Tim Fuller Cops June Fling In Land Of Legends Raceway Big Block Modified Romp

Story By: TOM SKIBINSKI / LAND OF LEGENDS RACEWAY – CANANDAIGUA, NY – Open-wheel veterans Tim Fuller and Nick Guererri picked up their first feature victories of the season Saturday at Land Of Legends Raceway as did Mike Welch, as he extended his all-time stock car win record at the historic Ontario County oval.

Defending points champion Justin Eldredge repeated in the Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock ranks while Kasey Coffey made it three-for-three in the entry level MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman division to close out MCS Farm & Feed and A-Verdi Storage Containers night at the speedway.

The “June Fling” led off with the second Land Of Legends Wall of Fame induction of 2022 with long-time car owns Kim and Tom Ewing honored in special pre-race ceremonies. Fielding Big-Block Modifieds for three decades out of their single-car ‘grassroots’ garage in nearby Victor NY, the Ewings’ first-ever feature win was also the first career triumph for fledgling pilot Alan Johnson at Canandaigua in 1975 while 20 years later Ted Bauer collected their last trophy at the fairgrounds in 1995.

While veteran Ed Ortiz filled the seat vacated by Johnson, it was Chuck Ciprich who scored the second victory for the Ewings at DIRTcar charter member Rolling Wheels Raceway in 1977. Area pilots such as Wally Burnett, Darrell Welty, Dennis Taney, Doug Mattison, Steve Podolak, John Ventura, Steve and Bobby Paine also took turns behind the wheel of numerous Ewing creations, along with Souhern Tier chauffeur Chris Bushnell and Canadian Mark Elsie who was in attendance Saturday.

The whole deal started some 64 years ago when Kim, from the Rochester suburb of Pittsford and Tom, born and raised in the north country town of LaFargeville, met while attending Canton College. Tom first spectated at Edgewood Raceway (aka Alexandria Bay Speedway) as a high schooler in the early 1950s and with Kim alongside even took in some stock car action at the Canton Fairgrounds before the pair ultimately tied the knot in 1958. An Auto Tech major at Canton, Tom took up employment at machine tool manufacturer Gleason Works in Rochester as they relocated to Victor, closer to Kim’s upbringing.

Motorsports connections were made quickly at Gleason, with Tom and Kim venturing to Henrietta’s Monroe County Fairgrounds dirt half-miler before visiting Spencer Speedway for the pavement parade in Williamson. Tom started working in the pits alongside racer Dave Nichols, for which the #34 would be carried over to the dirt circuit in years to come. Taking a few seasons off, the Ewings returned as car owners themselves, Tom opting for construction of a dirt modified versus undertaking increased expenses for fielding an asphalt team. Matching the car number of long-time B&M owner Milt Johnson for son Alan, the fabled #14 Ewing Corvair was born in 1974 just in time for the season debut at Weedsport Speedway.

In later years working as a mechanic for the Town of Victor, Tom was able to follow fledgling promoter Glenn Donnelly’s DIRTcar circuit in its infancy. Rolling Wheels on Friday, Canandaigua on Saturday and Weedsport on Sunday were the primary fixes, with a handful of special shows on the Syracuse Mile at the NYS Fairgrounds filling out the summer slate. Tom served as a member on DIRT’s first Appellate Board, often times helping Donnelly with track prep work during the ‘good ole days’ at the fairgrounds.

Future Hall of Famer Fuller led all but the initial eight circuits to capture his ninth career win in the 30-lap Pepsi Big-Block Modified main although Guererri (Speed Connection Sportsman) and Welch (Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock) needed nearly every one to cap off their respective late race heroics.

“Anytime you come here you’re only missing a few cars for a series race so when you go away with a win you better feel really good about it,” remarked Fuller, 54, who closed out the ’21 LOLR regular season with a pair of trophies before regaining his winning form the fifth time out this year. “Had a rain-out last night so its great to get back on track tonight.”

Lockport wheelman Robbie Johnston out-dueled front row partner Troy Sperring to take an early advantage before rising rookie racer Zach Payne gained control on lap four. A pair of yellow flags flew for minor mishaps by Torrey Stoughtenger, provided plenty of time for Fuller to advance the #19 St.Lawrence Radiology-G&R Auto Parts-Integra Shocks/Bicknell entry from his 10th-place starting position in the 23-car field.

