By TOM SKIBINISKI
CANANDAIGUA, NY – It’s been four years since Ransomville’s Erick Rudolph last cracked the winner’s circle at Land Of Legends Raceway and at least a dozen since Gasport’s Dan Bennett reached victory lane anywhere.
The nearly two-hour tow from their Western New York home bases paid big dividends in the ‘Saturday Spectacular’ presented by Phelps Cement Products at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, with Rudolph pocketing $2,000 after the 35-lap Pepsi Big-Block Modified feature and Bennett collecting the $300 winner’s share in the 20-lap Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Main.
“We’ll have to sit down over the next couple days and make a decision,” remarked Rudolph, 26, still uncertain whether LOLR will be his Saturday night hangout the remainder of the season after pulling ahead in the division point standings. “We like to run different places but its tough to leave a place like this especially when you’re doing really well.”
The decision for Bennett was made much easier following his first career win in Canandaigua that gives him five top-10 finishes in his six sprint car starts.
“Wow, does that (win) feel good, its been 12 years since I’ve won a sprint car feature, took a 10-11 year haitus and here we are finally,” beamed Bennett, 48, who followed the Patriot Sprint Tour the past few seasons, finishing 9th (2017) and 10th (2016) on the final 360 points chart. “I liked what (Canandaigua) was offering this year so I dug out the same 305 car I ran here in 2015, tuned it up, and we’re back.”
Both Steve Gray (Donath Motor Worx Sportsman) and Marc Mintolo (Big Dog Country Street Stock) took their second checkered flags of the season while young gun Billy Paine cruised home for his track-best fifth win in the entry-level New Legends Sportsman finale.
Nearly 30 youngsters and their parents converged on the homestretch in a return of the popular Power Wheel races that featured a handful of 3-lap events. Baylee Rodas, Mason Clark and Emma Pronti captured wins in the 3-5 years-old age group while Chase Spoor and Chris Darling split a pair of dashes for 6-8 year-olds.
While just two yellow flags flew in the Modified main, the second slowdown proved pivotal for 16th starting Rudolph as the Ransomville ridge runner charged from third to first on a lap 16 restart en route to a solid victory three-quarters of a straightaway ahead of open-wheel veterans Billy Dunn and Matt Sheppard.
“The heat was a little bit dusty out there so I took it pretty easy,” noted third-generation standout Rudolph, who posted his first two Canandaigua wins back-to-back in August of 2014 aboard Mike Payne’s no. 7z Honeoye Auto Parts-Page Trucking/Bicknell ride. His current Bob Bruneau-powered no. 25 Opti-Coat-Blue Cross/Blue Shield-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell mount is co-owned by father Charlie Rudolph (overall 1986 Mr. DIRT Big-Block champ), Sam Lehr and the Briggs brothers. “Come feature time the dust kinda blew off and vision wasn’t an issue. Turned out to be a pretty racey track.”
“Was a little bit on the slippery side out there, nevertheless we were able to tune in this (car) just right for the conditions tonight. Each week I feel we’re gaining a step and there’s only an upside from here,” Rudolph said.
Pole-sitter Dave Allen led only two circuits before local pilot Eldon Payne Jr. moved to the point with Jimmy Maier, Adam Roberts and Gil Tegg Jr. in the early pursuit. Point leaders Rudolph, Sheppard, Dunn and Jimmy Phelps began in rows seven, eight and nine while Justin Haers, celebrating his father Jerry’s 73rd birthday prior to the race and looking for his first win on his company’s night in the VIP Tower, filed in ninth on the 24-car starting grid.
A long stretch of green flag racing produced numerous battles around the entire half-mile oval, with 10th starting James Sweeting finally tracking down Payne on lap 11. Sweeting held a comfortable advantage until his no. 11J Troyer machine jumped over the berm and came to rest high in turn one to incur the initial caution on lap 16.
And that’s all that Rudolph needed as he bolted past both Payne and Allen when the green lights reappeared to begin lap 16. Dunn grabbed second soonafter and Sheppard maneuvered into third by the halfway mark ahead of Payne, Haers and Phelps.
Despite a second and final yellow flag waving on lap 25 for Kyle Coffey’s Sweeteners Plus entry that bounced off the frontstretch wall and came to a halt in turn one, Rudolph never faultered as he pulled away from runner-up Dunn and ended the six-race win streak of third finishing ‘Super Matt.’ Haers and Phelps completed the final top-five.
“Wouldn’t be surprised if we’re here a bunch more times this season,” smiled Rudolph, after his third win of the 2018 campaign, the others coming in his hometown at Ransomville Speedway and at Tyler County (WV) Speedway in a BRP Modified Tour event. “Canandaigua is pretty close to home, its always a fun track to race at. With lots of competition here you find out pretty fast where you stand.”
