Story By: RON SZCZERBA / FONDA SPEEDWAY – FONDA, NY – Kenny Gates captured his sixth win of the 2023 Pro Stock season at Fonda Speedway Friday night.
The 20-lap Below Zero Ice Cream feature began with Johnny Rivers Jr. leading at the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag from his pole position start. 2023 Fonda Speedway Pro Stock Track Champion Ivan Joslin started the event in row two in the fourth position and moved to the front quickly, taking the lead from Rivers on lap two with a pass on the outside of turns three and four.
Also moving up quickly was Fonda Speedway All-Time Pro Stock wins leader Kenny Gates who started in the sixth position and by lap three Gates was already in the second position after getting by both Beau Ballard and Rivers. The top two of Joslin and Gates pulled away from the rest of the field on lap six with the yellow flag coming out at that point closing up the field.
Joslin chose the outside groove on the restart with Gates and Ballard making it a three wide race for the lead on lap 11. Joslin was able to hold on to the lead at that point but two laps later Gates was able to get underneath both Joslin and Ballard in turns three and four and took over the lead. Gates led the remaining laps for his sixth win of the season and the 92nd of his career in the division at Fonda followed in the top five by Joslin, Ballard, Jim Normoyle, and Steve Cosselman.
“Well, I thought when there was a little pressure on the outside where Beau (Ballard) kind of came up there I could hear someone was out there and I thought well Ivan would move up to protect the high groove and it would open the door for me,” Gates said after the $1,000 race win. “It did and we were able to hold him off. The car was on a rail all night and luckily we held together, there were a couple of tricky spots off of turn two and we were able to bring it home.”
A big field of 20 Fonda Fair Four Cylinders were on hand for a 15-lap feature event starting off with Rudy King Jr. taking the lead at the drop of the green flag. 2023 Fonda Fair Four Cylinder SOHC Track Champion Ken Hollenback started the event in the 15th position and by lap four he was already up to the third position.
On lap five, Hollenback went from third to first with a pass in turns three and four and led the remaining laps for his 11th win of the season and the 95th of his career in the SOHC class. Jay Ingersoll was the winner in the DOHC class with a second place overall finish for his first career win in the division at Fonda. Damien Ward, Kyle Coley, and Shawn Hemstreet completed the top five finishers in the event.
“I like racing here, its my favorite track of any I’ve ever raced,” Hollenback said in victory lane. “Fonda Speedway means a lot to me, next year I probably won’t be here the whole year but probably pretty close.”
“This is awesome,” Ingersoll said after his first career win in the division at Fonda. “Twenty-five years ago, I raced here with a Hobby Stock (he has one career win in the Hobby Stock division) and now I started out all over again. We’ve got a championship to win on Sunday, so we brought the backup car out to see what it would do, and it got us here.”
The Street Stocks made their one and only appearance of the season at Fonda on Friday with Stone Motorsports/Online Performance sponsoring the $500 to win event. Adam Tranka led at the start of the 20-lap event and was never seriously challenged despite many caution flags slowing the event.
Tranka led through lap 18 when he slowed in turn three to bring out the 10th caution of the event handing the lead over to Jason Meltz. One more lap was run with another caution coming out and the race was checker flagged at that point with Meltz taking the victory followed by Chris Murray, PJ Cram, Andrew Fitzgerald, and Lou Gancarz.
“That was a quick race, I mean we took the green and it felt like we took the checkered flag right away,” Meltz joked in victory lane. “Too bad it was a wreck fest; I would have liked to put on a better show here at Fonda for the Street Stocks. I fell bad for Adam (Tranka), he had that one covered, I couldn’t get him, but he broke on the last lap.”
Mike Kiser led at the start of the 20-lap CRSA Sprint main event after starting on the outside pole and was already in lap traffic on lap six when the red flag came out for Tyler Chartrand who flipped his car in turn two while running fifth. Chartrand was not injured in the wreck with Kiser continuing to lead on the single file restart.