Fuller charged from fourth to second on the lap six restart then surged ahead of Payne three laps later as the lead duo rolled down the back straightaway in a splendid display of side-by-side driving. Reigning division points king Justin Haers pulled into third with 10 laps complete followed by Kyle Coffey and Peter Britten.

The race sped on caution-free with Fuller methodically weaving his way through traffic as the laps click off. Haers grabbed second from Payne on lap 17 while Britten mirrored the move on lap 25, although the Watertown wheelman ran uncontested up front, opening up a 3/4-straightaway margin under head flagman Scott Hixon’s final checkered flag. Payne hung on for fourth with Coffey securing fifth in both driver’s first top-five tally of the young season at Canandaigua.

“We’ve been good throughout the year and everything just worked out right tonight,” figured Fuller, following his ninth career win at the fairgrounds that vaulted him from fifth to third (254) in the current point standings behind only Haers (270) and Britten (267). “Especially getting through traffic, sometimes it opens up, sometime it doesn’t so we were very fortunate.”

“A fresh motor just put in obviously helped, have to thank Mike Maresca for getting that deal done. We had about 1350 laps on the old one so you’re getting in the danger zone with that many on a motor before it goes,” added Fuller, after collecting the $2,000 payday in the 16-minute main.

While Fuller led the final 22 circuits in his most recent romp to riches, Guererri stole the point from race-long leader Nick Cooper with the white flag out to log his 11th triumph in the 25-lap Speed Connection Sportsman thriller.

“Its tough when you’re the leader. (Cooper) started up front, was running the line and didn’t see anybody so he stayed there,” sympathized Guererri, 37, who scored his last win at the fairgrounds in August of 2019. He actually kicked off last season by capturing the first-ever DIRTcar Sportsman feature staged at Lake View (S.C.) Motor Speedway held in January before a hard crash at Weedsport Speedway closer to his Seneca Falls home in July sidelined him for the remainder of the season with a concussion.

“I was gaining a little bit but just had to be patient and follow him in turns three and four, there wasn’t really two grooves there. We got into lapped traffic and I think he was getting a little cautious. I think experience got the best of him and here we are,” noted Guererri, who jumped from third to first on the points chart after overtaking Zach Sobotka and younger brother Matt Guererri, the ’21 track champ.

Second-generation driver Cooper paced the 24-car field from his pole-position start before a wild turn two scramble slowed the action just one lap in. When the dust settled, Paul Guererri’s mount sat at the beginning of the backstretch with the entire left side gone while Justin Henderson waited for a tow truck to carry away his disabled ride in the multi-car melee that also involved Gavin Eisele and Sam Hoxie.

Cooper returned to the point back under green and after just two laps Guererri had already bolted into fourth with only opening night winner Karl Comfort and Tony Velez between him and the leader. Despite no more cautions to keep the field tight, Guererri stayed close to the front, joining Comfort in the bid for victory as the top-three reached traffic on lap 19.

In a bold pick-and-roll maneuver with four to go, Guererri sandwiched a late-arriving Brandon Grover between himself and Comfort to take second and set his sights on Cooper. The view of the race-long leader became crystal clear soonafter as Cooper bobbled briefly exiting turn two and Guererri pulled his potent #25G The Young Agency-Rock Solid Services-Phelps Cement Products/Bicknell machine underneath rounding turn four to forge the lone lead change with only a half-mile to go.

Still in search of his first career Canandaigua victory, Cooper salvaged a heart-breaking second-place followed by Comfort, Velez in his best-ever finish, and Matt Guererri to figure in the final front-five.

“We made up all our ground in turns one and two, was pretty good up there with a nice brown patch,” Guererri added. “Turns three and four were like an ice skating rink, had to stay hugged to the bottom. “

“Came from 10th tonight, so far been a 4th to 5th-place car. Made some big swings tonight and they paid off. Have to thank my crew, my brother and dad, they put in a lot of work this week. Justin Haers was tuning on this thing throughout the night and things worked out. We’re gonna enjoy this win as they don’t come too often and you don’t know how many more you’re gonna get.”

