FONDA — Jeff Heotzler scored his first career Sunoco Modified feature win at Fonda Speedway on Saturday night, scoring the $4,000 grand prize in the Firecracker Showdown, which served as a shakedown run for Wednesday’s Firecracker 50.
Heotzler piloted the No. 76 car owned by Alton and Carole Palmer, a ride he took over earlier this year.
“Thanks to Alton and Carole for choosing me to drive this race car,” Heotzler said in victory lane. “We really couldn’t get a handle on this Teo Pro car, but we were finally able to do so this week. Hopefully, we can keep it up front.”
Hoetzler dedicated the race to Jared Petruska, who died earlier this year. Petruska and his family owned the Atlas Paving No. 66 car that Hoetzler drove at points during his career.
In the first night of handicapping of the 2020 season, Hoetzler started the modified feature on the outside pole and immediately took the lead at the drop of the green flag. An early restart saw Craig Hanson slot behind Hoetzler in second, with Danny Varin, Josh Hohenforst and defending track champion Rocky Warner rounding out the top five.
Varin got by Hanson for second on lap 17 and started putting pressure on the leader. A caution came out with five laps to go, and while Warner made a move past Varin and Hohenforst to take over second place, Heotzler drove his way to the win.
Warner, Varin, Matt DeLorenzo, and Hohenforst completed the top five along with a great run by Scott Huber to finish sixth.
“This is another one for the bucket list,” Heotzler said. “I haven’t got many years left but it’s always great to come to Fonda. Thanks to Carole and Alton [Palmer] for giving me this opportunity.”
Six caution flags slowed the Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature, with Chad Edwards making a third-to-first move on a lap 11 restart and going on for the win. Kevin Chaffee held the early lead and pressured Edwards down the stretch before ultimately finishing second, followed by JaMike Sowle, Tim Hartman Jr. and Cody Clark.
“It’s been a great start to the season for us,” Edwards said in victory lane. “I tore the left front off of the car in our heat race and got it fixed but while lining up to go out for the feature I noticed the tow was off as it just didn’t look right so I went back to our pit area and the crew adjusted it.”
Johnny Young captured the Montgomery County Office for Aging Limited Sportsman feature in a wild finish. Young and two-time winner Brett Mortensen were side-by-side coming out of turn four on the final lap when the two made contact, forcing Mortensen into the frontstretch wall and breaking the steering on his car.
The two cars remained hooked together to the checkered flag, but with no steering Mortensen hit the infield wall in turn one after the cars separated and Young pulled ahead. The front end on Mortensen’s car was destroyed and the left front tire sheared off.
Young got his first career win in the division in the event while Mortensen ended up second followed by Carter Gibbons, Dylan Eldred, and Gray.
Nick Stone took the lead on lap 13 of the 20-lap Algonkin Motel Pro Stock feature and went on to the win over Jim Normoyle, Josh Coonradt, Kenny Gates and Luke Horning.
Lou Gancarz led all 15 laps in the Robert’s Towing & Recovery Street Stock feature to earn his first-ever win at Fonda ahead of Dave Horning Sr., Jason Samrov, Mark Burch and Josh Samrov. Al Relyea originally finished second, but was disqualified in post-race inspection.
Ken Hollenbeck led all 15-laps in the Four-Cylinder Cruiser feature for his 52nd career win in the division in the SOHC class followed by Dale VanAllen, DOHC winner John Napoli, Zach McSpirit and Shawn Hemstreet.
Fonda Speedway will be back with the Firecracker 50 on Wednesday, with racing set to start at 7:30 p.m.