FONDA – Saturday night did not start off well for Stewart Friesen.
However, it is how you finish that counts.
Problems during warmups sent his crew scrambling to make repairs before their qualifying event for the 30-lap modified feature at Fonda Speedway.
“We had a broken left side motor mount in practice and that is major,” Friesen said. “It is pretty crucial to the infrastructure of the car. We had the tow truck over there, had the motor picked up out of the car and got it repaired. We worked our butts off tonight especially in this hot weather.”
Friesen qualified in his heat race and charged from 15th to lead the final 14 laps of the modified feature for his sixth win of the season and 16th of his career at the Track of Champions.
Joining Friesen with victories Saturday night were John McAuliffe (602 sportsman), Nick Stone (pro stock), and Jerry Cohn (street stock) while Ken Hollenbeck and Kerrie Hollenbeck won the single and dual cam 4-cylinder features.
The modified feature got off to a slow start with the caution flying after the first, second and fourth laps.
Throughout the turmoil, Jeff Trombley led the 24-car feature with Darwin Greene, Alton Palmer and Mike Mahaney in pursuit.
By lap 10, Danny Varin made his presence known as he pressured Greene for the runner-up spot, while Mahaney and Friesen were in a tight battle for fourth.
Varin and Friesen both moved forward with Friesen challenging Varin Varin on the high side to take second on lap 15. One lap later, he dove to the low side of turns three and four to slide past Trombley for the lead.
Ronnie Johnson came on late in the race and moved into the top five with 10 laps to go.
The caution flew with three laps remaining when Greene slowed on the speedway.
“We were good but that last caution I wasn’t looking forward to that,” Friesen said.
Johnson made the most of the restart to power three-wide through turns three and four to move past Varin and a lap later passed Trombley for a runner-up finish behind Friesen.
Trombley placed third followed by Varin and Mark Kislowski. Elmo Reckner placed sixth with Jeremy Wilder, Craig Hanson, Matt DeLorenzo and Greene completing the top 10.
McAuliffe made the most of his front row starting spot to gain an early advantage over Cody Clark and Tony Farone.
McAuliffe was unable to break away from the pack as cautions on lap seven and eight keep the field close.
Mark Mortensen came on strong with a mid-race charge in the high groove to move from 10th on the lap-seven restart to second with three laps to go.
Mortensen’s night ended on lap 18 when contact with the backstretch wall brought out the final caution of the race.
Rocky Warner made a final charge to the front moving from seventh on restart to second at the checkers, edging Ricky Quick by .032-seconds, but well behind McAuliffe. Ray Zemken crossed the line in fourth with Dave Constantino rounding out the top five.
Gus Hollner and Jeff McPhail blocked in a tight battle in the opening laps of the 20-lap pro stock feature, while Stone stalked the leaders in third.
Hollner earned a slight advantage as McPhail found himself in a four-way battle for second with Stone, Chuck McSpirit and Luke Horning.
Stone made his move to the front on lap eight, while Ivan Joslin joined the front runners and settled into second behind stone on lap 10 with Hollner dropping into a battle with Pete Broderson and Kenny Martin for the third spot.
Joslin and Broderson closed the gap on Stone but could not catch the leader before the checkers fell over his hood for his second win of the season and for the 26th time in his career.
Cohn grabbed the lead away from early-race leader Bob Rose III on the second lap and survived a two-lap shootout to record his first career feature win at Fonda Speedway.
Cliff Haslun recovered from an early-race spin to finish second with Wayne Rubscha third, Rob VanAernam fourth and John Young fifth.
Racing will return to Fonda Speedway next Saturday with a full regular race card before the Track of Champions welcomes the All-Star Champions 410 sprints and Tony Stewart along with the annual Hondo Classic for pro stocks on July 18.