After racking up 82 stock car wins at LOLR since 2000, Welch was far from guaranteed another checkered flag would fall in his favor. That was until Saturday night when his own late-race rally netted Canandaigua’s all-time full-fender winner the first trip to victory lane since August of 2020.

“Think every driver has frustrations at times and we were having some,” divulged Welch, 56, the 10-time Canandaigua points champion who went winless in ’21 despite posting 10 top-5 feature finishes. “You just keep digging and come back the next day, get the car on the jack stands and see what you need to do and that’s what we’ve been doing. I really needed this.”

Pole-sitter Parker Smith and Nick Dandino shared the lead early yet it was 12th starting Josh Pangrazio rocketing to the front that caught the attention of nearly everyone else. The powerful Pangrazio ride spilt the high-flying Smith and low-running Dandino cars down the back chute on lap six and a second win of the season seemed just a formality over the final 15 times around.

Hopeful at best, veteran Welch had other thoughts as he chased runner-up Dandino at the halfway mark while Smith and Marc Minutolo followed closely behind in the 20-lap headliner. Welch ducked under Dandino for second on lap 13 with Minutolo mirroring the maneuver one lap later.

Five laps and two cautions later, Welch was on Pangrazio’s bumper in anticipation of the final lap 19 restart that would ultimately alter the outcome. The top-two remained intact with one to go yet a last lap, last turn dive down low proved just enough to give the #00 Rockstar Energy Drink-Cummings Trucking-TLC Trips-Layton Construction Chevrolet Camaro a narrow car-length victory for the ageless pilot from Lyons.

“I knew Josh was gonna stay up top no matter what,” relayed Welch, after taking over the points lead from Carl Johnson in hopes of regaining the title he last held in 2015. “You’re not going to beat someone following him so I kinda changed my line in turns one and two. Stayed up there with him then got a real good run into turn three and here we are. That last restart definitely helped, it was like night and day before then.”

“Would like to say my car got better but … Josh is really good here so I don’t really know what happened there at the end. We’ve been working on this (car) all year and we’re close. With this win, looks like I gotta get married now. That was the deal, was supposed to be right here but I think we’re gonna do something different now,” revealed Welch, who confirmed in victory lane he will exchange wedding vows in the near future with the former Tana Robinson, who serves as LOLR General Manager.

Pangrazio settled for the second spot followed by ’21 points champion Jimmy Grant, Minutolo and Dandino. That running order lasted into the early hours Sunday morning as it was deemed Dandino’s #57J Chevy Camaro was disqualified after an oversized engine was deemed in the customary post-race inspection process.

The final results in the companion 15-lap Hobby happening were more cut-and-dry as fourth-place starter Eldredge disposed of the father/son tandem of Bubba and Tyler Burnell in a bold three-wide maneuver the second time around en route to a convincing 10 car-length victory at the stripe.

“Knew there was a little bite at the bottom so I figured I’d just let the other guys burn off their tires on top,” said Eldredge, 24, who garnered the division title last season using seven feature wins to wear the crown. His second of ’22 gives him nine career wins at the fairgrounds. “That’s what I learned from (Pangrazio) in the first race, he kept running the top. Welch tried the top then went back to the bottom and I think (saving) tires won him the race.”

Bubba edged past young Tyler on the opening circuit but once out front steering the white #25J Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling-Big Mike’s Auto Chevrolet Monte Carlo, fellow Waterloo warrior Eldredge could not be touched. Bubba finished second ahead of three-time winner and points leader Wayne Ellison, while Tyler and Josh Oles in his season debut rounded out the top-five.

Three was the lucky number for talented teen Coffey as he was the best in the field of three New Legends Spt entries and dominated to score his third win in three tries. Angel Sperring and Kennedy Payne crossed the line next but it was the red and yellow no. 32C Carl Myers Enterprises Coffey McCreadie Enterprises-Stirling Lubricants/Bicknell car out front the entire 12-lap distance.

