri was home free wheeling his potent no. 25G The Young Agency-Rock Solid Services-Phelps Cement Products/Bicknell to the decisive win over Comfort, Sobotka, Nick Cooper, Tyler Corcoran and Matt Guererri.
“We started 10th … when we were going around during slow laps I was looking around at the bite,” divulged Guererri in the aftermath. “There was rough stuff in the middle but there was a lot of brown in it. So that’s where it stuck and the car held up for 25 laps and here we are.”
In Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car competition, Ruggles has been sticking like glue aboard his #48jr. Stirling Lubricants-Champion Oil-Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling-VanBortel Trucking Eagle throughout the entire season. On the brink of a seventh track title at his life-long home track, the Hopewell wingman has racked up a division-best five wins in 13 starts to lead daughter Alysha Bay, 682-624, heading into next Saturday’s double-points shootout.
“Thank you Mike Mastin,” exclaimed defending LOLR points champion Ruggles in victory lane following his all-time division-high 47th win. “This is the last motor he put together for me a couple months ago. Was one of Alysha’s old motors and she wanted it back. Tim Engler built a brand new injection system for this thing and its spot on. Can’t thank my crew enough for working the hours that we work to get this (car) together … this one is for Mike Mastin.”
Fourteen year-old rookie James Layton sprinted out front from his pole-position in the 20-lap A-Main yet it only took sixth-place starter Ruggles a half-dozen circuits to track down the talented teen and show his intentions. Matt Rotz grabbed second soonafter before 10th-starting Brandon Griffin took over the runner-up slot on lap eight.
Tori Kaplin stopped high in turn four to require the first yellow flag on lap nine and Jason Whipple turned pitside before the upcoming restart. Layton performed a slow spin on lap 11, slapping the front cement wall exiting turn four with Trevor Years taking evasive action to avoid a potential disaster coming down the front chute.
After Dan Craun got caught up sideways between turns three and four to send the field scattering both high and low with five to go, Ruggles had a clear track ahead with Griffin and Bobby Parrow hoping for a late-race miracle. There were no surprises on this night, however, as the ‘motorized madman’ stayed steady on course and forged a comfortable half-straightaway advantage at the wire. Griffin, Parrow, Ethan Gray and Years rounded out the final top-five.
“Never a lot of room out there, that’s why they tell me I’m goofy. If you don’t make your move early in this deal sometimes it takes you three or four times as long … then you sit there in the pits and go ‘damn, I should’ve tried something,” said Ruggles, also a Modified, Sportsman and Stock Car winner at the fairgrounds.
“Just gotta let it all lay out there and trust the (other) drivers. We’ve got a good group of racers, bunch of young kids that are really, really good. Just got to pick your line and stick with it. I’ve been fortunate,” Ruggles added.
Himself buckled in the cockpit of a full-fender race car since 2000, Welch increased his all-time LOLR win total to 86 after the Lyons driver outlasted Carl Johnson in the Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock feature that led off the show.
“This car was fantastic tonight,” blared Welch, after his fourth victory of ’22 established a near insurmountable lead heading into next Saturday’s points finale. “Don’t think anybody could ask for a better track. Kinda black and slick but also with a ton of bite in it and dust-free.”
Marc Minutolo took off early in the 20-lap main only to regroup after Ron ‘Bundy’ Metcalf slowed down the backstretch on the opening circuit. Back under green Welch needed only three laps to duck under Minutolo for the exchange up front, with Minutolo drawing a second yellow flag after suffering a flat right-rear tire.
Welch never flinched as the laps clicked off, pulling way from Nick Dandino through five laps, stretching the margin over Adam DePuy by the halfway mark, then keeping a distance ahead of Johnson with five to go despite three more cautions for minor mishaps giving the field hope.
The final nine laps ran non-stop affording Johnson marginal time to reel in the leader, yet at the line no one was better than Welch in the Rockstar Energy Drink No. 00 Chevrolet Camaro as the all-time LOLR leader closed in on his 11th Street Stock title.
“When you’re out front you always hear things,” said Welch, who leads Johnson in points, 816-748, with Rick Crego (680) next in line. “When I saw (Carl) was second I knew I just had to keep hitting my marks, just concentrate. I know we have a decent point lead now but in racing anything can happen so I don’t like to get too over-confident with that stuff.”
While Welch remains the all-time full-fender feature winner at the fairgrounds, Minutolo now ranks second overall all alone on the heels of victory #63 in the Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock division, once more behind the wheel of the no. 25B Real Estate By Jenn-Tradition Automotive-Big Mike’s Auto Repair Chevrolet Camaro.