“We can come here and learn a lot and its a fun facility for the fans and drivers alike. I still lean on my dad (17 LOLR wins) and grandfather (Jim Rudolph) a bunch. They’re a lot smarter than I am right now. My duty is to try and sponge off them as much as I can,” added Rudolph, who heads into next weekend clinging to a narrow five-point (398-393) lead over four-time winner Sheppard.
As fast as the Big-Block feature was, the 305 Sprint Car A-Main was even quicker with a single yellow flag on the opening circuit the lone set-back. Bennett retained the point after Connecticut invader Jesse Pruchnik looped his winged machine between turns three and four on lap one and sped on to a commanding 12 car-length victory over new points leader Darryl Ruggles in the 10-minute A-Main.
“The car was so fast, stuck too good to really worry about anybody else behind me,” stated Bennett, 48, after parking his ‘X’ lettered Bennett Heating & Cooling-Goodman AC & Heating/Avenger in the Land of Legends victory lane. He figured his last win came a dozen years ago at Freedom Raceway, where he began his sprint car career in 1998 renting out the track for $100 every Monday during the season.
“The track was was super tonight. I could hold the gas pedal to the floor all the way around. Everybody was shaking they’re head afterwards when I said the surface was perfect. It wasn’t slick out there for us, we just had the right set-up tonight. Really appreciate all the help from my crew, Jason and Cara. If I could run every night they would be there, they’re just dedicated,” added Bennett, who finished 13th at Canandaigua when the Patriot Sprints made their debut in wine country duirng the group’s inaugural 2003 season.
While Bennett had wraps on the first-place Crosman Airgun, Ruggles was advancing quickly from his 10th starting spot in the 14-car field. The eventual runner-up flew by Jason Whipple for fifth on lap seven, dove under fourth running Johnny Kolosek on lap 10 and disposed of Brandyn Griifin for third on lap 15 before sliding under Tyler Cartier for position two with three laps to go.
Cartier settled for third ahead of Griffin and Alysha Bay, who now trails her dear old dad Darryl, 326-320, in the point standings as she remains in search of win #1 during the 2018 season.
Behind the wheel of his cousin James Henry’s no. 21 Mad Skins Race Car Bodies 2018 Bicknell machine on this occasion, Gray held off a relentless charge from Dave Marcuccilli to post his 29th career Sportsman victory in the most stirring performance of the night.
“It was pretty intense, thought he was going to get underneath me for good,” affirmed Gray, 42, after securing first-place honors a week following the loss of another engine. “I was changing my line all over the place once I saw the #m1 (Marcuccilli) in second on the scoreboard. Didn’t want him to have a chance to find out which groove was better.”
“Turns one and two were fast on the outside and down low was the place to be in turns three and four at the end. After he showed me his nose inside, figured I better get down there and protect my spot,” figured Gray, whose no. 29G Proctor Enterprises/Teo Pro car that won back in May sat idle in his Middlesex garage waiting for the replacement powerplant that never came.
Joe Cook took off from his outside front row starting position to pace the 22-car starting field. Kyle Kiehn and Paul Guererri hooked bumpers to force out the first yellow flag on lap four and back under green Kiehn again slowed in turn three while newcomer Cody Wolfe looped in turn two to bring about a second caution period.
Gray started third yet needed nine laps to heat up and power past Cook high out of turn four to grab the top spot. Meanwhile, Marcuccilli was carving his way through the pack, breaking into the front-five when Gray took the lead then sweeping into third the next time around.
Marcuccilli moved into second with still 10 laps to go and lap after lap reduced the margin between the leader. Marcuccilli finally pulled ahead low out of turn four to complete lap 18 as the lead duo fought through traffic. But Gray quickly rebounded, riding the cushion high out of the second corner to force the final lead change on lap 20. And just as the leaders crossed under chief starter Scott Hixson’s checkered flag, Matt Guererri suddenly burst onto the scene stealing second from Marcuccilli and keeping his slim division points lead over Marcuccilli (397-395) in the process. Ricky Newton and Kevin Ridley completed the top-five at the stripe.
“Have to thank my crew for this one, they’re pretty amazing,” Gray acknowledged in victory lane following the 25-lap thriller. “Blown up two motors the past 3-4 weeks, have had some really bad luck lately but these guys are still in the shop every single night turning wrenches. Today they were ready and waiting to put the new motor in our car but it didn’t come back in time. Thank God cousin James came through, put us in this awesome car. He said its the most expensive car he’s ever owned, after tonight I’m ready to trade in my ’15 Teo and order one.”
