Story By: TOM SKIBINSKI / LAND OF LEGENDS RACEWAY – CANANDAIGUA, NY – Plenty of familiar faces found their way into victory lane as Geneva Club Beverage & FH Mechanical HVAC presented a big six-star show on “Fan Appreciation Night” at Land Of Legends Raceway.
For defending track points champion Justin Haers, his second straight Pepsi Big-Block Modified feature win in the ‘Saturday Spectacular’ meant so much more.
“Dedicating this win to may dad, three years ago yesterday he passed away,” said an emotional Haers alongside friends and family in Canandaigua’s winner’s circle. Gerald Haers passed away July 15, 2019 at age 74 and the 4th Annual Haers Memorial Weekend event is scheduled for Sept. 16-17 to close out 2022 at the historic Ontario County Fairgrounds oval.
“These last two wins he was definitely riding with us. He made this whole team possible with everybody that helps out, so this one’s for you dad.”
Also climbing back atop the podium were Bobby Parrow in the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Main and Justin Liechti after his second successive MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman triumph. Zach Sobotka (Speed Connection Sportsman), Adam DePuy (Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock) and Marc Minutolo (Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock) needed more than half the season to get back on track with their first checkered flags in 2022.
The annual ‘Family Autograph Nite’ at the speedway attracted hundreds of fans that ventured trackside to meet up with their favorite drivers alongside their cars parked on the homestretch. One-on-one interviews with many of the racers in all classes were staged by Doug Elkins before qualifying kicked off the high-speed action in this popular pre-race presentation.
Falling in 14th on the 26-car Big-Block starting grid, Haers gave his loyal legion of fans another chance to celebrate, charging past talented teen Alex Payne on a lap 15 restart en route to another memorable win at the fairgrounds.
“A lot of fun, had a really good race car and to win two in a row is pretty cool,” remarked Haers, after extending his points lead in defense of the coveted Canandaigua crown. “We did that last year too so hopefully we can keep that tradition going. Just keep getting top-3s and top-5s and everything will play out here at the end.”
Big-Block rookie Ricky Newton pulled out front early in the 30-lap feature before fourth starting Gil Tegg Jr. took over the second time around. Newton regained the point on lap nine yet lost it to upstart Payne on a lap 11 restart after all-star Alan Johnson was forced pitside with a flat.
James Sweeting slowed into the pits on lap 15 to require a second yellow flag and that proved pivotal as Haers bolted past Payne back under green while Kyle Coffey, Peter Britten and veteran Pat Ward continued their mid-race pursuit.
Haers lengthened his lead with 10 to go and the Phelps wheelman seemingly had everytihing under control as the laps clicked. A turn two skirmish suddenly sent the leader scrambling on lap 24 with Dave Allen and Torrey Stoughtenger providing a brief scare for Haers aboard the potent no. 3 Honeoye Auto Parts-Phelps Cement Products-FLX Home Solutions/Bicknell mount.
“I saw that happen right in front of me and kinda weaved through and drove off the race track to avoid it,” noted Haers, in the aftermath of the late-race mishap. “We came back up and fortunately everything worked out. After that last yellow it got to be where I really couldn’t turn too good but we were good enough to hold on. I just had to enter (turns) a little bit different and try to keep my momentum up.”
A turn four tangle involving Marcus Dinkins, Derrick Podisadlo and Sweeting forced another slowdown on lap 24 while Ward dropped off the pace on the front chute to incur the fifth and final caution with five to go. Haers ran uncontested when the green lights returned, cruising home for a comfortable eight car-length victory, the 19th of his Big-Block career in wine country.
Remaining on the second rung in the current point standings, Britten nipped Payne for runner-up laurels in a last lap dash across the stripe while Tim Fuller and ever-charging Kevin Root rounded out the front-five.
Sobotka was more methodical in his move to the front during the 25-lap Sportsman feature, shadowing early race leader Karl Comfort from the opening green before grabbing the top spot for good on lap eight in the caution-infested affair.
“Really good competition out here every week,” affirmed Sobotka, 22, now with seven career wins in Canandaigua. “Had a handful of wins here last year, definitely getting to me that we weren’t able to get one but we finally did. The cars are very equal and I think everybody is just catching up. If you don’t have a good starting spot and don’t hit the set-up perfect, you’re gonna get passed by somebody else.”
A trio of yellow flags on lap three alone tested Sobotka’s patience, with two-time reigning division points king Matt Guererri needing a quick pit stop after contact with Sam Hoxie on a third lap three restart ended any realistic chance for victory. Three more slowdowns with still half the race to go kept the field tight as Kane Bristol and Tyler Corcoran moved in to battle Comfort as Sobotka’s #38 Stirling Lubricants-Stoneburg Construction-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell ride stayed steady out front.
Tim Baker suffered a flat left-rear tire to bring out the last yellow flag on lap 18 and set up a final run to the checkers. While Bristol and Corcoran swapped second over the last five laps, Sobotka remained in command as the Parish pilot secured a six car-length margin at the line. Bristol edged new points leader Corcoran to place second while Nick Cooper and Dalton Martin recorded top-five runs followed by gallant effort exhibited by Matt Guererri in sixth.