“Its an honor to pass Steve Pesarek (62 Street Stock wins), he’s one of the most respected guys in the class,” reflected Minutolo, after dominating the field to score a straightaway win over Nate Peckham. “He’s one of kind for all he’s done in racing, just like my dad who has helped me out since day one.”
A yellow flag on the opening circuit for a flat tire by points leader Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell forced a complete restart after Burnell returned from the pits. From there Justin Eldredge in his Street Stock debut inherited the point with Daniel Kerrick, Minutolo and Tyler Burnell in tow.
Minutolo wasted little time surging forward, taking the lead on lap three with Burnell dropping Eldredge to third. Young Tyler’s chance for victory suddenly disappeared on lap seven as a broken front-end on the 57jr. Camaro forced him pitside on the hook. Peckham moved up to second and by the halfway mark Eldredge, Kerrick and the elder Burnell battled in the top-five.
And that’s the way it would end in the 9-1/2 minute main, moving the Newark pilot up another rung on the career win ladder with only Welch remaining in his way.
“Felt like I couldn’t do anything wrong, great right from the get-go,” asserted the four-time LOLR Pure Stock points champ after logging his third win of the season. “Don’t like to judge by the heats as there’s two different natures of the track, but I felt like I had something even in qualifying and knew the car was going to stick in the black. It helps running two classes here, can definitely take a lot of notes and try to figure out what the track is going to do from the beginning to end of the night.”
Only needing a start to take the title, the finish line is just one week away for ‘Bubba’ Burnell as the full-fender veteran currently leads his son Tyler, 810-726, with double-points awarded in the final regular-season ‘Saturday Spectacular.’ 2021 champion Justin Eldredge is next on the points chart with 706.
No points were on the line in the entry-level MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman class, yet the third effort of the season for late-arriving Grover was a perfect setting for the seasoned 13 year-old from Branchport.
“It was amazing, best we could’ve done,” affirmed the soft-spoken second-generation chauffeur who began racing go-carts at age four. He led flag-to-flag en route to the memorable 12-lap victory in the #30 Grover Property Group-Amanda Grover Real Estate/Bicknell car to forever save him space in the Land of Legends record book. “Just got better driving, got used to the car and all the speed carried into the corners.”
Prouty’s Bar & Grill presents Season Championship Night for the Speed Connection Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock and Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock divisions with Pepsi Big-Block Modifieds completing the Sept. 3 show that hosts a Colony Caregivers Benefit.
While Haers successfully defended his title in the final Big-Block points event of August, Matt Guererri (Spt) and Darryl Ruggles (305) look to do the same on Saturday, with Mike Welch (Sts) and Frank Burnell Jr. (Hob) topping the respective standings heading into their own double-points outing.
The first show of the month also features ‘Back To School’ night with the LOLR staff preparing 50 back to school bundles for the first 50 students through the General Admission gate. Race teams continue to donate toward these special packages, supplying backpacks filled with essential school supplies for give away on race night. To find out how your team can help contribute, please contact LOLR GM Tana Robinson on Facebook or text her at 716-799-5669
Hot lap sessions kick off the Sept. 3 program at 5:30pm and heat race qualifiers go green at 6:30pm. Pit gates open at 3:30pm and spectators gain admittance into the Ontario Co. Fairgrounds 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 heading down the stretch, be sure to follow all 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 27, 2022
Tradition Automotive, Ontario County Fairboard & Vance Metal Fab
present Saturday Spectacular – Modified Season Championship Night
Pepsi Big-Block Modified(DOUBLE POINTS)
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 25-Erick Rudolph ($2,000), 2. 34-Kevin Root, 3. 39-Kyle Coffey, 4. 21a-Peter Britten, 5. 7z-Zach Payne, 6. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 7. 19-Tim Fuller, 8. 3-Justin Haers, 9. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 10. 14j-Alan Johnson, 11. 42p-Pat Ward, 12. 28-Jordan McCreadie, 13. 7-Troy Sperring, 14. 19w-Justin Wright, 15. 56-Garrison Krentz, 16. 11n-Ricky Newton, 17. 33j-Robbie Johnston, 18. 11j-James Sweeting, 19. 66-Dan Wiesner, 20. 88-Dave Allen, 21. 70a-Alex Payne, 22. 29ny-Greg Birosh.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Allen, Wright, Britten, Haers, Sperring, Krentz, McCreadie, Sweeting.
#2: A.Payne, A.Johnson, D.Johnson, Rudolph, Root, Birosh, Ward.
#3: Fuller, Tegg, Coffey, Z.Payne, Newton, Johnston, Wiesner.
