By: Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
CANANDAIGUA, NY – Pepsi Big-Block Modified point leaders Matt Sheppard and Erick Rudolph returned to winning form Saturday as the seasoned second-generation chauffeurs shared victory lane at Land Of Legends Raceway while New Jersey invader Davie Franek extended his own points advantage on the heels of his third Patriot Sprint Tour triumph of 2019 at the hallowed half-miler.
Also taking checkered flags in the Saturday Spectacular on A-Verdi Storage Containers Night were Kevin Ridley (Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman Modified) and Adam DePuy (Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stock). The Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Cars were not in competition due to the Big-Block twin-bill and PST special, instead opening the door for a 305 doubleheader on July 6 which offers a $25 per car load general admission price for fairgrounds fans.
Adding to the June 22 fanfare was a memorable pre-race ceremony honoring long-time Canandaigua favorite Gary Montgomery as the second individual to be recognized in 2019 on the Land Of Legends Wall of Fame. Unveiling the custom WoF plaque and accepting on Gary’s behalf were his wife Karen and son Scott, along with brother Dick and sister-in-law Mary Montgomery. During intermission Scott was joined by former LOLR announcer Tom Petrie going through the main grandstand handing out diecast race car coupes to lucky youngsters in attendance.
A nationally recognized Motor Racing Network reporter for NASCAR events, co-host of the regional Rush Hour on DIRT television show and creator of the BRP Can Am Late Model Series, Montgomery was best known among local fans and racers as the familiar voice of his favorite track, Canandaigua Speedway, today known as Land Of Legends Raceway. During his tenure in the tower, he dubbed numerous driver nicknames including ‘The Master of Going Faster’ Bob McCreadie, ‘A.J. Slideways’ Alan Johnson, ‘The Hurricane’ Steve Paine, ‘Daring Dan the Stock Car Man’ Danny Johnson and ‘Hough the Magic Dragon’ Lin Hough, always offering his signature send off “by the grace of god and 800 horsepower” come feature time.
Employed full-time in the finance department for Xerox in Rochester NY and a respected Yates County Legislator, Gary finally lost a courageous battle with cancer on his 74th birthday, Nov. 2, 2016.
Through the initial six Big-Block events at LOLR, the score now stands 4-2 in favor of Sheppard, with ‘Super Matt’ in search of a ninth track championship while ‘Erick The Great’ remains in defense of his first points crown earned at the historic Ontario County Fairgrounds clay oval.
“Me and the boys decided right (set-up) for this first feature here,” remarked Rudolph, 27, after the Ransomville ridge runner captured the opening Modified main rain-delayed from May 25. “Awesome track to race on, hopefully it’ll be just as good later on today.”
Making his season debut strapped into the #39 Sweeteners Plus-CME/Bicknell ride, Danny Johnson bolted out front from his pole-position start before a three-car tangle in turn one slowed the action with just two complete in the 35-lap feature. Johnson increased his margin back under green while 11th-starting Rudolph charged into fourth with seven laps scored.
Johnson’s new teammate Kyle Coffey grabbed second from Jimmy Maier on lap nine while 15th-place starter Sheppard cracked the front-five after four more times around. Rudolph moved into the runner-up spot past Coffey on lap 15 before the second and final caution flag flew the following circuit for the slowing mount of track rookie Dillon Groover.
The minor mishap near the midway mark erased Johnson’s commanding lead and on the ensuing lap 16 restart Sheppard made it a three-car battle up front. Rudolph shadowed DJ for the next dozen circuits before Johnson slid high out of the groove entering turn four to open the door for Rudolph to dive through on lap 27.
Sheppard also ducked under Johnson with a handful of laps remaining yet ran out of time to threaten the stronghold of Rudolph, who cruised under the checkered flag by three-quarters of a straightaway in his #25 reVive Spine Center-Blue Cross Blue Shield/Bicknell entry. Johnson, Coffey and Alan Johnson completed the top-five.
“I blew my line in (turns) 1 & 2 earlier in the race and it looked like that’s what happened to (Danny),” figured Rudolph, after registering his sixth DIRTcar feature win of ’19, the second straight coming in Canandaigua. “He was running a steady line there but with the sun and whatnot, its easy to understand how you can miss your line. I did it myself. But he’s always a tough competitor so when you beat one of the best it feels pretty good.”
