Story By: TOM SKIBINSKI / LAND OF LEGENDS RACEWAY – CANANDAIGUA, NY – A perfect summer day turned even better come nightfall for high point man Jordan Hutton as the Hannibal hotshoe continued his dominance Saturday night at Land Of Legends Raceway, capturing round two of the DisBatch Brewing Company Challenge in the A-Verdi Storage Containers CRSA Series powered by SuperGen Products for MighTea Boba 305 Sprint Cars.
“That kid is going to be fast once he gets more wheel time and some more experience under his belt,” remarked Hutton, after inheriting the lead when rookie Dillon Paddock clipped a uke tire with just two laps left and cruising home to the lucrative $1,000 victory. Continuing to top both the series and track point standings in a bold bid to claim his first-ever season championship in each, he also pocketed a $250 back-to-back win bonus from Speed Connection. “This is my third year and he’s right with me, he knows his stuff and tries his hardest out there. Just minor things he needs to fix.”
Show sponsors Seneca Meadows and Auction Direct helped perpetuate the 70th Anniversary of racing in Canandaigua on July 22 with Peter Britten (Pepsi Big-Block Modified), Nick Cooper (Stirling Lubricants Sportsman), Jimmy Grant (Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock), Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr. (Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock) and Kennedy Payne (Maguire Ford of Canandaigua New Legends Sportsman) once again joining in the victory lane celebrations as all six drivers also hoisted first-place trophies together on June 10!
Kicking off the program greeting fans and signing autographs on a collector’s edition hero card, Joe Plazek became the newest addition to the Land of Legends Wall of Fame on Saturday as the career of the always popular Canadian pilot was celebrated in a festive pre-race ceremony held behind the main grandstands.
First contending on the Canadian motocross circuit in 1973, the budding teenager from Caistor Centre, Ontario traded in his two-wheeler for a four-tire compact car running on asphalt, then a late model and mini-stock by the end of the decade. Transition to the Sportsman division on dirt followed in 1982 before ‘Canada Joe’ climbed behind the wheel of a DIRT Big-Block Modified to begin his ’83 campaign.
1985 was a break-out season as Joe overtook Dave Lape in a thrilling last turn, last lap pass to garner his first Canandaigua victory in the CRC Chemicals Super DIRT Series special held July 23. Just two days earlier at age 24, Plazek scored his first career Modified win closer to home at Humberstone Int’l Speedway in Pt. Colborne.
While Joe climbed to fifth on the track points chart in ’85, he had to wait another decade before claiming that elusive first Canandaigua crown. Amidst stringing together three straight Labor Day title race triumphs on the big Syracuse Mile (1995-97), Plazek captured the 1996 & 1997 season championships at Ontario County’s own hallowed half-miler, winning eight features during the ’97 run. Including a second Super DIRT Series win during that ’97 stint, Joe closed out his career in Canandaigua the following season with 21 checkered flags (8th all-time), ultimately posting 68 Big-Block wins at nine different tracks on the DIRT circuit while adding 11 more in the Small-Block ranks.
Along with Plazek and fellow 2023 honoree Charlie Rudolph, previous selections have been 2018 LOLR WoF charter members Donald ‘Dutch’ Hoag, ‘Barefoot’ Bob McCreadie, DIRT Motorsports founder Glenn Donnelly and still active ace Alan Johnson, Class of ’19 inductees Steve Pesarek, Milt Johnson, Gary Montgomery and Gary & Donna Spaid, ’21 honorees Steve Paine, Paul Guererri, Mike Welch and Fred Taney, along with last year’s recipients Danny Johnson, Gary Tomkins, Tom & Kim Ewing and Brad Ovens, with each individual recognized in a timely tribute on their special night.
