By: Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
CANANDAIGUA, NY – In what may amount to his swan song on the Northeastern sprint car circuit, Frenchman Steve Poirier was right on key after sweeping the extended three-day weekend at Land Of Legends Raceway.
The rain-delayed New York Nationals short-track extravaganza closed out Sunday afternoon and for first-ever 360 Sprint Car event winner Poirier, he probably wouldn’t mind an entire speedweek at the Ontario County Fairgrounds oval where he now owns an even half-dozen feature wins in winged competition.
His latest sprint car triumph at the hallowed half-miler rewarded ‘Fireball’ with the biggest payday ever, a whopping $5,000 top-prize for 17 minutes of work in the headline NYN 30-lap A-Main. He opened the inaugural sprint car spectacular on Friday with a ‘Twin 15’ qualifying race win before placing first in the ‘Pole Dash’ on Saturday.
“It’s really nice to be the first winner of the New Yorker at Land of Legends, a track I really appreciate,” remarked Poirier, who registered wins at LOLR in both Patriot Sprint Group and Empire Super Sprint-sanctioned events, with his first checkered flag taken in 2010. “Its far from home but I always try to make the travel here. Even with the rain the track was smooth and as good as it could be for a day show.”
Concluding the 50-lap Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman special that began on Saturday, Kane Bristol led 39 of the final 43 laps on Sunday to take home the $1,500 top-prize posted by sophomore track promoter Paul Cole.
The top-two finishers in each of the Twin 15s on Friday and four heat race winners on Saturday contended in the all-important ‘Pole Dash’ on day two to determine the the starting order for the front four rows in the inaugural NY Sprint Nationals. Poirier dominated the six-lap affair to earn the point, yet still had to wait one more day to show his skills as rain ultimately postponed any victory lane celebration.
Drivers faced a smooth, slick surface upon their return Sunday, magnified further after the 20-car field filed onto the track following closure of the lead-off 50-lap Sportsman feature. Despite the change in condition, the no. 28FM FM Industries-4 Seasons Foundations-Fuzion Electric-Mega Pumping/Eagle showed no side effects with Poirier behind the wheel as he sped out to a comfortable lead at the outset of the 30-lapper.
“It helps the driver when you’ve got a good piece under you,” Poirier noted. “The car was still good running on the rubber laid down even though it changed the dynamics a little bit. It was one of those weekends when you have a good car and a lot of things tend to turn out in your favor.”
Tim Tanner had other ideas as he overtook Jason Barney for second on lap four and crept closer to Poirier as the green flag laps clicked off. Barney suddenly lost a right-rear wheel entering turn four to incur the first slowdown on lap 14, and two laps later a red flag flew as the result of Shawn Donath’s mount briefly coming to rest atop the same pink #48A sprinter that Darryl Ruggles had borrowed for the day from his daughter, Alysha Bay, Friday night’s 305 winner.
The ensuing lap 16 restart proved pivotal as Tanner pulled alongside Poirier exiting turn two and when the lead duo reached corner number three a new leader had emerged. Undaunted by Tanner’s bold maneuver, Poirier remained on the gas ahead of ESS hotshoe Paulie Colagiovanni while Billy VanInwegen joined the chase with 10 to go.
“Wasn’t sure how things would end up when I lost the lead, especially on a track that was getting harder to pass on as more rubber started to build up,” Poirier stated. “I was just staying in second, unless we get into traffic I might have a chance.”
Continuing to shadow Tanner high and low in traffic, Poirier caught the leader on the low side and in a final push to the front, forged the final lead change rounding turn one with less than three laps to go. The rest was easy as the veteran from St-Mathieu-de-Beloeil, Que. cruised home for a six car-length victory over Tanner, with Colagiovanni, VanInwegen and Jordan Thomas filling out the front-five.
“My car didn’t go on that restart, I was spinning tires, especially out of turn two,” Poirier said. “When I saw Matt I tried to push it as hard as I could into turn three but he was just faster for that lap. After a couple more laps my tires came back in, maybe I was trying to save them too much early. I had a perfect line out of turn four and maybe surprised him in one and had a lucky move there. So the luck was good for us this weekend but I think we had a really good car. It was perfect every time we hit the race track with a lot of different conditions.”
