By Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
CANANDAIGUA, NY – The wave of first-time winners continued to crash the Canandaigua coast Saturday night as James Sweeting thundered to the popular Pepsi Big-Block Modified victory at Land Of Legends Raceway.
“Gonna go back and have a couple cocktails, just enjoy this one with friends and family,” smiled Sweeting, 24, after becoming the 110th Modified winner since the Ontario County Fairgrounds first hosted stock car racing in 1953. “Have to thank everybody, my dad and mom over there, that lets me put as much time in as I do. I’m speechless right now, hard for me to come up with the words, just really fun.”
Veteran wingman Dalton Herrick matched Sweeting’s riveting run throughout the A-Verdi Storage Containers CRSA Series powered by SuperGen Products A-Main, also taking his first checkered flag at the fairgrounds in the DisBatch Brewing Company Challenge finale for MighTea Boba 305 Sprint Cars.
With reps from program sponsors Regional Truck & Trailer, Auto Value Parts Stores and the Ontario County Fairboard enjoying the action-packed show that perpetuated the track’s storied 70th Anniversary season, Zach Sobotka (Stirling Lubricants Sportsman) and Tyler Burnell (Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock) scored their second wins of 2023 while Jimmy Grant (Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock) notched win number eight in his compelling Canandaigua campaign.
Helping kick off the final full month of racing at LOLR, a fearless group of 14 youngsters and their parents converged on the frontstretch in a return of the Power Wheels races that featured twin 5-lap events. Grayson Beyea (4 yrs) from Shortsville in the #122 entry captured the win in the 4 years-old and under age bracket while Riley Hixson (8 yrs) from Stanley bested four foes in round two to claim the non-stop dash for 5-8 year-olds steering a miniature black Corvette.
Making his own LOLR debut as a fast moving 15 year-old, Sweeting has had plenty of seat time circling the hallowed half-miler since 2014. His first-ever feature win in the mighty Big-Block Mod division was easily the “sweetest” for the persevering pilot from Brockport after seven straight years of weekly summer stops in Canandaigua.
“Feels pretty good. We’ve worked our tail off for a long time coming here, just really don’t know what to say,” remarked Sweeting, a three-time winner in the entry level Legends Sportsman class before tallying his lone Sportsman triumph at LOLR in 2015. After joining the Big-Block brotherhood in 2017, he climbed to sixth in points on the 2019 points chart, garnering his initial two Mod wins (2021 & ’22) at Ransomville (NY) Speedway in small-block competition. “Just want to get back to the pits and celebrate with family and friends.”
Sweeting started the 30-lap Modified main alongside pole-sitter Dalton Martin, who paced the field for the opening two circuits. Sweeting edged ahead of the rookie as the pair crossed the line on lap three, with Kevin Root, Danny Johnson and Kyle Coffey chasing in the early going.
Root improved to second with eight laps complete before Gil Tegg Jr. slowed down the homestretch to force the first pause on lap 11. Young Daniel Johnson Jr. incurred the second setback on lap 22 giving Root another shot at the leader while Danny Johnson, Justin Haers and Alan Johnson moved closer into contention.
Upstart Alex Payne was just as quick, charging into fourth with still five laps left. When runner-up Root suddenly slowed off the pace on lap 27 with a broken right-rear shock, Payne advanced to third and rolled past Johnson with two to go.
Torrey Stoughtenger slowed to bring out the final yellow flag on lap 29 to set up a thrilling two lap dash to the finish. Payne pounded the pedal back under green, riding the cushion high out of turn one before Sweeting slammed the door shut one final time rounding the second corner steering his strong no. 11J Sweeting Asphalt Paving-Hul-Way Landscaping-Eagle Diner/Troyer machine.
At the line it was Sweeting holding on for the narrow victory while two-time defending track champion Justin Haers slipped past Payne to steal second on the last lap. Danny Johnson settled for fourth while a post-race weight infraction dropped Alan Johnson from fifth to last, rewarding Coffey with a fourth top-five tally.
