Story By: RON SZCZERBA / FONDA SPEEDWAY – FONDA, NY – Saturday evening Fonda Speedway had everything a race fan could ever want, great car counts, a great crowd, a meet & greet for fans to visit with their favorite drivers, and great racing!
Bill Lake Modular Homes presented Fan Appreciation Night with $5 grandstand admission with Craig Hanson getting the Sunoco Modified victory in his Bill Lake Modular Homes sponsored #20C.
“This win is awesome,” Hanson said after the victory. “We’ve struggled because we had a good car and a decent motor but now, we’ve got the same car with the same motor as everyone else is running and it shows.”
Mark Mortensen raced to the win in the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature for his first win of the season in the Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In sponsored #1M DKM car. The win was a special one for Mortensen who is now tied for first on the all-time win list in the division in what was the race of the night with a great side by side battle to the checkered flag between Mortensen and Dan Santabarbara.
“It’s been a struggle,” Mortensen told Mimi Lazzaro in victory lane regarding the 2022 season. “I brought the car back up to DKM last week and we had a good setup but then I made a mistake and hit the yuke tire last Saturday. Came back and kind of found something for the feature after hitting the yuke tire and repaired the car and then carried that setup along to this week. I told the guys at DKM if I won, I owed them a pizza, I parked it tonight, so I guess I owe them a pizza.”
Other winners on Bill Lake Modular Homes Night were Nick Stone (Algonkin Motel Pro Stocks), Kyle Dingman (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Ken Hollenback (Fonda Fair Four Cylinder SOHC), and John Napoli (Fonda Fair Four Cylinder DOHC).
Also in competition were the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS) with the winners including Randy Delaney (MVVDMS Modified), Dan Colvin (MVVDMS Sportsman), Curtis Condon (MVVDMS Late Model), Carl Cram (MVVDMS Mystique), and Jimmy Fugel (MVVDMS Antique).
On a very busy race night the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) held their annual Safety Awards Night with $75 going to the first NYSSCA member across the finish line and $50 to the second NYSSCA member across the finish line in all feature events except for the MVVDMS who held their NYSSCA Safety Awards Night earlier this year.
NYSSCA Safety Night winners included Craig Hanson $75 and JaMike Sowle $50 (Sunoco Modified), Mark Mortensen $75 and Payton Talbot $50 (Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Nick Stone $75 and Kenny Gates $50 (Algonkin Motel Pro Stock), Kyle Dingman $75 and Ryan Sweet $50 (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Ken Hollenback $75 and Len St. Andrews $50 (SOHC Fonda Fair Four Cylinder), John Napoli $75 and Kerrie Hollenback $50 (DOHC Fonda Fair Four Cylinder).
Prior to Opening Ceremonies on Saturday on victory lane, the NYSSCA organization handed out four different awards to five different drivers. Rocky Warner and Ronnie Johnson received the 2021 NYSSCA Outstanding Performance Award as the first ever Modified division co-champions in the 70-year history of the Fonda Speedway where there has been twenty-six different championship winning drivers.
Also winning a 2021 NYSSCA Outstanding Performance Award was Jessica Friesen who was the first woman to ever win a Modified feature in the history of the “Track of Champions” after her win on July 10 of last year. Friesen has competed in the Sportsman division at Fonda during her career along with Sprint cars where she has one victory in a 360-Sprint car at Fonda back on 4/29/2006 before moving up to the Modified division. Friesen was not in attendance at Fonda on Saturday and will get her award later this season.
NYSSCA also handed out two 2021 Dedication to Racing Awards to Craig Hanson and Cliff Haslun. Hanson not only runs the family business Hanson Paving but also runs the grader and does track prep at Fonda during the week and on race nights, races his self-owned Hanson Paving sponsored #20C Modified, and assists as a Short Track Super Series Official when time allows. Hanson has a career total of eight Modified wins at Fonda during his career in eight winning seasons, the first one coming on 7/30/2005 and his last one this year on 5/14/2022.
Whether it was in his self-owned #13 Street Stock or the Dennis Joslin owned Pro Stock car back in 2021, Cliff Haslun has always been a driver who does what he can with what he has. Making a lot of parts for the race car himself and getting to the track in any way possible, Haslun has always been there to compete and do the best he can with what he has making him a great candidate for the NYSSCA Dedication to Racing Award. Halsun has a total of five Street Stock victories at Fonda during his career.