“I want to make sure to be competitive when I retire, don’t want to go out when I’m struggling. Missed a lot of races this season but have done pretty well the last month. So its nice to end this year on a high note,” added Poirier, now with 18 career Patriot Tour wins to go along with an all-time high ESS count of 74 A-Main triumphs.
Despite suffering a bent frame after contact with Roger Levesque sent his #45 Cobra Motorcoaches & Homes/X-1 rolling over during warm-ups on Saturday then electing to sit out Sunday’s finale, the show-up points awarded were just enough for Chuck Hebing to retain his LOLR 360 Sprint Classic Series title by a scant three markers over Colagiovanni. Ironically, both Hebing (245 pts) and Colagiovanni (242) competed in just four of the five mini-series A-Mains, while both their nearest chasers Tanner (217) and Jonathan Preston (210) ran all five.
“Think I burned the tires at the end,” figured runner-up Tanner, who won the first of four heats on Saturday to qualify for the pole dash in which he finished third. “Before that I knew the only way I could get by Steve was using the high side on the restart before he got his momentum back up. It worked for awhile, just ran out of laps to keep it up there when it counted.”
Carrying momentum into the corners has been a primary objective for every crate motor-powered Sportsman racer. For the second straight week, Bristol has been the master aboard his white no. 31 RW Dake Commercial Contracting-Lynnie & Lou’s Ice Cream/Bicknell entry, once again dominating the feature with a near flawless run to the front.
“We came into this (race) not trying out a lot of things during the season because the car was working so good,” relayed Bristol, who won the double-points finale the last weekend in August to trail only Kevin Root on Canandaigua’s final points chart. “But we tried a whole bunch of new stuff today and I guess it all worked.”
In the aftermath of Saturday night’s soaker, Nick Guererri returned to the point when racing resumed on lap eight Sunday while Bristol checked in 10th on the 21-car starting grid; only teenagers Billy Paine and Alex Payne did not return after the rain-delay.
A.J. Lloyd and Zack George tangled in turn four to bring out a yellow flag with Bristol already riding sixth awaiting the lap 11 restart. And when Lloyd scrapped with Cody Wolfe to force a second slowdown on lap 11, Bristol had grabbed third and was hungry for more. A sudden surge on the outside lane first carried Bristol past Paul Guererri down the back chute before one final blast shot him past nephew Nick as the pair crossed the line to complete lap 12.
Kevin Ridley edged by Nick Guererri to gain second on lap 19 and by the midway mark Bristol had built up nearly a straightaway advantage as he continued to weave his way through traffic. The non-stop green flag action left only eight cars on the lead lap with 15 to go and Bristol increased the margin to seven seconds over Ridley with 45 laps scored.
At the wire it was Bristol posting his division-high fourth win of the season, followed by Ridley and a gaggle of Guererris —Matt, Nick and Paul— with sixth-running Tim Baker the last driver to complete all 50 circuits.
“This even surprised me today the way the car worked in the middle lane restarts, it was just rolling perfectly,” beamed Bristol, who now owns eight Sportsman wins in Canandiagua, doubling his career count in 2019. “Everybody was getting bogged down on the bottom and this thing just maintained its speed and kept the grip the best it could. Was really amazing, I’m shocked myself.”
“Been our biggest struggle throughout the years, staying consistent. Even this year with 30-car fields you finish 10th and you’re hanging your head a little bit because things have been going so well. I guess that’s a good sign how much we’ve put into it over the years. We’ll just keep coming back and getting better, hopefully,” Bristol added.
SATURDAY SHOW SHORTENED
Before the unexpected downpour inundated the fairgrounds and forced track officials to postpone the remainder of the New York Nationals show until Sunday afternoon, talented teen Johnny Kolosek made sure nothing would rain on his parade as he went on to capture his first career SuperGen Products with Champion Power Equipment CRSA 305 Sprint Car Series victory.
“Kinda expected the track to slick up a little bit after running so many cars on it so we kinda prepared for it,” remarked Kolosek, 18, a recent graduate of his hometown Marion (NY) High School. His third win of the season was easily the biggest, rewarding him with a $1,000 payday in the 2019 LOLR 305 finale. “Just went out and did what we thought was best based on the track conditions and it turned out to be really good.”