“It was fun, I like to stay up front and starting second helped,” added Sweeting, after becoming the fourth first-time Big-Block winner and eighth different driver to reach victory lane this season. “Found that lane early and just figured I feel pretty good up there. Just keep it straight and keep the tires on me, figured it was gonna be pretty hard for them to get around me. They tried some silly stuff up there but I wasn’t gonna let that s— happen.”
A phrase often said is its better to be lucky than good. Herrick was both on Saturday after leading every lap to ultimately outlast track and tour favorite Jordan Hutton and capture his first-ever A-Main in Canandaigua.
“Finally got a good draw tonight and got a good starting spot,” noted Herrick, 33, the 2012 CRSA rookie of the year from McDonough after becoming the 10th tour winner in 19 events run at the fairgrounds. “We got lucky, let’s be real, when we’re here Jordan’s got the car to beat. We just got to the front first tonight.”
A track record 30 CRSA entries signed in on July 22, yet that mark only stood for two weeks as a near all-time tour mark of 32 winged warriors packed the pits on Saturday for the DisBatch Brewing Company Challenge finale. While Hutton won the fourth and final heat, Herrick placed third in the first qualifier yet drew #1 among the top-12 from the preliminary events.
Fourth starting Hutton needed just five laps to grab second and that set up match point for the remaining 15 circuits: Defending CRSA champion Herrick vs. Hutton, current high point man in both CRSA and LOLR standings and winner of the first two traveling shows contested at Canandaigua.
Canandaigua staples Darryl Ruggles (lap 5) and Adam DePuy (lap 8) slowed to bring caution in the early stages before a rollover by Tim Lotz prior to the halfway mark required a red flag to clear his wreckage in turns one and two. Back under green Herrick opened a commanding lead, yet as the laps clicked off growing traffic gained significance in determining the final outcome, allowing Hutton to show his nose for the first time entering turn one on lap 17.
Herrick never flinched yet a sudden hesitation out of turn two to avoid contact with the lapped car of John Smith forced Hutton to hop the right-rear tire of Herrick’s #29 Get A Grip Sign Co.-Riverside Redemption Ctr-Old Iron Automotive/Eagle and the race was all but decided with less than three miles to go. Herrick fell back a dozen car-lengths at the stripe with Bobby Parrow, Thomas Radivoy and southern tier chauffeur Scott Landers settling in among the front-five.
“Kinda had a slow start to the year and finally got one here, where I’d like to say we typically struggle but we’ve been really good this year for some reason,” added Herrick, whose finishes in May (2nd) and July (3rd) were a close second only to Hutton who won both features. Herrick’s seventh career CRSA checkered flag was worth $1,000, with another $100 in his pocket after earning the Prouty’s Bar bonus for stopping Herrick’s latest fairgrounds win streak. “Lapped cars were a little spooky, but got real lucky, whenever we got to traffic just kept getting a caution.”
Remaining humble even in defeat, Hutton applauded Herrick’s success while expressing his own disappointment after a rare runner-up finish at the fairgrounds.
“I’m not going to lie to everyone, no one is ever pleased to get second. When we come here, we try to win them all,” stated Hutton, who earned $300 for winning the inaugural DisBatch Brewing Co. Challenge mini-series, edging Herrick ($250) 508-503 in the final points tally. Parrow ($200/487pts), Radivoy ($150/481pts) and Frenchman Tomy Moreau ($100/463pts) also shared in the prize package to be distributed at the season-ending banquet Dec. 2 at Vernon Downs Hotel & Casino.
“If you want to be the best there is, you’ve got to believe that you are. Tonight Dalton was better than us. I had a shot with two (laps) to go but that lapped car went low then slid to go high and I jumped his right-rear and that pretty much took me out of it,” added Hutton, who also leads Herrick by a count of 1474-1450 in the overall CRSA points chase through nine events.
