By RON SZCZERBA
FONDA, NY – It was Sampson Motor Car and Make A Wish Night at the Fonda Speedway on Saturday evening with great racing taking place in all divisions. When the checkered flag flew it was Bobby Varin winning in what he called a “Dogfight” in victory lane, Mark Mortensen conquering some struggles he’s had with his race car this season for a win in the sportsman division, and Cassidy Wilson winning the first feature of his career in the pro stock division.
Other feature winners on Saturday evening at Fonda included Derrick McGrew Jr. in the limited sportsman division and Jason Samrov who was the winner of the street stock feature event.
During intermission the drivers went out into the grandstand to collect money for Make A Wish.
Cody Bleau led at the start of the 30-lap main event for the modifieds after starting on the outside pole with Craig Hanson in tow. Shaun Pangman and Demetrious Drellos were the third and fourth place cars on lap three after starting sixth and seventh respectively but it was Josh Hohenforst on the move early in his DKM “Cyclone” car who moved into the third position on lap four after starting 12th.
On lap nine Hanson was the new race leader after getting by Bleau on the outside of turns three and four with Hohenforst and Varin also getting by Bleau for the second and third positions. On lap 11, Hohenforst got by Hanson for the lead with a low to high slide job pass in turn four with Varin also getting by Hanson for the second position.
At the halfway point in the event the top five consisted of Hohenforst, Varin, Hanson, ninth place starter Rocky Warner, and Bleau. While Hohenforst held a straightaway advantage with 10 laps to go, 14th place starter Tim Fuller was perhaps the fastest car on the track as he raced his way into the top five on lap 17. Just after Fuller got by both Warner and Hanson for the third position the yellow was out for Kenny Sparks who spun in turn two.
The restart was the turning point of the race with Hohenforst choosing the outside on the restart with Varin on the inside and it was Varin who made the best of it as he got by Hohenforst for the lead by the time the two reached the starters stand and moved to the outside by the time the Palmers Service Center Teo car was in turn two.
“I knew that I had to get into turn four at the right angle to get ahead of Josh and get to the outside by the time I got to turn one,” Varin said after the race.
Fuller also got by Hohenforst on the restart and stayed with the leader for the remainder of the race with Varin having to negotiate lap traffic on the white flag lap. Varin maintained the lead to the checkered flag for his first win of the season and the 61st of his career at Fonda over Fuller, Hohenforst, Warner, and eighth place starter Jeremy Wilder.
“It was a tough task winning tonight having to get by Josh (Hohenforst) and then holding off Tim (Fuller),” Varin told Mike Mallett in victory lane. “Fuller races for a living and it is always tough to beat Tim and Stewart (Friesen) when they are at Fonda. “Alton (car owner Alton Palmer) had a great setup in the car tonight and I am proud to be a part of this racing team. We still have a little bit of work to do though as I thought that I could pull away after I got the lead but Tim was right there until the end.”
Ricky Quick used the pole position start to his advantage in the 25-lap sportsman feature and took the lead at the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag with Josh DeMagistris second after starting alongside of Quick. Sixth place starter Mark Mortensen used a three wide move on the outside of the backstretch to get by both Dan Santabarbara and Charlie Tibbitts for the third position with an early yellow out for Kathy Bellen and Kurtis Hohensheldt who spun on the backstretch.
On the restart, Mortensen was the new second place car after getting by DeMagistris for the position with Quick still leading the event. On the outside of turn four on lap three, Mortensen got by Quick for the lead with the caution out shortly afterwards for Quick who spun on the backstretch after contact in the rear of his car by Tony Farone. For his actions Farone was sent to the rear of the field as Quick pitted to check over the car and also restarted in the rear.
Mortensen continued to lead on the restart with 11th place starter Cody Clark the new third place car after he was able to get by Santabarbara for the position followed by Aaron Burton and 22nd place starter Ray Zemken who was now fifth. Clark was able to get by DeMagistris for the second position on lap seven with Mortensen now out to a comfortable straightaway advantage.
Mortensen’s big lead was taken away on lap 18 when he was held up by the lap car of Kurtis Hohensheldt allowing Clark to close in. Clark got alongside of Mortensen on lap 19 as the two raced side by side with Clark taking the lead at that point on the inside of turns three and four. Lap traffic continued to play a role in the outcome of the event over the final laps as Clark also had issues getting by the back markers.