2022 Track Champion: Justin Haers
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 25g-Nick Guererri ($750), 2. 10-Karl Comfort, 3. 38-Zach Sobotka, 4. 35-Nick Cooper, 5. 64-Tyler Corcoran, 6. 12g-Matt Guererri, 7. 7-Paul Guererri, 8. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 9. 31-Kane Bristol, 10. 28-Mark Potter, 11. 68-Dave DiPietro II, 12. 02-Ken Welty, 13. 30-Nick Root, 14. 9-Tim Baker, 15. 57-Justin Liechti, 16. 7t-Mike Taylor, 17. 04-Eric Years, 18. 18h-Justin Henderson, 19. 21v-Tony Velez, 20. 36b-Brandon Grover, 21. 36-Jimmy Grant, 22. 39-Kasey Coffey, 23. 51-Tim Lafler, 24. 132-Dalton Martin, 7j-JT Sperring(DSQ).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Henderson, Lafler, Cooper, Sperring, M.Guererri, DiPietro, Liechti, Years, Martin(DNS).
#2: Sobotka, Potter, Velez, Bristol, P.Guererri, Corcoran, Root, Welty.
#3: Grover, Coffey, Comfort, N.Guererri, Baker, Grant, F.Guererri, Taylor.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles ($500), 2. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 3. 53-Bobby Parrow, 4. 17e-Ethan Gray, 5. 13t-Trevor Years, 6. 77-Matt Rotz, 7. 48a-Alysha Bay, 8. 121-Steve Glover, 9. 18c-Dan Craun, 10. 23-John Smith, 11. 10j-Johnny Kolosek, 12. 2-Randy Years, 13. 18-Timmy Lotz, 14. 14-James Layton, 15. 38-Jason Whipple, 16. 29t-Tori Kaplin.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Ruggles, Rotz, Gray, Layton, Parrow, Glover, Bay, Kolosek.
#2: T.Years, Craun, Griffin, Whipple, Kaplin, Smith, R.Years. Lotz.
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 00-Mike Welch, 2. 87-Carl Johnson, 3. 5c-Rick Crego, 4. 57j-Nick Dandino, 5. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 6. 93-Jared Hill, 7. 122-Chris Beyea, 8. 36-Willy Grant, 9. 9-Aksel Jensen, 10. 22-Carl Cleveland, 11. 39-Ely Mangiarelli, 12. 34t-Tommy Bowen, 13. 99-Adam DePuy, 14. 18-Jeff Almekinder, 15. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 16. 55p-Parker Smith, 17. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 18. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 63-Mike Fellows(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Johnson, DePuy, Dandino, Hobbs, Crego, Grant, Smith, Mangiarelli, Fellows, Eldredge(DNS).
#2: Welch, Minutolo, Jensen, Beyea, Hill, Metcalf, Bowen, Cleveland, Almekinder.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 2. 90-Nathan Peckham, 3. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 4. 61-Daniel Kerrick, 5. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 6. 17a-Jon Almekinder, 7. 88-Justin Jacoby, 8. 25BL-Kyler Lloyd, 9. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 10. 19-David Yehl, 11. 22-Craig Dingy.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: T.Burnell, F.Burnell, Minutolo, Eldredge, Peckham, Kerrick, Almekinder, Lloyd, Jacoby, Yehl, Dingy.
MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (12 laps): 1. 30-Behr Grover, 2. 31k-Cameron Nichols, 3. 08-James Coble, 4. 56a-Angel Sperring, 5. 31-Nick Ventura, 6. 51-Justin Sick.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: Grover, Sperring, Nichols, Coble, Sick, Ventura(DNS).
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, Sept. 3 @ 6:30pm; Prouty’s Bar & Grill presents Season Championship Night Sportsman(double points)/305 Sprint(double points)/Street Stock(double points)/Hobby Stock(double points) plus Big-Block Modified(non-point) with Colony Caregivers Benefit.
UPCOMING SPECIALS: Saturday Spectacular, Sept. 10 @ 6:30pm; “Full Fender Frenzy” 11th Les Whyte Top Gun Shootout Street Stock 40L-$1,000-to-win plus RUSH Late Models 30L-$3,000-to-win/Hobby Stock 20L $750-to-win with The KEYS Program Benefit.
Friday Fall Spectacular, Sept. 16 @ 7pm; Seneca Meadows presents 4th Annual Gerald Haers Memorial Weekend Stirling Lubricants GHM Sportsman Qualifiers/Empire Super Sprints 25L plus Pepsi Big-Block Modified practice.
Saturday Super Spectacular, Sept. 17 @ 6pm; Phelps Cement Products presents 4th Annual Gerald Haers Memorial Weekend Big-Block Modified Championship 100L-$10,000-to-win/Stirling Lubricants GHM Sportsman Championship 40L-$2,500-to-win with Disabled American Veterans Benefit.
Track Instant Info
Live Stream: https://landoflegendstv.com/