By CHRIS MOORE
FONDA, NY – For the first time in the history of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco, Fonda Speedway joined the series schedule in 2019.
And what a debut it was on Wednesday night.
After a wild 50-lap roller-coaster of a race, it was Sprakers, N.Y.’s, Stewart Friesen grabbing the win and the $10,700 in the inaugural Fuccillo Automotive Group ‘Firecracker 50’ presented by Teo-Pro Car at the Track of Champions.
Friesen needed every one of the race’s 50 laps to get the job done before the largest crowd in Short Track Super Series history.
After blowing a right-rear tire with 19 laps to go, Friesen roared back to beat Matt Sheppard to the line on the final lap to grab the Sunoco checkered flag in Event No. 5 of the Halmar International North Region.
At the drop of the green it was a Friesen leading the way. However, it was Jessica Friesen who grabbed the lead from her front-row starting position in the early going.
After a yellow on lap five for Larry Wight, who made his STSS debut Wednesday night, Jessica Friesen began to show the field, and the crowd, she was there to win.
Friesen pulled away from Rocky Warner and Erick Rudolph before catching lap traffic. Meanwhile, Stewart Friesen had climbed from his eighth starting position, and got to second.
Stewart would eventually make the move past his wife, Jessica, to take the lead on lap 23. However, on lap 31 the entire race flipped on its ear.
The yellow flag came out with Jessica slowing due to engine issues off of turn two, while nearly simultaneously, Stewart blew a right-rear tire in turns three and four.
All of a sudden, Waterloo, N.Y.’s, Matt Sheppard would inherit the lead after stealthily climbing from his seventh starting position to third. However, on the restart, Rudolph, of Ransomville, N.Y., jumped to the outside and drive around Sheppard for the lead.
It appeared his lead would be short lived with Sheppard applying the pressure, going high and low, searching for a lane. Meanwhile, Friesen had quickly gone from the back of the pack, to the sixth position after slicing through the field.
After a yellow on lap 37, Sheppard took advantage of the restart, taking the lead and pulling away from Rudolph. After a couple of laps, it became apparent, Sheppard’s biggest competition was a blue and black number 44 machine powered by a 360 small-block engine.
Friesen had gotten to the runner-up spot with eight laps to go, but it appeared he would run out of time. That was until Sheppard caught the tail of the field with three laps to go. Friesen closed fast and was on Sheppard’s bumper at the white flag.
Setting up a last lap for the ages, Sheppard left the top open in turns three and four, and it was all Friesen needed. Side-by-side, door-to-door, sparks flying and a roaring crowd, it was Friesen edging Sheppard for the win.
“I thought we were gonna drive away when we got the lead, but Stew’s just so fast here,” Sheppard said afterward.
“This is just awesome,” was the most Friesen could muster in Victory Lane following the win in front of a vocal crowd.
Rudolph hung on for a podium finish in third. Middletown, N.Y.’s, Anthony Perrego would drive the Graham Racing No. 18 machine to a fourth-place finish. Track regular and four-time Fonda winner Rocky Warner of Gloversville, N.Y., rounded out the top five.
Andy Bachetti of Sheffield, Mass., recorded a sixth-place result. Phoenix, N.Y.’s Larry Wight came back for seventh after his lap-five flat tire. The “Corporate Jet” Brett Hearn of Sussex, N.J., grabbed an eighth-place finish. Mat Williamson of St. Catharine’s, Ont., finished ninth and Johnstown, N.Y.’s Craig Hanson got his second consecutive STSS 10th-place finish.
$100 Rob Sherlock Roofing heat winners were Mike Gular, Rudolph, Perrego and Friesen with 39 Modifieds in attendance. Larry Wight topped the consolation.
Tim Hartman Jr. of Niskayuna, N.Y., took home $2,000 as the winner of the 25-lap STSS Crate 602 Sportsman main event. Hartman, the current point leader at Fonda and in the STSS Crate 602 Sportsman North Region, started third and took the lead on lap seven from pole starter Adam McAuliffe.
Brian Calabrese, Adam McAuliffe, Mark Mortensen and Chad Edwards put on the most entertaining battle of the night, battling back-and-forth for the second and third positions.
When the checkered flew, it was Calabrese grabbing the runner-up spot and McAuliffe would round out the podium finishers. Edwards and Mortensen completed the front five.
Hartman won for the second time this season with the STSS. He was a Memorial Day weekend victor at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Center Lisle, N.Y., to kick off the North Region.
FONDA FINDS: The stout 39-car STSS Modified field was joined by 35 Crate 602 Sportsman on hand. The spacious grandstand area was filled to near capacity with a huge crowd on hand….
John Lakata designed a custom, unique trophy for the STSS winner that encompassed the freedom theme and the historic Fonda covered grandstand….
Andy Bachetti has earned top-10 finishes in all of the Halmar International North Region events run this season….
The family of late race fan Mike Cole were prominent during the evening and offered the command of ‘Gentlemen, Start Your Engines’ before the main….
