By James A. Ellis
FONDA — A near-capacity crowd turned out Saturday night at Fonda Speedway and watched history being made.
With the track championship on the line and four points separating Rocky Warner and Ronnie Johnson, the modified feature kept the fans on the edge of their seats as the points title changed multiple times during the 30-lap main event.
With nine laps remaining, Johnson appeared headed for his third track title when he took over second place, while Warner was running fourth.
But Warner was not ready to concede the championship as he came on strong in the closing laps to pass Craig Hanson with two laps remaining to finish third.
As a result, Warner and Johnson became the first modified co-champions in Fonda Speedway year history.
“My stomach was in knots all week long,” Warner said. “I wasn’t that good tonight, and I really don’t know why. RJ (Ronnie Johnson) is the people’s champion, and it is great to share this championship with him. Now I may have to go back down to the Pro Stock division to try and get my second championship in that division. Jake [Spraker] is retiring this year and it has been a great seven years with him.”
It is the third time co-champions have been declared at Fonda, as John Bradt and Warner shared the 2005 street stock title and in 2007 Kenny Gates and Rob Yetman shared the pro stock title.
Chad Edwards wrapped up his second-straight 602 Sportsman title and third in four years, while Nick Stone successfully defended his pro stock championship for his third track championship in the division. Carter Gibbons took home the limited sportsman championship, while Ken Hollenbeck won his third straight and eighth overall 4-cylinder single overhead cam championship and Slappy White picked up his first career 4-cylinder dual overhead cam championship.
While Johnson and Warner were settling the track championship, Stewart Friesen picked up his 10th win of the season in the held-over $2,700-to-win Harry Peek Tribute race, while Payton Talbot posted his first career victory in the 602 crate sportsman main event and Stone recorded his sixth win of the season in the 20-lap pro stock feature. Stephen Gray out-dragged Jeremy Slosek to the checkers for his third limited sportsman win of the season, while Kerrie Hollenbeck was first to the checkers in the 4-cylinder main event, to earn the DOHC victory and Ken Hollenbeck placed third to get the SOHC win.
In the added Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series races, Randy Delaney won the modified feature, while Curtin Condon won the late model feature and Bryon Seyfried took home the sportsman feature win. George Palmer won the mystique division feature and Bryon Scofield won the feature for the antique division.
The top four contenders for the modified track championship — Josh Hohenforst, Warner, Johnson and Stewart Friesen — started seventh, eighth, 10th and 11th, with Jessica Friesen starting ninth, in the 29-car field that was brought to the green by Ancel Collins and JaMike Sowle.
Sowle set the pace for the first four laps before Friesen powered his way into the lead.
Hanson, Bobby Varin and Mike Mahaney kept the pressure on Sowle as Warner and Johnson made their way into the top five with Hohenforst seventh at the midway point.
Johnson got ahead of Warner on a lap 16 restart and immediately went to work on getting past Hanson for second behind Friesen. He was able to complete the pass on lap 21, to briefly take the points lead as Warner was running fourth behind Hanson.
Hanson and Warner hit the finish line together on lap 27 with Warner gaining the advantage in turn one. Hanson came back but Warner had enough to keep the spot at the end of the lap.
Warner’s late-race pass for third was enough to earn him a share of the track championship with Johnson, who chased Friesen under the checkers.
“We got this new car a few weeks ago,” Johnson said. “We ran with a big block all season long until we got this small block, and I don’t know but running the big block may have really helped us. Nothing will ever duplicate my first title here at Fonda in 2011 but I’m glad that we decided to make Fonda home this year because Fonda is home to us. I am happy to have raced for Jake [Spraker] years ago and to be a part of history here at Fonda in the first ever tie for a Modified Championship with Rocky, who races for Jake now. Many of the members of my father’s [11-time modified track champion Jack Johnson] 12A crew are still with me today and many of them were part of my father’s crew before I was even born. I really feel that I have the best team in dirt track modified racing right now.”
Hanson was fourth, followed by Jessica Friesen, Mahaney, Sowle, Tyler Dippel, Hohenforst and Varin.
Edwards, who was outside the top 10 at the midway point of the 602 sportsman feature, picked his way forward to finish seventh to beat Cody Clark, who finished third, for the second straight track championship with car owner John Kollar.
