RPW Column: Lap Traffic & Knowledge Of Track Help Jack Lehner Win Ultimate Underdog 33 At Fonda
Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – FONDA, NY – Just passed the halfway mark of Thursday night’s Ultimate Underdog 33 Modified feature at Fonda Speedway, lap traffic was a friend to Bobby Hackel and a hindrance to Jack Lehner.
With six laps to go, the roles were reversed.
That’s when lap traffic helped Lehner but cost Hackel a trip to Checkered Board Square.
Lehner was able to power by leader Hackel off of turn four and never looked back. From that point on, the ‘Ginga Ninja’ sealed the deal to score the $2,000 victory.
“It got kind of hairy there with the lap cars,” Lehner said. “I wasn’t exactly sure which way they were going to go and I think that played a big part of the feature.”
Lehner was paying attention to how Hackel’s car was running as the race went on, as well as track conditions, hoping for any opening he could get to try and contest for the top spot.
“Bobby was running a good race,” he said. “He was entering on the bottom and sliding across the track. I was hoping that would kind of fade for him as the track slickened up.”
That was the exact place Lehner wanted to be as well.
“I felt really good on the bottom,” he said. “It just kind of worked out for us tonight.”
Through the course of the feature, as the race went on, Lehner and Ronnie Johnson, who was also contesting for the top spot at times, had cars that really came on. However, Hackel’s PMC fired really well on restarts. That was a key to how both drivers faired on the night.
“You had to pick your lanes wisely tonight,” he said. “I was pretty tight early in the feature but as the race went on, I felt like I was getting better and better. Things just fell at the right time for us.”
This was a great way to start off the Fonda 200 Weekend for Lehner. For most of the past two seasons, he’s been running the Bill and Erik Nelson #85 machine at the track. However, engine troubles in that car forced Lehner’s hand to bring out one of his own #2 Bicknell chassis.
The engine between the frame rails of the mount is on loan from the Pinkerous family. Is this win a momentum builder for the rest of the weekend?
“This win definitely doesn’t hurt,” he said. “I think we might have some work to do with some of the other guys in the pit area right now. Hopefully we can do that and have a great run on Saturday.
Hackel very nearly stole the show Thursday night. After starting fourth, the East Greenbush, NY driver wrestled the top spot away from Jimmy Horton on a lap 1 restart and looked like his car was perfect.
Unfortunately, things didn’t fall his way on this night but he was able to hold on for a solid runner-up finish.
“We were so close tonight,” Hackel said. “We led a lot of laps and I think we freed the set up of our car a little too much for the end of the feature.”
All-in-all, even though he didn’t win, Hackel was pleased with his night.
“We came home second in the feature,” he said. “This was a great way to start our Fonda 200 Weekend.”
Ronnie Johnson, JaMike Sowle and Tyler Dippel, making his first start in a Modified in quite some time, rounded out the top five.
Defending winner of the Ultimate Underdog 33, Brett Haas, had his race end basically before it even began.
“We were unlucky in the Underdog tonight,” Haas said. “On Lap 1, a wheel bearing seized up, leaving the Prime Time #55 unable to get back on track to finish the race. We’ll need to make repairs before qualifying tomorrow.”
Kyle Dingman got by leader Butchie Irwin on a restart at the halfway point of the 20-lap Limited Sportsman feature and went on to take his fourth win of the 2022 season at Fonda.
Irwin still came home in second with Zach Dufel, Mike Arnold and Michael Kalkbrenner completing the top five.
“ULTIMATE UNDERDOG” FEATURE – 33-LAPS – $2,000 to win – JACK LEHNER, Bobby Hackel IV, Ronnie Johnson, JaMike Sowle, Tyler Dippel, Chris Curtis, Tucker O’Connor, Scott Huber, Jeff Trombley, Payton Talbot, Ancel Collins, Brian Pessolano, Ryan Darcy, Aaron Jacobs, Joe Williams, Brett Mortensen, Mark Mortensen, Matt Sobiech, Mark Pullen, Tanner Warner, Bobby Varin, Jimmy Horton, Nick Stone, George Foley, Vinnie Sanganetti, Ryan Odasz, Brett Hass, Stephen Gray, Allison Ricci, Jessica Friesen (DNS), Daniel Morgiewicz (DNS)
1st win of 2022 and the second win of his career in the division for Lehner
LAP LEADERS – 1 Horton, 2-26 Hackel, 27-33 Lehner
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Sowle, Curtis, Varin
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 20-laps – $1,100 to win – $1,000 added to the winners share by Holmes & Kugler Towing – KYLE DINGMAN, Butchie Irwin, Zach Dufel, Mike Arnold, Michael Kalkbrenner, Nick Arnold, Timmy Wilmot, Mike Hill, Jonathan Feagles, Phil Arnold, AJ Greco, Corky Warner, Harold Robitaille, Walter Cook, Chris Kugler, Connor Prokop, Josh Kane, EJ Gallup, Wesley Sutliff, Colin Clow, Dale VanAllen, Russ Farr, Lance Hill, Cian DiMezza, Gus Kamberelis, Mark Lighthall, Tim Deffer (DNS)
4th win of 2022 and the 6th of his career in the division for Dingman
LAP LEADERS – 1-4 Hill, 5-10 Irwin, 11-20 Dingman
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Irwin, Dingman, Michael Arnold