The yellow flag was out again on the restart for Cory Sparks who slowed in turn three with Kiser again leading after another single file restart with Blake Warner, Jordan Hutton, Billy VanInwegen, and Tomy Moreau completing the top five at the halfway point. On lap 11, Kiser slowed to a stop on the frontstretch bringing out the caution and handing the lead over to Warner with Hutton now the second place car.
Warner and Hutton raced side by side for two laps until Hutton took over the point on lap 13 and went on to the win followed by Warner, VanInwegen, Dalton Herrick, and Moreau.
“I love this place inside and out,” Hutton said after his CRSA Sprint win. “When you get here to Fonda its always racy, always fun. He (Blake Warner) gave me a heck of a run, he was better than me towards the end, and he is gonna make a hell of a driver out here someday. I’m very confident here at Fonda and know the track after racing here before. This is a dream come true, win number eight on the year.”
“It was very fast,” second place finisher Blake Warner said. “I was very happy with my crew, Ricky, my dad, Jeff, Grandma, and everybody that comes and helps us and helped us have a really good car. Me and Jordan are good friends so its always fun doing that we just fell one spot short tonight.”
“We had everything going our way all night,” VanInwegen said after his third place finish. “Drew the pole, I just hate stuff like this getting away. We’ll take tomorrow off, go camping, and shake this off. Gotta work harder I guess, I’m definitely frustrated but congrats to those guys (Hutton and Warner) they did a great job. On to the next one.”
The 2023 Fonda 200 weekend concludes today (Saturday) with the running of the Fonda 200 along with the Swagger factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman.
Feature (20 Laps): 1. 35-Ken Gates; 2. 49-Ivan Joslin; 3. 15-Beau Ballard; 4. 74N-Jim Normoyle; 5. 25-Steve Cosselman; 6. 5C-Randy Cosselman; 7. 09J-Shawn Perez Jr; 8. 14J-Johnny Rivers Jr; 9. 81A-Michael Achzet; 10. 49J-Dennis Joslin; 11. 1D-Nick Santuccione; 12. 9B-Slater Baker; 13. 315-Mike Dianda; 14. 80-Dan Krajewski; 15. 4M-Jordan Modiano
6th win of 2023 and the 92nd win of his career in the division at Fonda for Gates
LAP LEADERS – 1 Rivers, 2-12 Joslin, 13-20 Gates
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Ballard, Gates
Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 15-Beau Ballard; 2. 49-Ivan Joslin; 3. 09J-Shawn Perez Jr; 4. 74N-Jim Normoyle; 5. 81A-Michael Achzet; 6. 1D-Nick Santuccione; 7. 80-Dan Krajewski; 8. 4M-Jordan Modiano
Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 35-Ken Gates; 2. 5C-Randy Cosselman; 3. 14J-Johnny Rivers Jr; 4. 25-Steve Cosselman; 5. 9B-Slater Baker; 6. 315-Mike Dianda; 7. 49J-Dennis Joslin
