McAuliffe returns to the track

The racing season has gotten off to a great start for veteran sportsman driver John McAuliffe.

After having his season cut short last year due to injuries from a wreck against the backstretch wall at Fonda Speedway, “The Blade” has put together a season-opening streak consisting of a win, a second and a third.

“I will take that all day long,” the three-time (2001, 2004, 2005) Fonda Speedway sportsman division champion said. “After that bad accident last year, it feels good to get another win and to run strong like we are. They have the car working good and I love this track. This track is great right now.”

Saturday’s win was McAuliffe’s sixth since the division went from open sportsman engines to the 602 crate motors. However, the win marked his 40th career sportsman win as he put his No. 23 in Victory Lane 34 times before the change over.

The early-season consistency has also vaulted McAuliffe to the top of the sportsman point standings with 168 points.

Rocky Warner was on top with two wins in the first two weeks but a DNF Saturday led to a 23rd finish, dropping him into a tie for fourth with Connor Cleveland with 140 points. David Constantino is currently second with 146 and Tim Hartman Jr. is third with 142.

A further look at the points after the first three weeks of heads-up starts for the features, shows Bobby Varin on top in the modifieds with 168 points, while Ronnie Johnson, who has two victories, is second with 164. Alton Palmer and Danny Johnson are tied for third with 142.

The first couple of weeks in the modified points are a little confusing because Stewart Friesen, who won on opening night was shown as the points leader with 120 points. The reason was due to a series race on April 30, all the modified drivers received 60 “show up” points.

Kenny Gates has jumped out to a big lead in the pro stock division with two wins and a runner-up finish for 176 points. Nick Stone moved up to second with 158 points, while “Cousin Luke” Horning dropped to third with 156.

After his victory last Saturday, Gates summed his success up saying, “But the real racing starts next week when the handicapping starts.”

Tributes continue at Fonda

Last Saturday, Ray Dalmata returned to Fonda Speedway for the first time in over two decades to great fans in a pre-race reception in the Fonda Speedway museum prior to the night’s race program.

Museum curators Dave and Jackie Lape have done a good job getting memorabilia together honoring the drivers the Track of Champions are paying homage to this season.

This week the track is honoring Kenny Shoemaker.

“The Shoe” has a total of 54 wins at Fonda and is still fourth on the all-time win list. His first win came on Oct. 8, 1955 and his last on Aug. 9, 1975.

I can say I was there for the last one, but not the first.

I was talking with his son Keith earlier this season and he was working on a deal to return to racing Saturday night for the tribute race for his father.

I am sure there will be plenty of pictures and stories being told in the pre-race reception at the museum.