After three weeks of flat tires and assorted on-track fiascos in the Street Stock ranks, Minutolo avenged the earlier mishaps to author a decisive five car-length victory over points leader and five-time winner Adam DePuy.
“The track surface did a 360 from the heat, it was a race to the bottom and I just happened to get there first,” assessed Minutolo, 26, after the second-generation driver logged his 54th career stock car victory in Canandaigua, coming from the rear to record his fourth in Street Stock competition. “Guess that was the name of tonight’s game and we came out the victor.”
Jason Quigley jumped out to an early advantage in the 15-lap full-fender feature but could not hold back young Parker Smith in his bid to take over the second time around. A flat tire on Jason Doty’s Chevy Monte Carlo required the only yellow flag of the race, and on the lap five restart Minutolo stormed into second aboard his no 25B Tradition Automotive Group-Butch’s Body Shop-Big Mike’s Auto/Chevrolet Camaro.
While Minutolo continued to shadow Smith up front, sixth starting DePuy picked off the opposition one-by-one until rolling into third on lap six. When Minutolo was finally able to overtake Smith for the lead on lap 11, DePuy was right there to seize second and take a shot at the top spot over the final third of the race.
Minutolo held to his accustomed low line in the corners, with DePuy unable to gain the needed traction to make a pass on the high side. At the finish it was the Newark pilot edging DePuy, followed by Rick Crego, Smith and Brad Steinruck. In the traditional post-race inspection held pitside, Steinruck lost all his points and earnings after crossing the scales light while sixth-place finisher Quigley suffered the same fate after an illegal carburetor was discovered under rhe hood.
“Parker has come a long way, its almost like you hate to pass him but its one of those things … its a game and one small mistake will cost you,” added Minutolo, who ranks third on the Land of legends all-time stock car win list compiled since the track’s rebirth in 1972. “I tip my hat to the kid, he’s come so far and I’m so proud of him. Its awesome to see a young driver come up and do that good. Its also nice to be able to put on a show, it took somebody to light a little fire under me tonight but we got her done.”
Paine continued his command of the New Legends class and in his post-race interview contemplated moving up to the regular Sportsman division.
“I assume there might be a (win) limit with us so I might have to move up. If or when that time arrives I’ll just keep logging track time and trying to get better,” Paine replied to victory lane announcer Craig ‘Spazman’ Simmons.
Yet another third-generation wheelman, Tyler Vinson, finished a half-track back in the 10-lap race, followed by first-time entry Jeremy Groescup, past winners Nick Cooper and Sam Hoxie, and Dwight Nichols in his second start of the season.
First-year promoter Paul Cole provides his first big doubleheader next weekend, June 22-23, at Land Of Legends Raceway. VP Small Engine Fuel presents ‘Friday Night Fights’ on June 22, featuring a full card of GRIT Sportsman, CRSA Sprint and Fight Night All-Star Street Stock Series action. The fairgrounds frenzy continues on June 23 when Product 9 presents the ‘Saturday Spectacular’ headlined by a DIRTcar Sportsman Series race along with Pepsi Big-Block Modfieds, a return visit by CRSA Sprints plus Legends Inductee Night #2.
And just in case past clues haven’t been enough, the second individual to be honored on the Land Of Legends Wall of Fame this coming Saturday is the esteemed founder of DIRT Motorsports and long-time track promoter Glenn Donnelly. Responsible for attracting now retired racers ‘Wiley’ Will Cagle, ‘Magic Shoes’ Mike McLaughlin, ‘Marvelous’ Merv Treichler and ‘Barefoot’ Bob McCreadie and current stars ‘A.J. Slideways’ Alan Johnson, ‘Hurricane’ Steve Paine and ‘Super’ Matt Sheppard, Donnelly also brought nationally touring World of Outlaws sprints and Monster Truck specials to Canandaigua while directing speedway shows during the annual Ontario County Fair. He will be joined in this midway celebration by popular ‘This Week On DIRT’ television show host Doug Logan.
Continue to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. Advance sale tickets are also available for purchase online throughout the upcoming months. Log into the website (LandOfLegendsRaceway.com), hit the red “Buy Tickets” button on the homepage, then make a selection from the list of dates & events highlighted.
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 – June 16, 2018
Phelps Cement Products presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 25-Erick Rudolph($2,000), 2. 3rs-Billy Dunn, 3. 9s-Matt Sheppard , 4. 3-Justin Haers, 5. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 6. 6h-Max McLaughlin, 7. 21a-Peter Britten, 8. 11j-James Sweeting, 9. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 10. 88-Dave Allen, 11. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 12. 77-Lance Dusett, 13. 63-Adam Roberts, 14. 23-Kyle Coffey, 15. 7x-Steve Paine, 16. 19w-Justin Wright, 17. 12-Brian Sage, 18. 48too-Dave Rauscher, 19. 5-Tom Keyes, 20. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 21. 16k-Kaitlin Pashina, 22. 174-Brian Boudreau, 23. 14j-Alan Johnson, 24. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Haers, Dunn, Tegg, Allen, Coffey, Maier, Sage, Keyes.