While Hutton ran out of room in the 305 feature, runner-up Nick Cooper ran out of laps and in the end it was reigning division points king Sobotka matching Cooper as the only two-time winners in Canandaigua’s ultra-competitive Sportsman division.
“(Lapped cars) were running both grooves and this car was pretty hooked up wherever I wanted to put it,” stated Sobotka, after extending his current points lead by 20 over two-time champ Matt Guererri, 585-565. “I was running around the bottom in (turns) one and two, saw Nick was coming up through there so I figured he was on top. Knew the top was pretty good in three and four but it was pretty tough to decide where he’d be in one and two. So I kinda just stuck to my line because I knew it was pretty quick.”
Sobotka lined up 10th on the 20-car starting grid yet after a lap one chain-reaction that stacked up the field, the Parish pilot had his #38 Stirling Lubricants-Mohawk Northeast-Under Or Above Construction/Bicknell mount scored third anxiously awaiting the ensuing lap two restart. Pole-sitter JT Sperring suffered mechanical issues at the drop of head flagman Scott Hixson’s initial green flag, sending the Williamson racer backwards just as fast before eventually regrouping to place 10th.
When green flag racing resumed, Frank Guererri Jr. sped past opening lap leader Greenley George with Sobotka in close pursuit. Three laps later Sobotka executed a perfect slide job exiting turn four, starting low then shifting high in one quick swoop to forge the final lead change with still 20 to go in the headline 25-lapper.
Cooper found himself among the Top-10 after the first lap mayhem and while flying high around the outside of the fast fairgrounds oval had reached the front-five with a half-dozen laps in the books. As the last 24 laps ran off non-stop, Cooper crept closer to the front with each completed circuit.
In a bold three-wide maneuver navigating through turn four and sandwiching the lapped car of Greg Crooker, Cooper swept around Guererri to grab second on lap 21. The final four circuits forced fans to the edge, only setting them back in their seats after a single car-length separated Sobotka and Cooper at the wire. Frank Guererri, Paul Guererri, Nick Root and Matt Guererri came next.
“(Win) is a good thing for our championship run but I try not to really pay too much attention to it,” downplayed Sobotka, in search of a second straight crown in Canandaigua with just three Saturday point shows remaining. “We come here weekly trying to figure out some stuff for the bigger races, like Super DIRT Week coming up. Getting another (title) would be just as good.”
A second Canandaigua season championship is also in the grasp of Street Stock ace Grant after the Penn Yan driver dominated for a sixth straight week to give him a track-best eight feature wins in 2023.
“We’ve been real fortunate, its a blessing really. I’m just really grateful and thankful for all this,” said Grant, who now holds a 100-point lead after winning 80% of the features run this season in LOLR’s top full-fender division. “I knew the car was good. This thing is a pleasure to drive, couldn’t ask for a better race car.”
Marc Minutolo led the caution-free 20-lap feature for half the distance before Grant took command for good on lap 11. Falling in ninth on the field, Grant was sixth after just two laps and rocketed into third through five circuits aboard the unflappable #36 Nardozzi-Fratto Curbing-Washburn Excavating-Geneva Glass Chevrolet Camaro.
Grant remained relentless, blasting high around runner-up CJ Guererri in turn four on lap seven then overtaking Minutolo two miles later as the lead pair crossed under the starter’s stand. It was all cruise control after that as Grant stretched the margin to a half straightaway over Minutolo, followed by Mike Welch, Guererri and Carl Johnson on the final scoresheet.
“I was actually at Marc’s house to set this thing up and ground his tires for him,” added Grant, now with 20 career Street Stock wins at LOLR which ties him with Josh Pangrazio for fifth all-time. “I really wanted it for him but I’ll never just give (win) to him. That’s the way I would want to earn it.”
Aside from sharing Enduro exhibition wins with Grant during the recent Ontario Co. Fair, returning to victory lane for the first time since the ’23 season-opener in early May, Burnell led flag-to-flag in the 15-lap Hobby Stock finale to cap off another fabulous five-star card at the fairgrounds.
