By RON SZCZERBA
FONDA, NY – Just after a fantastic fireworks display before the start of the modified feature event at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday evening, announcer Jim King said: “There were just fireworks in the sky now it’s time for some fireworks on the track”.
Bobby Varin made a pass of leader Tim Fuller, who was caught up in lap traffic, on the next to the last lap and went on to his second win of the 2017 season and the 57th of his career at the “Track of Champions” in a very exciting 30-lap feature event driving the Alton and Carole Palmer owned #76 Teo car.
“That was a tough one,” Varin told Toby LaGrange in victory lane. “The car was good early but with about seven or eight laps to go the top went away and I almost lost it. The 19 (Fuller) was good but lucky for me a lap car held him up and I was able to get back by him for the win.”
Other winners on “Banner & Fireworks night at Fonda were Ray Zemken and Mark Mortensen (twin 20’s for sportsman), Larry Niemiec (limited sportsman), Dennis Joslin (pro stock), Johnny Young (street stock), and Ken Hollenback (cruisers).
The modified feature began with Shaun Pangman and Darwin Greene on the front row with Pangman taking the early race lead. Twelfth place starter Stewart Friesen swept around the outside of seven cars on lap one to get into the top five and lap after lap just kept on picking off car by car to get into the second position by lap five after getting by Scott Huber.
Just as fast as Friesen came to the front he started dropping back as something happened to the Halmar #44 and he drove to the pit area on lap 12 done for the evening. Pangman now held a straightaway advantage over seventh place starter Varin, 11th place starter Fuller, 10th place starter Josh Hohenforst, and fourth place starter Mike Maresca.
Varin made a pass for the lead on the outside of the backstretch as the halfway point of the event was completed with the yellow flag coming out on the next lap. Varin held the lead on the restart with Fuller the new second place car as the two of them pulled away to make it a two car battle for the win. While Varin was running high, Fuller was running low and closing in on the leader as the laps went on.
After a brief side by side battle, Fuller got by Varin for the lead on the inside of the backstretch on lap 28 but Fuller would only lead that lap as Varin got back by him for the lead in lap traffic on lap 29. Varin was able to clear the lap car while Fuller wasn’t allowing Varin to get away slightly and cross under the checkered flag first for the win over Fuller, Hohenforst, Pangman, and ninth place starter Ronnie Johnson.
“We got off good after the restart halfway but the outside went away just like the flick of a light switch,” Varin said in victory lane. When asked by Toby LaGrange in victory lane about points Varin said: “Points mean a lot of prestige here at Fonda but we will take it one race at a time as far as points are concerned.”
The sportsman division ran twin 20’s on Saturday evening with Josh DeMagistris and Mark Mortensen alongside each other on the front row for the start. At the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag, fourth place starter Cody Clark made it three wide going into turn one as he tried to go down the middle of the top two cars but when they got to turn one it was DeMagistris who had the lead.
The caution was out soon afterwards for three cars who wrecked in turn two and under the caution Mortensen had to pit with a flat left rear tire but was able to restart at the rear of the field. When the green flag flew to restart the event, DeMagistris was again the race leader.
Zemken got the lead on the backstretch with sixth place starter Tim Hartman Jr. the new second place car on lap six as Hartman Jr. and Clark swapped the second position many times during the event. Hartman Jr. took over the second position for good with four laps to go in the 20-lap event and pressured the leader as Zemken was caught behind the lap car of Griffen Mansmith in the closing laps.
Zemken went on for his 10th career win in the division and his first since 8/18/2012 over Hartman Jr., Clark, eighth place starter Nick Scavia, and DeMagistris. No driver quotes were available after the event as Zemken never came to victory lane to celebrate his win.
After his bad luck in the first feature event, Mortensen started on the pole for the second 20-lap feature and took the lead at the drop of the green flag. At the completion of lap one the caution was out for Zemken who somehow ended up on the grass on the front stretch infield. Mortensen continued to lead on the “Delaware” restart with Brian Pessolano now second.
Mortensen held a straightaway advantage by lap eight over Pessolano with ninth place starter Chad Edwards the new third place car after getting by Harry Shaffer for the position. Three laps later on lap 11, Mortensen was in lap traffic but his big lead was taken away on lap 12 when the caution came out for the second time in the event.
On the restart, three cars wrecked in turn three causing another restart but Mortensen was up for it as he continued to lead when the green flag flew with Edwards now second. Mortensen held a half straightaway advantage with five laps to go but with three to go Edwards was closing in slightly on the leader.
Mortensen went on to the win, the 18th of his career in the division, in the Bonnie Mortensen owned, Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In and Socha Plaza sponsored #1M Teo car over Edwards, 11th place starter Nick Scavia, Pessolano, and eighth place starter Rocky Warner.
