By RON SZCZERBA
FONDA, NY – First career wins are special moments in a driver’s racing career. But to win in a car that has ties to the history of a racetrack makes it even more special to not only the driver but the race team as well. That is what took place on Saturday evening at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway when Jack Lehner took the iconic family-owned Nelson Motorsports #85 to the Fuccillo Automotive Group Mike Cole Memorial victory lane.
“To get a win for me is special,” Lehner said in victory lane. “But to get a win for them (car owners Bill & Erik Nelson) makes it even better.”
Lehner became the 135th different driver in the history of the Fonda Speedway to win in the Modified division in 1381 racing events!
The Nelson Motorsport’s/Bloomfield’s Florist sponsored #85 has been a part of Fonda Speedway history for many years with both Bill and Erik behind the wheel of the car at Fonda, Erik with a win in the Open Sportsman division back on 7/30/2005. Demetrious Drellos also drove the Nelson Motorsports #85 to victory lane at Fonda for his first career win back on 6/16/2018.
Other winners on Southern Adirondack Night presented by O’Connor Motorsports were Brian Borst (Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Nick Stone (Algonkin Motel Pro Stocks), Stephen Gray (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Tyler White (DOHC) and Shawn Hemstreet (SOHC) in the Fonda Fair Cruisers.
Former Miss Fonda Fair in 2006 and winner of the Fonda Fair Karaoke contest in 2016 & 2018 Amanda Valentine sang the National Anthem and Fonda Speedway announcer Chris Moore gave the invocation before the first green flag of the evening fell from starter Joe Kriss. Fans also took part in giveaways by Todd Cipperly of Farmers Insurance at intermission as Race Director Denny Tilison and Ed Biittig Sr. threw out items to the fans,
The Sunoco Modifieds started their 30-lap main event with Andel Collins and Jack Lehner on the front row decided by the luck of the draw. Lehner took the top spot at the drop of the green flag followed by third place starter Jessica Friesen with last week’s winner Rocky Warner up to the third position just before the first yellow of the event came out on lap three.
Lehner continued to lead on the restart with Matt DeLorenzo and defending track champion Michael Maresca just behind Warner after starting sixth and eighth, respectively. DeLorenzo and Maresca both got by Warner on lap seven with Lehner out to a straightaway advantage by lap 11 and two laps later he was in heavy lap traffic.
Friesen closed in on Lehner on lap 19 as Lehner was having problems getting by the lap cars of Jeff Rockefeller and Derrick McGrew Jr. who were racing side by side for position. When Lehner finally cleared the lap cars he again moved out to a comfortable lead. DeLorenzo moved into the second position on lap 24 after getting by Friesen with Maresca also getting by Friesen for the third spot.
Maresca’s great run came to an end with four laps to go when he came in contact with the inside wall in turn two and pulled into the infield on the backstretch out of the event. Seventh place starter Craig Hanson and 10th place starter Tim Fuller were in the top five and on the move with only two laps remaining, but it was Lehner who went on to his first career victory at Fonda.
DeLorenzo, Hanson, Friesen, and Fuller completed the top five in the event.
“I got my start here at Fonda, so it holds a special place in my heart,” Lehner said. “I can’t think of a better place to get a win. Erik & Bill put everything into this so I’m happy to get as win for them. There is nothing like getting a win to build your confidence because thinking that you can win and knowing that you can win are two totally different situations.”
The first week of handicapping in the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman saw two former Rookie/Limited Sportsman campaigners Dylan Eldred and 2020 Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Track Champion Brett Mortensen on the front row with Mortensen taking the early lead.
By lap seven Mortensen was out to a straightaway advantage and five laps later he was in lap traffic. At the halfway point, the top five consisted of Mortensen, Eldred, fifth place starter Brian Borst, Anthony Cardamone, and forth place starter Tucker O’Connor. Eldred closed in on Mortensen in lap traffic just past the halfway point with 11th place starter Cody Clark up to the fourth position on lap 18.
Borst was the new second place car with five laps to go and was able to get by Mortensen for the lead in lap traffic on lap 21. Clark also got by Mortensen for the second position but Borst was just too strong as he took his Midtel sponsored family owned #69 to victory lane for his second career win in the division after the event went caution free. Borst also has a total of 15 wins in the former “Open” Sportsman division at the “Track of Champions”.
Clark, Mortensen, Eldred, and ninth place starter Tony Farone completed the top five.
“We cooked a motor last week and this is our old motor in the car tonight,” Borst told Mimi Lazzaro in victory lane. “We hit the setup dead on tonight and when I saw the leader in lap traffic, I knew that I had to get up there and get him. I missed racing for 15 years, I couldn’t even come here to watch, but my family was able to talk me into it again.”
The 20-lap Algonkin Pro Stock feature was worth $1,000 to the winner as it was race number one in the American Racer/Lias Tire Super Six Series and despite many cautions slowing the event nothing could take away from the side-by-side race to the win.
Bill Knapp led from the outside pole at the start of the event with third place starter Luke Horning in tow. Horning took the lead away from Knapp on a lap four restart with seventh place starter Ivan Joslin on the move early, sitting in the third position on lap seven after getting by Steve Cosselman for the position.
Joslin’s great run came to an end on lap eight as he spun in turn two after contact in the rear by Jason Morrison who was put to the rear for his actions. On the restart, 12th place starter Nick Stone moved into the second position with Cosselman now the new third place car. While Horning was working the outside of the speedway, Stone was working the inside as the two raced side by side for the lead.
Stone took the lead away from Horning on the inside of the backstretch on lap 17 with the final caution of the event coming out on lap 18 with only two laps to go. Once the race was restarted Stone and Horning were side by side over the remaining laps, Horning leading lap 19 while Stone stayed low on the speedway to take the lead back on the final lap for his 54th win in the division which is second on the all-time win list.
