Racing Around: Stewart Friesen, Chad Edwards get season-opening wins at Fonda

Stewart Friesen, center, is flanked by runner-up Matt Sheppard, left, and third-place finisher Michael Maresca in Victory Lane after winning the 40-lap Jack Johnson Memorial Sunday at Fonda Speedway. (James A. Ellis)
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Stewart Friesen, center, is flanked by runner-up Matt Sheppard, left, and third-place finisher Michael Maresca in Victory Lane after winning the 40-lap Jack Johnson Memorial Sunday at Fonda Speedway. (James A. Ellis)

FONDA Stewart Friesen and Chad Edwards picked up right where they left off at the end of the season at Fonda Speedway.

Both drivers survived multiple restarts, turning back all challengers to pick up opening night victories Sunday at The Track of Champions.

With rain postponing Saturday’s race program to Sunday, Friesen took home the $12,000 winners check after claiming victory in the 40-lap Montgomery County Open Jack Johnson Memorial, while Edwards led from green to checkers in his 25-lap 602 sportsman feature win.

Joining Friesen and Edwards with opening-night victories were Nick Stone (pro stock) and Kyle Dingman (limited sportsman), while John Napoli (DOHC) and Ken Hollenbeck (SOHC) picked up the 4-cylinder division victories.

By luck of the draw, Friesen and Matt DeLorenzo brought the field of 28 modifieds to the green, with Friesen taking the early lead.

His lead did not last long as DeLorenzo powered around the outside of Friesen entering turn three to take over the top spot.

Friesen battled back and appeared to take the lead back when DeLorenzo got trapped behind a slower car, but was saved as the caution flew, keeping him in the lead.

Friesen made the most of the restart, getting back to the front with DeLorenzo, Rocky Warner, Michael Maresca and Jessica Friesen.

Warner picked his way into second on lap 10 and was closing on Friesen when the second caution of the night came out on lap 14.

Warner made a bid for the lead from the outside of the front row on the restart but could not game an advantage over Stewart Friesen. Meanwhile, Matt Sheppard made his presence known, moving from fifth to third on the restart and past Warner for second on lap 25.

Warner’s night came to an end on lap 30 when he made hard contact with the first-turn wall, while making his way through lapped traffic.

Friesen chose to restart on the inside and held off Sheppard over the final 10 laps to take home his 80th career modified victory at Fonda Speedway.

Sheppard finished second, followed by Maresca, Jessica Friesen and DeLorenzo. Mat Williamson, Alan Johnson, Danny Varin, Tim Fuller and Ryan Odasz round out the top 10.

“That [the restarts] was real nerve-wracking there,” Stewart Friesen said in Victory Lane. “I feel like we missed the setup a little bit. After being at Orange County last night, being able to come here to Fonda today and win in honor of a legend, this is special. This is Jack’s house and it feels great to win a race in his honor.”

Edwards started on the outside of the front row of the 25-lap 602 sportsman feature and beat pole-sitter Dan Santabarbara into the first turn for the lead.

The race was red-flagged on lap three when Jeremiah Munson, who was running fourth, made contact with the first-turn wall, sending him barrel-rolling before coming to rest on all fours outside of turn two. Munson was uninjured in the wreck.

Edwards maintained his lead through multiple restarts and pulled away from runner-up Payton Talbot in the final eight green-flag laps to notch his 14th career win in the division. Talbot finished second followed by Santabarbara, Tim Dwyer and Brian Calabrese.

“We ended last season this way and now we’re back at it,” Edwards said in Victory Lane. “We built a new car two years ago but haven’t used it here yet because this one is so good.”

Andy Graves and Stone brought the field of 16 pro stocks to the green with Stone immediately taking control of the race.

Luke Horning took the lead away, sliding up in front of Stone on a lap four restart before Stone took the lead back a lap later.

With Stone running strong on the high side of the speedway, most of the field followed suit looking to run down the defending track champion but were unsuccessful as he crossed under the checkers for his 60th career pro stock feature win.

