By RON SZCZERBA
FONDA, NY – Being one of the top drivers on the all-time win list at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway is a great accomplishment. Being in the top four behind drivers like Jack Johnson, Lou Lazzaro, and Dave Lape is truly special. That is where Bobby Varin currently sits with 56 career wins at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds facility and he understands just how special it is as he understands the history of the track that he calls home on Saturday evenings.
Varin went through a change in chassis manufacturers to start the 2017 season but the great ones adapt quickly to change which is exactly what he did on Saturday evening to get to the hallowed ground of “Checkerboard Square” at Fonda.
“I honestly didn’t think that it would be this hard,” Varin told Toby LaGrange on victory lane at Fonda after his win Saturday evening. “We went through a change in chassis manufacturers this year and recently got our good motor back in the car but this is the “Track of Champions” and there is a lot of competition here.”
Other winners on Amsterdam Printing & Litho Night at Fonda included Rocky Warner (sportsman), EJ McAuliffe (rookie sportsman), Luke Horning who won both of the Twin 20’s in the pro stock division, Johnny Young (street stock), and PJ Bleau (4-cylinder).
Shaun Pangman and Scott Huber started the 30-lap modified feature on the front row and at the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag it was Pangman who took the early lead from the inside pole position. Third place starter Pep Corradi was the second place car at the start as the inside line got a better start than the outside line did and by lap four Corradi was right on Pangman’s rear bumper for the lead.
On the outside of turns one and two on lap five, Corradi made his pass for the lead with fourth place starter Jimmy Davis also getting by Pangman at that point for the second spot. Behind the top two at the lap 10 point in the event were fifth place starter Craig Hanson, eighth place starter Varin, and last week’s winner and 12th place starter Josh Hohenforst.
At the halfway point, Corradi held a four second advantage over Varin who was now in the second position but when the one and only caution in the event fell on lap 15 for Hohenforst who was in the wall in turn two it took away the big lead that Corradi had built up. Varin dogged the leader after the restart up until lap 22 when he made the pass for the lead on the inside of turns one and two.
Once Varin took the lead he stretched out his advantage lap after lap as the top five continued to change as drivers who started farther back made their way into the top five. At the checkered flag it was Varin the winner by a straightaway over Corradi who ran a great race to finish second, 10th place starter Ronnie Johnson, 13th place starter Tim Fuller, and 14th place starter and point leader Stewart Friesen.
“I have to thank Alton and Carole Palmer who give us everything we need,” Varin said. “But there are a lot of great sponsors on this car including Dover Brake and Dover Dave Cruickshank who made the 00 famous, West End Towing, Amsterdam Carburetor & Electric (Jeff Sargalis), JSB Fabrication (John Bakuzonis), and all the other sponsors who make this happen for me.”
Brian Calabrese led at the start of the 25-lap sportsman feature event with Tim Hartman Jr. in the legendary John Kollar owned #10% second from the inside pole starting spot after having serious issues the week prior and not being able to race. Calabrese and Hartman were side by side for the lead on lap three with Calabrese able to hold the lead at that point.
On the outside of turn four on lap five, Hartman made his move to the front with the top five behind him at the halfway point in the event consisting of Calabrese, Tony Farone, 12th place starter and point leader Rocky Warner, and Ray Zemken.
Farone’s great run came to an end on lap 15 when he stopped in between turns one and two collecting the car of Aaron Burton in the process. On the restart, Hartman continued to lead but Warner was now second with eighth place starter Chad Edwards in third.
Warner started putting serious pressure on Hartman with three laps to go in the event and with two laps to go they were side by side on the backstretch for the lead. Hartman held the lead at that point but when the inside groove opened up in turn four with only two laps to go Warner seized the opportunity and took over the lead on the way to his fourth win of the season.
Hartman finished in the second position followed by Edwards, Adam McAuliffe, Zemken, and 15th place starter Mark Mortensen.
“This is such an awesome race team,” Warner said about the Jake & Nancy Spraker #1J in victory lane. “Those races are the fun ones, racing clean and hard against drivers like Tim. I don’t know why but he (Hartman) gave me the fast lane but I took it and was able to get the win.”
Kathy Bellen led the first two laps of the 12-lap rookie sportsman feature until last week’s winner and third place starter EJ McAuliffe took over the lead on lap three on the inside of turns three and four. From that point on McAuliffe stretched out his advantage and went on to his second consecutive win over sixth place starter William August, Bellen, fifth place starter Larry Niemiec, and seventh place starter Charlie Tibbits who was making his first start of the season at Fonda.
Pro stocks took center stage on Saturday with Twin 20’s and the first one began with Randy Cosselman leading from his inside pole position start. Ninth place starter Luke Horning made his way into the third position on a lap five restart and two laps later was the new second place car.
The yellow flag was out on lap seven for Cosselman who spun on the backstretch collecting the cars of four time winner in 2017 Kenny Gates and Josh Coonradt. All three were done for the first feature event with Horning leading the remaining laps on his way to the win over sixth place starter Chuck Dumblewski, third place starter Jim Normoyle, 10th place starter Gus Hollner, and 12th place starter Nick Stone.