“There was good bite in a lot of spots yesterday, tonight the track was a lot more slick. This was really the first night we had a good car on a super slick track so that was certainly a plus for us,” Kolosek said.
Looking to celebrate her birthday on Saturday with a second successive CRSA Series victory, Alysha Bay managed to address motor issues suffered in her heat yet a loose valve cover spewed oil inside and out during the feature pace lap to end any chance of a repeat run to glory without a single lap complete.
When the initial green flag did fly over the 21-car field, it was outside pole-sitter Dana Wagner fresh off his flip from the previous night, one that destroyed the rear-end and busted the driveshaft, taking charge early in the 20-lap A-Main. Front row partner Dan Craun kept pace early, overtaking Wagner in turn four to lead his first laps of the season in Canandaigua.
Moving even faster aboard the black no. 26J Mike Emhof Motorsports-Crossroads Automotive/GF1 sprinter, Kolosek secured the runner-up slot with five laps scored with Wagner dropping to third ahead of recent 360 runner Josh Flint and downstater Emily VanInwegen.
Kolosek continued to hound Craun, finally taking advantage of a lapped car in turn four to lead across the stripe with 11 laps in the books. As Kolosek put it on cruise control the second half of the race, veteran wingmen Jeff Trombley (started 10th) and Darryl Ruggles (7th) methodically made their way to the front. Trombley advanced to third with a handful of laps to go while Ruggles reached fourth on lap 17 before running out of time in the caution-free A-Main that lasted only 6-1/2 minutes.
“Tonight it was all about throttle control and car set-up” declared Kolosek, who fell just five points shy of Trombley in the four-race LOLR 305 Crown Series final standings. Trombley (653) and Kolosek (648) shared victory lane with fellow four-race mini-series winners Erik Karlsen and Bay while Justin Mills (626), Ruggles (615), Dan Bennett (613) and Bay (600) topped the final points chart.
“The bottom to middle groove was good tonight as the high line was not preferable,” Kolosek added. “Sometimes its good up there and sometimes it isn’t, so we took whatever could get us to the front.”
Opening ceremonies on day two of the New York Nationals showcased the five sprint cars sponsored by Danny Willmes Enterprises, with the special pre-race tribute to the dedicated financial supporter from Penfield highlighted by the sprints entries of father/daughter #48jr. Darryl Ruggles and #48a Alysha Bay, father/son #121 Steve Glover and #21 William Glover, and #75 Brandyn Griffin parked on the frontstretch during the national anthems. Willmes passed away on Monday at age 66.
In just three more weeks the curtain drops on the 2019 racing season in Canandaigua when Land Of Legends Raceway hosts the Phelps Cement Products/Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Gerald Haers Memorial. The headline $45,000 DIRTcar ‘Build Your Bank’ Challenge on Sat., Sept. 28. for both DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds and DIRTcar 358 Modifieds boasts a total purse close to $36,000 with the 50-lap feature winner collecting $6,000. In addition, at least 20 racers are expected to collect over $1,000 making this fall finale one of the most ‘Spectacular Saturdays’ during the entire season.
A DIRTcar Sportsman Series fall event adds another $7,500 to the record single-day payout in Canandaigua, with $2,000 collected by the winner of the 40-lap feature that guarantees $125 to start.
As the 56th season comes to a close, check out the final point standings for all four weekly divisions and keep up with all the late breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. Advance sale tickets for the remaining shows are also available for purchase online throughout the final weeks. 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 – September 8, 2019
New York Nationals
360 Sprint Classic Series
*A-Main (30 laps): 1. 28fm-Steve Poirier ($5,000), 2. 90-Matt Tanner, 3. 10-Paulie Colagiovanni, 4. 56-Billy VanInwegen, 5. 79-Jordan Thomas, 6. 5b-Justin Barger, 7. 197-Ryan Harrison, 8. 7c-Dylan Swernik, 9. 98-Joe Trenca, 10. 91-Scott Holcomb, 11. 14b-Brett Wright, 12. 5-Tyler Ross, 13. 48a-Darryl Ruggles, 14. 21-William Glover, 15. 22-Jonathan Preston, 16. 35-Jared Zimbardi, 17. 2-Dave Axton, 18. 53-Shawn Donath, 19. 87-Jason Barney, 20. 66-Erik Karlsen, 00-Danny Varin(DNS), 45-Chuck Hebing(DNS), 3-Todd Gracey(DNS), 9-Josh Pieniazek(DNS), 28f-Dave Franek(DNS).
