FONDA — Contact with a lapped car altered Stewart Friesen’s original strategy for Saturday’s Fonda 200.
The defending race champion was forced to the pits after cutting a right-rear tire 67 laps into the season-ending main event, leading to a decision to change his plans for the midway break.
Instead of heading to the hot pit for fresh tires, gas and set-up changes, Friesen, and six other drivers, opted to turn onto the infield for a fuel-only stop.
“We kind of planned on going to the hot pit [at the break],” Friesen said. “We made contact with a lapped car. I thought I gave him enough room but he hooked the right rear and the tire went down. Then it really broke going into the pits. I was hoping it was just the shock and sure enough it was. We came in and fixed a broken shock and put tires on it. I was going kind of hard and was thinking about coming back in but I decided to go to the infield and check if they were bad. The tires looked pretty good, the right front was beat up but not that bad. It just kind of forced our hand.”
It proved to be the right move as he moved from sixth to second, took the lead on the restart and turned back a late-race challenge by Rocky Warner to collect a $53,000 payday for his second-straight victory in the Fonda 200 presented by Southside Beverage.
Chad Edwards took home the victory in Saturday’s companion 25-lap $2,000 to win Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman. Friday night, Kenny Gates collected his 85th feature win of his career in the 25-lap, $1,000-to-win Algonkin Motel Pro Stock feature, while Matt Mosher collected his first career Fonda feature win in the $500-to-win, 20-lap Street Stock feature, and PJ Bleau and Ken Hallenbeck respectively won the dual and single cam the Fonda Fair Four Cylinder features. Jordan Hutton picked up his first career feature win in the 20-lap CRSA Sprint car feature, holding off Jeff Trombley, Dalton Herrick, Ron Greek and Jeremiah Munson. Brett Haas picked up the victory in Thursday night’s 33-lap “Ultimate Underdog” feature.
Jeff Rockefeller and Danny Varin brought the 40-car Sunoco Modified Fonda 200 field to the green with Rockefeller leading the opening three laps before relinquishing the top spot to Varin. By the 12th circuit, Friesen, who started sixth, moved into the runner-up spot ahead of Rockefeller, Josh Hohenforst, David Constantino and Warner.
Varin stretched his lead over the field before encountering heavy traffic at the back of the field, allowing Friesen and Warner to close the gap to a few car lengths.
Back-to-back cautions opened the track back up for Varin but also brought Mike Mahaney, Ronnie Johnson and Tyler Dippel into contention.
Varin held off Friesen until lap 66 slipped past for the lead on the inside of turns three and four. The lead was short-lived as Varin got the lead back a lap later.
The key moment of the race happened on lap 67 when Friesen cut a tire and shot up the track, stopping against the first-turn wall. Friesen drove the car to the hot pit where his team made changes and he returned, restarting in the 24th spot.
Varin now had Warner alongside and Johnson behind him on the restart.
Varin held his lead until Johnson powered by with Varin for the lead with 13 laps remaining in the first half of the race and held the spot to lead the cars into the pits for the scheduled midway break.
Friesen, who had worked his way back through the field to finish the first half in sixth, opted to take his break on the infield drag strip, along with Matt DeLorenzo, David Schilling, Mahaney, Brian Gleason, Hohenforst and Chris Curtis. The remainder of the field committed to the hot pit for fresh tires and fuel, while the infield was for fuel only.
DeLorenzo, the highest finishing car in the opening half that pitted on the infield, returned to the track with the lead followed by Friesen, Schilling, Mahaney, Gleason and Hohenforst ahead of Johnson, Varin and Warner.
Friesen took command on the restart with DeLorenzo, Mahaney and Warner in pursuit.
Hohenforst’s night ended on lap 116 when he spun in turn four and was hit hard by Alan Johnson ending the night for both drivers.
Warner moved into second behind Friesen on the restart and kept the pressure on Friesen by running the high side in the turns, while Friesen kept his car on the bottom.
“The top was actually really good and my car was unbelievably good,” Warner said. “The problem was the bottom rubbered up, not to where it locked down and became follow the leader like at Orange County. But it did enough where he could roll in and hammer it coming off the turn. It just killed us having any chance . of doing anything on the outside. I had a really stout piece and it was on rails on the outside.”
