By TOM SKIBINISKI
CANANDAIGUA, NY – The six-feature fanfest at Land Of Legends Raceway was certainly a ‘Saturday Spectacular’ with as many twists and turns as the speedway itself.
Third-generation standout Erick Rudolph stopped ‘Super’ Matt Sheppard’s Pepsi Big-Block Modified feature win streak at three while Adam DePuy remained unbeaten with his fifth straight Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stock triumph.
Paul Guererri and nephew Nick Guererri posted their first Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman Modified victories of 2019 while talented teen Jesse Pruchnik and female flash Alysha Bay captured their first checkered flags in the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Mains.
And for the first time all season rain was never a factor as a full house of eager race fans took in the action-packed program on Geneva Club Beverage Night at the slick Ontario County Fairgrounds oval.
“I was as good as I needed to be tonight,” stated Rudolph, 27, after staving off a late race challenge from veteran Alan Johnson while Sheppard settled for third in the 35-lap Big-Block finale. The reigning track points king from Ransomville scored two wins en route to the coveted title while Saturday’s victory was the fifth of his career at the hallowed half-miler.
“On a slippery track like this you never really feel great. We were just okay, thought we could’ve been even a little better but nevertheless the team came out strong and made my job easy. The car was just hooked up tonight for whatever reason,” added Rudolph, whose father Charlie also raced against Johnson, registering 17 Big-Block wins in Canandaigua from 1983-88.
The first feature in June for the mighty Modifieds was all about Erick as he charged from 11th starting spot to overtake Derrick Podsiadlo on lap seven. Pole-sitter Jimmy Maier paced the 22-car starting field before Penn Yan’s Podsiadlo sailed by for the lead on a lap four restart.
Johnson had yet to crack the top-five when Rudolph moved to the point yet the all-time LOLR feature winner ducked under north country chauffeur Billy Dunn for second on lap 23. Fifteenth starting Sheppard cracked the front-four with a dozen laps to go and nosed by Dunn for third on lap 31 but that’s when time ran out.
James Sweeting and Dillon Groover tangled in turn two to bring out the sixth and final caution flag on lap 26, providing A.J. Slideways with a final opportunity to reach victory lane. The potent no. 25 reVive Spine Center-Blue Cross Blue Shield/Bicknell ride was up to the challenge as it carried Rudolph to a five car-length victory and $2,000 payoff, his second win of the weekend after Friday night’s Small-Block victory at his hometown Ransomville Speedway.
All past Super DIRT Week champions Johnson, Friday night Outlaw Speedway winner and current LOLR points leader Sheppard, Dunn and Jimmy Phelps rounded out the final top-five.
A pair of make-up features kicked off the show during daylight hours with Paul Guererri and Pruchnik claiming trophies in the races rain-delayed from May 25.
Jeff Davoli took off at the drop of the green in the initial 25-lap Sportsman main before a turn one pile-up in part due to dusty surface conditions prompted an immediate response from the track grounds crew. With improved visibility there was no change up front following the 20-minute break for track prep as Davoli once again led the 30-car field followed by front row partner Tyler Vinson.
Nick Guererri took advantage of a lap 10 restart to drive around Davoli while younger brother Matt Guererri stormed into second before the halfway mark. Fourteenth starting Paul Guererri from Geneva moved into third in time for a lap 20 restart, and when his nephews diced high and low for the top spot, his #7 Proctor Enterprises-Canandaigua Window Cleaning/Bicknell machine filled the vacancy in between to come across the line first with a handful of laps still remaining.
“Seriously, I was happy with settling for third at that point,” admitted Guererri, on the heels of a track-high 45th career triumph in Canandaigua. “I thought we were gonna get 1-2-3, then they opened the door for me.”
While Paul pulled away from his nearest chasers in the closing stages, current points leader Kevin Root made sure to spoil the Guererri clan finishing in the top-3 slots. Root passed Matt for third on lap 22 and disposed of Nick the following circuit on a restart yet trailed Paul by five car-lengths at the stripe. Eric Giguere rounded out the final top-5.
“The car was real good,” added Guererri, who turns 48 on Monday. I gotta thank Mike Payne, he gave me some shocks this week and the car is really hooked up. I’ve been having issues with the car bouncing all over the place, teetering a little bit, so we worked with the shocks this week and I guess (Mike) hit it right on the money.”
Leading a race-best 10 laps in the early evening outing, fourth starting Nick Guererri stayed out front all 25 laps in the caution-free nightcap to finally crack the winner’s circle steering his no. 25G Pampered Parents-Phelps Cement Products/Bicknell entry.
