FONDA - After racing at Fulton Speedway on Wednesday night, Danny Dietrich was about to head back to Pennsylvania for a race at Lincoln Speedway.
Instead, he opted to turn around and head to Fonda Speedway to run the University of Northwestern Ohio All-Star Circuit of Champions 410 sprint car event Thursday at Fonda Speedway.
It was the right choice.
Danny Dietrich, center, celebrates his victory with runner-up Tony Stewart, left, and third place finisher Cap Henry after Thursday's All-Star Circuit of Champions race at Fonda Speedway. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Kenny Martin holds up the trunk lid from his pro stock honoring his friend Hondo Carpenter after wnning the 25-lap Hondo Carpenter Memorial Classic Thursday night at Fonda Speedway. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Tony Stewart smokes the tires as he powers through turns three and four during qualifying for the All-Star Circuit of champions feature Thursday night at Fonda Speedway. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Dietrich led all but three laps of the 30-lap A-Main and held off a late-race challenge from three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart to pick up his first career victory in New York state.
"We were actually 20 minutes down the road on the way home and we weren't going to make it there [Lincoln Speedway] in time," Dietrich said in victory Lane. "We got some insight from a few people and we came back. I guess it was meant to be."
Stewart made a late charge picking off second-place runner Cap Henry with five laps remaining and closed quickly on Dietrich as he encountered lapped traffic, but came up short at the finish.
"We got going on the top finally, but I'm still not sure if it is seven or eight corners out there; however many it was we were making them," Stewart said. "It got really racy there. The lapped traffic kind of helped us get caught up to those two guys. I was just hoping they got stuck a little longer there. Danny does a great job in traffic."
Also on Fonda's Thursday night race card was the Eighth Annual Hondo Carpenter Classic for pro stocks.
Kenny Martin, a close friend of the late pro stock driver, used a strong three-wide move exiting turn two on lap four and turned back the challenges of Pete Broderson and Rocky Warner to claim his first victory in the 25-lap memorial event.
By virtue of their first- and second-place finishes in the six lap Outerwears Performance Products dash, Dietrich and Stewart Friesen brought the field of 25 sprint cars to the green.
Dietrich led the opening lap before Friesen powered his way to the front and pulled away from Dietrich.
Friesen's night ended abruptly on lap four when he was caught up in a multi-car wreck as he caught the back of the field.
Jessica Zemken, who was running third, also was caught up in the incident but was able to return to the action after a short pit stop.
Zemken's night ended on the restart as she and Mark Coldren got together on the front stretch and came to a stop locked together in turn one.
Dietrich regained control of the race, while Cap Henry, Dale Blaney and Stewart raced for the runner-up spot.
Blaney began to force the issue with Henry near the midway point but pulled to the infield with motor problems with 10 laps remaining.
Stewart found some bite on the high side of the race track and quickly closed the gap between himself and Henry, making the pass in traffic to take over second with four laps remaining.
It did not take long for Stewart to engage Dietrich in a battle for the lead, but Dietrich found a line through the back markers to gain an advantage over Stewart and hold on for the victory.
"We were tight all night and I couldn't pass very well at the end," Dietrich said. "Then I think I saw Tony there in turn four and figured I had to find a way past or I was going to lose the lead in the final laps."
Henry came away with his best finish of the year in third with Justin Barger and NASCAR regular Dave Blaney fifth. Lance Dewease, Danny Smith, defending race winner Tim Shaffer, Caleb Helms and Steve Buckwalter rounded out the top 10.
Dean Charbonneau and Bill Knapp swapped leads early in the Hondo Carpenter Classic before Martin charged to the front on lap four..
Defending race champion Pete Broderson also found his way to the front of the pack and settled in behind Martin on lap five. Broderson suffered a setback, blowing a tire and hitting the fourth-turn wall, bringing out the caution. Broderson made repairs and rejoined the field at the back.
Martin now had to deal with Rocky Warner and Nick Stone as they stalked the leader, but a clear track allowed Martin to maintain his advantage.
A caution with nine laps remaining brought Martin back to the field and gave Warner a chance to challenge for the win.
Martin was up to the task holding off strong bids by Warner to notch his 49th career pro stock win at Fonda Speedway.
"I had to go and get the job done," Martin said. "It was not a matter of waiting around. It is just a privilege to drive this racecar in memory of Hondo Carpenter. We were awesome buddies and built his first race cars in my garage. I think I am paying him back."
Warner crossed the line second followed by Stone, Chuck Dumblewski and Kim Duell. Broderson worked his way back through the field to finish sixth, with Knapp seventh, Charbonneau eighth, Ivan Joslin ninth and Jeff McPhail 10th.
Racing returns to Fonda Speedway on Saturday night at 7 p.m. with a regular race card on tap along with the NESCOT/NE/Midstate Vintage Modifieds.
All-Star Circuit of Champions
A-Main (30 laps) - 1. DANNY DIETRICH, 2. Tony Stewart, 3. Cap Henry, 4. Justin Barger, 5. Dave Blaney, 6. Lance Dewease, 7. Danny Smith, 8. Tim Shaffer, 9. Caleb Helms, 10. Steve Buckwalter, 11. Danny Holtgraver, 12. Danny Varin, 13. Chris Myers, 14. Jamie Russell, 15. Bob Howard, 16. Dale Blaney, 17, Dick Spadaro, 18. Mark Coldren, 19. Stewart Friesen, 20. Jessica Zemken, 21. Josh Pieniazek, 22. Warren Alexson, 23. Scott Wilson, 24. Trey Gustin, 25. Brad Howard.
Eighth Annual Hondo Classic
(25 laps) - 1. KENNY MARTIN, 2. Rocky Warner, 3. Nick Stone, 4. Chuck Dumblewski, 5. Kim Duell, 6. Pete Broderson, 7. Bill Knapp, 8. Dean Charbonneau, 9. Ivan Joslin, 10. Jeff McPhail, 11. Luke Horning, 12. Walt Brownell, 13. Jim Normoyle, 14. Sid Harmer Jr., 15. Chuck McSpirit, 16. A.J. Digby, 17. Gus Hollner, 18. Cassidy Wilson, 19. Rob VanAernam, 20. Frank Twing, 21. Kenny Gates, 22. Dennis Joslin, 23, John Bradt, 24. Adam Warner.