By TOM SKIBINSKI
CANANDAIGUA, NY – As temperatures broke the 90-degree barrier over the weekend, former teammates Peter Britten and Jimmy Phelps kept their cool as they split Pepsi Big-Block Modified mains at Land Of Legends Raceway in the last ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the month in Canandaigua on June 30.
Britten captured the Product 9-sponsored 35-lapper that was rain-delayed from last Saturday before Phelps collected $3,000 for his first feature win of 2018 at the fast Ontario County Fairgrounds oval in the Pilat Design double-points 50-lap nightcap.
“Didn’t have a good heat race (last week) and this isn’t the kind race you want to start at the tail end of the field, but apparently it worked,” remarked Britten, 30, who scored his initial win of ’18 at LOLR in May before contemplating possible season-ending surgery to relieve a bulging disk in his back which forced him to miss two shows. “I’ll tell you what, this Troyer car is fast and you always need a good car if you want to make it to the front at this track.”
Phelps was just as fast after the sun set, improving from third-place in the opener to register his first win at the historic half-miler in five years.
“The track changed quite a bit from the start, the brown got stickier and the black got more slippery,” noted Phelps, 43, after posting his seventh top-five feature finish in nine starts. “Then it cleaned off and got so you could move around a bit. Hats off to the track crew, they had some tough conditions to deal with but it looks like they did their homework and got it pretty close.”
Three-time defending track points champion Dave Marcuccilli continued on course as he scored his third Donath Motor Worx Sportsman victory while Sam Hoxie repeated in the New Legends Sportsman finale. Darryl Ruggles motored on to log his second Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Main triumph and Josh Pangrazio made it two-for-two with a dominant run in the Big Dog Country Street Stock feature.
Representing the Sodus Microd Club, Chris Darling, son of former Canandaigua sportsman and Street Stock racer Dale Darling, put on a special exhibition on the speedway home stretch during intermission to the fans delight.
Following a dismal eighth-place finish in his qualifying heat the week prior, Britten filed in 22nd on the revised 24-car starting grid. Tim McCreadie did not return for Saturday’s postponement awhile Steve Gray was unable to make the line-up despite his regular sportsman entry eligible to start last in the field.
Pole-sitter Lance Dusett opened up a commanding lead at the start before a pair of yellow flags brought the Lima driver back to the pack. Top point chasers Matt Sheppard and Billy Dunn made contact to incur the second slowdown on lap eight, with ‘Super Matt’ returning trackside after replacing a flat left-rear tire.
Open-wheel veteran Alan Johnson moved to the point on a lap 11 restart, followed through the same hole by then points leader Erick Rudolph and hard-charging Britten. The race ended early for Rudolph as his primary #25 Opti-Coat/Bicknell mount coasted to a stop on the backstretch just two laps later with rear-end issues.
Sheppard was carving his way back to the front at a wicked pace and when Britten sped past Johnson for the lead on lap 21, the Waterloo warrior was up to third. However, the yellow lights suddenly flashed again and this time Sheppard suffered a right-rear flat with only a dozen laps remaining to negate any chance of reaching victory lane in his own company’s sponsored race.
Back under green Britten pulled away from Johnson aboard the potent Ray Graham-owned no. 21A Troyer machine, building up a near-straightaway advantage under the checkers. The battle for third was the most captivating as it was left undecided until the white flag lap with Phelps finally edging Justin Haers for the show position while Justin Wright finished off the front-five.
Sheppard made it back to finish ninth and combined with Rudolph’s 21st-place tally, moved back atop the point standings, 435-424, as Phelps (423) remained third ahead of Dunn (393) and Haers (379).
”My back is still a bit of a bother but we’ll try to make it the rest of the year,” down-played Britten, as the native of Brisbane, Queensland in Australia climbed gingerly out of his modified, understandably saving a roof-top dance for another day. “We’re undergoing some therapy now, just being careful not to overdo it.”
“Right now our team’s priority is with the (Super DIRTcar Series), I know that’s what Ray is investing in. I might have to miss a few regular weekend races if anything needs to be cut back to keep things comfortable. Hopefully we can keep on going and see how far it takes us,” added Britten, who picked up another win in front of his mother who made her annual summer trip to the U.S. from the land downunder.
A bit of irony came in round two as Phelps was one of the first drivers to show Britten the ropes. When “Batman” made his maiden voyage to the states for racing as a 21 year-old in 2009, he accompanied Troyer Race Cars owner Billy Colton and H&H Motorsports first-string driver Phelps to Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y. for a Super DIRTcar Series event. Soonafter he joined H&H team co-owner Al Heinke, and Phelps working on their cars in the Troyer shop outside of Rochester
The reformation of HBR racing on the DIRTcar circuit coincided with Heinke’s purchase of Weedsport Speedway in 2014 and all the equipment was subsequently moved there from Troyer’s work place. Along with the addition of second-generation standout Max McLaughlin, Britten and Phelps became short-term Troyer teammates in 2016 before Heinke switched to a Teo Pro chassis mid-way through the same season.