Following the NYSSCA award presentations Pastor Greg Nitz said the prayer followed by a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by Stephanie May. Another huge 50/50 prize was won by Josh from Clifton Park of $2,765! Great job as always by our 50/50 ladies!
The 30-lap Sunoco got the green flag from Joe Kriss with JaMike Sowle taking the early lead from his outside pole position start. Dave Constantino brought out two consecutive cautions on laps two and three with fourth place starter Chris Curtis the new leader after the second restart with Rocky Warner now in the third spot.
Sowle took over the lead on lap five on the outside of turns one and two, with the yellow flag out shortly afterwards. Sowle chose the inside for the restart and maintained the lead at the drop of the green flag with Bobby Varin in the fourth position on lap seven and Warner in the second position after getting by Curtis for the spot on the same lap.
Hanson started the event in the eighth position and took over the third position from Varin on lap 11 with Sowle running the outside and Warner the inside trying to reel him in. Hanson got past Warner for the second position on lap 14 with the top five at the halfway point consisting of Sowle, Hanson, Warner, Curtis, and Ronnie Johnson who started the event in the 22nd position in a back-up car.
Hanson closed in on the race leader with ten laps to go and made his move for the lead in turn four on lap 22, ducking under Sowle and coming away with the lead coming out of the turn. Hanson led the remaining laps for his second victory of the season and the ninth of his career in the Hanson Paving/Bill Lake Modular Homes #20C followed in the top five by Sowle, Warner, Curtis, and Johnson.
“The last win I knew that I was leading, this one I didn’t,” Hanson told Mimi Lazzaro in F.X. Caprara in Memory of Mike Cole victory lane. “I got up on top and I was just passing cars, so I just kept hammering it and we did good. I got into it early with Dave (Constantino) when he checked up on me and I fell back so after that I was just trying to find a rhythm.”
“Bobby (Varin) showed me the top and then I was good, I got up on top and just worked my way through,” Hanson continued. “I tilled up the track this week, everybody was complaining the track was too slippery but unfortunately when you do that you get rough conditions but we’re trying to make everybody happy.”
The race of the night was definitely the 25-lap Swagger factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman featuring side by side racing for the lead and three wide action through the pack throughout the event. It all began with outside pole position starter Dan Santabarbara the early race leader at the drop of the initial green flag with Brendan Gibbons in tow.
Tanner Warner and Mark Mortensen started the event in the fifth and seventh positions respectively and early on were coming to the front together, moving up to the third and fourth positions by the time the lap counter clicked on lap two with tenth place starter Cody Clark now third. Clark got by Mortensen on lap six before Mortensen made a three wide move coming out of turn four around the outside of both Warner and Clark for the third position.
Mortensen got by Gibbons for the second spot on lap 12 with Santabarbara now out to a straightaway advantage. Just before the halfway point Santabarbara was blocked by the lap car of Cory White allowing Mortensen to close in with the top five at the halfway point consisting of Santabarbara, Mortensen, Clark, Gibbons, and 12th place starter Payton Talbot.
Going into turn two on lap 18, Mortensen went down the middle of two lap cars to keep pace with the leader and one lap later on lap 19 he made his move for the lead on the outside of turn four. The race was far from over however as Santabarbara was working well on the inside and remained side by side with Mortensen over the remaining laps.
Things really got interesting over the final three laps as Mortensen and Santabarbara were side by side for the lead while Clark and Talbot were side by side for the third position. Mortensen made his second three wide move of the race around the outside of the lap car of Griffen Mansmith and Santabarbara to maintain the lead with three laps to go while Talbot got by Santabarbara for the second position with one lap remaining.
On the final lap coming out of turn four to the checkered flag, Talbot had one last shot at the leader, but Mortensen ducked under the lap car of Troy Zilles, fought off the outside challenge by Talbot, and went on to his first win of the season and the 25th of his career in the division tying him for the top spot on the all-time win list in the division with Rocky Warner. Talbot, Clark, Santabarbara, and Warner completed the top five.
“Dan (Santabarbara) was running away at first and I was on the bottom and didn’t really know what else was out there,” Mortensen continued. “I ended up moving out a little bit and tried that and started making my way forward. Lap traffic held him up and I knew if I could get in front, I could use the lap car as a pick and that’s kind of what we did. It’s always hard when you’re leading, you’re just a sitting duck out there. I noticed a couple of spots where I wasn’t gaining on him, so I switched those spots up, moved down a little bit, and ran him in.”