“I followed the line there pretty quick in turns one and two up top,” stated Sobotka, whose four wins last season elevated him to third on the points chart. “It got pushed up there pretty late in the race and I didn’t know where Kane and Tyler were. Was trying to watch the scoreboard with about five laps to go. Didn’t know if the bottom (groove) was coming in or the top was still there. Those two cars are pretty good all over the track, makes it pretty tough to guess where they are and I should be.”
Parrow’s often practiced guess work paid dividends in the 20-lap MEM A-Main, darting past Alysha Bay with five to go then outlasting her father Darryl Ruggles to author a six car-length win and collect the $500 top prize.
“The key is picking and choosing your lane when you hit lapped traffic,” figured Parrow, after matching Ruggles with his third win of the season to trail Darryl by just two points, 494-492, heading down the stretch. “When you’re second you gotta take the opposite lane than the leader. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, just gotta do it.”
Bay ducked under Jason Whipple on lap four but fifth-starting Parrow tracked her down after a dozen circuits and used traffic to his advantage down the back chute to take over for good on lap 15. Ruggles began ninth in the 16-car field and chipped away before catching Bay for second on a lap 17 restart but fell short at the stripe. Whipple and last week’s winner Ethan Gray rounded out the top-five in the 10-minute main.
“Thought having the race late tonight was really going to mess things up,” admitted the Waterloo winner, after parking owner Tom Fletcher’s Hand’s Performance-powered #53 Amy’s Checkered Flag-Waterloo Auto/GF1 entry in victory lane for the seventh time in his career. “But there was still an upper groove and a bottom groove left. I hit the middle a couple times and it worked.”
“Right now Tom and I are just out here having fun. Throughout my career I never really worried about points, the more you win the better finishes you have and points just fall into your lap. Just like everybody else I’m out here to win every night.”
“Have to thank my pit crew, they did everything. Hardly had to turn a wrench all night. Could just show up and put my helmet on if I wanted to. Back in the (old) days I built the motor, built the car, did everything and had a couple guys just go to the races,” recalled Parrow, who turns 54 next week, and posted his first win at LOLR in 1992 steering an Empire Super Sprinter.
DePuy was just old enough to drive in the early 1990s yet on Saturday night the now full-fender veteran behind the wheel of the black #99 Ifreeze Storage & Distribution Center-Quigley Flooring-Cummings Trucking Chevrolet Camaro captured his first 20-lap Street Stock win since June of 2021.
“The track is a little tough once you get off the bottom and my car hates any part of the track except for the bottom,” declared three-time track champion DePuy, now 48, after circling the Canandaigua half-miler for career win no. 48. “If someone tried to pass me it had to be on the top. Mike (Welch) has been good up there a couple times so I thought maybe him or Josh (Pangrazio) would get up there. But after I didn’t see them, it was all good.”
Marcus Springer and Ron “Bundy” Metcalf spun through the initial corners in separate incidents to incur early race cautions with the last 19 laps run non-stop. With the 16-car field finally sorted out, outside pole-sitter Aksel Jensen could only lead the first lap before eighth starting DePuy blasted by on the lap two restart.
Row five starters Welch (9th) and Pangrazio (10th) followed suit and the top trio pulled away from the pack with five laps scored. Despite multiple three- and four-wide battles waged through continuous traffic for the duration, the order remained intact up front while Carl Johnson slid by Marc Minutolo in the late stages to complete the final front-five after 10 miles.
DePuy’s five car-length victory also netted him the $100 Prouty’s Bar Bonus after ending Pangrazio’s win streak at two.
The lone driver to perform double-duty on this night, second-generation chauffeur Minutolo joined DePuy as a first-time full-fender feature winner in ’22, yet his drive from last to first was far more unpredictable following an early race mechanical malfunction.
“Don’t even know what happened on that second lap, wish I did,” shrugged Minutolo, after his black no. 25B Real Estate By Jenn-Tradition Automotive-Big Mike’s Auto Repair Chevrolet Camaro shut down high in turn two to kick off the 15-lap headliner for Hobby cars. “This is the second time out with this car so I couldn’t be happier.”
“Me and my dad spent so much time on this thing, down in Loren Lincoln’s shop as well. Just great to be here. Never thought I’d get back to victory lane and here I am.”
Minutolo refired and returned to the rear of the pack just in time for the lap three restart. From there the riled racer from nearby Newark began his mission forward with leaders Nate Peckham and Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell trading paint up front.
Burnell chased down early leader Peckham on lap four yet Peckham suddenly slowed to avoid spinning high in turn two and immediately dropped to the rear as a result. Already storming into third with five laps scored, Minutolo inherited second when Tyler Burnell lost a driveshaft on the front chute and pulled up alongside father Frank when green flag racing returned on lap seven.
Running bumper-to-bumper and rail-to-rail, the lead pair left no room for error as they put distance on their counterparts. After laps of shadowing his long-time rival, Minutolo forged the final lead change low exiting turn four and over the last five laps powered on for a four car-length victory. Bob Buono finished third in his maiden voyage of ’22, followed by points leader Wayne Ellison and Jamie Eldredge Jr.