The night’s program was filmed with multiple camera angles for national MAV-TV broadcast in September….
Racing resumes for the STSS on Tuesday, July 9 with the ‘Battle of the Bullring 7’ at Accord (N.Y.) Speedway featuring the Halmar International North Region Modifieds, Crate 602 Sportsman North Region and Four Cylinders.
To learn more about the 2019 Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail email@example.com, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.
he Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, Insinger Performance, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, Velocita-USA, Design for Vision/Sunglass Central, Rob Sherlock Roofing, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, EIBACH Springs, Escape RV, Fast Axle, Fox Racing Shocks, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, HyperCo, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Land Hoe Maintenance, K&N, MJK Home Maintenance, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, QA1, Racing Optics, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO, Velocita, WELD Racing & Wilwood.
FUCCILLO AUTOMOTIVE GROUP ‘FIRECRACKER 50’ PRESENTED BY TEO-PRO CAR RACE SUMMARY – FONDA SPEEDWAY JULY 3, 2019
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Halmar International North Region Event No. 5 Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Sheppard, Erick Rudolph, Anthony Perrego, Rocky Warner, Andy Bachetti, Larry Wight, Brett Hearn, Mat Williamson, Craig Hanson, Michael Maresca, Billy Decker, Bobby Varin, David Schilling, Mike Mahaney, Matt DeLorenzo, Allison Ricci, Billy Van Pelt, Cody Bleau, Steve Akers, Danny Creeden, Mike Gular, Jessica Friesen, Jeremy Smith, Corey Cormier, Billy Pauch Jr., J.R. Hurlburt, Alan Barker, Dave Constantino.
Did Not Qualify: Tim Hartman Jr., Vinnie Sanganetti, Brian Gleason, Jimmy Horton, Josh Hohenforst, Scott Huber, Roger Henion Jr., Danny Varin.
Lap Money Breakdown ($5,005): Brett Hearn ($500); Matt Sheppard ($400); Stewart Friesen ($300); Michael Maresca ($300); Alan Barker ($300); Anthony Perrego ($300); Matt DeLorenzo ($300); Craig Hanson ($200); Jessica Friesen ($200); Erick Rudolph ($200); Jeremy Smith ($200); David Schilling ($200); Larry Wight ($200); Billy Decker ($200); Danny Creeden ($200); Dave Constantino ($200); Bobby Varin ($200); Mat Williamson ($105); Allison Ricci ($100); Cody Bleau ($100); Corey Cormier ($100); Mike Gular ($100)
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire): Brett Hearn (eighth) & Bobby Varin (13th)
ATL Fuel Cell Bonus ($200 Certificate): Rocky Warner (fifth)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Anthony Perrego (fourth) & Mat Williamson (ninth)
Fonda Fair Bonus ($100): Rocky Warner (fifth)
Fuccillo Automotive Group ‘Move of the Race’ ($100): Stewart Friesen
EIBACH Springs Bonus ($100 Certificate): Andy Bachetti (sixth)
Henry’s Exhaust Bonus ($50 Certificate): Michael Maresca (11th)
James Osterhoudt Heat No. 1 Award ($200): Larry Wight
John Grant Racing Engines Hard Charger ($100): David Schilling (29th to 14th)
Long Haul Bonuses by Timco Transportation ($150): Jimmy Horton & Roger Henion Jr.
MJK Home Maintenance Heat-Race Hard Charger ($125): Rocky Warner (eighth to second)
One Spot Out Bonus by Timco Transportation ($100): Jimmy Horton and Danny Varin
Racing Optics Bonus (Sleeve of Tearoffs): Erick Rudolph
Rob Sherlock Roofing Heat Winner Bonuses ($100 each): Mike Gular, Erick Rudolph, Anthony Perrego & Stewart Friesen
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 each): Matt Sheppard (second), Billy Decker (12th) & Mike Gular (22nd)
Superior Remodeling Halfway Leader Bonus ($200): Stewart Friesen
WELD Wheels Hard Luck Award (FREE Wheel): Roger Henion Jr.
Wilwood ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($50 Certificate): Larry Wight (seventh)
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco North Region Event No. 3 Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): TIM HARTMAN JR., Brian Calabrese, Adam McAuliffe, Chad Edwards, Mark Mortensen, Tim Dwyer, Jimmy Johnson, JaMike Sowle, Aaron Burton, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Dan Santabarbara, Cody Clark, Travis Green, Blaine Klinger, Harry Shaffer, Jim Housworth, Joe Orlando, Dustin Jordan, Brendan Gibbons, Jonathan Swift, Brett Mortensen, Joe Williams, Andrew Buff, Bobby Flood, Nick Scavia, Brian Borst, Jeremy Tuttle, Matt Shultz, Tommy Collins.
Did Not Qualify: Tom Princiotta, Jeff Holt, Griffen Mansmith, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Morgiewicz, Dustin Jordan, Will Eastman, Tony Farone.
ACR Performance Hard Charger ($100): Joe Orlando (29th to 17th)