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Racing Around

Varin off to strong start

April 24, 2008
By JAMES A. ELLIS, The Leader-Herald
Race fans knew when Bobby Varin hooked up with the Jake Spraker race team a few years ago, it would be a potent combination at Fonda Speedway.

The team won back-to-back modified championships in 2005 and 2006, but Saturday’s victory on the opening night of the 2008 points chase showed the team is ready to challenge for a third track title.

Granted, the heads-up start put the Sharon Springs driver on the front row after his heat race win, but he drove a near flawless race. Varin dominated in the big block-powered No. 1J and under green flag conditions for 29 of the 30 laps, steadily pulled away to more than a half track lead and was lapping cars running in the top 10.

While Varin was on cruise control well ahead of the pack, the battle behind him kept the fans on their feet.

A.J. Romano moved forward from his seventh-place starting spot into the runner-up spot ahead of Pat Ward briefly on the last-lap restart.

The hard, slick daytime track conditions posed a challenge for the drivers in all divisions. In the sportsman division, veteran drivers John Scarborough, David Towns and John McAuliffe put on a show at the front end, but Chad Edwards was impressive a little farther back in the field.

Most of the sportsman field opted to run the high line, but about midway through the race, Edwards dropped to the low line and moved from 12th to seventh at the checkers.

Fonda will switch to its regular Saturday night race schedule with racing starting at 6 p.m. It will be a full card of racing Saturday as the sprint cars join the program for a 360 open event.

DQ overturned

There was a lot of confusion and protesting following the finish of the street stock main event Saturday at Fonda Speedway.

Cassidy Wilson edged Neil Cosselman for the victory, but a post-race tech inspection disqualified Wilson and sent Cosselman to Victory Lane for the first time in his career. The tech inspection also claimed the third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers, Chuck McSpirit, Rob VanAernam and Chris Reckner. All were diqualified for running roller rockers in their engines.

The initial order of finish read Cosselman, Dan Pollock, Cody Bleau, Roger Newkirk and Luke Horning.

The street stock drivers asked for a meeting with track officials after the night’s racing was over and it was deemed that roller rockers are legal for the class to run and the original order of finish was reinstated.

The official finish is Wilson, Cosselman, McSpirit, VanAernam, Reckner, Pollock, Bleau, Newkirk Jr., Horning, Mike Jeske, Brian Haas, Matt Johnson, Dave Cook, Randy Cosselman, Steve Oleksak, Malcum Warner, Pete Jeske.

Glen Ridge update

One incident Friday night at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park totally detracted from an overall good night of racing.

Fans were treated to outstanding feature events with Jeff Brownell picking up his first feature win in the modified division, Jeremiah Munson finding Victory Lane in the Budget Sportsman Division and Chuck McSpirit ending Dave Bayes’ win streak in the street stock main event.

In the cruiser division, a tight battle for the lead took a bad turn when contact between Ken Hollenbeck and Bruce Liddle ended up with Hollenbeck’s car making contact with the frontstretch wall.

Hollenbeck then opted to turn his car around, seek out Liddle and ram his car under the caution ending the night for both drivers.

Track management met with all the drivers before the night’s racing and reiterated not to take things on the track, that track officials will handle it.

After a closed door meeting after the race, Hollenbeck received a season-long suspension from Glen Ridge for his on track actions.

Bonus for drivers

Street stock and cruiser division drivers at Glen Ridge will now have a little extra incentive.

Wendy’s Restaurants of Johnstown has put up an extra $50 to the street stock winner’s purse along with two free meals to the cruiser feature winner. If the night’s racing is rained out, the $50 to the street stock winner will be carried over. It was also announced that Wendy’s chili has been added the the concession stand menu.

I also need to correct a mistake I made last week. It is Joe Ketchum behind the wheel of the No. 5 Budget Sportsman at Glen Ridge, not Mike Ketchum. Joe has done a good job with two second-place finishes this season.

James A. Ellis is a sports reporter for The Leader-Herald. We invite your feedback on this or any other sports-related topic. E-mail your opinions or ideas to us at


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