Off-track activity continued at intermission prior to the start of the features Saturday as seven lucky fans collected seven prized pieces of LOLR memorabilia donated by active race teams after submitting the highest bids in a special ‘live’ charity auction. Listed in alphabetical order, the drivers included Peter Britten (#21A Pepsi quarter panel), Ethan Gray (#17E top wing panel), Danny Johnson (#27J car door panel & quarter panel), Alex Payne (#70A door panel), Erick Rudolph (#25 door panel) and Zach Sobotka (1st Big-Block winning helmet), with the $1,340 in total proceeds —highest bid of $320 for Sobotka helmet— distributed to help off-set hospital expenses incurred for LOLR Television Executive Producer Art Rorick and veteran LOLR Public Address Announcer/Pit Reporter Doug Elkins.
A record car count of 30 winged machines filled the pits yet in the end that didn’t seem to change much in the final outcome. Hutton’s second straight win at LOLR gives him five checkered flags in seven starts and including a triumph in the tour opener at the same Ontario Co. Fairgrounds oval in May, the talented teen now has three CRSA victories and six top-five tallies in the seven A-Mains held.
Veteran Steve Glover jumped out early from his pole-position start before fifth-starting Paddock chased him down to take first on lap eight. Filing in 12th on the 26-car grid aboard his familiar no. 66 Tom’s Auto-Big Awesome BBQ-JB Farms & Logging Eagle, Hutton moved into eighth after a pair of early cautions for Adam DePuy and Ethan Gray shuffled the line-up with just two laps complete.
While Paddock maintained a commanding lead, high-flying Hutton was picking off cars just as fast using the open outside lane. At the halfway mark of the headline 20-lapper, Paddock and Glover remained up front with Blake Warner and Hutton battling for third ahead of reigning CRSA points king Dalton Herrick. Hutton continued his methodical run as the laps clicked off, grabbing third on lap 11 before disposing of Glover the next time around leaving only Paddock on his radar.
Creeping ever closer in traffic during the closing stages, Paddock suddenly rapped the uke tire low rounding turns one and two, breaking his front-end to open the door wide for Hutton on lap 19. The restart was anti-climactic for Hutton as he charged ahead by nearly a half straightaway with Glover settling for second ahead of Herrick, Warner and Tyler Chartrand.
“If he would’ve kept going high in turns one and two probably wouldn’t have even been a race,” figured Hutton, the ’21 LOLR Rookie of the Year now with six career CRSA wins, after another frustrating finish for Paddock who crossed the line first at Canandaigua on May 27 before failing the customary post-race weight inspection.
“I was getting a wicked dig off (turn) two, it was just working good all night. My philosophy when I race things around here is keep it straight and keep it in the tacky. No point going right through the slick when there’s something brown up top. Can’t thank enough everybody that helps out, great support all around,” Hutton added.
Britten mirrored Paddock’s move to the front on lap eight in the 30-lap Big-Block feature yet the popular Australian grabbed the lead from rising second-generation driver Daniel Johnson Jr. on a restart and stayed strong the rest of the way.
“Feel like I was probably good enough, didn’t really matter what he did,” noted Britten in response to Johnson’s early race lane choice that resulted in the final lead change. “He was running well. That first segment there I kinda got to second pretty easily, then once behind him felt he was pretty decent but I saw him run the top. I learned my lesson in those early years, you can’t rely on the top to win because you end up blowing your right-rear (tire ) or something.”
Troy Sperring took off from the point after the drop of chief starter Scott Hixson’s initial green flag yet could only deny the youngest Johnson for a single lap. When Gil Tegg Jr. smoked to a stop on the frontstretch infield on lap eight, seventh-starting Britten was in prime position to seize the lead on the ensuing restart.
Jeff Lawrence slid high off turn one to incur caution on lap 28, suddenly erasing a healthy 4.9-second lead yet providing Britten in his blue #21A Pepsi-Beyea Custom Headers-AMI Racing/Bicknell mount with a clean track ahead over the final three laps. From there ‘Batman’ headed for home unchallenged, opening up a comfortable 15 car-length margin of victory ahead of Daniel Johnson Jr., hard charging Alex Payne, Danny Johnson and points leader Justin Haers.
“He was good, congrats on a second. It was a good run, he was fast all night,” added Britten, after copping a division-high third win to inch closer to Haers on the points chart in search of his first title in wine country. “It was a good run for us as well. Either way for us I’m real happy. This car was nailed. Good fun, glad to get this Pepsi car back in victory lane and have to thank the fans for all their support.”
