By JAMES A. ELLIS
FONDA — It was a big night for first-time winners Saturday at Fonda Speedway.
Brian Gleason, Jason Morrison and Bob Rowback all recorded their first career feature wins on A-Verdi Storage Containers night at the Track of Champions.
Gleason passed and held off Ronnie Johnson for his first modified feature win, while Jason Morrison led the final 15 laps of the pro stock feature for his initial victory and Rowback led from green to checkers, holding off Kyle Dingman for his first career limited sportsman feature win at Fonda Speedway.
Chad Edwards used a late-race restart to get in front of Bret Mortensen and post his fifth win of the season in the 602 Crate Sportsman feature, while Ken and Kerrie Hollenbeck claimed the mini stock feature wins. It was the 10th single overhead cam feature win in as many starts for Ken, while Kerrie posted his seventh dual overhead cam win in 10 starts.
In the companion 30-lap Earl Halaquist Memorial Patriot Sprint Tour 360 Sprint Car feature, Danny Varin powered past Matt Tanner on the third lap to take home his first PST win at Fonda Speedway.
Michael McCallion walked away from a hard wreck in the final race of the night, the 602 Crate Sportsman feature.
In a scramble after a lap six restart was called off, McCallion got pinched into the front stretch wall before rolling along the top of the wall, hitting the catch fence and a light pole. With the help of the track safety crew, McCallion was able to slide out of the inverted sportsman uninjured.
When the race restarted, Jeremy Tyrrell held the point before Brett Mortensen moved to the front on lap six. Edwards pulled into second behind Mortensen on lap 10 but could not find a clear path to the front.
Mortensen held off Edwards on multiple restarts before the defending track champion got alongside Mortensen in heading into turn one. The duo continued side-by-side until Edwards was able to slide up in front of Mortensen exiting turn four to take the lead and collect his fifth win of the season.
Payton Talbot got past Mortensen in the final laps to place second, while Chip Constantino was fourth and Tanner Warner finished fifth.
“Brett ran a perfect race. I knew my only shot to get him was on a restart,” Edwards said in Victory Lane. “I knew I would have to give him a little slide job here in three and four and then made it stick in one and tw0. We had just enough to get by him in three and four.”
Nick Heywood and Jack Lehner brought the modified field to the green with Lehner jumping out to the early lead. Johnson settled into second behind Lehner on lap four and was able to get within striking distance of the leader as they made their way through lapped traffic.
Johnson had a run on Lehner exiting turn two on lap nine but Lehner used a lapped car to block Johnson’s run and maintain the lead.
A lap later Johnson successfully made his way into the lead ahead of Lehner, while Heywood, Bobby Varin and Rocky Warner battled for the third spot.
The set up on Gleason’s car began to take hold in the second half of the feature as he moved from his eighth starting spot to third with 10 laps to go.
Lehner’s run ended on lap 25 when he stopped on the speedway with mechanical issues, moving Gleason alongside Johnson on the restart.
Gleason powered his way to the front ahead of Johnson and Danny Varin on the restart.
Gleason was unable to pull away as back-to-back cautions kept him close to the pack and allowed Demetrios Drellos, who started 26th, to join the front runners.
With a clear track in front of him, Gleason was able to hold his lead, giving him his first career modified feature win of his career at Fonda.
“I didn’t really know where I was running, I was just trying to pick off as many cars as I could,” Gleason said in Victory Lane. “When the 85 [Jack Lehner] broke, I didn’t know he was running second and I was third. On the restart, I was a little nervous on the outside and tried not to spin the tires. When I drag raced Ronnie to the flag stand, I said ‘OK, we’ve got something here,’ and I was able to clear him. Those yellows at the end were really killing me but, man, I am glad it’s over.”
Johnson placed second, while Danny Varin, Drellos and Bobby Varin rounedd out the top five. Pep Corradi, Matt DeLorenzo, Chris Curtis, Heywood and Craig Hanson made up the second five.
“This is a long time overdue. I am glad we got it here; now we can move on to getting the second one,” Gleason said.
Chucky Dumblewski set the early pace in the 20-lap pro stock feature with Morrison, Jim Normoyle, Ivan Joslin and Kenny Gates close behind.