“Thought the right-rear (tire) was going flat or giving out,” figured Burnell, the 2020 Hobby points champ now with 11 feature wins on his ledger. “Felt funny in turns one and two and started getting loose coming out of turn four. Just tried to keep my momentum, kept my own lane and drove the track how I wanted.”
Burnell out-dragged front row partner Blane Smith, only having to slow once for caution on lap 11 when Randy Johnson stopped low on the back chute to require a tow back to the pits. Eighth starting Minutolo moved into second after five laps and the lone yellow flag provided a final chance to challenge the Waterloo racer.
Instead, Minutolo had to fend off a last lap effort by Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., edging the elder Burnell by a mere foot at the line while son Tyler steered the patented purple #57jr. Scott French-Peck Electric-Phelps Cement Products Chevrolet Camaro designed by his dad to a well-deserved win in the 10-minute main. Justin Eldredge, sporting a brand new car in blue, and Derek Excell rounded out the Top-5.
“Just here to have fun now since I’m not in the points, so if I got second I got second,” added Burnell, who ranks fourth in the standings while his father and four-time winner Frank leads Minutolo, 602-598, heading down the stretch. “Just bring the car home in one piece and be able to work on it is all good for now.”
The final full month of racing continues at Land Of Legends Raceway with the Tradition Automotive Group joined by Vance Metal Works taking center stage for the August 12 ‘Saturday Spectacular.’ A packed six-division program of Big-Block Modified, Sportsman, 305 Sprint, Street Stock, Hobby Stock plus New Legends Sportsman headline card with the Pallbearers Motorcycle Club benefitting from the weekly 50/50 drawing. Pit gates open at 3:30pm, spectators are admitted at 5 o’clock and hot laps start at 5:30 followed by the first qualifier going green at 6:30pm.
COFFEY BREAK, 2nd CUP
With rain knocking out the special speedway ceremonies slated for June 24, Vic Coffey returns with family and friends next Saturday as he becomes the season’s third addition to the Land Of Legends Wall of Fame. The original Sweeteners Plus chauffeur joins fellow Big-Blockers ‘Chargin’ Charlie’ Rudolph (May 27) and ‘Canada Joe’ Plazek (July 22) in Canandaigua’s Class of ’23 on August 12 in a pre-race presentation open to the public behind the main grandstands.
Previous selections are 2018 LOLR WoF charter members Donald ‘Dutch’ Hoag, ‘Barefoot’ Bob McCreadie, DIRT Motorsports founder Glenn Donnelly and still active ace Alan Johnson, Class of ’19 inductees Steve Pesarek, Milt Johnson, Gary Montgomery and Gary & Donna Spaid, ’21 honorees Steve Paine, Paul Guererri, Mike Welch and Fred Taney, along with last year’s recipients Danny Johnson, Gary Tomkins, Tom & Kim Ewing and Brad Ovens, with each individual recognized in a timely tribute on race night.
SUPER SERIES SHOOTOUTS
The Super DIRTcar Series makes its return to the Land of Legends when Big-Block Modifieds move to the forefront Wed. Aug. 16 in the 70th Anniversary “SummerFAST 60” paying the winner $7,500. The mighty Mod Squad will be joined by the DIRTcar Sportsman in a Northeast Region Series showdown with the 30-lap feature winner collecting a cool $1G. Honeoye Auto Parts, Seneca Auto Sales & Service, DC Rauscher Contractor and Monroe Tractor present another DIRTcar twin-bill with Tim Fuller (Mod) and Andrew Buff (Spt) looking to repeat their tour triumphs in Ontario County on July 19.
The 2023 edition of “SummerFAST” kicks off with a swing through Central New York at Brewerton Speedway on Mon. Aug. 14 and Fulton Speedway on Tue. Aug. 15 before traveling west to Canandaigua and LOLR for the third and final leg.