Warner kept the pressure on but could not complete the pass as Friesen held on for his second-straight Fonda 200 victory over Warner, Mahaney, Varin and Dippel. Craig Hanson placed sixth followed by Adam McAuliffe, who started 33rd, DeLorenzo, Darren Smith and Bobby Hackel IV.
“I saw the 97 [Warner] along side of me at one point and knew that I had to get going,” Friesen said. “On the restarts I just tried to get a good launch and get back to the top. Congratulations to Jake Spraker who was a great car owner that I got to drive for at one point in my career.”
Earlier this year Spraker announced he was retiring after several years and track championships as a car owner in multiple divisions at the local speedways.
“We won two modified track championships and sportsman track championships together,” Warner said. “Jake doesn’t need any introduction, obviously. He is tough as nails and demands a lot out of you but he is a lot like my father [Don Warner]. I am sad to see him retire but maybe we can keep him involved in some capacity. I even told him he can act like a car owner and keep the car at his shop. I don’t have definite plans for the future yet. I just want to get past this weekend first. This is a tough weekend that is demanding and tough on the equipment and the team and I don’t want to add any more stress to an already stressful weekend.”
Michael Sabia grabbed the early lead in the 25-lap Crate 602 Sportsman feature underway with Michael Sabia with Tucker O’Connor and Edwards closing fast from their fifth and seventh-place starting spots.
Edwards got by O’Connor for second and pressured Sabia for the lead, finally making the pass for the win with seven laps remaining.
Payton Talbot came on late after starting 24th to finish second followed by Will Shields, O’Connor and Sabia.
“The track was real racy tonight, the car had a lot of speed,” Edwards said in Victory Lane. “I have to thank my car owner John Kollar for going above and beyond to give us what we need to race and be successful.”
Gates gets 85th career win
Gates and Nick Stone brought the pro stocks to the green with Gates immediately taking the lead.
Twelfth place starter Josh Coonradt was in the fourth position by lap 18 with Gates in heavy lap traffic. Two laps later, Gates gave himself some breathing room on lap 21 when he went in between two lap cars in turn three with Stone now lurking close behind. Stone saw an opening on the inside of Gates in turn four at that point and went to fill the opening only to spin out and collecting Beau Ballard.
Gates led the remaining laps for his second victory of the season and the 85th of his career in the division at Fonda.
The 20-lap CRSA Sprint car feature began with Ron Greek and Jordan Hutton on the front row with Hutton taking the early lead. The red flag was out before any laps were completed for a three-car wreck in between turns one and two involving Josh Flint, Dana Wagner, and Trevor Years.
Hutton maintained his lead on the restart over Jeff Trombley and led the remainder of the event to collect his first career CRSA Sprint Car win and his first career victory at Fonda.
Trombley, Herrick, Greek and Munson completed the top five.
The 20-lap Street Stock feature John Devine took the early lead over Joey Wilson, while Jason Samrov and Adam Tranka battled for third.
Devine and Wilson were side by side for the lead coming down the front stretch on lap eight and continued into turn one resulting in Wilson getting sideways. He was able make the save and continued in second.
Tranka got past Devine on lap nine but coming in to turn four to complete the lap Devine spun Tranka bringing out the caution and was put to the rear for his actions.
Samrov was the new race leader on the restart with Mosher second. Samrov slowed on lap 14 with mechanical issues handing the lead over to Mosher for his first career win at Fonda Speedway. Wayne Gaige, Zach Sorrentino, Josh Samrov and Slater Baker round out the top five.
PJ Bleau started the event in the 15th position and took the lead away from Randy Voris on lap five and went on to his first win of the season at Fonda and the fourth of his career in the division. Ken Hollenback finished second and was declared the winner in the SOHC class with Jeff Degroat, Kerrie Hollenback, and Slappy White completing the top five. For Hollenback it was his 13th win of the season and the 68th of his career in the division.