Rudolph pulled alongside 13th-starting Sheppard in the 35-lap nightcap with smooth and slick track conditions prevailing after the running of a dozen more qualifiers and companion class feature events. Phil Vigneri III led only one lap before James Sweeting stormed past with DJ quickly up to second only a handful of laps in.
When Eric Williams slowed on lap 18 to bring out the first yellow flag, Johnson out-dragged Sweeting on the restart, returning to the point and looking for redemption from round one as well as his first win of the season in wine country.
Also looking to avenge his second-place tally in the first feature run in daylight, Sheppard shot into second on lap 21 and for the next five miles tried both high and low to improve one more position. The opportunity finally arrived for Sheppard when Johnson again slid up high exiting turn one on lap 31 right before contact with his son Daniel Jr. forced on the yellow lights.
Johnson seemed to catch a break and was given back the lead when scorers re-positioned the running order after the last completed green flag lap. However, it was ‘Super Matt’ celebrating good fortune in the end as Johnson suddenly dropped off the pace on the restart and coasted pitside with a flat tire sustained the lap prior.
Sheppard rolled on his #9s Hurlock Auto & Speed-Dendis Companies/Bicknell machine to a convincing 10 car-length victory margin ahead of runner-up Billy Dunn, followed by Rudolph, Alan Johnson and Brockport’s Sweeting with his first top-five tally of the season.
“Not sure what happened there to Danny, think he got into his son there to bring out the caution. Don’t know if he cut a tire down or broke something,” stated Sheppard, 36, after the Waterloo warrior knocked down victory number 17 overall this season to rank him tops in the entire Northeast. “We had a pretty good car tonight. Don’t think we had the best car here but some nights you get some breaks in traffic and get to the front and we were able to hold on until the end. We’ll definitely take it.”
Sheppard’s 74th career Big-Block win at LOLR puts him 29 points ahead of Rudolph in the track title hunt, 371-342, with Dunn (330) and Alan Johnson (307) hovering close by.
“We seemed to be better on the shorter runs than the long ones tonight. We just missed (set-up) a little bit, but we were close, and lucky for us things went our way. Caught some good luck, got some restarts and got breaks in traffic early. We’re standing here in victory lane and happy about that. Every night is still a learning experience for us. We’re usually trying something just about all the time, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We’ll just put our heads together and see what we can come up with after tonight,” Sheppard added.
In just his second appearance at the fairgrounds, Franek found the learning curve fast, leading all 25 laps from his front row start in round #2 of the Land of Legends 360 Sprint Classic Series that went green-to-checkers in just 8 minutes.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, we were about a 7 tonight,” acknowledged Franek, 32, following his fifth winged win at as many tracks this season, with no less than three scored in his first-ever visits. The second-generation driver from Sussex, NJ became the seventh different winner in 17 PST events staged at LOLR since 2003 and the 64th sprint winner in Canandaigua history.
“Still, a pretty good year so far. We just roll into a new place and don’t over-think it. Just kind of go with it and that’s kind of what we did tonight,” said Franek, after posting his third victory in five PST events, worth $2,000 and a guaranteed starting berth in the inaugural New York Nationals, Sept. 6 & 7, at LOLR when the winged machines return to Canandaigua. Action gets underway Friday 9/6 with $1,000-to-win Triple 15s highlighting the card, with Chuck Hebing already locked into the lucrative $5,000-to-win, $400-to-start A-Main slated for Saturday.
A third automatic starting spot in the New York Nationals is up for grabs when the Empire Super Sprinters visit LOLR in another 360 Sprint Classic Series showdown on Thr. July 4, joining the Big-Bock Super DIRTcar Series holiday happening in Canandaigua. A two-time United Racing Club (URC) in 2014 & ’16, Franek is chasing both the ESS and PST series in one of his most ambitious seasons to date.