By lap four, Dumblewski, Morrison and Joslin were running nose-to-tail and breaking away from the pack.
Dumblewski used the high groove to keep Morrison at bay until Morrison powered his way to the front exiting turn four to lead lap five.
Joslin took over second on lap eight and kept pace with Morrison as Dumblewski and Beau Ballard battled for third ahead of Nick Stone.
Stone, who has eight pro stock feature wins this season, continued to march forward, nipping Joslin for second after Morrison had crossed under the checkers for his first career pro stock feature win at Fonda Speedway.
“Nick Stone has built an awesome car. These coil cars are fantastic,” Morrison said in Victory Lane. “I know we are having some ups and downs with them, but they are here to stay, No doubt. I thought I was going to come through the roof. As I was coming off turn four my arms were already flailing. It was absolutely a rush. I looked up and saw Joe [starter Joe Kriss] tell me five to go and I told myself, ‘don’t you look again.’ But I did with one to go and said, ‘Don’t you dare let off this throttle.’ And here we are.”
Ballard finished fourth followed by Dumblewski, Gates, Normoyle, Luke Horning, A.J. Walters and Shane Playford.
After winning his qualifier, Rowback made the most of an advantageous front row starting spot to grab the lead at the drop of the green.
After a pair of restarts, Dingman, the division points leader, was alongside Rowback. With the race running under the green Dingman kept the pressure on Rowback but could not find a way past before “Sasquatch” crossed under the checkers for his first career win.
“I have been coming here for 30-some years and this is a dream come true,” Rowback said in Victory Lane. “I am always worried about Kyle [Dingman], Josh Kane and [Zach] Dufel. They are fast cars. I was worried on that restart. I knew Kyle was there. I got him on the restart, held my line and raced as hard as I could. My family is here tonight and I can’t do this without all my crew.”
Wesley Sutliff crossed the line in third but was disqualified after not making weight in post-race inspection, moving Josh Kane, Zach Dufel and Mark Lighthall into the top five.
Coming off a pair of victories last weekend on the Empire Super Sprint tour, Varin started third in the 30-lap Earl Halaquist Memorial and powered around the outside of turn two to take the lead away from early-race leader Matt Tanner midway down the backstretch.
Josh Pieniazek passed Tanner to take over second before the lone caution of the race flew on lap 25 when Brett Wright came to a stop with a flat left rear tire.
Tanner and Paulie Colagiovanni, who started 14th, got past Pieniazek on the restart but could not catch Varin as he earned his first win with the PST Fonda Speedway.
Pieniazek finished fourth with Davie Franek fifth.
“This car wasn’t really as good as it was the last time we were here,” Varin said in Victory Lane. “Last time it was an epic night [last to first run with the ESS]. We will have to make it a little bit better and make it a bit more driver friendly. I felt like I was getting tossed around in there.”
T.J Marlitt led the 4-cylinder mini stock field into the first turn at the drop of the green before John Napoli moved past to take the lead.
Ken Hollenbeck used the high side of the speedway to get to the front and past Napoli on lap three, with his brother Kerrie moving into second with five laps remaining but could not catch Ken before the checkers dropped over his hood for his 10th straight SOHC win of the season. With his second place overall finish, Kerrie Hollenbeck posted his seventh DOHC victory in 10 starts.
Fonda Speedway will return to action on the Fourth of July Weekend with a racing doubleheader.
Saturday’s race card will include Thunder on the Thruway Series events for the modifieds Crate 602 Sportsman, and Pro Stocks along with all other regular divisions and the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS).
Saturday is also Hall of Fame Night with the induction ceremonies starting at 3 p.m. at the Fonda Speedway Museum & Hall of Fame. Inductees for 2022 include drivers AJ Romano, Tim Clemons, and Steve Welch along with car owner Jeff McWalker. Also receiving the Bruce Dostal Memorial Dedication to the Fonda Speedway Museum Award will be Alton and Carole Palmer and the Canajoharie Eagles Club.
Sunday the Short Track Super Series (STSS) takes to the speedway for the “Firecracker 50” a 50-lap, $10,000-to-win event for the modifieds. Also in action will be the STSS Crate 602 Sportsman running for a $2,000 winner’s share. A fireworks display will close out the evening with racing starting at 7:15 p.m.
