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Racing Around: Night of Features a success at Fonda

August 20, 2009
By JAMES A. ELLIS, The Leader-Herald

I will admit, when promoter Ric Lucia introduced the "Night of Features" to the Fonda Speedway schedule when he took over in 1997, I was apprehensive.

It was an escape from tradition, something you just don't do at the Track of Champions.

It didn't take long to change my mind, or others who scoffed at the idea.

The "Night of Features" has become one of the most intense, action-packed and stressful nights of racing for both the fans and drivers.

Last Saturday's sportsman features have to be ranked among the top-five races in the past decade.

As if having David Towns, John McAuliffe and Luke Munroe all in contention for the track title wasn't enough, all three were running wide-open going for the win, not racing for the points. McAuliffe and Munroe picked up feature wins but Towns came away with his third-straight track championship.

The pro stock and street stock division features can't be overlooked either.

Chucky Dumblewski put on a late-season run to give Kenny Gates, Nick Stone and Roy Fifield another factor in their quest for the track championship.

Fifield got the win in the opening 15-lap feature, but Dumblewski came through, passing and then holding off Gates for the win in the second feature for his fourth win of the season and of his pro stock career.

The finish of the street stock feature will have people talking for at least the month without racing at Fonda.

Cody Bleau and Cassidy Wilson came into the night near the top of the points, with Wilson pretty much having his first division title locked up.

You wouldn't know it by the way they were running cleanly door-to-door through the second half of the feature.

Even with the title locked up Wilson went for the win coming off the fourth turn on the last lap, but lost control of his car and Bleau got past for the win. Wilson hit the wall a couple of times and spun across the finish line in second.

While obviously disappointed, Wilson was one of the first to enter Victory Lane and congratulate Bleau on his victory.

When it came time at the end of the night to celebrate with the other track champions, Wilson and his crew hauled his wrecked racer into line on his trailer.

The modified features had their own storyline.

It was great to see A.J. Romano break through for his first victory at Fonda Speedway since June 19, 2004. It couldn't have come on a better night as A.J. and his son both celebrated their birthdays in Victory Lane.

Congratulations to modified track champion Bobby Varin on his fifth track championship tying him with Bill Wimble who was in attendance Saturday night signing his autobiography for fans. Ironically, the next driver in front of Varin on the all-time win list at Fonda is Wimble, who finished his career with five track titles and 43 feature wins.

The decision to end the IMCA points championship last Saturday instead of after the break allowed Jeremy Cramer to celebrate his third consecutive division championship with the rest of the champions.

The inaugural season for the 602 limited sportsman division saw three drivers garner feature wins - Jeremiah Munson, Mike Ketchum and Ray Zemken with Munson bring home the track championship.


The feel-good story of the year has to go to Laudy Hoyenga.

The Sloansville driver retired from racing 29 years ago but the introduction of the crate-engine divisions at local tracks drew him back.

Friday night, the 64-year-old sportsman driver held off 14-year-old Bodie Bellinger to pick up his first career win. Not just his first feature win, but his first win. Before Friday night, Hoyenga had not won a heat race or consolation event.

The GRMP modified feature has fans guessing the outcome right down to the final 20 feet.

Paul Kinney, Craig Hanson and Bobby Varin kept fans cheering with their three-way battle for the lead over the final third of the race, with Kinney getting away for the win and Hanson holding off Varin for the runner-up finish.

Glen Ridge was scheduled to host a midweek race Tuesday night, but an early evening thunderstorm washed out the night's racing.

The Ridge will switch race nights to Saturday for the next couple of weeks with double-points offered this Saturday for all divisions.

Dual-action weekend

Caroga Creek Raceway will host its annual dual-action weekend Friday and Saturday.

Qualifying races will be run Friday with the features being run Saturday.

The track also will host a swap meet before Friday's race action.

Gates open Friday at 4 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. Grandstand admission both days if free.

CVRA vs. the World

Wednesday, Albany-Saratoga will host a 100-lap small-block challenge. In previous years, the race featured big blocks and small blocks, but this year big blocks will not be allowed.

Budget Sportsman and Limited features are also on the racecard.

Adult general admission will be $20 and kids 11 and under $3.



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