Last season was rough for Josh Hohenforst, to the point where the Gloversville modified pilot was ready to call it a career.
However, after a trip to Syracuse for Super DIRT Week and talking with friends and sponsors, he opted to go at it for one more year.
"We have been competitive, but we're chasing it every week to the point where I was thinking about not even going racing this year," Hohenforst said. "Last year we were just burned out and not happy with the way the race tracks were, plus trying to work a lot of hours and a lot of overtime. At the end of the week we would go to the race track, and it got to the point where it wasn't fun.
"Then I talked to a few people, and talked myself into buying a new car and a bunch of new stuff this year and trying some different packages. I said at the beginning of the year that 2014 was going to be my make it or break it season. Either I was going to give it up at the end of the season, or if it worked out, I would probably keep going."
Hohenforst made wholesale changes including replacing his Troyer with a HigFab Chassis and even changing the colors on the No. 6H modified.
"We went with black because the red and white has not been working out," he said, laughing. "We ran Troyer cars the last three years and Jerry Higbie was really pushing us to get on board with his program. I like to have something different than everybody else has. His cars have been running good down his way around Middletown and Accord. We just took a chance and brought this car up here, and we have been chasing it trying to find a set-up and it obviously paid off Saturday."
When the cars finally took the track to race more than three hours behind schedule Saturday due to unraceable track conditions, Hohenforst was on the front row with veteran A.J. Romano.
Hohenforst won the sprint into the first turn and never was headed as he battled the track conditions, and luck, to pick up the first modified feature win of his career at Fonda Speedway.
"It was definitely a big weight lifted off my shoulders and still hasn't totally sunk in yet," Hohenforst said. "I have led a lot of features and had something happen on the last lap or with five to go. Always something happened. It was nice to finally see the checkered flag fall and be the first one to it this time."
Even with a decent lead on a fast track, Hohenforst was still waiting for bad luck to step up and strike again.
"I wasn't hearing noises, but I was worried I would have a tire go down the way the track was," he said. "I was worried about peeling the left rear off or blistering the right rear or something. I was constantly worried. The week before we were 12 laps into it and ran over something in the track and sliced a brand new tire. I always worry because I know how bad my luck is, and have not been able to catch a break over the last few years."
This time good luck prevailed and he stood surrounded in Victory Lane by a large group of supporters for the first time at Fonda.
The night almost didn't happen, though, as he contemplated packing up and leaving due to the lengthy wait and track conditions.
"Honestly, when we got there we tried working the track for a little while. I was kind of hoping he [Fonda Speedway promoter Matt DeLorenzo] was going to cancel and we could just go home. But, when he stuck with it and made the decision to not give up. We didn't run heat races or anything and ended up handicapping for the feature. I was happy when he made the decision that he was going to run for sure. At that point we were already at the race track so we might as well stay and race, that is what we were there for."
The track came up fast but narrow at the start of the program, but began to widen out as Hohenforst turned laps in the low 19-second range, successfully hit his marks on every turn and survived a mid-race restart en route to the landmark feature win.
"Another win this weekend would be nice. I would like to double-down on it," he said. "Hopefully the track is fast again this week. I don't really like it when it slicks up a lot. I like it when if is fast and you are on the throttle and up on the wheel the whole time. That is what is fun to me being full throttle and able to use the power that you have."
Hohenforst wanted to thank all his sponsors who have stuck with him throughout his career, starting in go-karts up through his pursuits in the modifieds.
"We have had a lot of people help us out through the years," he said. "Some have come and gone, but we are just happy to have the guys who have stuck with me. I have been telling people, 'Guys, just stick with me, we are going to get it sooner or later.' I am glad for the people who have stuck with me. We have picked up a couple new sponsors this year and actually the last couple of weeks, and that definitely helped out."
On Sunday at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, A.J. Miller was competing in a qualifier for the Xcell 600 division when a coolant line broke, spraying hot fluid on him.
The line broke as he was entering the third turn, leading up to hard contact with the outside wall and rolling over.
Miller was transported from the speedway with second-degree burns to his arms and legs. He returned home from the hospital Sunday night and is resting before heading to Syracuse for further treatment.