Robert Parry of Hightower Farms Speedway, a go-kart track located on the Parry family farm in Broadalbin, was on hand in victory lane with Mortensen saying: “I won the go-kart race at Robert’s Hightower Farms Speedway last Sunday so now I’m a back-to-back winner, I’m going up there every week from now on.”
The first two laps of the Algonkin Pro Stock feature featured caution flags for spins by Chris Cross and Josh Coonradt. Both were able to continue on at the rear of the field. Chuck Dumblewski was the early leader in the event after starting on the pole with Jason Morrison second. The next yellow was on lap six for Luke Horning who was in the wall in turn one. Horning was not injured but was done for the night at that point.
Also involved in the caution after he spun in between turns one and two after accidental contact in the rear by Ivan Joslin as the cars were bunched up together while trying to avoid the wreck by Horning was Nick Stone who also restarted at the rear of the field. On the inside of the backstretch on lap nine, Kenny Gates was the new race leader with the top five at the halfway point consisting of Gates, Dumblewski, Morrison, Beau Ballard, and Ivan Joslin.
Ballard was the new second place car on lap 12 after getting by Dumblewski with Gates now out to a straightaway advantage. Stone got by Joslin for a spot in the top five with five laps to go with the caution out on lap 16 for AJ Walters who was in the wall in between turns one and two. On the single file restart, Stone went around the outside of Dumblewski, Morrison, and Ballard into the second position and began pressuring Gates for the lead.
On lap 19, Stone took the lead at the line as he and Gates were side by side. By the time the two cars reached the back stretch Stone had cleared Gates and went on to his eighth win in a row for 2022 followed in the top five by Gates, Ballard, Morrison, and Dumblewski.
“Of course, you want a caution,” Stone said in regard to the final caution of the event coming out on lap 16. “I started playing a points game and I knew that I had to get up as close to the front as I could. It was a little dusty out there and hard for people to see, guys are kind of rolling around and things like that are gonna happen.”
“When I went to the back, I said let’s just let it pan out and try to pick off as many cars as we could,” Stone continued. “That’s what we did, and it worked out with that caution. I want to thank Todd for putting this car under me, Jamie (Spraker) who helps me out at my shop and in the parts truck here, and Scott who takes care of our tires. The car is ready by Tuesday, and I can concentrate on work the rest of the week, so I’ve got it made right now.”
Mark Lighthall led the first two laps in the Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman feature event until fourth place starter Kyle Dingman took over the lead on lap three with a pass on the outside of turn two. Dingman led the remaining laps for his second win of the season and the fourth of his career over Ryan Sweet, Josh Kane, Zach Dufel, and last week’s winner Connor Prokop.
The Hollenback brothers led every lap in the 12-lap Fonda Fair Four Cylinder feature, Kerrie leading the first two and Ken the remaining ten for his eighth win of the 2022 season in the SOHC. Ninth place starter John Napoli was declared the DOHC winner for his third win of the season and the fifth of his career in the division. Kerrie Hollenback, Brandon Ely, and Elmer Montville completed the top five.
Next week on June 18 will be Dirt Track Digest TV Night featuring the Bill Ag One on One Match races for the Sunoco Modifieds. The top five in Sunoco Modified points as of 6/11 are eligible for the event along with one other driver from positions six through ten in points will be chosen. All divisions will also be in action with racing starting at 7:00 p.m.
If you are a race fan that gets to the track early, be sure to check out the Fonda Speedway Museum & Hall of Fame which is located on the Fonda Fairgrounds at the rear of the parking area going down towards turn four. The museum is open from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on race days and admission is free!
