Story By: RON SZCZERBA / FONDA SPEEDWAY – FONDA, NY – Stewart Friesen’s grasp on success at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway continued on Saturday evening as he took the Halmar #44 to victory lane for the sixth time this season and the 85th time in his career at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds track. After starting the Sunoco Modified feature in the 12th position, Friesen took the lead on lap 18 and cruised to yet another victory at Fonda.
“We tried a little bit of different stuff tonight, but a little bit of a different track was definitely challenging for us,” Friesen said in F.X. Caprara Victory Lane. “There were some stutter bumps, but the Integra Shocks are the best in the business, and we got across the stutters probably better than anybody tonight.”
Other winners on Carver Companies/Catman’s Breads Night at Fonda on Saturday evening were Brett Mortensen (first career win in the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman division), Ivan Joslin (Algonkin Motel Pro Stock), Zach Dufel (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Kerrie (DOHC) and Ken (SOHC) Hollenback (Fonda Fair Four Cylinder), and Danny Varin (Empire Super Sprints ESS).
During opening ceremonies, a prayer was given by Pastor Greg Nitz followed by the National Anthem which was sung by the 2019 Northeast Country Music Association nominee Jenna Sue. Ed Biittig Sr. then took the mic to honor Mimi Lazzaro who was recently honored with a special award at the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame.
“This young lady next to me was honored by the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame for Woman in Racing,” Biittig said in victory lane. “When you have a name like Lazzaro folks, they are an icon to the speedway. Her dad’s (Lou Lazzaro) #4 is posted above the “Track of Champions” sign on the front of the grandstands, Mimi we think the world of you, and you know it, so this is for you.”
Biittig then presented a framed photo of the article that was written about Lazzaro in the Area Auto Racing News prior the ceremony last month. “Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years,” Lazzaro told the crowd. “I just can’t say that enough.”
Timothy from Fonda was the winner of $2,881 in the 50/50 raffle. Another amazing job by Rose, Julie, and Heather who worked hard on a very hot night to get the total up to that amount and who have done an amazing job all season as the 50/50 hasn’t been under $2,000 all season long!
The 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature began with outside pole position starter Chris Curtis the early leader with Demetrious Drellos second after starting in the third position. Stewart Friesen started the feature in the 12th position and was in the top five by the time the lap counter clicked over to lap six.
An early yellow was out at that point for current point leader Matt DeLorenzo who made contact with the outside wall on the backstretch and suffered significant damage to the right front of his car. After a visit to the hot pit, DeLorenzo was done for the evening at that point. When racing resumed on the restart, Curtis continued to lead with Friesen now up to third after getting by both JaMike Sowle and Dave Constantino.
Curtis encountered lap traffic just before the halfway point in the event with both Drellos and Friesen closing in at that point. Friesen got by Drellos on lap 14 and then got by Curtis for the lead with the caution coming out before lap 15 was completed for Jessica Friesen who came to a stop on the backstretch. With the lap not being completed Curtis kept the lead for a short time longer, choosing the outside for the restart.
Coming out of turn two on lap 18, Friesen took the lead away from Curtis and with no caution flags coming out for the remainder of the event he pulled away to a straightaway advantage as the checkered flag flew with Drellos getting by Curtis for the second position with two laps to go, Curtis, Sowle, and sixth place starter Ryan Odasz completing the top five.
“We were trying to keep up with the track changing but the Halmar Team is the best in the business” Friesen told Mimi Lazzaro in victory lane. “We put our heads together and have been trying to catch Sheppard here the last couple of weeks trying different stuff. It is all about little things, little adjustments that pay off when the track is challenging like it was tonight. But the track had two grooves and it was really wide, it’s late so thanks to everyone for staying out tonight.”
The 25-lap Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature was caution filled, but the excitement of a first-time winner made up for it at the end with Stephen Gray taking the early lead in the event. Brett Mortensen started in the sixth position right alongside his brother Mark, but Brett found the outside groove to be fast early on as he went from sixth to third by the time lap one was completed.
The second-place car of Dylan Eldred brought out the first caution of the event early on with a broken left rear suspension slowing his car in turn three. Gray chose the bottom on the restart with Brett Mortensen taking over the lead at the drop of the green flag on lap four on the outside of the backstretch. The caution was out again two laps later for Carter Gibbons who got into the wall between turns one and two and collected the car of Griffen Mansmith as well. Both were done for the evening at that point.
Brett Mortensen maintained the lead on the restart with his brother Mark the new second place car with 12th place starter and point leader Chad Edwards now in the top five. Brett pulled away from his brother to a straightaway advantage which was taken away on lap ten when Tim Dwyer came to a stop in turn two along with Cory White who spun in the same turn. Brett Mortensen was quick on the outside and again chose that lane for the restart, with Troy Zilles going from fourth to second at the drop of the green flag.