LOLR pit gates unlock Wednesday at 4 p.m., grandstand seating opens at 5 o’clock and practice sessions including Sportsman timed hot laps start at 6:00. Big-Block group time trials go off the line at 6:30 then opening ceremonies at 7:00 followed by qualifying races for both divisions.
Led by award-winning executive producer Art Rorick, and Chris Marquart in his absence, the LOLR TV broadcast team embodied by production assistant Makenna Hansen, graphics coordinator C.J. Miller, chief camera operators Mike Yawney, Jim & Michelle Mullen, and veteran voices Steve Ovens (PA announcer) and Doug Elkins (pit reporter) are once again on-site to provide LIVE video coverage of every event through Land of Legends TV, with LIVE streaming continuing to be offered FREE in 2023. On-line registration at https://landoflegendstv.com/
Also available for download is the LOLR mobile app found at Google Play
In addition to LOLR’s weekly racing being simulcast on Land of Legends Raceway TV, each show will also be broadcast live on DIRTVision and highlighted by the mighty DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. To watch, sign up for an annual Platinum FAST PASS with DIRTVision and experience every event either online or through the DIRTVision App.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TICKET BUNDLES & PIT PASS PACKAGES IN 2023
General Admission Ticket and Pit Pass bundles continue to be offered to LOLR fans and race teams while providing a great opportunity to save money in the process. G.A. packs of 20 ($200) or 50 ($450) and Pit bundles of 20 ($700) or 50 ($1700) must be pre-ordered to be used during the upcoming season.
Regular weekly ticket prices remain set at $15 Adults, $13 Seniors, Kids 16 yrs. and under FREE. Pit passes are $40. For those youngsters needing pit access, Child Season Pit Passes are $50 for 2 yrs. & under and $150 for kids 3-13. Camping is FREE at all race events.
To purchase ticket and pit pass bundles or discuss marketing opportunities available at the track in 2023, please contact LOLR Director of Marketing & Operations Tana Robinson via e-mail email@example.com or cell 716-799-5669.
Check out www.landoflegendsraceway.com often as the latest news and season schedule information will be posted right up to raceday.
Land of Legends Raceway is located on County Road 10 at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, just 1-1/2-miles north of Routes 5&20, and is easily accessible from the NYS Thruway (I-90), taking Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) traveling from the east or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) coming from the west.
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – August 5, 2023
70th Anniversary Season Celebration
Regional Truck & Trailer, DisBatch Brewing Company, Auto Value Parts Stores, Ontario County Fairboard present Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 11j-James Sweeting ($2,000), 2. 3-Justin Haers, 3. 70a-Alex Payne, 4. 27j-Danny Johnson, 5. 39-Kyle Coffey, 6. 21a-Peter Britten, 7. 7z-Zach Payne, 8. 42p-Pat Ward, 9. 132-Dalton Martin, 10. 19w-Justin Wright, 11. 7-Troy Sperring, 12. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 13. 34-Kevin Root, 14. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 15. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 16. 88-Dave Allen, 17. 14j-Alan Johnson.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Root, D.Johnson Jr, A.Payne, Martin, D.Johnson, Ward, Wright, Allen.
#2: Sweeting, Haers, Coffey, Britten, A.Johnson, Tegg, Z.Payne, Stoughtenger, Sperring.
Stirling Lubricants Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 38-Zach Sobotka ($750), 2. 35-Nick Cooper, 3. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 4. 7-Paul Guererri, 5. 30-Nick Root, 6. 12g-Matt Guererri, 7. 10-Karl Comfort, 8. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 9. 26-Greenley George, 10. 7j-JT Sperring, 11. 18h-Justin Henderson, 12. 51-Tim Lafler, 13. 31-Kane Bristol, 14. 10g-Austin Germinio, 15. 21j-Justin Liechti, 16. 32-Carter Crooker, 17. 9-Tim Baker, 18. 28-Mark Potter, 19. 35x-Greg Crooker, 20. 29g-Steve Gray.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Lafler, Sperring, Bristol, George, Sobotka, Gray, Baker, Coffey, Liechti, C.Crooker.