Cracking the Canandaigua winner’s circle for the first time in a Sportsman back in June, Waterloo warrior Cooper needed only one more month to become the class’ first repeat victor after 10 feature events.
“The car was just so good, I told myself to be smooth,” said Cooper, another second-generation standout with seven 305 Sprint wins after the division debut at LOLR in 2012. “I didn’t think the top (groove) was there because it was so far out. And being a crate (motor) car you just can’t get enough run off the top as far out as it is. So I just kinda focused, kept my marks and that’s all that mattered.”
Cooper out-dueled front row partner Behr Grover in the 25-lap finale, forging a stronghold from the beginning with Tim Baker, Grover, Frank Guererri Jr. and Paul Guererri dicing for position further back. Justin Liechti looped exiting turn one to force out the first yellow flag and the second flew on the next restart when contact rounding turn three sent long-time points leader Matt Guererri in a tailspin collecting Timmy Borden Jr. in the aftermath.
Running 11th before the lap seven mishaps, Zach Sobotka suddenly found himself in second with eight laps complete followed by Baker, Karl Comfort and all-time LOLR Sportsman win leader Paul Guererri. Yet that was as far as Sobotka could advance trailing Cooper’s #35 Seneca Meadows-Bobcat Of FingerLakes-FingerLakes Real Estate Rehabbers/Bicknell machine by 10 car-lengths at the stripe, although the Parish pilot’s runner-up finish still afforded him the points lead in quest of a second straight track crown.
“These cars will test you, there’s a lot of work,” said Cooper, rattling off all his sponsors that help carry the load. Have to thank my father (Mike), he’s always in the shop with me. Really means a lot to have all the work pay off. Seneca Meadows is a huge supporter, can’t thank them enough for the help getting us here.”
For the past month the question that remains in Canandaigua’s top-tier full-fender Street Stock division is ‘can anyone beat Jimmy Grant?’ The Penn Yan speedster countered with a resounding ‘No’ after another signature rally produced a track-best seventh victory in the 20-lap main.
“That was a lot of fun,” beamed Grant, after posting a personal best fifth successive victory at the hallowed half-miler to give him 19 all-time at the fairgrounds. “CJ’s (Guererri) car is stepping it up. We drove around him but that car is getting fast, everybody is getting faster. That’s what I wanna do, race for the wins. And that’s how I wanna do it right there.”
After starting ninth in the 15-car field, Grant systematically sifted his way through the pack, nosing his #36 Nardozzi-Fratto Curbing-Washburn Excavating-Geneva Glass Chevrolet Camaro past Guererri for good on lap 16 then holding on for a four car-length triumph to earn the $500 payday. All-time LOLR stock car winner Mike Welch placed third ahead of Rick Crego and Aksel Jensen in the nine-minute main slowed by just a single caution.
“I was behind the #3 car (Patrick Hobbs), he was really good tonight but he was slowing me up bad,” recalled Grant, who made his trackside debut in the mid 1990s steering a Bandit car at the Dundee oval in Yates County. “I just tried to get heat in the right-rear (tire) to run the top.”
“I knew in the center of (turn) four I’d pick up a push if I didn’t really throw it in so that last time I threw it in, drove across the track and drag racing down the front stretch I set him up coming out down there (turn one). And I know if you get this car coming off turn two its gonna drag their ass all the way down the back stretch. That’s Gavenda power right there,” claimed Grant, after ballooning his points lead heading into the final full month of racing at the fairgrounds.
Crego took over on lap three from early leader Hobbs who faded to fourth behind Marc Minutolo and Guererri with five laps scored. Grant finally got past Hobbs for fourth on lap nine just before Guererri slipped under Crego down the back straightaway to secure first lead at the halfway point.
Grant gained momentum as the laps dwindled, rolling past both Crego and Minutolo on lap 12 just before Minutolo slowed to require the lone yellow flag. Back under green for the lap 13 restart, the leaders traded paint with Guererri running the low lane forcing Grant to take the high road until making the winning pass with five to go.
