Friesen scores opening night victory at Fonda Speedway
FONDA — On a night when drivers and fans paid tribute to the late Jumpin’ Jack Johnson who was an icon at Fonda Speedway throughout his career, Stewart Friesen turned in a dominating performance on the opening night of the 70th consecutive season of racing at the Track of Champions.
Jack’s son Ronnie, daughter Natalie, brother Jeff, and family friend Joe Bellomo all stood on victory lane to honor Johnson along with four of his former race cars that were also on display during the ceremony.
Friesen, who made his way to the track in time for the first modified heat race after finishing 13th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Richmond Speedway, started his night by setting a new track record with a 17.74 second lap breaking the old record of 18.12 set last September by Anthony Perrego.
Luck of the draw put Friesen on the pole for the Palmer’s Service Center Night 30-lap feature and he held off a challenge from Josh Hohenforst on a mid-race restart to collect his 69th career feature win at Fonda, placing him fourth on the all-time win list at behind Johnson (149), Lou Lazzaro (113) and Dave Lape (99).
Joining Friesen with opening-night victories were Chad Edwards (602 Sportsman), Beau Ballard (Pro Stock) and Jeremy Tyrell (Limited Sportsman) along with Kenny Hollenback (SOHC) and Tyler White (DOHC) in the Cruiser division.
Friesen took the lead at the drop the green with defending track champion Michael Maresca settling into second with Hohenforst in third.
Friesen caught the back of the pack by lap five and was able to make his way through to build a half-track advantage when the caution flew on lap 16.
Hohenforst, who passed Maresca for the runner-up spot on lap 12, pulled alongside Friesen for the restart and briefly put a nose in front before Friesen stormed back into the lead and pulled away to an eight-second lead over Hohenforst at the checkers.
Maresca followed Friesen and Hohenforst under the checkers in third, with Demetrious Drellos fourth and Bobby Varin fifth. Brian Gleason, Jack Lehner, Rocky Warner, Jessica Friesen and Ronnie Johnson complete the top 10.
“Special thanks to Jess [his wife] who drew number one for me tonight and for all the Jumpin’ Jack Johnson fans who came out tonight,” Friesen said in Victory Lane. “It is great to see fans in the grandstands again, it is gonna be a great summer.”
Tim Dwyer set the early pace over E.J. McAuliffe in the 25-lap Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature.
A pair of restarts pulled the field up to Dwyer and McAuliffe’s back bumpers.
McAuliffe took over the top spot on lap eight, pulling Edwards with him past Dwyer. Mark Mortensen and Tim Hartman Jr. joined the front runners and made their presence known on a mid-race restart.
Edwards used the restart to get the lead away from McAuliffe and pulled away as Mortensen pulled into second but could not catch Edwards before the checkers fell. Hortman finished third with Cody Clark coming on late to finish fourth and Tony Farone moving from his 16th starting spot to finish fifth. Dwyer, McAuliffe, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Dan Santabarbara and Brian Calabrese round out the top 10.
“We broke a driveshaft in our heat race, and it mangled the linkage to the transmission,” Edwards said. “We kept working on it right up until feature time and got it back together, so I have to thank my crew for all of their hard work tonight. The track was in awesome shape tonight and I never lifted after that last caution.”
Chuck Dumblewski led from the pole position start in the 20-lap Algonkin Motel Pro Stock feature event with Devon Camenga second.
Jason Morrison made the most of a lap two caution to pull up to the leaders and take the lead away from Dumblewski on lape five, with Ballard also moving forward into second.
Ballard, who started 12th, passed Morrison for the lead on lap nine, while Nick Stone charged from 17th into second but ran out of time as Ballard, who has three IMCA modified victories, posted his first Pro Stock victory at Fonda Speedway.
“It’s been 13 years since I’ve been here,” Ballard said in Victory Lane. “We trashed a brand-new car in warm-ups last week here at Fonda and to come back and put our car together from last year and win from 12th, somebody pinch me.”