Passing points locked the top-8 drivers into the customary pre-race draw for A-Main starting assignments and Franek selected #1 while Land of Legends regulars Erik Karlsen (4th) and Darryl Ruggles (6th) joined the festivities. Yet after the Garden State pilot saw the opening green, that was almost the last the rest of the 22-car field saw of his Rider-powered no. 28F Franek Auto Sales-Rapid Tire-Escape RV-Atlantic Battery/Maxim sprinter during the race.
“We really weren’t that good in the heat race,” admitted Franek, who finished fourth in the second of three qualifiers that helped break down the 28 entries signed in. “Changed a bunch of stuff around for the feature, just kept up with it and it turned out pretty good. We’ll go back to the notebook and write all this down and be back here during (Donath Motor Worx CNY) Speed Week (July 3-7) with ESS and definitely be a little better.”
May 18 CRSA 305 victor Jeff Trombley tried to keep Franek in sight, but once the leaders reached traffic on lap eight, visions of a rare 360 victory grew dimmer.
“The track got a little bit different than what we anticipated,” said Trombley, who settled for second-place 10 car-lengths back. The Altamont driver is enjoying his own perch atop the 305 standings in quest of a third straight CRSA championship. “The car was still really good and we were pretty close. Had a lot of fun tonight.”
Brewerton’s Jason Barney, a three-time Patriot Tour winner at LOLR, filled out the podium finishers after starting ninth via his victory in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Four Laps of Fame Dash.
“We were good early and most of the time after that and hoped running that dash closer to feature time would work to our advantage,” noted Barney, who also plans to return to the fairgrounds for the ESS holiday showdown. “We wanted to be on the bottom all the way around but the lapped cars were down there. They got me strung up and I just wasn’t right up there.”
Opening day LOLR Patriot Tour winner Hebing finished fourth while Sammy Reakes IV rounded out the final front-five. Karlsen was scored 7th ahead of Ruggles while Alysha Bay (17th) and Dan Bennett (18th) also represented Canandaigua in the fast feature field that attracted 13 of the Top-15 current PST point earners.
While Sheppard and Rudolph have taken top billing in Big-Block competition, it took six shows to anoint a repeat winner in the Sportsman class with open-wheel veteran Ridley taking the honors.
“We worked our tails off all week getting this car together, can’t thank everybody enough that helped out,” exclaimed Waterloo’s Ridley, 41, referring to the brand-new no. 20x Fred’s Fab’N Fold-Champion Power Equipment-Lakeshore Auto Mall-backedBicknell design assembled in time for Saturday’s Sportsman shootout. “I could sit here and name names and it wouldn’t be enough. They definitely put their heart into it this week for me.”
All-time Canandaigua Sportsman win leader Paul Guererri tangled in turn one with first-year track regular Andrew Smith on the opening circuit to begin the 25-lap finale. That only delayed the inevitable for 13 year-old Alex Payne as he led his first feature laps when the 24-car field resumed under green.
Ninth-place starter Ridley had his own plans, advancing during a pair of early caution periods before forcing the lone lead-change in a bold three-wide maneuver —under both Loren Lincoln and Payne across the stripe— on the lap seven restart. From there the local graybeards methodically worked their way to the front behind Ridley, lap after lap dicing with upstart Payne before the young rookie placed a career-high 7th at the line.
Season-opener winner Kane Bristol proved nearly as strong, forging a solid second-place just two car-lengths behind Ridley from his 16th starting slot. Points leader Kevin Root stole third from Matt Guererri near the wire while his older brother Nick Guererri finished fifth ahead of ’19 newcomer Garrison Krentz.
“This (win) is big for us the first time out. It means we did something right putting this car together and hopefully we can keep maintaining it throughout the season and keep it fast. Every week we try our best. The last show we had some brake issues but we’ve got that figured out now and hopefully we can continue the momentum,” added two-time track titlist Ridley, who improved from 7th to 4th in the point standings with 343 markers, behind only Root (397), Bristol (383) and Matt Guererri (356) as the summer starts to heat up.
The thermometer has risen weekly in the DePuy Racing camp as the Macedon missile remains relentless, claiming all six trophies in the fairgrounds lone full-fender division. The two-time reigning LOLR points king needed only four trips around to ascend from 12th to first in his latest 15-lap romp at the storied speedplant.