“This is two in a row for us,” Edwards said. “It’s great, we started out the season with three wins and stayed consistent the rest of the season and that is what it takes. I’m really happy to give John [car owner John Kollar] his second track championship.”
“This is the 54th year that the 10% has been here at the Fonda Speedway,” Kollar said. “We have a new car for next year so we will be back for my 55th year to try to do it again.”
Fonda will now take its annual break for the Fonda Fair with the next race on the schedule being the Fonda 200 weekend on Sept. 16-18.
SUNOCO MODIFIED (30 laps) — Stewart Friesen, Ronnie Johnson, Rocky Warner, Craig Hanson, Jessica Friesen, Mike Mahaney, JaMike Sowle, Tyler Dippel, Josh Hohenforst, Bobby Varin, Dave Constantino, Adam McAuliffe, Brian Calabrese, Pep Corradi, Ryan Odasz, Brian Pessolano, Derrick McGrew Jr., Steve Akers, Dylan Scribner, Rich Christman, Ronnie Holmes, Tim Dwyer, Jim Introne Jr., Aaron Jacobs, Alissa Cody, Ted Starr, Anthony Cardamone, Ancel Collins, Ray Zemken.
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN (25 laps) — Payton Talbot, Tim Hartman Jr., Cody Clark, Brian Calabrese, Tanner Warner, Aaron Burton, Chad Edwards, Tony Farone, Brett Mortensen, Tucker O’Connor, Jason Reome, Chip Constantino, Brendan Gibbons, Tim Dwyer, Michael McCallion, David Manchester, Mark Mortensen, Troy Zilles, Dylan Eldred, Bill Port, Nikki Ouellette, Isabella VanOrden, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Greg Havlichek, Griffen Mansmith, Addison Bowman, Brian Borst, Kathy Bellen, Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald.
ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK (20 laps) — Nick Stone, Luke Horning, Jason Morrison, Beau Ballard, Kenny Gates, Kyle Hoard, Jim Normoyle, Frank Hoard Jr., Chuck Dumblewski, Bill Knapp, Gary Silkey, AJ Walters, Ivan Joslin, Chuck McSpirit, Randy Cosselman, John Holmes, Dennis Joslin, Dan Krajewski, Don Collins, Steve Cosselman, Mike Baker, Mike Kalkbrenner, Cliff Haslun, Chris Daughtry.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN (15 laps) — Stephen Gray, Jeremy Slosek, Kyle Dingman, Clayton DuMond, Carter Gibbons, Ryan Sweet, Zach Dufel, John Anderson, Lance Hill, Connor Prokop, Cole Lawton, Walter Cook, Bob Rowback, Jeff Lutes, Zach Port, Taylor LaPlante, Jeremy Tyrrell, Josh Kane, Justin Howe DNS, Yule Cook DNS.
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER (12 laps) — Kerrie Hollenbeck (DOHC), Slappy White, Ken Hollenbeck (SOHC), Billy Hillman, Shawn Hemstreet, Rob Lanfear, Car #73, Zack McSpirit, Chris Duffney Jr., John Mason, Jean Foster, Josh Gordon, TJ Marlitt, David Peek Britten, Daniel Joubert, Lee Horning, John Napoli, Riley Pedrick, Cole Lawton, Ariana Schultz.
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES MODIFIED — Randy Delaney, Jon Kulezco, Darral Hulbert, Phil Beaver, Stanley Wetmore, Fred Workman, Mark Anatriello, Frankie Brown, John Flach, Jack Miller.
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES LATE MODEL — Curtis Condon, Adam Warner, Will Reed, John Roese.
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES SPORTSMAN — Bryon Seyfried, Stephen Denton, Brian Gray, John Constantino, Mike Francisco, Jon Trudeau.
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES MYSTIQUE — George Palmer, Carl Cram, Dan Karl, George Berberick, Mike Brown.
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES ANTIQUE — Bryon Scofield, Speedy Pidasso, Ed Docskalik, Jeff Mitchell, Scott Gauthier, Harley Shepard, Mark Reardon, Mike Wheeler, Chuck Scofield, Jimmy Fugel, Phil Mitchell, Tex Gordon, Charlie Scofield, Don Briggs, Frank Blanchard.
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