Mortensen never lost touch of the leader and when Clark slid up high in turn two on the final lap Mortensen was able to take the Jumpin’ Jacks Drive-In/Socha Plaza sponsored Teo car to the lead as he got under Clark going down the backstretch and cleared a lap car to retake the lead going into turn three. Mortensen held his line through turns three and four to cross under the checkered flag first for his 19th career win in the division which is second on the all-time win list.
Clark, DeMagistris, Santabarbara, and Farone who came all the way back up through the field completed the top five in the event.
“This feels good,” Mortensen told Dan Haslun in victory lane. “We struggled early this season and found some issues with the car when I went through it this week. I was running the outside just trying to hold on and knew when I got the lead back I just had to get through turns three and four clean.”
Jason Morrison was the early leader in the 20-lap pro stock feature but when Randy Cosselman and Morrison got hooked together for a short time in turn four on the first lap it was the unsponsored orange #82 car of Cassidy Wilson who inherited the race lead with the yellow flag out. On the restart, Chuck Dumblewski was the new race leader with Ivan Joslin third and Josh Coonradt fourth.
On the inside of turn four on lap seven, Wilson got the lead back after getting by Dumblewski for the spot with lap traffic in front of the leaders by the halfway point. Joslin and Josh Coonradt swapped the third position on lap 11 with the top six cars of Wilson, Dumblewski, Coonradt, Joslin, Jim Normoyle, and Kenny Gates together nose to tail racing for position.
The yellow flag was out on lap 18 for Morrison who came to a stop on the front stretch after something either let go or locked up in the rear of the car and again on the final lap when four cars came together in turn four forcing Wilson to get good restarts on both occasions. Wilson did just that and held on for his first career win in the division at Fonda over Coonradt who moved into the second position on the final lap and was followed to the checkered flag by ninth place starter Gates, Dumblewski, and Joslin.
“This is awesome,” Wilson said in victory lane after his first career win. “I really can’t believe that we are standing here. I was in victory lane before with my street stock but this is my first time with a pro stock. After losing the lead I just got back into a rhythm and was able to get back by Chuck (Dumblewski) but I didn’t know what was going to happen with all of the late race cautions.”
Derrick McGrew Jr. led every lap in the 15-lap limited sportsman feature and was followed to the checkered flag by Dylan Eldred, Nate Furman, Michael McCallion, David Manchester Sr., and Dylan Bokus. In post-race inspection Eldred and Furman were disqualified for a weight infraction moving the rest of the field up one spot. For McGrew Jr. it was his third win in the division this season.
Jason Samrov led every lap of the street stock feature for his fourth career win in the division over defending track champion Johnny Young, last week’s winner Rob VanAernam, Michael Arnold, Cliff Haslun, Kenny Hollenback, Steven Young, and Scott Gauthier who did not start.
Next Saturday, June 9 will be Amsterdam Printing & Litho Night at Fonda with a regular show in all divisions starting at 7:00 p.m. The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modifieds will also be in action as well and for more information about the “Track of champions” you can go to their website www.newfondaspeedway.com
SAMPSON MOTOR CAR/MAKE A WISH MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – BOBBY VARIN, Tim Fuller, Josh Hohenforst, Rocky Warner, Jeremy Wilder, Cody Bleau, Craig Hanson, Demetrious Drellos, Shaun Pangman, Jack Lehner, Jeff Rockefeller, Scott Huber, Bodie Bellinger, Jimmy Davis, Willy Decker, Pep Corradi, Nick Anatriello, Anthony Cardamone, Kenny Sparks, Darwin Greene, Josh DeMagistris (DNS)
SAMPSON MOTOR CAR/MAKE A WISH SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – MARK MORTENSEN, Cody Clark, Josh DeMagistris, Dan Santabarbara, Tony Farone, Robert Bublak, Ray Zemken, Aaron Burton, David Manchester, Nick Stone, Nick Scavia, Brian Calabrese, Jason Greco, Brian Borst, Charlie Tibbitts, Don Bellen, Brian Pessolano, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Mike Jackson, Kathy Bellen, Ricky Quick, Jeff Holt, Chad Edwards, Griffen Mansmith (DMS)
SAMPSON MOTOR CAR/MAKE A WISH PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – CASSIDY WILSON, Josh Coonradt, Kenny Gates, Chuck Dumblewski, Ivan Joslin, AJ Walters, Jim Normoyle, Justin Knight, Luke Horning, Randy Cosselman, Ron Delease, Gianna Stone, Jeff McPhail, Jason Morrison, Ashley Celebucki, Jack Hamm