At the halfway point in the event, Brett Mortensen led the event with Zilles, Edwards, Mark Mortensen, and 11th place starter Payton Talbot in the top five. Edwards great run came to an end shortly afterwards when he came to a stop at the pit exit in turn four bringing out the caution. Restarts didn’t seem to phase Brett Mortensen one bit as he again chose the outside for the restart and again held on to the lead on the restart.
“I heard over the receiver that all the good guys were getting to the front of the pack, so I was getting a little nervous,” Brett Mortensen said. “But then the car was so fast that I was basically just full rip all the way around.”
Zilles stayed close to Brett Mortensen on this restart with Talbot and Mark Mortensen swapping the third position amongst themselves many times. One final caution was out just short of five laps to go on lap 19, for Tanner Warner who suffered a flat tire which he changed on the hot pit road and then rejoined the rear of the field.
Brett Mortensen led on the restart and pulled away from Payton Talbot who got by both Mark Mortensen and Zilles coming out of turn four with only a couple laps to go. It was the first career win in the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman division for the 2020 Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Track Champion Brett Mortensen in his #1B Mohawk Honda, Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In sponsored Teo car. He was followed in the top five at the checkered flag by Talbot, Mark Mortensen, Zilles, and 13th place starter Cody Clark.
“I’m kind of speechless, an emotional Brett Mortensen said in victory lane after the win. “That was probably, I think, the easiest I’ve ever driven the car, it basically just drove itself. I gotta thank my tire guy Chris Persons (sponsor Persons Farms) for that, I’m pretty sure that this is all him. I was just really worried about where Mark (brother Mark Mortensen) was because I knew if he gets next to me, he was probably going to take it away from me.”
“I think things finally came together tonight,” Brett Mortensen continued to say. “It’s been a very difficult season with crashes and bad luck but I’m very happy tonight that it all came together. I think I’m going to retire now.”
The 20-lap Algonkin Motel Pro Stock feature saw Randy Cosselman lead at the start with Jason Morrison leading lap two after getting by Cosselman on the inside of turns one and two followed by Luke Horning. Sixth place starter Nick Stone took the fourth position at that point with seventh place starter Chuck Dumblewski also in the top five when the caution came out on lap three. The caution was for Cosselman who got up high in turn four, struck the wall, and flipped several times. He was not injured in the accident.
Morrison continued to lead on the restart with Stone the new second place car until Stone slowed on lap seven with the right rear wheel on the car totally gone. He went to the hot pit for repairs and restarted at the rear of the field. Dumblewski was the second-place car on the restart and took the lead on lap ten on the outside in turns one and two. The caution was out again at the halfway point and on this restart eighth place starter and last weeks feature winner Ivan Joslin moved into the second position.
Joslin took over the lead from Dumblewski with five laps to go with one more caution slowing the field on lap 17. Joslin led the remaining laps after the restart and went on to his second win of the season and the 12th of his career in the division over Dumblewski, tenth place starter Beau Ballard, Morrison, and AJ Walters.
“Oh my God this thing is on rails,” Joslin told Mimi Lazzaro about his car in victory lane. “My uncle did something to it, he’s got this thing on rails, and I can’t thank him enough for what he does. This is amazing, I never did two in a row before so here we are. It is a big team effort, so we’ll take it.”
Timmy Wilmot led the first lap of the 15-lap Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman feature until mechanical problems took him out of the event just after lap one was completed. Lance Hill was the new race leader after Wilmot’s issues, and he held the lead until lap eight when 11th place starter Zach Dufel took over the top spot with a pass on the inside of turns three and four.
Dufel led the remaining laps for his fifth win of the season over seventh place starter Josh Kane, Hill, 13th place starter Phil Arnold, and 12th place starter AJ Greco.
Kerrie Hollenback (DOHC) was the overall winner of the 12-lap Fonda Fair Four Cylinder event over Chris Hall, third place finisher and SOHC winner Ken Hollenback, Wayne Russell Jr., and Josh Ramsey.
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) were also in action with Fonda Speedway favorite Josh Pieniazek leading the first eight laps until third place starter and another track favorite Danny Varin took over the lead on lap nine on the inside of turns one and two. Varin led at the halfway point in the event followed by Dylan Swiernik, Pieniazek, Matt Tanner, and Jordan Poirier.
There was a close call for Poirier just after the halfway point when he came in contact with the back of a lap car in turn four and did a total 360-degree spin, continuing on but falling back to the ninth position.
Two yellows slowed the field before the checkered flag was thrown but there was nothing stopping Varin on this night as he went on to his sixth consecutive ESS win at Fonda over Swiernik, 15th place starter Shawn Donath, Tanner, and 13th place starter Paulie Colagiovanni.
“Six in a row here at Fonda means a lot,” Varin told ESS announcer Adam Buchannon in victory lane. It means a lot for this team. We’ve worked very hard this year and over the winter to put a program together to where we would be competitive, so it means a lot. We just have to keep chugging forward maintaining this thing and keep it up front.”
“We were lacking a little bit in the feature, I think it was just the hard tire we had on,” Varin continued. “It was brand new going bon, no laps on it, and it took a little bit to go but at the end of the feature the car kept getting better and better so the longer the feature the better we were gonna get.”