“We just come here and try to do our job and do it well,” said Phelps, who also serves as track general manager at the revamped Weedsport facility that follows a specials-only race format throughout the season. “Have a great support group, great team and a great car owner. We’ve been close here, been digging every week … you see that #9 car (Sheppard) coming and it gets you up on the wheel. (Win) has been a long time coming, been frustrating, but fortunately we got it done before things got too hairy tonight.”
Dusett mirrored his early success once again and paced the field after head flagman Scott Hixson’s initial green flag flew to kick off the headline Pilat Graphic Designs 50-lap feature. Phelps’ teammate for a third season, McLaughlin, stormed out front after starting sixth and opened up a comfortable lead. Yet just as Hixson’s crossed flags waved to signal the halfway point, “Mad Max” pulled to the front infield with terminal rear-end damage to end any bid to join father, “Magic Shoes” Mike McLaughlin, on Canandaigua’s career win list.
Phelps was the beneficiary of McLaughlin’s mechanical misfortune, bolting past Dusett on the ensuing lap 25 restart and quickly putting distance between his no. 98H J&B Installations-Mohawk Northeast Modified and the closest pursuers; at the midway point those included Rudolph (3rd), Britten (6th), Sheppard (7th) and Haers (10th).
As the laps dwindled so did Phelps margin ahead of Sheppard with the eight-time track champion picking off the competition one by one, lap after lap. On a lap 27 restart Sheppard darted from sixth to fourth, grabbed third from Britten on lap 33 and ducked under runner-up Rudolph with a dozen circuits still remaining. A 10 car-length lead suddenly vanished for Phelps with five to go, yet a daring three-wide maneuver entering turn three that split Jimmy Maier and rookie Brian Boudreau proved to be the difference. Sheppard settled for second followed by Rudolph aboard his back-up car, Britten and Haers.
“My biggest concern was getting through lapped traffic, hopefully it would provide some breathing room and not give Matt a clean shot at me if there was a yellow near the end,” noted Phelps, after chalking up career win #6 in wine country, his first since August, 2013. “Making some space is what was on my mind 100% at the end.”
“Thanks to Bobby and Matt (Hearns, Teo Pro car builders), they gave us a really good car, a damn good one tonight. They provide us enough to be in the hunt, now its our job to get it done and take it the rest of the way. This (win) builds some momentum for next week when we come back,” added Phelps, alluding to July 5 when LOLR hosts the Super DIRTcar Series ‘Liberty 100’ presented by Honeoye Auto Parts. Phelps also moved to within four markers (547-543) of Sheppard in the track points battle with Independence Day traditionally signifying the season’s halfway point.
Marcuccilli needed only 8-1/2 minutes to determine the final outcome of the 25-lap Sportsman feature as the Montezuma racer disposed of race leader Kyle Kiehn on lap 11 and cruised home to victory by nearly a half-track in the caution-free affair.
“The night didn’t start out this good,” divulged Marcuccilli, after tying Dan Wiesner for fourth all-time with his 24th career Sportsman win at LOLR. “Felt pretty sick earlier, was laying down in the trailer. Just didn’t feel good, probably a little bit due to the weather too.”
Buckled into his familiar blue #M1 Page Trucking-All Star Contractors-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell car, Marcuccilli showed little ill after-effects following pre-race warm-ups. He won his qualifying heat then went out and upset everyone else in another dominating performance despite the heated conditions and a 14th starting assignment.
Nick Guererri scored a season-best second-place ahead of Matt Guererri, who now trails Marcuccilli by seven points (480-473), while Kevin Ridley and Kiehn rounded out the top-five.
“The track was definitely tricky tonight but we didn’t change much from the heat to feature. This car was just phenomenal. You never know when yellows are going to fall so I just ran hard the whole time, tried to be smart in traffic. Continue to run the best we can and hope nothing breaks or have a flat tire, so that’s luck on our side too,” added Marcuccilli, who now owns eight first-place trophies circuit-wide in 2018.
Looking to match the non-stop Sportsman finale, the 305 Sprinters rattled off 17 straight high-speed circuits before taking a breath in their own 20-lap A-Main. Land of Legends reigning points king Jason Whipple set the early pace until eighth-starting Ruggles chased him down for the lone lead-change on lap 15.