“Uncle Paul got us on the last one,” remarked Guererri, 34, after becoming the fifth winner in five races in the hold-over event from June 1. After going winless last summer with seven top-5s, the Seneca Falls speedster now has nine career victories at his Saturday night hangout. “We thought we were gonna have (win), but he got us. We were gonna go as hard as we could every lap this race so it worked out for us in the end.”
Once again handicapped towards the back of the field, points leader Root continued his success at LOLR as he advanced from 17th to third in the nine-minute main. First-year WNY regular Garrison Krentz placed a season-best second while Mike Stanton Jr. (4th) and Davoli (5th) filled out the front-five.
“Its tough being the leader, especially on the restarts,” noted Guererri, recalling the first race setback before finally getting the monkey off his back. He wrecked in his heat and missed the season-opening feature completely, second week broke a rotor and lost brakes to finish 6th, then suffered a broken tie-rod while leading on May 18. After a single top-10 finish in the first 3 races, he regrouped to score a pair of top-5s on Saturday night.
“In the first race I took the lead on the top so that’s where I restarted at the end. Tried to hold off my brother (Matt) and my uncle got by. Its been a long damn time since I’ve been (victory lane), the guys have been working hard so I’m glad I could get one for them,” Guererri added.
Pruchnik traveled more than five hours to Canandaigua from his home in New Milford, Conn. then needed to go just 10 miles more to claim his first 20-lap MEM 305 A-Main.
“Can’t believe it,” exclaimed 15 year-old Pruchnik, trying to sum up his memorable night as the second first-time LOLR winged winner in 2019. “Was going pretty good in one and two, and good in turn three too, just pedaling it there at the end. Really couldn’t believe it, the car stuck amazing.”
On the brink of completing his sophomore year of high school, Pruchnik filed in fourth on the 13-car starting grid and moved in to shadow early leader Bay with three laps scored. He made what proved to be the winning move on a lap seven restart and pulled away from Bay and her dad Darryl Ruggles by the halfway point.
Ruggles inherited second when Bay swerved to avoid the spinning mount of Eric Kurtz in turn two on lap 14 yet Pruchnik was too far gone in his no. 42 Spectrol Oil-Tioga Downs Casino Resort/Maxim mount for Ruggles to pose a serious threat the last quarter of the race. Defending points champ and current leader Ruggles finished 10 car-lengths back followed by Bay, early season first-time winner Johnny Kolosek and Brandyn Griffin.
“I had to take my time through traffic, this is something new that I’ve been trying to learn,” said Pruchnik, who ended last season 13th in LOLR sprint points with two fourth-place finishes in just nine starts. “Getting through lapped traffic is definitely one of the more difficult things. Many have lost the lead so my focus was just getting by them. That last lap I just knew I had to keep the car under me and just pedal it through.”
Once more starting outside front row to begin the second 20-lap Sprint feature rolled over from last Saturday, Bay bolted ahead under starter Scott Hixson’s opening green flag to secure an early advantage. Seventh starting Ruggles charged from fourth to second on a lap nine restart, then rounding turn four out-dragged his daughter for the top spot the next time around.
Undaunted by giving up the point for the second time on the same night, Bay ducked under her father exiting turn two on lap 16 to forge the final lead change. Ruggles never backed off though as traffic blocked Bay’s preferred inside line on the final circuit, with a mere half car-length separating the dirt duo as they crossed the finish line nearly side-by-side. Griffin, Erik Karlsen and Dan Bennett closed out the front-five finishing positions.
“The track was in my favor tonight, I drive best on a dry slick race surface,” declared Bay, 25, after emerging as the fifth winner in five Sprint races aboard her Mike Mastin-powered pink no. 48a Danny Willmes Enterprises-VanBortel Trucking/Eagle. Finishing second in points to her father last year, career win #8 at LOLR ranks third all-time since the 305 class debuted in 2012. “Came up a little bit short in the first feature but I had the car for the second one. I seen dad on the outside so I’m like ‘alright, gotta race a little harder’ and fortunately we had enough to get it done. Have to thank everybody that helps, its a big team effort out here every week.”
With new winners surfacing in the Land of Legends’ open-wheel ranks, DePuy remained the one constant following his fifth consecutive victory in the full-fender Street Stock finale. In search of a third successive track points crown, the Macedon ace made it 42 career wins steering his unstoppable no. 99 IFreeze Storage & Distribution Center-A.E.Y. Enterprises-Fox’s Auto/Chevrolet Camaro.