Haas wins “Underdog 33”
Brett Hass kicked off the three-day Fonda 200 Weekend presented by Southside Beverage by winning not only his first career victory at the Fonda Speedway but also his first win of the 2021 racing season.
A regular competitor at the Lebanon Valley Speedway, Haas finished third in the season long point standings without the benefit of a race win. The “Underdog 33” at Fonda was held with that in mind as it was for competitors from any racetrack who didn’t have a victory during the 2021 racing season.
Haas survived multiple restarts to pick up the victory over got a good restart and went on to the victory over Phil Vigneri III, Brian Pessolano, JaMike Sowle, and Pep Corradi.
STSS SUNOCO MODIFIED FONDA 200 (200 laps) — STEWART FRIESEN, Rocky Warner, Mike Mahaney, Danny Varin, Tyler Dippel, Craig Hanson, Adam McAuliffe, Matt DeLorenzo, Darren Smith, Bobby Hackel IV, David Schilling, Ronnie Johnson, JaMike Sowle, Brett Haas, JR Hurlburt, Pep Corradi, Chris Curtis, Brian Gleason, Addison Bowman, Roger Henion Jr., Steve Akers, Rich Christman, Jessica Friesen, Darwin Greene, Jeff Rockefeller, Josh Hohenforst, Alan Johnson, Brian Pessolano, Anthony Perrego, George Foley, Andy Bachetti, Matt Sobiech, Dave Constantino, Alex Yankowski, Ray Zemken, Tanner Warner, Tanner Warner, Will Shields, Tim Dwyer, Aaron Jacobs, Billy VanPelt DNS
STSS SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN (25 laps) — CHAD EDWARDS, Payton Talbot, Will Shields, Tucker O’Connor, Michael Sabia, Jeremiah Munson, Troy Palmer, Tim Hartman Jr., Brian Borst, Tanner Warner, Jeffrey Gallup, Corey Cormier, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Jeremy Tyrell, Chip Constantino, Kevin Crave, David Manchester, Scott McCoy, Brian Calabrese, Brendan Gibbons, Tyler Peet, Dale Welty, Hunter Lapp, Cody Clark, Tim Dwyer, Troy Zilles, Michael Ballestero, Brett Mortensen, Aaron Burton, Mark Mortensen DNS
STREET STOCK (20 laps) — MATT MOSHER, Wayne Gaige, Zach Sorrentino, Josh Samrov, Slater Baker, Brandon Tyler, Matt Wells, Craig Coons, Ray Piere Jr., John Devine, Jason Samrov, Adam Tranka, Joey Wilson, Dave Shippee
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE (15 laps) — PJ BLEAU (DOHC), KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), Jeff Degroat, Kerrie Hollenback, Slappy White, Cole Lawton, Zach McSpirit, Jamie Warner, Ian Poultney, TJ Marlitt, Frank Twing, Randy Voris, Dale Van Allen, John Napoli, Shawn Hemstreet, Josh Gordan, David Peek-Britten, Cliff Haslun
CRSA SPRINT CAR (20 laps) — JORDAN HUTTON, Jeff Trombley, Dalton Herrick, Ron Greek, Jeremiah Munson, Kyle Pierce, Jerry Sehn Jr., John Cunningham, Ray Preston, Dan Craun, Tim Lotz, Aaron Shelton, James Layton, Link Pettit, Steve Glover, Josh Flint, Trevor Years, Dana Wagner, Chase Moran, Mike Kiser
SUNOCO MODIFIED “ULTIMATE UNDERDOG” (33 laps) — BRETT HAAS, Phil Vigneri III, Brian Pessolano, JaMike Sowle, Pep Corradi, Adam McAuliffe, Josh Hohenforst, Addison Bowman, Tyler Dippel, Tanner Warner, Brian Gleason, Jeff Rockefeller, Steve Akers, Will Shields, George Foley, Tim Dwyer, Dylan Scribner, Brian Calabrese, Tucker O’Connor, Jim Introne Jr., Rich Christman, Craig Hanson, Mark Mortensen, Ray Zemken, Ronnie Holmes, Chris Curtis, Mark Pullen, Cody Clark
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