The only caution period came on lap 18 when fourth-running Alysha Bay and Johnny Kolosek made contact exiting turn four to provide the only break in the action. Low-running Bay and high-riding Kolosek had battled for the last half-dozen laps before the late-race crash ended Bay’s night while Kolosek remained under power long enough to finish seventh on the final scoresheet.
“When the yellow lights came on I tried to figure out what happened with Alysha, she’s been so solid this year, it was a surprise,” said Ruggles, 52, after the three-time 305 track champion and current points leader increased his all-time track-best sprint car win total to 29 in winged competition. “I heard the #26J (Kolosek) was involved so I can just imagine what happened. There’s been a conflict between those two so I imagine it played out on the track.”
Ruggles took family matters into his own hands behind the steering wheel. The Hopewell wheelman advanced from eighth starting spot to third after five laps then put his ‘safety yellow’ colored Mike Mastin-powered no. 48jr. Willmes Enterprises-VanBortel Trucking-backed wing machine past second-place Tyler Cartier on lap 13 before forging the final change under Whipple in turn four.
“This car is actually three years old, been sitting in the garage and we finally dug it out and dusted off the cob webs,” stated Ruggles, after increasing his lead to nearly 30 points over daughter Alysha, who posted her first feature win of the season last weekend prior the only DNF on Saturday. “The X1 (chassis) car we’ve had all year just seemed to be missing something.”
“We all talked as a team and said we have to bring out old faithful that got us here a couple years ago. Brought out our notes, even though its a little different than the other car, and went to work. Spent all day with it knowing we could only get so far making it the best it can be. Finally got done today at 4 o’clock and here we are. This team just has great communication, that’s pretty cool,” beamed Ruggles, not only enjoying but still winning in his fourth decade of competition at the fairgrounds.
Cartier finished a season-high second ahead of veteran Dan Bennet, Brandyn Griffin and Whipple in the final rundown.
Pangrazio authored the biggest comback of the night as he bolted from dead-last in the 13-car full-fender field to overtake leader Marc Minutolo before halfway and coast home for his second straight Street Stock victory at LOLR.
“Yes, I really like it here,” understated Pangrazio, who claimed the ‘open stock’ feature last Friday in his first-ever visit to the legendary Ontario County oval. “Its really fast, has a nice surface and a ton of grip. Looks like it fits our style.”
Minutolo rode from fourth to first to begin the 15-lap feature. Pangrazio was already scored fourth after three laps and moved past Mike Welch for second the following circuit. Jason Doty slid off the track high between turns one and two to erase Minutolo’s advantage, and on the lap seven restart Pangrazio went around Minutolo and the Oakfield driver never looked back aboard his sleek no. 70 Cummings Trucking-BDK Construction & Trucking-Impressions Concrete Chevrolet Camaro.
“We came here last week with a basic set-up, tuned on it and made it better. (Heat) didn’t affect me at all with a new air blower in the car. Really didn’t even think about the temperature once the race started. We were good all night,” said Pangrazio, who was relegated to the rear of Saturday’s feature field after crossing the scales light following his qualifying run.
Despite Pangrazio stretching his lead to a full straightaway as the laps clicked off, Canandaigua’s top-two chauffeurs provided local fans with an entertaining show for second. In an epic battle down to the wire, points leader Adam DePuy using the high line and bottom feeder Minutolo traded paint out of turn four with DePuy crossing the line mere inches ahead to steal second at the stripe. Welch and Parker Smith finished fourth and fifth.
Hoxie topped the field of three entries in the 10-lap New Legends feature, out-distancing first-timer Bill Tice, steering Loren Lincoln’s yellow no. 2 Honeoye Auto Parts/Teo Pro car, and third-generation pilot Tyler Vinson in the caution-free four-minute ride.
“Maybe we’ll move up with the regular Sportsman by the end of the year. Right now we’re getting more comfortable with different set-ups and learning how to run when the track turns black,” said Hoxie, who was awarded $100 in the winner’s circle by event sponsor Dan Pilat.
Its a short week for area Big-Block Modified teams as they are back in action on Thr., July 5 for the return of the Super DIRTcar Series to Land of Legends Raceway.
The mighty mods are joined by the Empire Super Sprints in their first of two appearances in Canandaigua. Home track favorites Sheppard, Jimmy Phelps, Erick Rudolph, Max McLaughlin and Peter Britten also stand atop the SDS points chart and they will be looking to defend home soil against a strong contingent of top touring invaders including Big-Block veterans Brett Hearn, Billy Decker, Tim Fuller, Pat Ward and Larry Wight. The headline ‘Liberty 100’ presented by Honeoye Auto Parts pays $6,000 to the winner. Fuller captured the last SDS race run at LOLR in June, 2016.
