Fonda crowns 2017 track champions

Fonda Speedway crowned its 2017 track champions on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are Cory White (limited sportsman), Tim Fuller (modified), Rocky Warner (sportsman), Ken Hollenbeck (four-cylinder), Ken Gates (pro stock), Matt Demitraszek (promoter), John Young (street stock) and Pete Demitraszek (promoter). (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

FONDA — Tim Fuller has been coming to Fonda Speedway for more than two decades to compete in special events.

This year, he called the Track of Champions his Saturday night home and with the same consistency he showed as an invader turned in a top notch performance to claim his first career modified track championship.

“We are very proud to be able to do this at Jumpin’ Jack’s place,” Fuller said. “He has always been a hero of mine and being able to do this our first time trying it is great. We weren’t the fastest all year, but we were the most consistent and never got out of the top five every race and that is what it takes, consistency. It just goes to show what the team is capable of and now we will just move on to the series races at the end of the year. As far as we come to drive down here, this is really great.”

Rocky “The Flying Squirrel” Warner wrapped up his fourth-straight 602 sportsman track championship and second-straight with team-owner Jake Spraker.

Kenny Gates picked up his second-straight and sixth overall pro stock track championship, while Ken Hollenbeck collected the 4-cylinder title as Johnny Young and Cory White put their first career track titles in the book respectively in the street stock and limited sportsman divisions.

Going into Saturday’s race program Fuller led defending track champion Ronnie Johnson and four-time track champion Stewart Friesen by 46 and 48 points, respectively.

Fuller’s teammate Mike Maresca jumped out to the early lead in the first of twin 20-lap features for the modifieds and never looked back as he notched his first career modified feature win at Fonda Speedway.

Johnson and Friesen had the early advantage over Fuller in the race but could not maintain their advantage ad Fuller methodically moved his way through the field and with seven laps remaining moved past both en route to a third-place finish behind Maresca and Josh Hohenforst. Shaun Pangman and Jeremy Wilder completed the top five. Johnson, Friesen, Justin Boehler, Bobby Varin and Cody Bleau made up the second five.

With the track championship locked up at the drop of the green for the second 20-lap feature, Fuller took his time as Friesen charged to the front, taking the lead from Craig Hanson on a lap-11 restart and pulled away for his sixth win of the season and 47th of his career at Fonda.

Bobby Varin came on late to finish second, followed by Hanson, Hohenforst and Fuller. Wilder Johnson, Maresca Danny Varin and Pangman rounded out the top five.

Rocky Warner took the lead from early-race leader Josh DeMagistris midway through the held-over 25-lap 602 sportsman feature and locked up his fourth-straight 602 sportsman championship with the victory.

DeMagistris finished second, followed by Cody Clark, Nick Scavia and Aaron Burton. Tim Hartman Jr., Ray Zemken, Robert Bublak, Mason Olmstead and David Manchester completed the top 10 in the first of two main events for the division.

Scavia came back in the second feature to claim his first career win at Fonda by holding off Hartman in traffic. Chad Edwards held off Warner for third and Clark was fifth. Charlie Tibbits was sixth followed by Harry Shaffer, Zemken, Olmstead and Bublak.

Chuck Dumblewski knew he needed a win for any shot at catching Gates at the top of the pro stock standings and was poised for the win until a lap 18 restart allowed Luke Horning to close the gap between himself and the battle on the front end between Ivan Joslin and Dumblewski.

Horning made the most of the opportunity to slip past Dumblewski coming down for the white flag and got to the checkers first for his third win of the season and 12th of his career at Fonda.

Devin Willis joined his St. Lawrence Radiology teammate Maresca with his first career win at Fonda with his victory in the limited sportsman main event.

In a wild 4-cylinder feature, an early race accident left some confusion as to the winner as P.J. Bleau was originally announced at the winner and celebrated in Victory Lane, but after review Wayne Russell Jr. was later awarded the victory.

The speedway will take a break for the annual Fonda Fair and will resume action on Sept. 16 with the Grand Daddy 602 World Championships as a GRIT Series race.

The Track of Champions will close out the season with the Thunder Along The Mohawk Weekend on Sept. 22 and 23.

By Paul Wager

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