“They always say you have to slow down to go fast and I was almost letting off (gas pedal) at the flagstand tonight,” noted DePuy, 45, after tying the six straight win total reached by both Mike Welch (2013) and Pete Stefanski (2014). Dave Voss garnered a track-best nine consecutive checkered flags in 1983 when Canandaigua staged three divisions of amateur street stocks.
DePuy was pedal down from the opening gun aboard his black no. 99 IFreeze Storage & Distribution Center-A.E.Y. Enterprises-Fox’s Auto/Chevrolet Camaro, needing only three laps to pull into second as the yellow flag waved early and often in the main event. The lap four restart settled the score for good as DePuy out-dragged leader Bob Buono out of turn four and only had to hold off a late-race surge from Welch to bag his 43rd career win in Ontario County.
“The track was so slippery, you have to get to the bottom and that’s what we did. Used the low groove and that’s what worked for us tonight,” added DePuy, after outlasting all-time LOLR stock car winner Welch (79) by two car-lengths while Rick Crego, Marc Minutolo and Jimmy Grant crossed the line next.
Crego was later disqualified following a customary post-race inspection that uncovered an illegal aluminum spool in the rear-end of his #5c Ford Fusion.
The first mid-week special of the season at Land Of Legends Raceway is now just days away as Monster Trucks invade the fairgrounds Wed., June 26. 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 remain on sale now on the track website, $20 adults and $15 for 12 yrs. & under.
High-speed dirt track action returns to LOLR on June 29 with the final
‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the month featuring a pair of extra-distance mid-season championship events. A raffle to benefit The Spot will also be held during the night with race time is set for 7 p.m. Pit gates unlock at 4:00 and grandstand seating opens at 5 p.m. Hot laps go green at 6 o’clock.
Double points are on the line in all divisions except for Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman, as Canandaigua plays host to the Northeast Sportsman Series Central Region lid-lifter paying $1,000 to the 40-lap winner. Joined on the Honeoye Auto Parts/American Equipment card by MEM 305s and Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stocks, the mighty Pepsi Mod squad closes out the show with a 50-lapper offering a $2,500 winner’s share.
With the 56th season now in high gear, 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 22, 2019
A-Verdi Storage Containers presents Saturday Spectacular
360 Sprint Classic Series Race #2
Patriot Sprint Tour
*A-Main (25 laps): 1. 28f-Dave Franek ($2,000), 2. 3a-Jeff Trombley, 3. 87-Jason Barney, 4. 45-Chuck Hebing, 5. 17-Sammy Reakes IV, 6. 22-Jonathan Preston, 7. 66-Erik Karlsen, 8. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 9. 98-Joe Trenca, 10. 90-Matt Tanner, 11. 35-Jared Zimbardi, 12. 61-Parker Evans, 13. 79-Jordan Thomas, 14. 36d-Steve Doell Jr., 15. 41j-Josh Flint, 16. 10LC-Kelly Hebing, 17. 48a-Alysha Bay, 18. X-Dan Bennett, 19. 2-Dave Axton, 20. 17z-Josh Azzi, 21. 22r-Mike Koehler, 22. 67-Pete Richardson.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Trombley, C.Hebing, Tanner, K.Hebing, Koehler, Flint, Evans, Richardson, Preston, Kuhn.
#2: Thomas, Barney, Jo.Trenca, Franek, Doell, Bennett, Axton, Goodrich, Jn.Trenca.
#3: Zimbardi, Karlsen, Ruggles, Reakes, Bay, Azzi, Carlson, Levesque, Glover.
B-Main (8 laps)
#1: Evans, Preston, Axton, Richardson, 99k-Dan Kuhn, 9k-Kevin Carlson, 16L-Roger Levesque, 99-John Trenca, 121-Steve Glover(DNS), 30-Scott Goodrich(DNS).
Bonnell’s Rod Shop Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 laps): Barney, Tanner, Flint, Jo.Trenca, Doell, K.Hebing.
