It has been many years since Pat Ward was a regular at Fonda Speedway. This season, Ward is making Fonda his home track, and he dominated the 40-lap modified race Saturday night to win the second leg of the Go Green NMX Fonda Thunder Series.
Ward’s last win at Fonda came on Oct. 18, 2003, in a small-block modified.
After Saturday’s race, for which he earned $4,000 while driving the Gypsum Express No. 42P Bicknell car, the popular driver from Genoa got a big ovation from the crowd.
“Ric [Lucia] and the track crew did a great job, as the track was good on both top and bottom,” Ward said after his flag-to-flag win in the caution-free event. “This Gypsum Express car has been good all year, and we finally got to victory lane, so I have to thank them for everything.”
Due to an inversion after heat-race qualifying, Ward and Todd Morey started on the front row.
Ward was in heavy lapped traffic on lap 12, and at times, he was blocked in and didn’t have anywhere on the track to pass. On lap 13, he decided he had enough, and went between Bobby Varin and Alton Palmer to put them both a lap down.
“I know enough not to back off,” Ward said. “You never know where the second-place car is, but honestly, as close as it was, I thought that I had enough room in between them, and I wasn’t about to let off for nothing.”
At the halfway point, Ward had a half-track lead, followed by Varin, Ronnie Johnson, Dave Camara and Brett Hearn.
While Ward was able to maintain his half-track lead for the remainder of the event, and Varin held on to second with no challenges, the best race on the track was between Johnson, Camara and Matt DeLorenzo as they battled for the final positions in the top five.
Ward won for the 20th time in his career at Fonda. Varin finished second, followed by Johnson, Camara, DeLorenzo, Hearn (the last car on the lead lap), Jack Johnson, Dave Lape, Ryan Odasz (who started 18th after winning a consolation event) and Jim Davis (who started 15th).
“This car is so good that it almost drives itself,” Ward said. “That is a good thing because I am getting too old to do this.”
“It was a good run for us tonight,” Varin said. “Pat [Ward] was running really well, and when he gets ahead like that, he is tough to catch.”
“I lost the power steering about halfway through the event, and at the end, I was just hanging on,”
Mark Mortensen led the final 19 laps of the 20-lap sportsman feature for his first win of the season and the fifth of his career at the Track of Champions.
John McAuliffe pressured Mortensen to the checkered flag as he tried the low side lap after lap in the turns, only to have Mortensen use his momentum on the outside to maintain the lead as he drove out of the turns.
Mortensen went on to the win over McAuliffe, Scarborough,
David Towns, Luke Munroe, Neil Erickson, Vinny Sanganetti, Chad Edwards, John Reome and D.T. Pickard.
Other winners were Roy
Fifield (pro stock), Jeremy Cramer
(IMCA), and Cody Bleau and Cassidy Wilson (street stock). For Bleau, it was his first career win at Fonda.
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