“This (win) was a little bit harder, the track is really slippery tonight,” said DePuy, 45, after posting a convincing 15 car-length victory over all-time LOLR stock car winner Mike Welch. “We were absolutely junk in the heat so we made a bunch of changes. I knew if we could stay on the bottom we’d be really good but its real narrow down there so you gotta hit it just right. A lot of guys had trouble staying down low so we got fortunate to win this one.”
Still looking for his first win at the fairgrounds, Penn Yan’s Jimmy Grant was the last to slip out of DePuy’s desired low lane and relinquish the top spot on lap nine. Grant ran ahead of the 21-car field after sliding around pole-sitter Bob Buono on lap five with DePuy speeding forward from his 12th starting position.
“(Grant) just slipped up a little bit down in turns one and two. I just took my time, you have to be patient out there. I didn’t want to ruin his chance or mine so we did all we could. Once we got to second we were really good and I wanted to make sure I was patient and didn’t do anything crazy. If he would’ve stayed on the bottom I think he might have won since the top and middle were really slick. I was letting off the gas at the flagstand, just gotta pedal it through the corners and have foot control,” DePuy added.
Finishing in third behind Welch, who grabbed six consecutive Street Stock feature wins in 2013, was Grant followed by 2018 points runner-up Marc Minutolo and C.J. Guererri.
Fulton Speedway transfer Wesley Hayes from North Rose took the final checkered flag of the night in the 15-lap Sportsman B-Feature. Hayes, who ran out of fuel on the final circuit and coasted to the pitside scales for the customary post-race weight check, held off Tony Velez the entire way en route to a narrow three car-length victory at the wire.
“We came down here to chase the money, a little bit more trailer money,”Hayes said afterwards. “Had trouble figuring out the track here this year but we’re starting to get it now. Hopefully we’ll be more competitive from now on and qualify for the A-Main.”
Runner-up Velez was later disqualified after coming up light on the scales, moving Doug Smith into second ahead of Keith Stevenson, Timmy Borden Jr. and Dan Gardner.
Double features for the Pepsi Big-Block Modifieds highlight Father’s Day weekend at Land of Legends Raceway with the June 15‘Saturday Spectacular’ also showcasing Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car and Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stock classes plus Power Wheel Races. A special Happiness House Benefit raffle will be held with race time set for 7 p.m. Pit gates unlock at 4:00 and grandstand seating opens at 5 p.m. while hot laps go green at 6 o’clock to kick-off trackside activity on Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram night.
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature Starting Line-Up (35 laps): 1. 27j-Danny Johnson, 2. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 3. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 4. 44v-Phil Vigneri III, 5. 12x-Dillon Groover, 6. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 7. 11j-James Sweeting, 8. 23-Kyle Coffey, 9. 19w-Justin Wright, 10. 14j-Alan Johnson, 11. 25-Erick Rudolph, 12. 10-Patrick Hoopes, 13. 3-Justin Haers, 14. 49-Billy Dunn, 15. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 16. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 17. 63-Adam Roberts, 18. 1-Steve Paine, 19. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 20. 77-Lance Dusett, 21. 21x-Eric Williams.
Make way for the first mid-week special of the season arriving Wed., June 26 as the Monster Trucks invade Land Of Legends Raceway. 2018 Monster Jam World Finals champion ‘Overkill Evolution’ will be in the house, headlining a big tripleheader packed with Quad Racing and a huge Demolition Derby. Tickets are on sale now on the track website, $20 adults and $15 for 12 yrs. & under.
With the 56th season finally underway, be sure to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visitingwww.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 8, 2019
Geneva Club Beverage presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 25-Erick Rudolph ($2,000), 2. 14j-Alan Johnson, 3. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 4. 49-Billy Dunn, 5. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 6. 19w-Justin Wright, 7. 7f-Matt Farnham, 8. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 9. 23-Kyle Coffey, 10. 63-Adam Roberts, 11. 77-Lance Dusett, 12. 1-Steve Paine, 13. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 14. 11j-James Sweeting, 15. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 16. 12x-Dillon Groover, 17. 10-Patrick Hoopes, 18. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 19. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 20. 3-Justin Haers, 21. 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr., 22. 21x-Eric Williams.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Rudolph, Phelps, Maier, Tegg, Coffey, Paine, Dusett.
#2: Podsiadlo, Dunn, Sweeting, Williams, Wright, Daugherty, Hoopes, D.Johnson.
#3: Roberts, Haers, Sheppard, A.Johnson, Groover, Farnham, Payne.
Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps / *rain-delayed from 5/25): 1. 7-Paul Guererri ($750), 2. 34-Kevin Root, 3. 25g-Nick Guererri, 4. 12g-Matt Guererri, 5. 67g-Eric Giguere, 6. 31-Kane Bristol, 7. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 8. c21-Jeff Davoli, 9. 56-Garrison Krentz, 10. 3m-Mike Stanton Jr., 11. 9-Tim Baker, 12. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 13. 1x-Andrew Smith, 14. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 15. 2-Loren Lincoln, 16. 132-Dalton Martin, 17. 117jr.-C.J. Castelletti, 18. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 19. 28a-Alex Payne, 20. 21v-Tony Velez, 21. 7z-Zach Payne, 22. 35-Nick Cooper, 23. 4-Keith Stevenson, 24. 00-Sam Hoxie, 25. 93-Tyler Vinson, 26. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 27. 20-Dan Gardner, 28. 11n-Ricky Newton, 29. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 30. 1-Billy Paine, 42-Darryl Nutting(DNS).
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 25g-Nick Guererri ($750), 2. 56-Garrison Krentz, 3. 34-Kevin Root, 4. 3m-Mike Stanton Jr., 5. c21-Jeff Davoli, 6. 1x-Andrew Smith, 7. 7-Paul Guererri, 8. 31-Kane Bristol, 9. 9-Tim Baker, 10. 12g-Matt Guererri, 11. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 12. 67g-Eric Giguere, 13. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 14. 7z-Zach Payne, 15. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 16. 11n-Ricky Newton, 17. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 18.93-Tyler Vinson, 19. 132-Dalton Martin, 20. 35-Nick Cooper, 21. 2-Loren Lincoln, 22. 117jr.-C.J. Castelletti, 23. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 24. 1-Billy Paine, 80-Cody Wolfe(no show).
(heats run 6/1)
Consolation (8 laps): 1. Lloyd, 2. Newton, 3. Ridley, 4. Castelletti, 5. Martin, 6. Hayes, 7. Velez, 8. Hoxie, 9. Smith, 10. Stevenson, 11. Gardner, 12. Wilbur, 13. A.Payne, 23b-Timmy Borden Jr.(DNS), 72-Ajay Potrzebowski(no show).
B-Feature (15 laps): 1. 92-Wesley Hayes, 2. 21v-Tony Velez(dsq/light), 3. 01-Doug Smith, 4. 4-Keith Stevenson, 5. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 6. 20-Dan Gardner, 7. 13-Mickey Wilbur, 8. 28a-Alex Payne, 00-Sam Hoxie(DNS), 72-Ajay Potrzebowski(no show).
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps / *rain-delayed from 5/25): 1. 42-Jesse Pruchnik, 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 48a-Alysha Bay, 4. 26j-Johnny Kolosek, 5. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 6. 66-Erik Karlsen, 7. X-Dan Bennett, 8. 38-Jason Whipple, 9. 13t-Trevor Years, 10. 99-Andy Jacobus, 11. 53-Tom Fletcher(no points), 12. 8g-Bobby Gardner(no points), 13. 74-Eric Kurtz.
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48a-Alysha Bay, 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 4. 66-Erik Karlsen, 5. X-Dan Bennett, 6. 42-Jesse Pruchnik(no points), 7. 26j-Johnny Kolosek, 8. 38-Jason Whipple, 9. 13t-Trevor Years, 10. 53-Tom Fletcher, 11. 74-Eric Kurtz(no points), 12. 8g-Bobby Gardner, 13. 99-Andy Jacobus(no points)
(heats run 6/1)
Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 99-Adam DePuy, 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 36-Jimmy Grant, 4. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 5. cj1x-C.J. Guererri, 6. 5c-Rick Crego, 7. 64-Bob Buono, 8. 4j-Jason Doty, 9. 55p-Parker Smith, 10. 57j-Quinn Sutherland, 11. 34q-Jason Quigley, 12. 9-Aksel Jensen, 13. 55b-Blane Smith, 14. 37x-Carl Johnson, 15. 69r-Carl Whittaker, 16. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 17. 11j-Jeffrey Lalonde, 18. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 19. 93-Jared Hill, 20. cj1-Dave Guererri Jr., 8-Scott Herman(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: P.Smith, Buono, Sutherland, D.Guererri, Jensen, Herman Metcalf.
#2: Grant, DePuy, Johnson, Doty, C.J. Guererri, Whittaker, Sharp.
#3: Welch, Minutolo, B.Smith, Quigley, Crego, Hill, Lalonde.
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, June 15 @ 7pm; Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram presents Big-Block Modified(double features)/Sportsman/305 Sprint/Street Stock plus Power Wheel Races with Happiness House Benefit.