Pampered Parents presents the next ‘Saturday Spectacular’ at Land of Legends Raceway with a complete show of Pepsi Big-Block Modfied, Donath Motor Worx Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint, Big Dog Country Street Stock and New Legends Sportsman action on tap for Scout Night, July 7.
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 30, 2018
Pilat Graphic Design presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Product 9 Feature (35 laps / *rain-delayed from 6/23): 1. 21a-Peter Britten($2,000), 2. 14j-Alan Johnson, 3. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 4. 3-Justin Haers, 5. 19w-Justin Wright, 6. 28p-Eldon Payne Jr., 7. 3rs-Billy Dunn, 8. 23-Kyle Coffey, 9. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 10. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 11. 11j-James Sweeting, 12. 77-Lance Dusett, 13. 7x-Steve Paine, 14. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 15. 48too-Dave Rauscher, 16. 12-Brian Sage, 17. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 18. 5-Tom Keyes, 19. 174-Brian Boudreau, 20. 6h-Max McLaughlin, 21. 25-Erick Rudolph, 22. 16k-Kaitlin Pashina, 23. 88-Dave Allen, 24. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 29g-Steve Gray(DNS), 39-Tim McCreadie(DNS).
*Feature (50 laps / double points): 1. 98h-Jimmy Phelps($3,000), 2. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 3. 25-Erick Rudolph, 4. 21a-Peter Britten, 5. 3-Justin Haers, 6. 3rs-Billy Dunn, 7. 23-Kyle Coffey, 8. 7x-Steve Paine, 9. 14j-Alan Johnson, 10. 12-Brian Sage, 11. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 12. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 13. 88-Dave Allen, 14. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 15. 48too-Dave Rauscher, 16. 16k-Kaitlin Pashina, 17. 174-Brian Boudreau, 18. 77-Lance Dusett, 19. 11j-James Sweeting, 20. 19w-Justin Wright, 21. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 22. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 23. 6h-Max McLaughlin, 24. 5-Tom Keyes, 25. 34-Andrew Ferguson.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Dusett, Tegg, Phelps, McLaughlin, Podsiadlo, Rudolph, Ferguson, Boudreau, Pashina(DNS).
#2: Wright, Johnson, Sweeting, Haers, Britten, Allen, Maier, Keyes.
#3: Paine, Sheppard, Payne, Dunn, Coffey, Sage, Daugherty, Rauscher.
Donath Motor Worx Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 2. 25g-Nick Guererri, 3. 12g-Matt Guererri, 4. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 5. 2kx-Kyle Kiehn, 6. 7-Paul Guererri, 7. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 8. 29g-Steve Gray, 9. 90-Nathan Peckham, 10. 11n-Ricky Newton, 11. 2-Loren Lincoln, 12. 31-Kane Bristol, 13. 21x-Eric Williams, 14. 8-Joe Cook, 15. 13t-Trevor Years, 16. 9-Tim Baker, 17. 77-Benny Karlsen, 18. 1-Billy Paine, 19. 50-Tim Downs.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Lloyd, M.Guererri, Peckham, Newton, Paine, Cook, Downs.
#2: Ridley, Williams, Bristol, P.Guererri, Karlsen, Years.
#3: Marcuccilli, Kiehn, Lincoln, Gray, N.Guererri, Baker.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 2. 23-Tyler Cartier, 3. X-Dan Bennett, 4. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 5. 38-Jason Whipple, 6. 18c-Dan Craun, 7. 26j-Johnny Kolosek, 8. 99-Andy Jacobus, 9. 53-Tom Fletcher, 10. 48a-Alysha Bay,11. 99j-Aaron Jacobus.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Kolosek, Bay, Craun, Bennett, Fletcher, Ar.Jacobus.
#2: Ruggles, Cartier, Whipple, Griffin, An.Jacobus.
Big Dog Country Street Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 70-Josh Pangrazio, 2. 99-Adam DePuy, 3. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 4. 8-Mike Welch, 5. 55p-Parker Smith, 6. 58d-Nick Dandino, 7. 86L-Shawn Lloyd, 8. 34q-Jason Quigley, 9. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 10. 36s-Seth Steele, 11. 4j-Jason Doty, 12. 5c-Rick Crego, 13. 37x-Carl Johnson.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Crego, Pangrazio(light), Minutolo, Welch, Johnson, Dandino, Lloyd.
#2: DePuy, Smith, Sharp, Steele, Doty, Quigley.
New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (10 laps): 1. 00-Sam Hoxie, 2. 2-Bill Tice, 3. 93-Tyler Vinson.
NEXT EVENT: July 5 @ 7pm; Honeoye Auto Parts presents Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified “Liberty 100” plus Empire Super Sprints Land of Legends 360 Sprint Classic Series Race #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, Pampered Parents, 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.