By: Bobby Sweeney
FONDA, NY – The Fonda 200 field is nearly set, with 28 drivers locking in through Friday’s four qualifying heats. Alex Yankowski, JaMike Sowle, Stewart Friesen, and Steve Bernier grabbed the checkered flags in their 15-lap events, gaining experience, track time, and some money in the process.
Yankowski led from the onset of the first heat race, with newly-crowned Fonda Speedway track champion Demetrios Drellos reaching second quickly. Yankowski was flawless running around the inside wall, never giving Drellos a shot to get by. Yankowski cruised to the win, with Drellos and ninth starter Mat Williamson scoring redraw spots as well.
“That was the first time I’ve ever been to victory square, so that’s real cool,” Yankowski said. “We’re all working real hard, going to watch some film to see what we can do to be a little better, go over some notes from last year and see what we got. Just fortunate to be here and happy to be going pretty good.”
Sowle jumped out to an early lead over Jessica Friesen in the second heat, but Friesen remained within striking distance. As the race neared completion, Friesen looked low on Sowle, but Sowle was good through lapped traffic and kept Friesen at bay. Meanwhile, Matt Sheppard was reeling both drivers in, but at the checkered, it was a slightly smoking Sowle narrowly taking the win. Friesen and Sheppard came home second and third to join Sowle in the redraw.
“This feels great, the car is going awesome, we have a fast piece,” noted Sowle. “I didn’t lose any power or anything, but Stewie and I checked over the motor after the race and we got a little valve cover gasket leak. I hope that’s all, we got a really good car and locking in tonight takes a lot of stress off.”
While Jessica looked good down low in the second heat, Stewart Friesen went to the top for his third heat. Friesen, as expected, looked very quick, ditching Andy Bachetti and Danny Bouc to take the third heat race by nearly half a lap. Bachetti and Bouc may have missed out on a qualifier win, but still earned redraw slots by finishing second and third.
“Thanks to all my guys, we got two cars with Jess and I this weekend and both are bad fast,” Friesen stated. “The goal of the day was to get both the 44 and 1Z in the redraw, and we did that. We’ll tweak on these things overnight and into the morning, and we’ll bring two hot rods for the 200 tomorrow.”
Bernier has minimal experience at Fonda Speedway, but Bernier appears to be a quick learner. After a brief battle with Billy Decker, Bernier secured the lead and then held off Decker and Matt DeLorenzo on a late restart to win the final qualifying heat.
“It’s the longest race I have done, I’ve never done 200 before,” said Bernier. “We have a really good car, we will work on tires and talk with Randy Williamson some to get some advice on adjustments for the big race tomorrow. This is my second race at Fonda, we bought a 427c.i. motor to run with this series this season and it has been a challenge with the setup. Earlier this year, I ran here and found it was a very difficult track, but me and my crew are learning.”
The remainder of the Fonda 200 starting grid will be set through two consolation races early in Saturday’s program. Then, all eyes shift towards the 200-lap main event with $53,000 heading home with one driver.
FONDA 200 STSS QUALIFYING HEAT 1 $500 TO WIN FROM FASTLINE PERFORMANCE 15-LAPS 7 QUALIFY 3 REDRAW – ALEX YANKOWSKI, Demetrios Drellos, Mat Willaimson, Marc Johnson, Rocky Warner, Pep Corradi, Tucker O’Connor, Michael Trautschold, Brian Calabrese, Neil Stratton, Dave Camara, Ancel Collins
FONDA 200 STSS QUALIFYING HEAT 2 $500 TO WIN FROM DKM FABRICATION 15-LAPS 7 QUALIFY 3 REDRAW – JAMIKE SOWLE, Jessica Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Bobby Varin, Bobby Hackel IV, Michael Parent, Cory Costa, Dillon Steuer, Darren Smith, George Foley, Derek Bornt, Ajay Potrzebowski Jr.
FONDA 200 STSS QUALIFYING HEAT 3 $500 TO WIN FROM UPSTATE AUTO 15-LAPS 7 QUALIFY 3 REDRAW – STEWART FRIESEN, Andy Bachetti, Danny Bouc, Tyler Dippel, David Schilling, Max McLaughlin, Mike Mahaney, Anthony Perrego, Ryan Odasz, JR Hurlburt, Dan Santabarbara, Stephen Gray
FONDA 200 STSS QUALIFYING HEAT 4 $500 TO WIN FROM SCOTT HAMLIN RACING 15-LAPS 7 QUALIFY 3 REDRAW – STEVE BERNIER, Billy Decker, Matt DeLorenzo, Dave Constantino, Ronnie Johnson, Brian Pessolano, Chris Curtis, Cody Clark, Tim Fuller, Danny Varin, Jason Reome, Matt Sobiech
BELOW ZERO ICE CREAM PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – KENNY GATES, Ivan Joslin, Beau Ballard, Jim Normoyle, Steve Cosselman, Randy Cosselman, Shawn Perez Jr., Johnny Rivers Jr., Michael Achzet, Dennis Joslin, Nick Santuccione, Slater Baker, Mike Dianda, Dan Krajewski, Jordan Modiano
6th win of 2023 and the 92nd win of his career in the division at Fonda for Gates
LAP LEADERS – 1 Rivers, 2-12 Joslin, 13-20 Gates
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Ballard, Gates
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), JAY INGERSOLL (DOHC), Damian Ward, Kyle Coley, Shawn Hemstreet, Pat McSpirit, Tom Hill, Todd Morey, Brittany Ladd, Robert Burch, TJ Marlitt, Rudy King Jr., John Napoli, Kerrie Hollenback, Kamrin Krause, Luke Sheldon, Len St. Andrews, Keith Tesiero Jr. (DNS), Jordan Ryder (DNS), Wayne Russell Jr. (DNS)
11th win of 2023 and the 95th win of his career in the division at Fonda for Ken Hollenback
1st career win in the division at Fonda for Ingersoll
LAP LEADERS – 1-4 King Jr., 5-15 Ken Hollenback
STREET STOCK FEATURE $500 TO WIN SPONSORED BY STONE MOTORSPORTS/ONLINE PERFORMANCE – SHORTENED TO 19-LAPS – JASON MELTZ, Chris Murray, PJ Cram, Andrew Fitzgerald, Lou Gancarz, Wayne Russell Jr., Adam Tranka, Matt Moshier, Josh Samrov, Rob VanAernam, Keri Vandenburg, Chris Stalker, Bob Gibson, Jason Barrett, James Dellea, Rowdy Burch, Ray Pierre Jr., Jason Samrov, Matt Wells, Donald Kennedy, Michael Martindale (DNS)
1st career win in the division at Fonda for Meltz
LAP LEADERS – 1-18 Tranka, 19 Meltz
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Murray, Stalker
CRSA SPRINT CAR FEATURE – 20-LAPS – JORDAN HUTTON, Blake Warner, Billy VanInwegen, Dalton Herrick, Tomy Moreau, Bobby Parrow, John Cunningham, Ray Preston, Timmy Lotz, Tyler Graves, Mark Taylor, Aaron Shelton, Ronnie Greek, Dustin Sehn, Jeremiah Munson, Trevor Years, James Layton, Steve Glover, Kirsten Dombrowski, Jerry Sehn Jr., Fred Proctor, Mike Kiser, Tyler Chartrand, Cory Sparks
3rd career CRSA Sprint car win at Fonda for Hutton
LAP LEADERS – 1-11 Kiser, 12 Warner, 13-20 Hutton
HEAT RACE WINNERS – VanInwegen, Preston, Taylor
CONSOLATION RACE WINNER – Glover