Shaffer picks up sportsman win at Fonda

Mike Peek (W6), Josh DeMagistris, back left, Aaron Burton (26A) and David Constantino, back right, race together during sportsman action at Fonda Speedway on Saturday. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

FONDA — On a night when the modified feature ended in controversy, “Happy” Harry Shaffer brought home his first career sportsman division feature win Saturday night at Fonda Speedway.

“It’s been 25 or 26 years,” a tearful Shaffer said in Victory Lane. “This means everything to me. My dad passed away a couple years ago and I wanted to win one before he died it I didn’t get to do it, so this one is for him.”

When the checkers dropped on the 30-lap modified feature it appeared that Stewart Friesen would be the first two-time modified feature winner of the season, but as the cars rolled across the scales in post-race tech, Friesen’s car came up light, which may give Gloversville’s Josh Hohenforst his second feature win of the season.

“The thing was we rolled across and Stewie wasn’t making weight by five pounds,” Hohenforst said after the race. “I rolled across and made weight, Danny [Varin] made weight, [Mike] Maresca made weight. So three of the top five cars made weight and all the sportsman cars made weight after that. [Tim] Fuller also was light. I would have much rather have just beat him out for it, but I will take it.”

Fonda Speedway promoter Pete Demitraszek said the modified finish is unofficial until the scales are recertified Monday.

Danny Varin (93) and Troy Palmer race together during modified action Saturday at Fonda Speedway. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

Joining Shaffer in picking up a feature win Saturday night, Kenny Gates returned to Victory Lane and posted his 70th career pro stock feature win and fifth win of the season, while Cliff Haslun scored his second win of the season in the street stock division, Chris Andrew won the cruiser division main event and William August won the limited sportsman main event. Darral Hulbert took home the checkers in the added vintage modified division.

Justin Boehler and Troy Palmer brought the field of 20 modifieds to the green with Boehler showing the way on the opening four laps before Mike Maresca took over the point and opened a big lead before being brought back to the field by a caution.

Friesen, who started 10th, settled into third behind Boehler, while Ronnie Johnson, Danny Varin and Hohenforst made up the top five.

Maresca held off a charge by Friesen until lap 14, while Varin and Hohenforst battled it out for third.

Varin and Hohenforst moved up to second and third on a lap 16 restart with Fuller, Maresca and Johnson locked in a battle behind them.

Friesen had a commanding lead erased as he was heading through traffic and Jimmy Davis suffered a handling problem and tried to get to the outside of turn two and made contact with Friesen as he went by.

The contact resulted in a flat left-front tire on Friesen’s modified but he elected to stay out on the track.

Friesen was able to hold off a late charge by Hohenforst to be first under the checkers with Varin third, Fuller fourth, Maresca fifth, Johnson sixth, Jeremy Wilder seven, Bobby Varin eighth, Boehler ninth and Scott Huber 10th. The potential disqualifications of Friesen and Fuller may move Craig Hanson and Darwin Greene into the top 10.

“I saw he had a flat left front and I was driving as hard as I could,” Hohenforst said. “That last restart really helped me because I was on the outside.”

Shaffer started on the pole in the 25-lap sportsman feature and broke out in front on to be brought back to the field by a lap-four caution.

He maintained his advantage on the restart, holding off David Constantino, Brian Pessolano and Chad Edwards for the lead until Constantino powered his way to the front on lap nine.

Constantino’s night ended when the suspension broke in his car with five laps to go, handing the lead back to Shaffer.

Edwards moved up to Shaffer’s bumper and got alongside several times in the closing laps, but Shaffer kept his ride wound up in the high line to take home his first career feature win at the Track of Champions.

Edwards was second followed by Pessolano, Tim Hartman Jr and Ray Zemken.

Randy Cosselman and Josh Coonradt battled through the early stages of the set the 20-lap pro stock feature before Gates joined the battle and pulled in front with three laps to go.

Gates survived a late-race restart, holding off Coonradt for his 70th career feature win. A.J. Walters finished third followed by Cosselman and Chuck Dumblewski.