“Luke is always better on restarts than I am,” Stone said in Victory Lane. “He takes advantage of me with those moves. I knew that I wanted to run the top so I wanted to get up there as soon as I could, it was too fast up there to let it go.”

Horning finished second, followed by Ivan Joslin, Beau Ballard and Josh Coonradt.

Tim Deffer showed the limited sportsman field the fast way around the speedway for the opening 11 laps of the 15 lap feature before Tom D’Angelo used a lapped car as a pick to get by for the lead.

Dingman, who started the event in the eighth, moved into the runner-up spot on lap 13 and chased down D’Angelo to take the lead exiting turn four to take the while flag.

D’Angelo could not mount a last-lap charge as Dingman locked up his third career win in the division. Deffer placed third with Jonathan Feagles fourth and Walter Cook fifth.

Zach McSpirit led the opening lap of the 12 lap Four Cylinder feature before John Napoli took over to lead the remaining laps to take home his third career win at Fonda Speedway.

McSpirit was second under the checkers with Ken Hollenback finishing third and declared the single overhead cam winner. Dale VanAllen placed fourth and Gina Voris fifth.

Racing returns Saturday with all divisions competing along with the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series in the “Don Gras Memorial” event that was rained out last Saturday.

Gates open at 3 p.m. with hot laps taking to the track at 5:30 p.m. and the first heat races starting at 6:30 p.m.

More: All Sports

Fonda Speedway results

April 24: Andy’s Service Center Montgomery County Open Jack Johnson Memorial

SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE – $12,000 TO WIN – 40-LAPS – STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Sheppard, Michael Maresca, Jessica Friesen, Matt DeLorenzo, Mat Williamson, Alan Johnson, Danny Varin, Tim Fuller, Ryan Odasz, Chris Curtis, Jack Lehner, Bobby Hackel IV, Demetrious Drellos, JaMike Sowle, Nick Heywood, Pep Corradi, Darren Smith, Jeff Taylor, Rocky Warner, Mike Mahaney, Ronnie Johnson, Billy Decker, Dave Constantino, Bobby Varin, Adam McAuliffe, Brian Pessolano, Craig Hanson, David Schilling (DNS)

SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – CHAD EDWARDS, Payton Talbot, Dan Santabarbara, Tim Dwyer, Brian Calabrese, Troy Palmer, Mark Mortensen, Troy Zilles, Dylan Madsen, Chip Constantino, Clayton DuMond, Tanner Warner, Tony Farone, Brendan Gibbons, Michael McCallion, Justin Severance, Kevin Crave, Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Carter Gibbons, Jason Reome, Brett Mortensen, Cody Clark, Stephen Gray, Michael Ballestero, Greg Havlicek, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Jeremiah Munson

ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – NICK STONE, Luke Horning, Ivan Joslin, Beau Ballard, Josh Coonradt, Kenny Gates, Shane Playford, Andy Graves, Chuck Dumblewski, Jim Normoyle, Scott Towslee, Steve Cosselman, Slater Baker, Jason Morrison, Devon Camenga, Randy Cosselman

MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-LAPS – KYLE DINGMAN, Tom D’Angelo, Tim Deffer, Jonathan Feagles, Walter Cook, Ryan Sweet, Craig Wholley, Lance Hill, Zach Dufel, Connor Prokop, Josh Kane, Seth Martin, Wesley Sutliff, Michael Kalkbrenner, Nate Bedell, Bob Rowback, Harold Robitaille, John Anderson, Mark Lighthall (DNS), Cian DiMezza

FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – JOHN NAPOLI (DOHC), Zach McSpirit, Ken Hollenback (SOHC), Dale VanAllen, Gina Voris, Kerrie Hollenback, Lee Horning, Ian Poultney, Len St. Andrews, TJ Marlitt, Heath Bosh, William Cook Jr., Christopher Jennings Sr., David Peek-Britten, Edward LaSpina, Shawn Hemstreet

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