After racing at Albany-Saratoga Speedway earlier this season, Scott Huber made his return to Fonda Speedway Saturday night after a dispute with DIRTcar officials pertaining to his LS Spec engine.
After totaling his modified earlier this month, Darwin Greene returned Saturday night with a new Bicknell chassis modified.
Ronnie Johnson made the switch from Bicknell to DKM this weekend and placed third behind Tim Fuller and Alan Johnson at Utica-Rome after a late-race caution erased a big lead. He also was in front at Fonda before using a restart to get ahead, giving Johnson a second-place finish.
Mike Mahaney picked up the victory over Marc Johnson and Jessey Mueller in the 7y1-lap Super DIRTcar Series race Friday at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Marc Johnson outdueled Kenny Tremont Jr. to pick up the modified feature win on the 70th Anniversary Celebration Night Saturday at Lebanon Valley Speedway. Kevin Petrucci won the small-block modified feature.
Fonda Speedway Results
A-Verdi Storage Containers Night
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-laps – BRIAN GLEASON, Ronnie Johnson, Danny Varin, Demetrious Drellos, Bobby Varin, Pep Corradi, Matt DeLorenzo, Chris Curtis, Nick Heywood, Craig Hanson, Rich Christman, Rocky Warner, Dave Constantino, Jessica Friesen, JaMike Sowle, Tucker O’Connor, David Schilling, Brian Pessolano, Ryan Odasz, Scott Huber, Ray Zemken, Roger Henion Jr., Ed Harris, Jim Introne Jr., Jack Lehner, Bill August, Darwin Greene, Don Bellen
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Heywood, Lehner, DeLorenzo
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-laps – CHAD EDWARDS, Payton Talbot, Brett Mortensen, Chip Constantino, Tanner Warner, Clayton DuMond, Jason Greco, Troy Zilles, Stephen Gray, Nick Stone, Tim Dwyer, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Cory White, Jeremy Tyrrell, Jason Reome, Tony Farone, Troy Palmer, Brendan Gibbons, Carter Gibbons, Michael McCallion, Cody Clark, Mark Mortensen, Greg Havlichek (DNS), Harry Shaffer (DNS)
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Brett Mortensen, Edwards, McCallion
GRECO’S NAPA HARD CHARGER AWARD – Talbot +13 from 15th to 2nd
ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-laps – JASON MORRISON, Nick Stone, Ivan Joslin, Beau Ballard, Chuck Dumblewski, Kenny Gates, Jim Normoyle, Luke Horning, AJ Walters, Shane Playford, Gary Silkey, Randy Cosselman, Caden Dumblewski, John Holmes, Jeff McPhail, Don Collins, Dillon Vanston, Josh Coonradt (DNS)
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Ballard, Chuck Dumblewski
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-laps – BOB ROWBACK, Kyle Dingman, Josh Kane, Zach Dufel, Mark Lighthall, Walter Cook, Tim Deffer, Bob Fachini, Lance Hill, Gus Kamburelis, John Anderson, Matt Perry, Harold Robitaille, Connor Prokop, Ryan Sweet, Michael Kalkbrenner, Wesley Sutliff (DQ)
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Rowback, Cook
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-laps – KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), KERRIE HOLENBACK (DOHC), John Napoli, Len St. Andrews, Zach McSpirit, TJ Marlitt, Wayne Russell, Christopher Jennings Sr., David Peek-Britten
PATRIOT SPRINT TOUR EARL HALAQUIST MEMORIAL FEATURE – 30-laps – DANNY VARIN, Matt Tanner, Paulie Colagiovanni, Josh Pieniazek, Davie Franek, Dalton Rombough, Joe Trenca, Denny Peebles, Jonathan Preston, Kyle Smith, Mike Kiser, Chad Miller, Steve Glover, Dave Axton, Chase Moran, Andrew Jacobus, Brett Wright, Tyler Emmons, Aaron Jacobus, Jordan Hutton (DNS), Jordan Thomas (DNS), Dave Dykstra (DNS), Jacob Dykstra (DNS), Jeff Trombley (DNS)
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Tanner, Peebles, Varin