In the most hotly contested race of the night, sole points leader Burnell forged the third and final lead change with three laps left en route to his fourth 15-lap Hobby Stock victory.
“It was like side-by-side for a few laps, nice clean racing and that’s the way it always is with Nate,” stated Burnell after the tooth-and-nail battle with veteran foe Peckham rewarded him with career win number 35 in Canandaigua along with another $250 back-to-back bonus from Eldon Payne’s Speed Connection. “Was awesome racing with a guy like that. Just love racing here, the speed … its just different. Great to be here every week, some of the best competition around anywhere.”
Peckham paced the field early before a turn two tangle between Brighton Grant and Tyler Burnell slowed the action on lap two. From there the elder Burnell and Peckham put on a show as they pulled away from 2023 winners Marc Minutolo and Daniel Kerrick with Blane Smith getting the best view in fifth halfway through.
Burnell finally edged across the line first at the end of lap 10 yet Peckham returned to the point on lap 12 when Burnell got trapped behind a lapped car entering turn three. Burnell switched lanes in his no. 57B FLX Home Solutions-Scott French Home Improvement Chevrolet Taurus and regained the lead by a yard crossing the stripe the next time around, ultimately staving off every challenge presented by Peckham over the last mile of the race.
“I got it going up there then I saw some holes and tried to go underneath them,” Burnell recalled. “Then I got up to second but thought this ain’t gonna cut the mustard going through these holes. Tried rolling the middle of turns one and two and it was good but Nate kept going lower and lower.”
“Got to him one time and that lapped car got me and he went back by me. I thought man, I think I lost it tonight. Then I just drove back high and in the middle of one and two got going again. Great race for sure,” Burnell added.
The caution-marred 12-lap Legends Sportsman nightcap took awhile to gett going, yet once underway the result was similar to four other occasions as Payne stormed on to register her fifth win of the ’23 season; even after suffering a broken driveshaft while leading on the final lap of the qualifying heat.
“Actually, this was probably the most difficult features that I’ve ever run due to all the cautions,” Payne reasoned. “I didn’t know who was behind me. When we go double file its a lot easier because I can see who’s there but when we’re single file I have no idea.”
Pole-sitter Payne led the entire six-mile distance, although a trio of cautions for minor incidents kept the competition in her shadow during the first five laps. Nick Ventura and Brad Sawyer gave Payne a run early yet the winning #31K SVN Realty Performance-Deck Tech-Speed Connection/Troyer machine was too strong with Payne putting it on cruise-control for a commanding 15 car-length victory.
“Knew the car was like a rocket on the bottom tonight,” Payne added. “It felt so good coming off the turn over there. Have to thank everybody that helped after the car broke in the heat. We were able to get it back out here in time to get another win.”
Land of Legends Raceway Quick Results – July 22, 2023
70th Anniversary Season Celebration
Seneca Meadows and Auction Direct present Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 21a-Peter Britten ($2,000), 2. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 3. 70a-Alex Payne, 4. 27j-Danny Johnson, 5. 3-Justin Haers, 6. 14j-Alan Johnson, 7. 39-Kyle Coffey, 8. 7z-Zach Payne, 9. 34-Kevin Root, 10. 42p-Pat Ward, 11. 29-Matt Caprara, 12. 7-Troy Sperring, 13. 11j-James Sweeting, 14. 132-Dalton Martin, 15. 11n-Ricky Newton, 16. 88-Dave Allen, 17. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 18. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 19. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 20. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: D.Johnson Jr., Britten, D.Johnson, A.Johnson, Sperring, Sweeting, Z.Payne, A.Payne, Newton, Caprara.
#2: Coffey, Ward, Haers, Root, Martin, Podsiadlo, Allen, Tegg, Stoughtenger, Lawrence.