#2: Root, F.Guererri, M.Guererri, Comfort, P.Guererri, Potter, Cooper, Germinio, Henderson, G.Crooker.
A-Verdi Storage Containers CRSA Sprint Car Series powered by SuperGen Products Race #9/DisBatch Brewing Company Challenge Series Race #3
MighTea Boba 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 29h-Dalton Herrick ($1,000), 2. 66-Jordan Hutton, 3. 80-Bobby Parrow, 4. 1Q-Thomas Radivoy, 5. 33-Scott Landers, 6. 10-Johnny Kolosek, 7. 77-Matt Rotz, 8. 8-Dillon Paddock, 9. 45-David Ferguson, 10. 17e-Ethan Gray, 11. 22-Tomy Moreau, 12. 12-Tyler Chartrand, 13. 10p-Nathan Pierce, 14. 2-Randy Years, 15. 21b-Blake Warner, 16. 9k-Kyle Pierce, 17. 4t-Ray Preston, 18. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 19. 23-John Smith, 20. j27-John Cunningham, 21. 18c-Dan Craun, 22. 33z-Sydney Wetherbee, 23. d9-Dustin Sehn, 24. 18-Timmy Lotz, 25. 99-Adam DePuy.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Rotz, Landers, Herrick, Craun, K.Pierce, Warner, N.Pierce, Dombroski.
#2: Ferguson, Moreau, Lotz, Radivoy, Smith, C.Pierce, Layton, J.Sehn.
#3: Years, Parrow, Cunningham, Ruggles, Gray, Preston, Proctor, Bay.
#4: Hutton, Kolosek, DePuy, Chartrand, Paddock, Wetherbee, D.Sehn, Kaplin.
B-Main (10 laps)
#1: Warner, Preston, N.Pierce, Wetherbee, 4-Cliff Pierce, 29-Tori Kaplin, D.Sehn, 14-James Layton, 410-Jerry Sehn Jr, 30-Kirsten Dombroski, 54-Fred Proctor, 48a-Alysha Bay(DNS).
2023 DisBatch Brewing Company Challenge Series Champion: Jordan Hutton
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant ($500), 2. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 3. 00-Mike Welch, 4. cj1-CJ Guererri, 5. 87-Carl Johnson, 6. 9-Aksel Jensen, 7. 57j-Nick Dandino, 8. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 9. 22-Carl Cleveland, 10. 93-Ely Mangiarelli, 11. 122-Chris Beyea, 12. 12-John Burritt, 13. 74-Darren Phippen, 14. 63-Mike Fellows.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Johnson, Minutolo, Beyea, Welch, Hobbs, Fellows, Phippen.
#2: Guererri, Grant, Dandino, Cleveland, Mangiarelli, Jensen, Burritt.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 2. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 3. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 4. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 5. 18XL-Derek Excell, 6. 90-Nathan Peckham, 7. 61-Daniel Kerrick, 8. 55b-Blane Smith, 9. 36x-Brighton Grant, 10. 97-Kevin Schrader, 11. 22j-Randy Johnson.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: T.Burnell, Peckham, F.Burnell, Excell, Eldredge, Kerrick, Smith, Minutolo, Grant, Schrader, Johnson.
Saturday Spectacular, August 12 @ 6:30pm; Tradition Automotive Group presents with Vance Metal Works Big-Block Modified/Sportsman/305 Sprint/Street Stock/Hobby Stock plus New Legends Sportsman with Pallbearers Motorcycle Club Benefit and Legends Inductee Night #3: Vic Coffey.
Wednesday Super Spectacular, August 16 @ 7pm; Honeoye Auto Parts, Seneca Auto Sales & Service, DC Rauscher Contractor, Monroe Tractor present Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified “SummerFAST 60” plus DIRTcar Northeast Sportsman Series(30L) and Happiness House Benefit.
*No Racing Sat., August 19.
Track Instant Info
Live Stream: https://landoflegendstv.com/