“It’s been a hard year between having issues with the car and issues on the track,” Mortensen said. “The starting position definitely helped tonight and I have to thank my crew, sponsors, and fans for sticking by me.”
Frank Twing used a front row starting spot to his advantage at the start of the 20-lap pro stock feature event and took the lead at the drop of the green flag. With no caution flags to slow the event, Twing was still the race leader at the hallway point over pole position starter Dennis Joslin, fourth place starter Cassidy Wilson, ninth place starter Ivan Joslin, and fifth place starter Josh Coonradt.
At the line to complete lap 14, Dennis Joslin got by Twing for the lead while farther back in the pack Coonradt got by two cars into the third position while 10th place starter Chuck Dumblewski moved into the top five with only three laps to go. Dennis Joslin went on for the win, the second of his career and his first since 5/18/2013 over Twing, Coonradt, Dumblewski, and Wilson.
“This means a lot,” Joslin said in victory lane. “Twing seemed to be slowing up so since I tightened the car up to run the outside I tried it out there and it worked. The lap cars were hairy, but I made it through for the win.”
Kathy Bellen led the first two laps of the 12-lap limited sportsman feature before Larry Niemiec took over and went on to his second win of the season over William August, Bellen, and Cory White.
Jim Groncki led lap one of the 12-lap street stock feature until he was spun out by Steven Young. Young was sent to the rear for his actions while Johnny Young assumed the lead on the restart. Johnny Young went on to his second win of 2017 and the fifth of his career over fifth place starter Cliff Haslun, eighth place starter Joey Wilson, Steven Young, and Michael Arnold.
Ken Hollenback led all 12-laps of the cruiser feature for his second win of the season and the 39th of his career at Fonda over PJ Bleau, Kerrie Hollenback, Wayne Russell, and Daniel Haslun.
Next Saturday, July 15 at Fonda the URC Sprint cars will make an appearance on School House Pools Night with all other regular divisions in action starting at 7:00 p.m. For information about the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway please go to their website www.newfondaspeedway.com
BANNER/FIREWORKS NIGHT DIRTCAR MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – BOBBY VARIN, Tim Fuller, Josh Hohenforst, Shaun Pangman, Ronnie Johnson, Mike Maresca, Ryan Odasz, Scott Huber, Craig Hanson, Justin Boehler, Troy Palmer, CG Morey, Darwin Greene, Cody Bleau, Bob Vedder, Pep Corradi, Tony Pepicelli, Jeremy Wilder, Stewart Friesen, Kenny Sparks, Brent Cross, Jimmy Davis (DNS)
BANNER/FIREWORKS NIGHT DIRTCAR SPORTSMAN FEATURE #1 – 20-LAPS – RAY ZEMKEN, Tim Hartman Jr., Cody Clark, Nick Scavia, Josh DeMagistris, Nick Heywood, Rocky Warner, Chad Edwards, Erik Nelson, Brian Pessolano, Anthony Cardamone, David Manchester, Mark Mortensen, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Griffen Mansmith, Neal Provost II, Bruce Loomis, Mike Peek, Aaron Cross, Larry Niemiec, Harry Shaffer
BANNER/FIREWORKS NIGHT DIRTCAR SPORTSMAN FEATURE #2 – 20-LAPS – MARK MORTENSEN, Chad Edwards, Nick Scavia, Brian Pessolano, Rocky Warner, Tim Hartman Jr., Ray Zemken, Harry Shaffer, Cody Clark, Josh DeMagistris, Nick Heywood, David Manchester, Larry Niemiec, Neal Provost II, Bruce Loomis, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Anthony Cardamone, Griffen Mansmith, Erik Nelson, Aaron Cross, Mike Peek (DNS)
BANNER/FIREWORKS NIGHT DIRTCAR PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – DENNIS JOSLIN, Frank Twing, Josh Coonradt, Chuck Dumblewski, Cassidy Wilson, Todd Hoffman, Jim Normoyle, Kenny Gates, Gus Hollner, Randy Cosselman, Ivan Joslin, AJ Walters, Jason Morrison, Jack Hamm, Ron Delease, Jamie Warner, Ashley Celebucki, Adam warner, Ralph Isabella (DNS)
BANNER/FIREWORKS NIGHT STREET STOCK FEATURE – 12-LAPS – JOHNNY YOUNG, Cliff Haslun, Joey Wilson, Steven Young, Michael Arnold, Jim Groncki, Harold Chadderden, Chase Aussicker, Bill Yager, Zach Sorrentino
BANNER/FIREWORKS NIGHT CRUISER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – KEN HOLLENBACK, PJ Bleau, Kerrie Hollenback, Wayne Russell, Daniel Haslun, Zach McSpirit, Pat McSpirit