DATE – 6/11/2022 BILL LAKE MODULAR HOMES FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT – NEW YORK STATE STOCK CAR ASSOCIATION (NYSSCA) SAFETY AWARDS NIGHT
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-laps – CRAIG HANSON, JaMike Sowle, Rocky Warner, Chris Curtis, Ronnie Johnson, Bobby Varin, Matt DeLorenzo, Danny Varin, Demetrios Drellos, Jack Lehner, Brian Pessolano, Rich Christman, Pep Corradi, Ryan Odasz, Daniel Morgiewicz, Bill August, Ray Zemken, David Schilling, Nick Heywood, Alissa Cody, Dave Constantino, Steve Akers
2nd win of 2022 and the 9th of his career in the division for Hanson
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 Sowle, 3-4 Curtis, 5-21 Sowle, 22-30 Hanson
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Heywood, Corradi, Warner
NYSSCA SAFETY NIGHT AWARD WINNERS – $75 Hanson, $50 Sowle
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-laps – MARK MORTENSEN, Payton Talbot, Cody Clark, Dan Santabarbara, Tanner Warner, Brendan Gibbons, Chad Edwards, Jason Reome, Jeremy Tyrrell, Brett Mortensen, Chip Constantino, Michael McCallion, Troy Palmer, Tim Dwyer, Jeremy Slosek, Carter Gibbons, Harry Shaffer, Troy Zilles, Griffen Mansmith, Greg Havlichek, Cory White, Dylan Eldred, Stephen Gray, Clayton DuMond, Tom D’Angelo, John Diamond (DNS)
1st win of 2022 and the 25th of his career in the division for Mortensen who is now tied with Rocky Warner for first place on the all-time win list
LAP LEADERS – 1-18 Santabarbara, 19-25 Mark Mortensen
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Reome, Santabarbara, Edwards
GRECO’S NAPA HARD CHARGER AWARD – Talbot gained 10 positions from 12th to 2nd
NYSSCA SAFETY NIGHT AWARD WINNERS – $75 Mark Mortensen, $50 Talbot
ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-laps – NICK STONE, Kenny Gates, Beau Ballard, Jason Morrison, Chucky Dumblewski, Ivan Joslin, Josh Coonradt, Randy Cosselman, Gary Silkey, Jim Normoyle, John Holmes, Steve Cosselman, Jeff McPhail, Caden Dumblewski, Don Collins, Chris Cross, AJ Walters, Luke Horning, Kyle Weller (DNS)
8th win in a row in 2022 and the 67th of his career in the division for Stone
LAP LEADERS – 1-8 Chuck Dumblewski, 9-18 Gates, Stone 19-20
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Ballard, Stone
NYSSCA SAFETY NIGHT AWARD WINNERS – $75 Stone, $50 Gates
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-laps – KYLE DINGMAN, Ryan Sweet, Josh Kane, Zach Dufel, Connor Prokop, Mark Lighthall, Lance Hill, Bob Rowback, Michael Kalkbrenner, Wesley Sutliff, Jerry Cohn, John Santolin, Harold Robitaille, Walter Cook, Timmy Wilmot, Gus Kamburelis
2nd win of 2022 and the 4th of his career in the division for Dingman
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 Lighthall, 3-15 Dingman
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Dingman, Dufel
NYSSCA SAFETY NIGHT AWARD WINNERS – $75 Dingman, $50 Sweet
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-laps – KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), JOHN NAPOLI (DOHC), Kerrie Hollenback, Brandon Ely, Elmer Montville, John Mason, Justin Ramsey, Chris Duffney Jr., Todd Morey, Len St. Andrews, Kyle Lanfear, Josh Ramsey, Christopher Jennings Sr., Wayne Russell Jr., TJ Marlitt, David Peek-Britten, John Shepard, Annabella Ball (DNS), Heath Bush (DNS)
8th win in a row in 2022 and the 76th of his career in the division for Ken Hollenback
3rd win of 2022 and the 5th of his career in the division for Napoli
LAP LEADERS – 1-2 Kerrie Hollenback, 3-12 Ken Hollenback
NYSSCA SAFETY NIGHT AWARD WINNERS – SOHC $75 Ken Hollenback, SOHC $50 St. Andrews, DOHC $75 Napoli, $50 Kerrie Hollenback
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) MODIFIED FEATURE – RANDY DELANEY, Jack Miller, John Flach, Jackie Brown Sr., Phil Beaver
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) SPORTSMAN FEATURE – DAN COLVIN, Brian Gray, Mike Francisco, Merv Blackwell, Malach Mathews, John Constantino, Larry Stokes, Bryan Seyfried, John Trudean, Joe Rando (DNS)
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) LATE MODEL FEATURE – CURTIS CONDON, Will Reed, Joen Roese, Ed Docskalik
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) MYSTIQUE FEATURE – CARL CRAM, Dan Karl, Harry Baldwin, George Palmer, Mark Anatriello, Mike Brown, George Berbench (DNS)
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) ANTIQUE FEATURE – JIMMY FUGEL, Bryan Scofield, Mike Wheeler, Speedy Niedeheimer, Rick Leveque, Don Briggs, John Mason, Mark Reardon, Harley Sheppard, Chuck Scofield (DNS), Jimmy Hyde (DNS)