“Pretty much just concentrating on staying steady and hitting my lines,” offered Coffey, 14, who was joined once again in victory lane by mother Jillian and father Vic Coffey, a two-time Super DIRT Week Big-Block Modified champion with 17 BB and 7 Sportsman wins to his credit at the Canandaigua half-miler. “Plan to go to Fulton next week and run with the Novice Sportsman, more cars and traffic to contend with. Will return to Canandaigua after that and see how things go in the regular Sportsman division here.”
Saturday Spectacular
MCS Farm & Feed and A-Verdi Storage Containers present ‘June Fling’
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 19-Tim Fuller ($2,000), 2. 3-Justin Haers, 3. 21a-Peter Britten, 4. 7z-Zach Payne, 5. 23c-Kyle Coffey, 6. 99L-Larry Wight, 7. 42p-Pat Ward, 8. 14j-Alan Johnson, 9. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 10. 34-Kevin Root, 11. 70a-Alex Payne, 12. 7-Troy Sperring, 13. 19w-Justin Wright, 14. 27z-Dylan Zacharias, 15. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 16. 29ny-Greg Birosh, 17. 33j-Robbie Johnston, 18. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 19. 27j-Danny Johnson, 20. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 21. 11j-James Sweeting, 22. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 23. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Sperring, Haers, Root, Z.Payne, Zacharias, Birosh, D.Johnson Jr., Lawrence.
#2: Johnston, Fuller, Coffey, A.Johnson, Ward, D.Johnson, Stoughtenger, Tegg.
#3: Wright, Wight, A.Payne, Podsiadlo, Britten, Sweeting, Dinkins.

Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 25g-Nick Guererri ($750), 2. 35-Nick Cooper, 3. 10-Karl Comfort, 4. 21v-Tony Velez, 5. 12g-Matt Guererri, 6. 31-Kane Bristol, 7. 32rs-Ryan Shanahan, 8. 30-Nick Root, 9. 64-Tyler Corcoran, 10. 1m-Tyler Murray, 11. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 12. 18e-Gavin Eisele, 13. 38-Zach Sobotka, 14. 132-Dalton Martin, 15. 7j-JT Sperring, 16. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 17. 9-Tim Baker, 18. 51-Tim Lafler, 19. 00-Sam Hoxie, 20. 28-Mark Potter, 21. 36b-Brandon Grover, 22. 18h-Justin Henderson, 23. 7-Paul Guererri, fox28-Tyler Stevenson(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Velez, Root, Corcoran, Martin, Eisele, Baker, Hoxie, Potter.
#2: Cooper, Comfort, P.Guererri, Bristol, Sobotka, M.Guererri, Lafler, Stevenson(DNS).
#3: Henderson, Shanahan, Murray, N.Guererri, F.Guererri, Borden, Sperring.

Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 00-Mike Welch, 2. 7-Josh Pangrazio(DSQ)., 3. 36-Jimmy Grant, 4. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 5. 57j-Nick Dandino(DSQ)., 6. 99-Adam DePuy, 7. 55p-Parker Smith, 8. 5c-Rick Crego , 9. 93-Jared Hill, 10. 34q-Jason Quigley, 11. 122-Chris Beyea, 12. 9-Aksel Jensen, 13. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 14. 24j-Marcus Springer, 15. 63-Mike Fellows, 16. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 17. 87-Carl Johnson, 18. 510-Brad Steinruck Jr.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Minutolo, Dandino, Grant, Welch, Crego, Metcalf, Sharp, Quigley, Springer.
#2: Smith, Jensen, Steinruck, Johnson, Hill, Pangrazio, DePuy, Beyea, Fellows.

Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 2. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 3. 18-Wayne Ellison, 4. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 5. 1-Josh Oles, 6. 55d-Chris Dziomba, 7. 17a-Jon Almekinder, 8. 61-Daniel Kerrick, 9. 54m-Scott Mack, 10. 17jr.-Jamie Eldredge Jr.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: T.Burnell, F.Burnell, Ju.Eldredge, Kerrick, Oles, Ellison, Dziomba, Almekinder, Mack, Ja.Eldredge,

MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (12 laps): 1. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 2. 56a-Angel Sperring, 3. 31k-Kennedy Payne.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: Coffey, Sperring, Payne.

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