Stirling Lubricants Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 35-Nick Cooper ($750), 2. 38-Zach Sobotka, 3. 9-Tim Baker, 4. 7-Paul Guererri, 5. 10-Karl Comfort, 6. 12g-Matt Guererri, 7. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 8. 51-Tim Lafler , 9. 29g-Steve Gray, 10. 31-Kane Bristol, 11. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 12. 6-Dave DiPietro II, 13. 34-Behr Grover, 14. 21j-Justin Liechti, 15. 56a-JT Sperring, 16. pj54-Timmy Catalano, 17. 26-Greenley George, 18. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 19. 28-Mark Potter, 20. 30-Nick Root, 18h-Justin Henderson(DSQ), 26r-Kyle Richner(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: F.Guererri, Bristol, Coffey, Baker, Grover, Gray, Borden, Richner(DNS).
#2: Cooper, P.Guererri, M.Guererri, Henderson, Root, Catalano, George.
#3: Sobotka, Lafler, Comfort, DiPietro, Liechti, Sperring, Potter(DNS).
A-Verdi Storage Containers CRSA Sprint Car Series powered by SuperGen Products Race #7/DisBatch Brewing Company Challenge Series Race #2
MighTea Boba 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 66-Jordan Hutton ($1,000), 2. 121-Steve Glover, 3. 29-Dalton Herrick, 4. 21b-Blake Warner, 5. 12-Tyler Chartrand, 6. 22-Tomy Moreau, 7. 80-Bobby Parrow, 8. 1Q-Thomas Radivoy, 9. 45-David Ferguson, 10. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 11. 13t-Trevor Years, 12. 10-Johnny Kolosek, 13. 77-Matt Rotz, 14. 9k-Kyle Pierce, 15. 99-Adam DePuy, 16. 18c-Dan Craun, 17. 18-Timmy Lotz, 18. 10p-Nathan Pierce, 19. j27-John Cunningham, 20. 410-Jerry Sehn Jr., 21. 4t-Ray Preston, 22. 8-Dillon Paddock, 23. 17e-Ethan Gray, 24. d9-Dustin Sehn, 25. 30-Kirsten Dombroski, 26. 14-James Layton.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Paddock, Herrick, Moreau, Hutton, Rotz, D.Sehn, C.Pierce, J.Sehn, Dombroski, R.Years.
#2: Parrow, Kolosek, Cunningham, T.Years, Preston, Lotz, K.Pierce, Ruggles, Sparks, Gray.
#3: Radivoy, Chartrand, Glover, Warner, Ferguson, Layton, DePuy, N.Pierce, Craun, Wetherbee.
B-Main (10 laps)
#1: Ruggles, K.Pierce, N.Pierce, DePuy, J.Sehn, Gray, Randy Years, Craun, Cliff Pierce, Sydney Wetherbee, Dombroski, Cory Sparks(DNS).
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant ($500), 2. cj1-CJ Guererri, 3. 00-Mike Welch, 4. 5c-Rick Crego, 5. 9-Aksel Jensen, 6. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 7. 57j-Nick Dandino, 8. 122-Chris Beyea, 9. 19-Dave Yehl, 10. 22-Carl Cleveland, 11. 15-Bobby Lippa Jr., 12. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 13. 63-Mike Fellows, 14. 74- Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 15. 36b-John Burritt.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Grant, Minutolo, Crego, Welch, Hobbs, Jensen, Fellows, Lippa.
#2: Guererri, Dandino, Beyea, Cleveland, Yehl, Metcalf, Burritt.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 2. 90-Nathan Peckham, 3. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 4. 61-Daniel Kerrick, 5. 55b-Blane Smith, 6. 36x-Brighton Grant, 7. 22j-Randy Johnson, 8. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 9. 97-Kevin Schrader(DNS).
Heat (6 laps)
#1: T.Burnell, F.Burnell, Peckham, Kerrick, Johnson, Grant, Smith, Minutolo, Schrader.
Maguire Ford of Canandaigua New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (12 laps): 1. 31k-Kennedy Payne, 2. 711-Nick Ventura, 3. 56a-Angel Sperring, 4. pj54-Tommy Catalano, 5. 87s-Brad Sawyer, 6. 4j-Kyle Quigley, 7. 57j-Bruce Batzel, 8. 20-Dominick Mangiarelli.
Heat (6 laps)
#1: Ventura, Quigley, Sperring, Catalano, Sawyer, Batzel, Payne.