“Cool to be able to race with Bubba door-to-door because usually that ain’t the story between me and him,” said Minutolo, following his 61st career stock car victory at the Routes 5&20 speedplant, now with a division-best 52 in Pure Stock competition. “Glad all this work finally paid off, crossing the line first makes it all worthwhile.”
For the second straight Saturday it was Liechti taking top honors in the 12-lap Legends Sportsman finale. Yet this time he only had to outlast weekly regulars Kennedy Payne and Angel Sperring as he led flag-to-flag in the six-mile nightcap that featured three entry level racers.
Land of Legends Raceway Quick Results – July 16, 2022
Geneva Club Beverage & FH Mechanical HVAC present “Fan Appreciation/Autograph Night”
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 3-Justin Haers ($2,000), 2. 21a-Peter Britten, 3. 70a-Alex Payne, 4. 19-Tim Fuller, 5. 34-Kevin Root, 6. 23c-Kyle Coffey, 7. 27j-Danny Johnson, 8. 27z-Dylan Zacharias, 9. 14j-Alan Johnson, 10. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 11. 33j-Robbie Johnston, 12. 7z-Zach Payne, 13. 19w-Justin Wright, 14. 88-Dave Allen, 15. 29ny-Greg Birosh, 16. 11j-James Sweeting, 17. 56-Garrison Krentz, 18. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 19. 11n-Ricky Newton, 20. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 21. 42p-Pat Ward, 22. 7-Troy Sperring, 23. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 24. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 25. 1-Andrew Smith, 70p-Eldon Payne Jr.(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Fuller, Zacharias, Sweeting, Newton, Tegg, Birosh, Krentz, Allen, Smith.
#2: Haers, Podsiadlo, Root, A.Johnson, A.Payne, Z.Payne, Wright, E.Payne, Dinkins.
#3: Ward, Britten, D.Johnson, Coffey, D.Johnson Jr., Johnston, Sperring, Stoughtenger.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 38-Zach Sobotka ($750), 2. 31-Kane Bristol, 3. 64-Tyler Corcoran, 4. 35-Nick Cooper, 5. 132-Dalton Martin, 6. 12g-Matt Guererri, 7. 7-Paul Guererri, 8. 10-Karl Comfort, 9. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 10. 18h-Justin Henderson, 11. 25g-Nick Guererri, 12. 30-Nick Root, 13. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 14. 00-Sam Hoxie, 15. 22-Brandon Grover, 16. 21v-Tony Velez, 17. 04-Eric Years, 18. 7j-JT Sperring, 19. 9-Tim Baker, 20. 28-Mark Potter, 21. 29b-Jason Breezee, 22. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 23. 51-Tim Lafler.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Root, Corcoran, Lafler, F.Guererri, Sperring, Hoxie, Coffey, Borden.
#2: Bristol, P.Guererri, Potter, N.Guererri, Henderson, Velez, Breezee, Grover.
#3: Comfort, Martin, Sobotka, Cooper, M.Guererri, Baker, Years.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 53-Bobby Parrow ($500), 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 48a-Alysha Bay, 4. 38-Jason Whipple, 5. 17e-Ethan Gray, 6. 77-Matt Rotz, 7. 66-Jordan Hutton, 8. 13t-Trevor Years, 9. 121-Steve Glover, 10. 18c-Dan Craun, 11. 10-Nathan Pierce, 12. 14-James Layton, 13. 29t-Tori Kaplin, 14. 10j-Johnny Kolosek, 15. 2-Randy Years, 23-John Smith(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Parrow, Rotz, Bay, R.Years, Glover, Gray, Kaplin.
#2: Ruggles, Whipple, T.Years, Hutton, Kolosek, Craun, Pierce, Layton, Smith.
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 99-Adam DePuy, 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 7-Josh Pangrazio, 4. 87-Carl Johnson, 5. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 6. 55p-Parker Smith, 7. 122-Chris Beyea, 8. 5c-Rick Crego , 9. 57j-Nick Dandino, 10. 9-Aksel Jensen, 11. 24j-Marcus Springer, 12. 63-Mike Fellows, 13. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 14. 18-Jeff Almekinder, 15. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 3-Patrick Hobbs(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Pangrazio, Johnson, Welch, Minutolo, Jensen, Dandino, Smith, Fellows.
#2: Crego, DePuy, Beyea, Metcalf, Springer, Almekinder, Hobbs, Sharp.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 2. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 3. 64-Bob Buono, 4. 18-Wayne Ellison, 5. 17jr.-Jamie Eldredge Jr., 6. 17a-Jon Almekinder, 7. 90-Nathan Peckham, 8. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 22-Craig Dingy(DNS), 25j-Justin Eldredge(DNS).
Heat (5 laps)
#1: F.Burnell, Ellison, Minutolo, Peckham, Buono, Ja.Eldredge, Almekinder, Dingy, T.Burnell, Ju.Eldredge(DNS).
MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (12 laps): 1. 57-Justin Liechti, 2. 31k-Kennedy Payne, 3. 56a-Angel Sperring.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: Liechti, Payne, Sperring.