Hot Laps: 1. 35-Ken Gates; 2. 15-Beau Ballard; 3. 49-Ivan Joslin; 4. 25-Steve Cosselman; 5. 5C-Randy Cosselman; 6. 81A-Michael Achzet; 7. 9B-Slater Baker; 8. 1D-Nick Santuccione; 9. 09J-Shawn Perez Jr; 10. 80-Dan Krajewski; 11. 49J-Dennis Joslin; 12. 315-Mike Dianda; 13. 14J-Johnny Rivers Jr; 14. (DNS) 4M-Jordan Modiano; 15. (DNS) 74N-Jim Normoyle
Stone Motorsports/Online Performance Feature (20 Laps): 1. 51-Jason Meltz; 2. 7-Chris Murray; 3. 03JR-PJ Cram; 4. 55-Andrew Fitzgerald; 5. 08-Lou Gancarz; 6. 54R-Wayne Russell Jr; 7. 54-Adam Tranka; 8. 91-Matt Mosher; 9. 24N-Josh Samrov; 10. 71-Rob VanAernam; 11. 89-Keri Vandenburg; 12. 177-Chris Stalker; 13. 9-BOB GIBSON; 14. 711-Jason Barrett; 15. 77-James Dellea; 16. 32-Rowdy Burch; 17. 72-Ray Pierre Jr; 18. 24V-Jason Samrov; 19. 39-Matt Wells; 20. 89K-Donald Kennedy; 21. (DNS) 27-Michael Martindale
1st career win in the division at Fonda for Meltz
LAP LEADERS – 1-18 Tranka, 19 Meltz
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Murray, Stalker
Heat 1 (6 Laps): 1. 7-Chris Murray; 2. 71-Rob VanAernam; 3. 711-Jason Barrett; 4. 24V-Jason Samrov; 5. 9-BOB GIBSON; 6. 32-Rowdy Burch; 7. 89-Keri Vandenburg; 8. 54R-Wayne Russell Jr; 9. 91-Matt Mosher; 10. 39-Matt Wells; 11. (DNS) 27-Michael Martindale
Heat 2 (6 Laps): 1. 177-Chris Stalker; 2. 03JR-PJ Cram; 3. 51-Jason Meltz; 4. 54-Adam Tranka; 5. 55-Andrew Fitzgerald; 6. 77-James Dellea; 7. 08-Lou Gancarz; 8. 24N-Josh Samrov; 9. 72-Ray Pierre Jr; 10. (DNS) 89K-Donald Kennedy
Hot Laps: 1. 24V-Jason Samrov, 00:23.892; 2. 91-Matt Mosher, 00:24.428; 3. 177-Chris Stalker, 00:24.513; 4. 03JR-PJ Cram, 00:24.651; 5. 54-Adam Tranka, 00:24.823; 6. 55-Andrew Fitzgerald, 00:24.845; 7. 7-Chris Murray, 00:24.847; 8. 71-Rob VanAernam, 00:24.862; 9. 32-Rowdy Burch, 00:24.967; 10. 24N-Josh Samrov, 00:25.033; 11. 9-BOB GIBSON, 00:25.352; 12. 72-Ray Pierre Jr, 00:25.938; 13. 77-James Dellea, 00:25.973; 14. 54R-Wayne Russell Jr, 00:26.001; 15. 711-Jason Barrett, 00:26.432; 16. 51-Jason Meltz, 00:26.598; 17. 89-Keri Vandenburg, 00:26.704; 18. 89K-Donald Kennedy, 00:26.930; 19. (DNS) 08-Lou Gancarz; 20. (DNS) 27-Michael Martindale; 21. (DNS) 39-Matt Wells
Feature (15 Laps): 1. 12S-Ken Hollenbeck; 2. 11D-Jay Ingersoll; 3. 55FD-Damian Ward; 4. 0D-Kyle Coley; 5. D5D-Shawn Hemstreet; 6. I1D-Pat McSpirit; 7. 43S-Tom Hill; 8. 36D-Todd Morey; 9. 34S-Brittany Ladd; 10. 7D-Robert Burch; 11. 212S-TJ Marlitt; 12. 666D-Rudy King Jr; 13. 3D-John Napoli; 14. 33D-Kerrie Hollenbeck; 15. 09D-Kamrin Krause; 16. 26D-Luke Sheldon; 17. 26S-Len St Andrews; 18. (DNS) 23TD-Keith Tesiero Jr; 19. (DNS) 27RD-Jordan Ryder; 20. (DNS) 54S-Wayne Russell Jr
11th win of 2023 and the 95th win of his career in the division at Fonda for Ken Hollenback
1st career win in the division at Fonda for Ingersoll
LAP LEADERS – 1-4 King Jr., 5-15 Ken Hollenback