Horning, sixth place starter Josh Coonradt, 11th place starter Kenny Gates, and 13th place starter Beau Ballard completed the top five in the event.
“Thanks to Todd Hoffman who owns this car for this opportunity,” Stone said in victory lane. “I like to get a win early in the season, but we’ve had a lot of second place finishes so far wherever we ran. Winning gives you more confidence and that was one heck of the race. We raced hard (with Horning) but we’ve been racing together for a long time.”
John Young led the first eight laps of the 15-lap Montgomery County Office for Aging Limited Sportsman feature before third place starter Stephen Gray took over the lead at the line to complete lap nine. Gray went on to his second career win in the division followed by last week’s winner Carter Gibbons, Young, Kyle Dingman, and opening night winner Jeremy Tyrrell.
Brandon Tyler was the first driver to lead a lap in the 12-lap Fonda Fair Cruiser feature with seventh place starter Billy Hillman leading the second lap. 10th place starter Tyler White took the lead away on lap three and never looked back as he took the overall win, his second win of the season in the DOHC class. Shawn Hemstreet finished fifth overall but was declared the SOHC winner.
Next Saturday, May 8 will be the first race in the Thunder on the Thruway Series between Fonda Speedway and Utica Rome Speedway both promoted by BD Motorsports Media. The Sunoco Modifieds will race for a $4,000 to win prize while the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman will race for $1,500 to win and the Algonkin Motel Pro Stocks $1,000 to win. There will be a separate point fund paid out at the end of the six-race series of three races at each track.
The Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman and the Fonda Fait Cruisers will also be in action on May 8 along with the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series. Racing will begin at 7:00 p.m.
Since 1953, the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway has hosted the best in stock car racing. Under the management of BD Motorsports Media LLC, the speedway will operate weekly on Saturday nights from April through August plus several special events. Fonda Speedway is located on the Montgomery County Fairgrounds off New York State Thruway Exit No. 28 at 21 S. Bridge Street Fonda, NY 12068.
Fonda Speedway is on the web at www.thefondaspeedway.com. To learn more, call the office at 518.915.4395, like Fonda Speedway on Facebook www.facebook.com/thefondaspeedwy or follow the speedway on Twitter: @thefondaspdwy.
O’Connor Motorsports Southern Adirondack Night
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-Laps – JACK LEHNER, Matt DeLorenzo, Craig Hanson, Jessica Friesen, Tim Fuller, Josh Hohenforst, Rocky Warner, Ronnie Johnson, David Schilling, Dave Constantino, Mike Mahaney, Brian Gleason, Pep Corradi, Brian Pessolano, Ancel Collins, Steve Akers, JaMike Sowle, Rich Christman, Derrick McGrew Jr., Jeff Rockefeller, George Foley, Dylan Scribner, Michael Maresca, Bobby Varin, Adam McAuliffe
Lap Leaders – 1-30 Lehner
Heat Race Winners – Hanson, Collins, Warner
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-Laps – BRIAN BORST, Cody Clark, Brett Mortensen, Dylan Eldred, Tony Farone, Tucker O’Connor, Chad Edwards, Mark Mortensen, Brian Calabrese, Addison Bowman, Tim Hartman Jr., Aaron Burton, Mike Ketchum, Anthony Cardamone, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Troy Palmer, Nick Scavia, Ricky Quick, Tim Dwyer, Tanner Warner, David Manchester, Michael McCallion, Brendan Gibbons, Joe Orlando, Kathy Bellen, Dan Santabarbara
Lap Leaders – 1-20 Brett Mortensen, 21-25 Borst
Heat Race Winners – Mark Mortensen, Clark, Burton, Eldred
Consi Race Winners – Gibbons, Hartman Jr.
Did Not Qualify – Chip Constantino, Jason Reome, Fire Swamp, William August, Jason Greco, Don Bellen, Griffen Mansmith, Troy Zilles, Payton Talbot, Shane Larman, Brad Elger, Dana Camenga, EJ McAuliffe
Greco’s NAPA Hard Charger – Hartman Jr. 11 spots, 22nd to 11th
ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK FEATURE – $1,000 to win – 1st race in the American Racer/Lias Tire Super Six Series – 20-Laps – NICK STONE, Luke Horning, Josh Coonradt, Kenny Gates, Beau Ballard, Steve Cosselman, Bill Knapp, Chuck Dumblewski, Devon Camenga, Frank Hoard Jr., Cliff Haslun, Kyle Hoard, Gary Silkey, Mike Kalkbrenner, Terry Graves, Andy Graves, Jason Morrison, Shane Playford, Ivan Joslin, AJ Walters, Jim Normoyle, Randy Cosselman, Don Collins, Chris Cross
Lap Leaders – 1-3 Knapp, 4-16 Horning, 17-18 Stone, 19 Horning, 20 Stone
Heat Race Winners – Morrison, Stone, Silkey
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-Laps – STEPHEN GRAY, Carter Gibbons, John Young, Kyle Dingman, Jeremy Tyrrell, Clayton DuMond, Taylor LaPlante, Ryan Sweet, Jonathan Feagles, Bill Port
Lap Leaders – 1-8 Young, 9-15 Gray
Heat Race Winner – Young
FONDA FAIR CRUISERS FEATURE – TYLER WHITE (DOHC), Billy Hillman, John Napoli, Kerrie Hollenback, SHAWN HEMSTREET (SOHC), Brandon Tyler, Wayne Russell Jr., Ken Hollenback, Zach McSpirit, Dale VanAllen, AJ VanHoesen, David Peek-Britten, Lee Horning, Slappy White