FONDA - It looked like Alton Palmer's night at Fonda Speedway as he built a straightaway lead over the pack in the modified feature.
However, Stewart Friesen was lurking in second and looking for a break.
He got it when the leaders hit lapped traffic, allowing the defending track champion to erase the lead and grab the lead away from Palmer with four laps remaining and claim his second-straight modified feature of the season Saturday night at the Track of Champions.
Josh Flint, left, Stewart Friesen (1) and Elmo Reckner, right, race three-wide through turns three and four during modified action Saturday at Fonda Speedway. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
It is the second-straight season that Friesen has opened the points battle with back-to-back wins.
"This is such a tough place to race and be competitive let alone being up front every week," Friesen said in Victory Lane. "We just keep working hard and we have a real competitive group that work hard every week to make sure everything is perfect."
Joining Friesen with victories Saturday night were Cody Bleau (602 sportsman), Nick Stone (pro stock), and Reuben Kennedy Jr. (street stock).
Danny Varin made it a clean sweep on the night winning his heat race, sprint dash and 20-lap A-main.
Erik Nelson and Ken McGuire brought the field of 26 modifieds to the green with McGuire grabbing the early lead.
Nelson took the lead on the second lap and Palmer quickly moved from his fifth starting spot to second on lap three. Palmer marched forward, overtaking Nelson on lap six and quickly built a lead over Nelson.
Craig Hanson moved into second behind Palmer on lap 11 with Mike Mahaney moving into third a lap later.
With a clear track, Palmer extended his lead to a full straightaway over Hanson, but Friesen pulled off a four-wide move on lap 14 to pull into fourth behind Mahaney.
Friesen's momentum carried him into second on lap 18, well behind Palmer who was making his way through the back markers.
Friesen got the break he was looking for with four laps remaining, when Palmer encountered a lapped car in his line on the high side of turn two. Friesen swung to the bottom of turn two and pulled alongside.
Palmer held off Friesen momentarily but relinquished to top spot on lap 27.
"No, I really couldn't see him [Palmer]," Friesen said. "Tad [car owner Tad Parks] was on the backstretch pointing at him. I had no idea when I broke free he was leading. He was running a solid high line then a lapped car broke his momentum enough for me to sneak up on him. If it was a clear track I don't think we had anything for him."
Palmer could not mount a challenge in the closing laps as the checkers fell over Friesen's hood for the second time this season. Palmer was second followed by Danny Varin, Jeremy Wilder and Hanson. Matt DeLorenzo got up for sixth with Ronnie Johnson seventh, Jim Davis eighth, Mahaney ninth and Josh Hohenforst 10th.
John McAuliffe passed early race leader Jack Bublak on the third lap and had a comfortable lead over Justin Auspelmyer when the caution flew on lap seven.
Bleau, the defending 602 sportsman track champion, used the restart to pull into second and then the lead on lap eight.
With Bleau on the point, McAuliffe was engaged in a tight battle with Auspelmyer and Rocky Warner.
McAuliffe and Warner exchanged spots multiple times throughout the second half of the race before Warner won out on the final lap to take home second behind Bleau, who put the John Kollar-owned No. 10% in victory lane for the first time since 1998.
Ray Zemken came home fourth, followed by Floyd Billington, Mark Mortensen, Kory Wilder, Tony Farone and Drew Fallis.
Stone broke a five-year hiatus from Victory Lane with his win in the 20-lap pro stock main event.
Dennis Joslin led the opening lap before Kenny Martin took the point on lap two.
Stone moved into the runner-up spot on a lap six restart bringing Pete Broderson and Chuck Dumblewski with him, making it a four-way battle for the lead.
Stone and Martin split around the lapped car of Sid Harmer Jr. with Stone riding the high side into the lead.
The caution flew with two laps remaining, but Stone survived the late-race shootout to pick up the victory. Martin held on for second, while Dumblewski edged Broderson for third and Kenny Gates rounded out the top five.
Jamie Warner led the street stock feature at the drop of the green with Kennedy sitting in second until lap seven when he ducked low out of turn two to take the lead and pull away for his second-straight victory. Warner finished second with Rob VanAernam third.
The CRSA 305 sprint A-main was marred by early wrecks, including an opening lap mishap involving pole sitter Tyler Chartrand and Mike Kiser that ended with Kiser rolling in turn two.
Varin used the series of restarts to help pick his way to the front, overtook Jeremy Quick on lap eight and never looked back.
Cory Sparks battled Quick for the runner-up spot but settled into third at the drop of the checkers. Brett Jaycox was fourth and David Evans fifth.