Area stock car racing: Varin sets limit on what he'll race for
Bobby Varin isn’t one to issue ultimatums, but this time, he thinks he’s got to at least draw a line.
“I won’t be running another modified feature for $550 to win,” said Varin Thursday.
That’s the amount he and the Nelson Racing team received when Varin won last Friday’s modified feature at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park.
New promoter Pete Dmitraszek made it very clear before the season began that he was going to have a sliding purse. If he had a full field of 24 modifieds, he’d pay $1,500 to win. If there was less than 20, there would be a different payoff; less than 15, and the winner was going to get $750, according to what Varin and other teams were told at pit meetings.
Last Friday, only nine modifieds took the green flag in the feature, but because it was less than 15, Varin was figuring on a $750 winner’s share. But the team got $550.
“I don’t think modifieds should race for less than $1,500 to win,” said Varin, who has a two-race winning streak at the Ridge, and will be trying to become the first modified driver to win three in a row tonight. “I’d be willing to go to $1,000 because I know Pete is struggling to get cars and keep the track going. I’m willing to do my part. For Pete, I’d even go to $750 because he’s given me rides in his sprint car and he’s working hard to keep the track open. But when I saw $550 last week, the line has to be drawn.”
Remember, Varin drives for a percentage, and the lower the owner’s share, the lower the driver’s share.
“I talked with Erik Nelson today, and he said, ‘After we paid you, we didn’t have much left,’ ” said Varin. “I want the Ridge to keep running, but I can’t help out if it’s going to start costing me money.”
A wild ride
Ronnie Johnson is still a little sore from last Friday night’s wild flip at Albany-Saratoga.
“I tipped over once before,” said Johnson Thursday, “but I’ve never taken a ride like that.”
Johnson and Rich Ronca came together coming out of the second turn early in the modified feature. According to observers, Johnson got so much bite coming out of the corner that the front end started to pull to the right, putting him in Ronca’s path. Ronca hit the door of Johnson’s car, which bulldozed in on the left side, and began a series of violent barrel rolls in the air.
“Honestly, it happened so fast, I don’t recall a lot,” said Johnson. “But when it started to go, I remembered something my dad [Jack] told me when I started racing. He said if you know you’re going to flip, to grab the steering wheels as hard as you can, lock your elbows and hang on. I don’t run with arm restraints, so I just locked my hands on the steering wheel and hung on.”
The car, owned by Alton and Carole Palmer, was trashed, according to Johnson.
“A lot of pieces were busted, and the frame was twisted,” he said. “TEO builds a strong car, and the cage held up well, so I was safe in that aspect.”
Johnson will be back at Albany-Saratoga tonight with a new car and a new motor. He’s had both in the shop since early spring, but never really had time to get the new car together.
“I’m racing three nights a week now, so it didn’t leave much time to build the new car,” said Johnson. “But on Saturday morning, [crew chief] JoJo [DeSarbo] and all the guys were in the garage, and we’ve been burning the midnight oil this week to get ready. We’ll be at Malta on Friday.”
Mike Tholin picked a good time to get his first sportsman win of the season Friday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Because of a bonus put up by Sowle Tractor Trailer Repair, the race paid $1,100 to win, more than double what the winner usually takes home.
It looked like Tholin would have to settle for second, but leader Frank Hoard III bobbled on the final lap, allowing Tholin to get around for the lead.
“I can’t believe I did it on the last lap, I’ve never done that before,” said Tholin after the race.
Around the tracks
Although Kenny Martin Jr. drove to his first career win in the pro stock division at Albany-Saratoga, he’s no stranger to victory lane at Fonda Speedway, where he has 46 career wins and is a three-time track champion. He’s third on the all-time win list, behind Todd Hoffman and Kenny Gates.
The Electric City Riders motorcycle club will invade Albany-Saratoga Speedway Sunday for a swap meet, bike show and races on the 4/10th-mile oval. Gates open at 8 a.m., and racing begins at noon. Entertainment will be provided by HYTYDE. Admission is $10.
Fonda Speedway will be holding kiddie rides tonight, carried over from last weekend’s rainout.
When Fonda canceled early last Saturday, Rocky Warner headed to Fulton and finished third in the sportsman feature.
The budget sportsman division will be running for some big money at Lebanon Valley Speedway Saturday night, as the second annual Andrew Sherman Budget Sportsman Cup will pay $2,000 to win.
The 602 Redneck Nationals at Glen Ridge on Sept. 20 will now be part of the five-race Grit Series for 602s. The series will begin on June 19 at Can-Am Speedway with a 40-lap feature paying $2,000 to win, will include two races at Thunder Mountain and will end with the Bully Hill Vineyards Open at Woodhull. There will be a point fund payoff and a contingency pool for the competing drivers to share from.