The second 20-lap pro stock feature finished out the evenings racing program with Justin Knight the early leader from the outside pole. On lap two, eighth place starter Horning was the new second place car and on lap six he was the new race leader. Hollner who had a strong fourth place finish in the first 20-lap event was on the move in this feature as well, sitting in the third position on lap 13 after starting back in the 11th spot.
Horning swept the evenings events as he took the win in the second feature event as well for his 11th career win at Fonda in the STR Trailer Repair #2H over a fast closing Hollner, sixth place starter Dumblewski, 10th place starter Nick Stone, and ninth place starter Kenny Gates.
“I was close to winning two events in one night back in the street stocks but never in the pro stocks so this is special,” Horning said in victory lane. “I couldn’t do this without Mike Sowle who is the reason I have two cars to compete with this year. I had to ask permission from him to run here at Fonda and he has been supportive saying that someone has got to stop the 35 car (Gates) by racing him clean and not wrecking him.”
The street stock feature was a show of the “Young” family as Steven Young was the race leader at the drop of the green flag to start the event. On lap three Johnny Young was the new race leader and he withstood a strong challenge from all time win leader Dave Horning Sr. to take his first win of the season and the fourth of his career at Fonda over Horning, Steve Cosselman, Jim Groncki, and last week’s winner Cliff Haslun.
On Saturday, June 10 it will be New York State Stock Car Association NYSSCA Night at Fonda with monetary awards given out to the top finishers who are NYSSCA members in each of the feature events. Fonda NYSSCA rep Bonnie Mortensen will be representing the organization and paying out the awards in victory lane.
All divisions will be in action on June 10 along with the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS) presented by Something Fishy Aquarium Sales & NESCOT. Starting time will be 7:00 p.m.
For more information on the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway please go to their website www.newfondaspeedway.com while more information about the NYSSCA organization and the MVVDMS can be found by going to their respective websites www.nyssca.com and www.facebook.com/movalvdm
AMSTERDAM PRINTING & LITHO DIRTCAR MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – BOBBY VARIN, Pep Corradi, Ronnie Johnson, Tim Fuller, Stewart Friesen, Craig Hanson, Jimmy Davis, Jeremy Wilder, Scott Huber, Darwin Greene, Troy Palmer, Bodie Bellinger, Justin Boehler, Jeff Rockefeller, Shaun Pangman, Josh Hohenforst, Tony Pepicelli, Erik Nelson, Kenny Sparks, Don Bellen (DNS), Mike Maresca (DNS)
AMSTERDAM PRINTING & LITHO DIRTCAR SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – ROCKY WARNER, Tim Hartman Jr., Chad Edwards, Adam McAuliffe, Ray Zemken, Mark Mortensen, Brian Calabrese, Brian Pessolano, Dave Constantino, Nick Scavia, Cody Clark, Robert Bublak, David Manchester, Harry Shaffer, Aaron Burton, Josh DeMagistris, Griffen Mansmith, Mike Peek, Anthony Cardamone, William August, Tony Farone, Doug Hancock, Jeff Holt
AMSTERDAM PRINTING & LITHO DIRTCAR ROOKIE SPORTSMAN – 12-LAPS – EJ MCAULIFFE, William August, Kathy Bellen, Larry Niemiec, Charlie Tibbits, Wesley Sutliff, Cory White, Steve Wagoner
AMSTERDAM PRINTING & LITHO DIRTCAR PRO STOCK FEATURE #1 – LUKE HORNING, Chuck Dumblewski, Jim Normoyle, Gus Hollner, Nick Stone, Cassidy Wilson, Dennis Joslin, Justin Knight, Frank Twing, Shane Playford, Ashley Celebucki, Jamie Warner, Jason Morrison, Matt Roberts, AJ Walters, Kenny Gates, Jason Samrov, Randy Cosselman, Josh Coonradt, Ivan Joslin
AMSTERDAM PRINTING & LITHO DIRTCAR PRO STOCK FEATURE #2 – 20-LAPS – LUKE HORNING, Gus Hollner, Chuck Dumblewski, Nick Stone, Kenny Gates, Justin Knight, AJ Walters, Cassidy Wilson, Jim Normoyle, Frank Twing, Ivan Joslin, Shane Playford, Jason Morrison, Jason Samrov, Ashley Celebucki, Jamie Warner, Matt Roberts, Randy Cosselman (DNS), Josh Coonradt (DNS), Dennis Joslin (DNS)
AMSTERDAM PRINTING & LITHO STREET STOCK FEATURE – 12-LAPS – JOHNNY YOUNG, Dave Horning Sr., Steve Cosselman, Jim Groncki, Cliff Haslun, Bubby Shaffer, Harold Chadderdon, Steven Young
AMSTERDAM PRINTING & LITHO 4-CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – PJ BLEAU, Chris Andrew, Kerrie Hollenback, Pay McSpirit, Dale VanAllen, Wayne Russell, Ken Hollenback, Zach McSpirit