#2: Wright, Podsiadlo, Payne, McLaughlin, Sweeting, Britten, Dusett, Pashina.
#3: Sheppard, Johnson, Roberts, Rudolph, Paine, Phelps, Rauscher, Boudreau.
Donath Motor Worx Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 21-Steve Gray, 2. 12g-Matt Guererri, 3. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 4. 11n-Ricky Newton, 5. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 6. 8-Joe Cook, 7. 2k-Anthony Kimball, 8. 25g-Nick Guererri, 9. 7-Paul Guererri, 10. 21x-Eric Williams, 11. 9-Tim Baker, 12. 31-Kane Bristol, 13. 13t-Trevor Years, 14. 42-Jonathan Reid, 15. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 16. 90-Nathan Peckham, 17. 77-Benny Karlsen, 18. 2kx-Kyle Kiehn, 19. 2-Loren Lincoln, 20. 80-Cody Wolfe, 21. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 22. 50-Tim Downs.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Gray, Ridley, Marcuccilli, Williams, Years, Downs.
#2: Peckham, Lloyd, Bristol, Baker, N.Guererri, Wolfe, Karlsen, Lawrence.
#3: P.Guererri, Kimball, Newton, Cook, Kiehn, Reid, M.Guererri, Lincoln(DNS).
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. X-Dan Bennett, 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 23-Tyler Cartier, 4. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 5. 48a-Alysha Bay, 6. 38-Jason Whipple, 7. 26j-Johnny Kolosek, 8. 99-Andy Jacobus, 9. 66-Erik Karlsen, 10. 19j-Mike Jackson, 11. 18c-Dan Craun, 12. 42-Jesse Pruchnik, 13. 8g-Bobby Gardner, 14. 45-David Ferguson.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Kolosek, Bennett, Karlsen, Jackson, Jacobus, Pruchnik, Gardner.
#2: Ruggles, Cartier, Griffin, Bay, Whipple, Craun, Ferguson(DNS).
Big Dog Country Street Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 2. 99-Adam DePuy, 3. 5c-Rick Crego, 4. 55p-Parker Smith, 5. 02-Brad Steinruck(DSQ), 6. 34q-Jason Quigley(DSQ), 7. 37x-Carl Johnson, 8. 4j-Jason Doty, 9. 8-Mike Welch, 86L-Shawn Lloyd(DNS), 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Crego, Quigley, Johnson, Lloyd, Metcalf, Steinruck(DNS).
#2: DePuy, Minutolo, Smith, Doty, Welch(DNS).
New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (10 laps): 1. 1-Billy Paine, 2. 93-Tyler Vinson, 3. 33j-Jeremy Groescup, 4. 35-Nick Cooper, 5. 00-Sam Hoxie, 6. 14n-Dwight Nichols.
Power Wheel Race Winners (27 entries)
Baylee Rodas (3-5 yrs.), Mason Clark (3-5 yrs.), Emma Pronti (3-5 yrs.), Chase Spoor (6-8 yrs.), Chris Darling (6-8 yrs.).
NEXT EVENTS: Friday Night Fights, June 22 @ 7pm; VP Small Engine Fuels presents GRIT Sportsman/CRSA Sprint/Fight Night All-Star Street Stock Series. Saturday Spectacular, June 23 @ 7pm; Product 9 presents DIRTcar Sportsman Series/Big-Block Modified/CRSA Sprint and Legends Inductee Night #2.
Track Instant Info
Land of Legends Raceway is proud to salute several sponsors and corporate partners that continue to help bring its fans the best Saturday night racing show in the Northeast. Listed alphabetically are division sponsors Big Dog Country 103.5FM Radio, Donath Motor Worx, Mike Emhof Motorsports, Pepsi/Geneva Club Beverage; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, A-Verdi Storage Containers, Daldry Canvas, Geneva Club Beverage/Mountain Dew, Honeoye Auto Parts/Auto Value, L&L Transmission & Towing, Phelps Cement Products, Pilat Graphic Design, Proctor Enterprises, Product 9, Tradition Automotive Group; promotional partners Champion Power Equipment, D.C. Rauscher Inc., Dig Safely New York 811, Hoosier Racing Tire, Ontario County Fairboard, Sherwin-Williams Paint Stores, Star Headlight & Lantern Co., VP Racing Fuels