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Racing Around

Midweek show a success at Fonda

August 7, 2008
By James A. Ellis

With five rainouts this season, including the past two Saturday nights, the management at Fonda Speedway needed a home run from its lone mid-week show of the season.

They got it.

Tuesday night's race card, which was oddly enough aided by the rain outs early this season of a pair of sprint car programs, drew a large crowd. The racing was outstanding and even the weather cooperated. Rain was predicted for late in the evening, but it held off until well after the program was completed.

So, congratulations and thank you to all the drivers, crews, fans and the management of Fonda Speedway for an outstanding program.

Now, a look at the racing.

In the modified feature, there were battles all the way through the field.

Jim Davis had the field covered until a flat tire sent him to the pits and then to the rear. Same with Bobby Varin who sent a shower of sparks flying when he clipped the front stretch wall on lap two and also had to go to the rear after making repairs. Both drivers showed how potent their cars were as they made their ways back into the top 10 by the end of the race. Varin was sixth and Davis eighth at the checkers.

Then there was the battle for the lead between Dave Camara and Brett Hearn. I was on the infield during the feature and the cheers from the stands were easily heard over the engines.

Ryan Odasz and Stewart Friesen locked horns a little farther back. When Friesen started diamonding off the first and second turns, he found bite at the bottom of the speedway late in the race. More than a couple of times, they were side-by-side in front of the Fonda sign and into turn three.

The local sprint car fans also had their fill as Jessica Zemken led the first 19 laps of the25-lap ESS feature before Justin Barger found his way to the front. Zemken was not done, as she stayed with Barger to be second at the checkers.

The sportsman division put its best foot forward, or is it down on the pedal?

Again, there were battles from front to back, plenty of passing and drama from green to checkers.

On the downside, though, two drivers - sportsman driver John McAuliffe and modified driver Andy Bachetti - were injured in heat race accidents.

McAuliffe crashed hard into the inside wall on the frontstretch after contact with another car exiting turn four. According to Fonda Speedway management, McAuliffe suffered a slight concussion.

Bachetti was involved in a wreck in turn two when he lost the right front tire and spun. Bob Henry Jr. made hard contact with Bachetti's disabled racer and rolled, ending up on his roof. According to track management, Bachetti suffered a torn muscle in his shoulder.

Other notes

It was kind of hard telling the players even with a program Tuesday night.

A.J. Romano was behind the wheel of the Jake Spraker-owned No. 1J that Bobby Varin drove earlier this season. Danny Varin was behind the wheel of the white and blue Dover Brake No. 00 that his father pilots at Utica-Rome Speedway. Bob Henry Jr. was in the driver's seat of the No. 93 Danny Varin drove at the start of the season. Danny Johnson joined Tuesday's race program in the Atlas Paving J66 of Jared Petruska.

Brett Hearn had a little different look to the nose-piece on his Teo modified Tuesday. If you look at the photo on the front page of The Leader-Herald's sports section, it shows a V-shaped lip under the front of the car. Guess on a wet, heavy track that could give new meaning to "plowing."

Saturday night

With the rain outs, a couple of special events have been added to Saturday's program.

Along with a regular show in all divisions, the Sixth Annual Wilma Smith Memorial Dash-for-Cash for the IMCA division, which was scheduled for last Saturday, will be run for non-tobacco using drivers.

The event will be run topless, meaning the drivers will take the roofs off of their IMCA cars for the event.

Also, the Seventh Annual Jack Lockhart Memorial Dash-for-Cash will be run.

The six-lap dash will consist of drivers who are in the top 20 in Fonda Speedway sportsman points as of Aug. 5 who have never won a sportsman feature at the Track of Champions.

Previous winners of the event are not eligible to participate. The lineup will be set by an inversion of the driver's position in the point standings.

Racing at the Ridge

While Friday night's race program at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park got off to a slow start due to wet track conditions, the action that followed was worth the wait.

Korey Wilder started a strong weekend off for the Wilder race team picking up his third win of the season in the budget sportsman division.

Jeremy Wilder backed up that win with Tuesday night's sportsman open victory at Fonda Speedway.

Jeff Holt made his return to racing Friday night.

Holt was behind the wheel of Keith Shoemaker's No. 24 in the budget sportsman division.

John "The Dancing Bear" Constantino was uninjured after his car got wheels-up in a fourth turn accident Friday night. Oddly enough, the accident happened about the same time his son, David, picked up the sportsman victory Friday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.

Craig Hanson put himself in the right place at the right time in Friday's modified feature. Track points leader Greg Brownell was running the high line at Glen Ridge until Hanson started showing his nose on the low side. Brownell switched lines to block his progress and spun with five laps remaining. He was able to recover and charged from scratch to a top five finish.

Saratoga Special

Geoff Bodine, a native of New York's Southern Tier and winner of the 1986 Daytona 500 will be on hand Monday at Saratoga Race Course. Bodine and other drivers will sign autographs from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. by the Big Red Spring. Other drivers slated to be at Saratoga include two-time Busch series champion Randy LaJoie and 2006 NASCAR Whelan Modified champion Mike Stefanik.

There also will be something for the dirt track fans - 11-time Fonda Speedway track champion Jack Johnson will be on hand along with the pace car, while representatives from Lebanon Valley will showcase a modified and a rail drag car.

Fans also will have an opportunity to check out the Richard Petty Racing Experience Car. The No. 43 Cheerios show car features a simulator pod available for fans to experience for a $2 donation to the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project.

The Motor Racing Network will broadcast live from Saratoga with turn announcer Kurt Becker.

For football fans, two-time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Parcells will headline a host of gridiron greats who will meet fans and sign autographs as part of the annual NFL Alumni Day at Saratoga Race Course.

The autograph session will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. near the main gate on Union Avenue.

The cost will be $5 per person with proceeds benefiting the Center for Disability Services.



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