Heats (10 laps)
#1: Tanner, Holcomb, Trenca, Donath, C.Hebing, W.Glover, S.Glover, Cartier, Levesque.
#2: Swernik, Harrison, Wright, Axton, Doell, Drum, Kuhn, Richardson.
#3: Barger, Zimbardi, VanInwegen, Ross, Ruggles, K.Hebing, Moffitt, Franek.
#4: Colagiovanni, Varin, Karlsen, Gracey, Pieniazek, Trombley, Dow, Cook.
B-Main (15 laps)
#1: Ross, Gracey, Ruggles, Pieniazek, Trombley, Doell, Dow, K.Hebing, S.Glover, Franek, Cartier, Drum, Richardson, Kuhn, Levesque, Cook, Moffitt(DNS).
Pole Dash (6 laps): Poirier, Barney, Tanner, Colagiovanni, Preston, Thomas, Barger, Swernik.
DNQ: 3a-Jeff Trombley, 10c-Jeff Cook, 10h-Kelly Hebing, 16L-Roger Levesque, 23-Tyler Cartier, 36-Kyle Moffitt, 36d-Steve Doell Jr., 47-Kyle Drum, 58-Clay Dow, 67-Pete Richardson, 99k-Dan Kuhn, 121-Steve Glover.
2019 Land Of Legends 360 Sprint Classic Series Champion: Chuck Hebing.
Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman Modified
*Feature (50 laps / first 7 laps run 9/7): 1. 31-Kane Bristol ($1,500), 2. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 3. 12g-Matt Guererri, 4. 25g-Nick Guererri, 5. 7-Paul Guererri, 6. 9-Tim Baker, 7. 7z-Zach Payne, 8. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 9. 126-Zack George, 10. 132-Dalton Martin, 11. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 12. 26-Jim Harbison, 13. c21-Jeff Davoli, 14. 11t-Jeff Taylor, 15. 01-Doug Smith, 16. 00-Sam Hoxie, 17. 56-Garrison Krentz, 18. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 19. 80-Cody Wolfe, 20. 04-Eric Years, 21. 44-Dave Conant, 22. 70-Alex Payne, 23. 1-Billy Paine.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Baker, A.Payne, N.Guererri, Conant, George, Hoxie, Smith, Years.
#2: P.Guererri, M.Guererri, Ridley, Bristol, Paine, Lloyd, Wolfe, Krentz(DNS).
#3: Taylor, Z.Payne, Martin, F.Guererri, Davoli, Borden, Harbison.
SuperGen Products with Champion Power Equipment CRSA Sprint Car Series
*Feature (20 laps / run 9/7): 1. 26j-Johnny Kolosek ($1,000), 2. 18c-Dan Craun, 3. 3a-Jeff Trombley, 4. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 5. 25w-Dana Wagner, 6. 24-Josh Flint, 7. m1-Justin Mills, 8. 61-John Scarborough, 9. 66-Erik Karlsen, 10. X-Dan Bennett, 11. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 12. 45-David Ferguson, 13. 38-Jason Whipple, 14. 98t-Tyler Jashembowski, 15. 13t-Trevor Years, 16. 4j-Jake Gomola, 17. 410-Jerry Sehn Jr., 18. 53-Tom Fletcher, 19. 74-Eric Kurtz, 20. 56v-Emily VanInwegen, 21. 48a-Alysha Bay, 56-Steve Cousins(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: VanInwegen, Karlsen, Craun, Jashembowski, Whipple, Years, Kurtz, Cousins.
#2: Flint, Mills, Scarborough, Trombley, Bennett, Sehn, Griffin.
#3: Ferguson, Wagner, Ruggles, Kolosek, Gomola, Bay, Fletcher.
2019 Land Of Legends CRSA 305 Sprint Crown Series Champion: Jeff Trombley.
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, Sept. 28 @ 7pm; Phelps Cement Products and Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram present Gerald Haers Memorial DIRTcar Big-Block/Small-Block Modified ‘Build Your Bank’ Challenge 100L/DIRTcar Sportsman Series Fall Championship 40L with Spencerport Girl Scouts Troop #60408 Benefit.