Andy Graves crossed the line third followed by Morrison, Steve Cosselman, Dumblewski, Kenny Gates, Ivan Joslin, Josh Coonradt and Shane Playford.
Tyrrell started on the pole and led every lap in the 15-lap Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. feature event for his first career win in the division at Fonda after being away from racing for 13 years. He was followed in the top five by Carter Gibbons, Stephen Gray, Taylor LaPlante, and Jonathan Feagles.
Racing returns to the speedway Saturday with the 40-lap $12,000-to-win Montgomery County Open for big block modifieds sponsored by Andy’s Speed Shop. All other regular divisions will also be in action along with the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS).
Palmer’s Service Center Night results
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-Laps – $3612 to win – STEWART FRIESEN, Josh Hohenforst, Michael Maresca, Demetrious Drellos, Bobby Varin, Brian Gleason, Jack Lehner, Rocky Warner, Jessica Friesen, Ronnie Johnson, Craig Hanson, Mike Mahaney, David Schilling, Bobby Hackel IV, Brian Pessolano, JaMike Sowle, Patrick Dupree, Shane Jablonka, Rich Christman, George Foley, Matt DeLorenzo, Adam McAuliffe, Cory Lowitt, Ancel Collins, Steve Akers, Aaron Jacobs, Dave Constantino (DNS)
Lap Leaders – 1-30 Friesen
Heat Race Winners – Friesen, Varin, Gleason
In heat race one Stewart Friesen broke the track record with a lap of 17.74 the old record was set by Anthony Perrego on 9/20/2020 with a lap of 18.12.
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-Laps – CHAD EDWARDS, Mark Mortensen, Tim Hartman Jr., Cody Clark, Tony Farone, Tim Dwyer, EJ McAuliffe, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Dan Santabarbara, Brian Calabrese, Addison Bowman, Payton Talbot, Aaron Burton, Troy Palmer, Tanner Warner, Ricky Quick, Anthony Cardamone, Brian Borst, Brendan Gibbons, Chip Constantino, Joe Orlando, Michael McCallion, Jason Reome, Tucker O’Connor, Finch Fenton, Mike Ketchum
Lap Leaders – 1-7 Dwyer, 8-16 McAuliffe, 17-25 Edwards
Heat Race Winners – Dwyer, Fenton, Calabrese, Santabarbara
Greco’s NAPA Hard Charger Award contingent on Greco’s NAPA sticker is on the race car – Tony Farone 11 spots from 16th to fifth.
ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-Laps – BEAU BALLARD, Nick Stone, Andy Graves, Jason Morrison, Steve Cosselman, Chuck Dumblewski, Kenny Gates, Ivan Joslin, Josh Coonradt, Shane Playford, Frank Hoard Jr., Kyle Hoard, Jim Normoyle, Luke Horning, Devon Camenga, Bill Knapp, AJ Walters, Mike Kalkbrenner, Gary Silkey, Randy Cosselman, Terry Graves, Cliff Haslun DNS, Dan Krajewski DNS
Lap Leaders – 1-4 Dumblewski, 5-8 Morrison, 9-20 Ballard
Heat Race Winners – Dumblewski, Gates, Ballard
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-Laps – JEREMY TYRRELL, Carter Gibbons, Stephen Gray, Taylor LaPlante, Jonathan Feagles, Clayton DuMond, Kyle Dingman, Jerry Cohn, Jeff Lutes, Ryan Sweet, John Young
Lap Leaders – 1-15 Tyrrell
Heat Race Winners – LaPlante, Gray
FONDA FAIR CRUISERS FEATURE — KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), TYLER WHITE (DOHC), Slappy White, Kerrie Hollenback, Billy Hillman, Dale VanAllen, PJ Bleau, Jeff Tubbs, John Napoli, Shawn Hemstreet, Brandon Tyler, Wayne Russell Jr., Lee Horning, AJ VanHoesen, Dan Haslun, David Peek Britten, Jamie Warner DNS, Zach McSpirit DNS