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps / *rain-delayed from 5/25): 1. 25-Erick Rudolph ($2,000), 2. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 3. 39-Danny Johnson, 4. 23-Kyle Coffey, 5. 14j-Alan Johnson, 6. 49-Billy Dunn, 7. 3-Justin Haers, 8. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 9. 19w-Justin Wright, 10. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 11. 11j-James Sweeting, 12. 21x-Eric Williams, 13. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 14. 77-Lance Dusett, 15. 44v-Phil Vigneri III, 16. 10-Patrick Hoopes, 17. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 18. 12x-Dillon Groover, 19. 63-Adam Roberts, 20. 1-Steve Paine, 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr.(no show).
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard ($2,000), 2. 49-Billy Dunn, 3. 25-Erick Rudolph, 4. 14j-Alan Johnson, 5. 11j-James Sweeting, 6. 3-Justin Haers, 7. 82-Gary Tomkins, 8. 63-Adam Roberts, 9. 44v-Phil Vigneri III, 10. 19w-Justin Wright, 11. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 12. 12x-Dillon Groover, 13. 23-Kyle Coffey, 14. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 15. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 16. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 17. 77-Lance Dusett, 18. 39-Danny Johnson, 19. 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr., 20. 7f-Matt Farnham, 21. 21x-Eric Williams, 22. 10-Patrick Hoopes, 23. 1-Steve Paine.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Sheppard, D.Johnson, Rudolph, Podsiadlo, Sweeting, Farnham, Groover, Daugherty.
#2: Vigneri, Coffey, Haers, Dunn, A.Johnson, Dusett, Williams.
#3: Tegg, Wright, Maier, Roberts, Tomkins, Paine, D.Johnson Jr., Hoopes.
Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 20x-Kevin Ridley ($750), 2. 31-Kane Bristol, 3. 34-Kevin Root, 4. 12g-Matt Guererri, 5. 25g-Nick Guererri, 6.56-Garrison Krentz, 7. 28a-Alex Payne, 8. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 9. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 10. 3m-Mike Stanton Jr., 11. 1x-Andrew Smith, 12.9-Tim Baker, 13. 35-Nick Cooper, 14. 132-Dalton Martin, 15. 11n-Ricky Newton, 16. 117jr.-C.J.Castelletti, 17. 2-Loren Lincoln, 18.1L-Jeff Lawrence, 19. 1-Billy Paine, 20. c21-Jeff Davoli, 21. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 22. 93-Tyler Vinson, 23. 7-Paul Guererri, 24.113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Baker, Krentz, Newton, Cooper, Borden, Hoxie, D.Smith, Nichols.
#2: Ridley, Bristol, Root, Lawrence, F.Guererri, A.Smith, Martin, Z.Payne(DNS).
#3: Kimble, Lincoln, Paine, Stanton, P.Guererri, Stevenson, Peckham, Karlsen.
#4: Lloyd, M.Guererri, N.Guererri, Davoli, A.Payne, Vinson, Hayes, Castelletti, Harsch.
Consolation (8 laps)
#1: A.Smith, Vinson, Martin, Castelletti, 92-Wesley Hayes, 00-Sam Hoxie, 90-Nathan Peckham, 01-Doug Smith, 77-Benny Karlsen, 4-Keith Stevenson, 14n-Dwight Nichols, 19-Mike Harsch, 7z-Zach Payne(DNS).
Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 99-Adam DePuy, 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 5c-Rick Crego(dsq), 4. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 5. 36-Jimmy Grant, 6. 64-Bob Buono, 7. 57j-Quinn Sutherland, 8. 37x-Carl Johnson, 9. 55p-Parker Smith, 10. cj1-Dave Guererri Jr., 11. 34q-Jason Quigley, 12. 86L-Shawn Lloyd, 13. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 14. 4j-Jason Doty, 15. 69r-Carl Whittaker, 16. 55b-Blane Smith, 17. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 18. 8x-Jayson Smart, 19. 02-Brad Steinruck.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Buono, Johnson, Crego, Guererri, Minutolo, B.Smith, Quigley, Whittaker, Lloyd.
#2: Welch, Grant, DePuy, Sutherland, P.Smith, Doty, Smart, Sharp, Steinruck, Metcalf(DNS).