Next Saturday, August 13 local Johnstown, NY company Benjamin Moore Paints will present “Championship Night” with the 2022 Track Champions being decided in all divisions. The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS) will also be in action to decide their 2022 Track Champions.
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 – 8/6/2022 CARVER COMPANIES/CATMAN’S BREADS NIGHT
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-laps – STEWART FRIESEN, Demetrious Drellos, Chris Curtis, JaMike Sowle, Ryan Odasz, Dave Constantino, David Schilling, Rocky Warner, Ronnie Johnson, Danny Varin, Bobby Varin, Nick Heywood, Tucker O’Connor, Craig Hanson, Pep Corradi, Darwin Greene, John Lutes, Dylan Scribner, Jessica Friesen, Bobby Hackel IV, Matt DeLorenzo, Steve Akers, Aaron Jacobs, Rich Christman, Brian Gleason (DNS)
6th win of the 2022 season and the 85th of his career in the division at Fonda for Friesen
LAP LEADERS – 1-17 Curtis, 18-30 Friesen
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Curtis, Drellos, Sowle
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-laps – BRETT MORTENSEN, Payton Talbot, Mark Mortensen, Troy Zilles, Cody Clark, Troy Palmer, Chip Constantino, Stephen Gray, Clayton DuMond, Greg Havlichek, Jason Reome, Harry Shaffer, Anthony Cardamone, Matthew Perry, Nikki Ouellette, Tanner Warner, Cory White, Kathy Bellen, Brendan Gibbons, Chad Edwards, Tim Dwyer, Jeremy Tyrrell, Carter Gibbons, Griffen Mansmith, Dylan Eldred, Kurtis Hohensheldt
1st career win in the division for Brett Mortensen
LAP LEADERS – 1-3 Gray, 4-25 Brett Mortensen
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Warner, Havlichek, Gray
GRECO’S NAPA HARD CHARGER AWARD – Troy Palmer plus 14 spots from 20th to 6th
ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-laps – IVAN JOSLIN, Chuck Dumblewski, Beau Ballard, Jason Morrison, AJ Walters, Kenny Gates, Jim Normoyle, Josh Coonradt, Dennis Joslin, John Holmes, Caden Dumblewski, Gary Silkey, Don Collins, Nick Stone, Luke Horning, Randy Cosselman
2nd win of the 2022 season and the 12th of his career in the division at Fonda for Joslin
LAP LEADERS – 1 Cosselman, 2-9 Morrison, 10-14 Chuck Dumblewski, 15-20 Joslin
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Horning, Chuck Dumblewski
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-laps – ZACH DUFEL, Josh Kane, Lance Hill, Phil Arnold, AJ Greco, Kyle Dingman, Bobby Rhinehardt, Jonathan Feagles, Collin Williams, Steve Wagoner, Harold Robitaille, Walter Cook, Cian DiMezza, Chris Kugler, Timmy Wilmot, Bob Rowback, Michael Kalkbrenner, Connor Prokop, Nate Bedell, Mark Lighthall, Ryan Sweet (DNS), Wesley Sutliff (DNS), Corky Warner (DNS)
5th win of the 2022 season and the 5th of his career in the division at Fonda for Dufel
LAP LEADERS – 1 Wilmot, 2-7 Hill, 8-15 Dufel
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Wilmot, Hill, Kane
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – KERRIE HOLLENBACK (DOHC), Chris Hall, KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), Wayne Russell Jr., Josh Ramsey, Bruce Liddle, Jim Blue, John Napoli, David Peek-Britten, Len St. Andrews, Justin Ramsey, TJ Marlitt
12th win of the 2022 season and the 32nd of his career in the division at Fonda for Kerrie Hollenback
15th win of the 2022 season and the 83rd of his career in the division at Fonda for Ken Hollenback
LAP LEADERS – 1 St. Andrews, 2-4 Ken Hollenback, 5-12 Kerrie Hollenback
$50 bonus to both Kerrie & Ken Hollenback compliments of Marty from Upstate Auto
LUCAS OIL EMPIRE SUPER SPRINT (ESS) FEATURE – 25-laps – DANNY VARIN, Dylan Swiernik, Shawn Donath, Matt Tanner, Paulie Colagiovanni, Davie Franek, Jordan Poirier, Josh Pieniazek, Jason Barney, Mike Kiser, Chad Miller, Joe Trenka, Scott Kreutter, Jeff Cook, Kelly Hebing, Jeff Trombley, Lacey Hanson, Chris Jones, Logan Crisafulli, Tyler Cartier, Scott Holcomb, Floyd Billington (DNS), Travis Billington (DNS), Jeremiah Munson (DNS)
6th consecutive ESS win at Fonda for Varin
LAP LEADERS – 1-8 Pieniazek, 9-25 Varin
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Cook, Barney, Varin
SUPPLY WAGON RENTALS ESS DASH – Poirier