FONDA — The Short Track Super Series was on hand Sunday night at Fonda Speedway for Fourth of July festivities, and before the post-race fireworks display lit up the night, Stewart Friesen provided the fireworks on the half-mile oval as he continued his mastery of the “Track of Champions” by winning his eighth feature of the season and capturing the $10,000-to-win Firecracker 50 for the third year in a row.
“This is one of the biggest races of the year for us and it is always special to win a race on the Fourth of July,” Friesen said in victory lane.
The luck of the draw found Rocky Warner and Matt Sheppard on the front row for the 50-lap Firecracker 50 with Sheppard taking the lead at the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag. Sheppard was the only modified without sail panels on his car, but it didn’t seem to matter as he was fast right from hot laps to the feature.
Sheppard bobbled in turn one on lap six as he got into the berm on the inside of the track and shot out towards the wall, barely escaping hitting the wall and continued on with Warner closing in. The first of many yellow flags for flat tires throughout the event flew on lap six for Mike Mahaney, who was running third when he had issues. He would pit and restart at the rear of the field.
Sheppard chose the outside for the restart with third-place starter Friesen taking the second position away from Warner, while eighth place starter Billy Decker — who was in the third position when the restart occurred — fell back outside of the top-10 when the green flag flew as he nearly got into the wall in turns one and two and lost many positions as a result. One lap later the yellow was out again for Mahaney and Max McLaughlin, who both went to the hot pit and restarted at the rear of the field.
Friesen took over the lead on the restart, and over the remaining restarts went back and forth between restarting on the inside or the outside. David Schilling and Bobby Hackel IV were running fourth and eighth respectively on lap 14 when they brought out a caution on lap 14 with Decker using all the restarts to advance back to the front as he was back in the third position after a lap 15 restart.
At the halfway point the top five consisted of Friesen, Sheppard, Warner, Decker, and 10th-place starter Mike Gular. Friesen put five lap cars in between himself and the second-place car of Sheppard just past the halfway point with Warner able to get by Sheppard in lap traffic on lap 27. Friesen did the same thing that Sheppard had done earlier in the event one lap later as he got into the berm on the inside of turns one and two and shot straight out towards the wall, narrowly escaped hitting the wall and continuing on as Warner tried to close in.
Warner’s luck turned all bad with 20 laps to go as he ended up in the turn four wall after what looked like contact between himself and a lap car. Warner was done for the evening after a great run to that point. Decker continued to advance positions to the front, and with only seven laps remaining in the event was sitting in the second position after getting by Sheppard for the position.
The race stayed green over the remaining laps as Friesen went on to his eighth win of the season and the 76th of his career at Fonda over Decker, Sheppard, 17th place starter Mat Williamson, and Gular.
“The car was great, but the sail panels tighten the car up so much that we were trying to free it up for the feature,” Friesen said. “I was just trying not to spin and blister the tires.”
“The car was really good,” Decker said. “The track was fast tonight and fortunately we brought a race car that felt comfortable. The cautions helped me as I went softer on tires for the feature. I almost took the wall down in turns one and two, but I had a lot of fun tonight.”
Cody Clark and Mark Mortensen started the 25-lap Crate Sportsman feature on the front row, with Clark taking the early lead. Chad Edwards, Will Shields and Tanner Warner completed the top five by the time the race reached the halfway point.
Just as Mortensen was closing in slightly on the leader, Clark made a move in between two lap cars in turn four to maintain his lead on lap 18. One final yellow flag slowed the event with three laps to go for Tucker O’Connor and Kurtis Hohensheldt in turn four with O’Connor driving away and Hohensheldt done for the night going off on the hook.
Clark pulled away on the restart with the race for the second position between Mortensen and Edwards heating up overt the last few laps. On the final lap, Edwards made a slide job pass in front of Mortensen in turn two to take away the second position, but Mortensen stayed right with him on the inside until he got airborne after hitting a hole in turn four and settled for the third position.
Clark went on to his third win of the season and the 12th of his career over Edwards, Mortensen, Warner, and 21st place starter Tim Hartman Jr.
“I want to thank all of my fans and sponsors for their support after we ran into some issues a couple of weeks ago,” Clark said in victory lane. “I was getting by lap cars one by one and thanks to DKM for a great race car. This gives us some motivation for next Saturday and the rest of the season as the point battle looks like it will go down to the wire.”
“Typical Fonda,” Edwards said after the race. “You race the competitors and race the track.”
FIRECRACKER 50 (Short Track Super Series Modified Feature – 50 laps) — Stewart Friesen, Billy Decker, Matt Sheppard, Mat Williamson, Mike Gular, Anthony Perrego, Andy Bachetti, Jessica Friesen, Alex Yankowski, Josh Hohenforst, Max McLaughlin, J.R. Hurlburt, JaMike Sowle, Billy Van Pelt, Brett Haas, George Foley, Tyler Dippel, Craig Hanson, Rocky Warner, David Schilling, Pep Corradi, Joe Judge, Dave Constantino, Mike Mahaney, Bobby Hackel IV, Ronnie Johnson, Adam McAuliffe, Alan Johnson, Bobby Varin, Jack Lehner. Did Not Qualify: Steve Akers, Ryan Susice, E.J. McAuliffe, Kurt Hundeland, Ancel Collins, Aaron Jacobs, Shane Jablonka, Ray Zemken, Michael Trautschold, Kyle Coffey, Rich Christman.
602 CRATE SPORTSMAN (Short Track Super Series – 25 laps) — Cody Clark, Chad Edwards, Mark Mortensen, Tanner Warner, Tim Hartman Jr., Payton Talbot, Tim Dwyer, Brian Calabrese, Will Shields, Tucker O’Connor, Michael Ballestero, Joey Bruning, Carter Gibbons, Jeremiah Munson, Troy Zilles, Brett Mortensen, Bobby Flood, Hunter Lapp, Kyle Dingman, Joe Toth, Nick Stone, Daniel Morgiewicz, Johnny Young, Dave Dipietroll, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Greg Havlicek, Steve Davis, Jason Reome, Michael McCallion, Troy Palmer. Did Not Qualify: Dale Welty, Ryan Conrad, Aaron Burton, Ryan Walther, Kevin Crave, Stephen Gray, Blaine Klinger, Walter J. Hammond, Maverick Eldridge, Chip Constantino, Ryan Simmons, Brendan Gibbons, David Richer, Griffin Mansmith, Tony Farone, Jeremy Tyrell, Doug Snyder, Taylor LaPlante, Walter Hammond.
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