Johnson picks up modified win at Fonda

FONDA — Ronnie Johnson’s return to weekly competition at Fonda Speedway is now complete.

With a new car, fresh engine and a positive attitude, Johnson parked his modified in victory lane Saturday night at Fonda Speedway for the first time since August 2016, recording his 31st career feature win.

On the same night Johnson picked up his 31st career victory at the “Track of Champions,” Tanner Warner picked up his first career Crate 602 Sportsman victory.

Other winners on Parks Companies LLC Autism Awareness Night were Luke Horning (Pro Stocks), Stephen Gray (Limited Sportsman), Ken Hallenbeck (SOHC) and Kerrie Hallenbeck (DOHC) in the Fonda Fair Four Cylinders and Mike Kiser (CRSA Sprints).

Johnson started ninth on the 23-car starting grid and quickly made his way toward the front chasing down and dove under Mike Mahaney heading into turn one on lap 13 to take over the lead.

The caution flew on the next lap when division points leader Jack Lehner came to a stop in turn one with mechanical trouble. Johnson held on to his lead over Mahaney on the restart, as Stewart Friesen, Rocky Warner and David Schilling joined the hunt for the top spot.

Warner used a lap 23 restart to get past Friesen and Mahaney into second but could not chase down Johnson before the checkers fell on the 30-lap main event.

“I feel that I have the best team in dirt track racing,” Johnson said in victory lane. “There are guys on my team that were with my father [Jack Johnson] on his team before I was even born. There were a lot of late nights spent getting this new car ready this week, we got our small block motor back, dropped it in, and here we are. I have all those guys that have been with me and my father for so long to thank for this win. It feels good to be back home again.”

Warner crossed the line in second followed by Stewart Friesen, Mahaney, Josh Hohenforst, Dave Constantino, Schilling, Jessica Friesen, Craig Hanson and Bobby Varin.

In the Crate 602 Sportsman feature, Tanner Warner moved past early-race leader Jason Greco on a lap three restart and Mark Mortensen moved into the runner-up spot two laps later and began steadily closing in on the leader.

Mortensen completed his run to the front on lap 11 and began to pull away before the caution flew with seven laps remaining. Mortensen and Warner battled over the closing laps, with Warner powering around the outside of turn four to retake the lead with two laps to go.

Mortensen came back and put a nose in front between turns one and two on the final lap, but Warner kept his momentum in the high groove to go back in front and hold on for his first career feature win at Fonda Speedway.

“I showed him the bottom on the one restart and then went to the top to try to cross him over,” Warner said. “Then we got another yellow. When he went back to the bottom, and I knew we had a better car on top and it worked out our way. I got a little nervous because I got a little loose going into turn one and I knew I had to clear him off two or we were going to lose it.”

Warner is the third member of the Warner racing family to post a victory at Fonda Speedway, joining his father, Rocky, and grandfather, Don.

“This is awesome,” Tanner Warner, who graduated from Johnstown High School in June, said. “We’ve had a fast hot rod for a few weeks now and I’m just trying to do the best that I can. I learned a lot from my father and never thought that I would be competing against some of the best in this division.”

Mortensen finished second with Chad Edwards, Tim Hartman Jr. and Brian Calabrese making up the top five. Payton Talbot, Tucker O’Connor, Aaron Burton, Tony Farone and Greco completed the top 10.

Steve Cosselman grabbed the early lead in the 20-lap Pro Stock feature that was red-flagged on lap five for a multi-car accident causing major damage to the cars of Ivan Joslin, Josh Coonradt and Scott Towslee, ending their night.

Horning settled into second behind Cosselman on the restart and took over the point on lap seven with Cosselman, Jason Morrison, Chuck Dumblewski and Kyle Hoard making up the top five.

With an extended gree -flag run, Nick Stone moved into the runner-up spot with six laps remaining and immediately pressured Horning for the lead. A lap 15 caution set up a five-lap shootout for the win and Horning was up for the challenge as he turned back Stone for his fourth win of the season. Dumblewski came home third followed by Cosselman, Kyle Hoard, Morrison, Kenny Gates, Shane Playford, AJ Walters and Bill Knapp.

Gray took over the lead on lap three from early-race leader Lance Hill and led the remaining laps for his second win of the 2021 season and the third of his career in the division over Carter Gibbons, Clayton DuMond, Kyle Dingman, and Jeremy Tyrrell.

Kerrie Hallenbeck grabbed the lead in the 4-cyliner cruiser feature and led every lap for the overall win in the DOHC class. His brother Ken Hallenbeck finished third behind Slappy White, but was awarded the SOHC victory with John Napoli and Shawn Hemstreet completing the top five.

Darryl Ruggles led the first four laps of the 20-lap CRSA Sprint feature, but Kiser took over the lead on a lap five restart. Jeff Trombley moved his way up to second on lap seven, but could not chase down Kiser before he took his fourth career win in the division at Fonda. Ruggles finished third followed by Chase Moran, and Josh Flint.


Thanks to a chicken barbecue, more than 100 raffle prizes in the silent auction, the dunk tank, the ice cream truck, the 50/50 raffle, and donations from a number of people and companies, the biggest winner of the evening was the Crossroads Center for Children in Schenectady as there was a total of $21,405 donated to the center for Autism Awareness thanks to a huge event put on by Stewart and Jessica Friesen, whose son Parker attended the Crossroads Center in the past.

SUNOCO MODIFIED (30 laps) — Ronnie Johnson, Rocky Warner, Stewart Friesen, Mike Mahaney, Josh Hohenforst, Dave Constantino, David Schilling, Jessica Friesen, Craig Hanson, Bobby Varin, Brian Pessolano, Pep Corradi, Steve Akers, JaMike Sowle, Brian Calabrese, Ancel Collins, Jim Introne Jr., Adam McAuliffe, Ryan Odasz, Jack Lehner, Anthony Cardamone, Ray Zemken, Aaron Jacobs

SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN (25 laps) — Tanner Warner, Mark Mortensen, Chad Edwards, Tim Hartman Jr., Brian Calabrese, Payton Talbot, Tucker O’Connor, Aaron Burton, Tony Farone, Jason Greco, Chip Constantino, Jeremiah Munson, Troy Zilles, Brendan Gibbons, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Jason Reome, Josh Allen, Greg Havlichek, Michael McCallion, Griffen Mansmith, .Dylan Eldred, Kathy Bellen, Addison Bowman, Brett Mortensen, Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Bob Fachini, Brian Borst, Tim Dwyer, Cody Clark, Troy Palmer-DNS

ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK (20 laps) — Luke Horning, Nick Stone, Chuck Dumblewski, Steve Cosselman, Kyle Hoard, Jason Morrison, Kenny Gates, Shane Playford, AJ Walters, Bill Knapp, Chuck McSpirit, Cliff Haslun, Dan Krajewski, Gary Silkey, Frank Hoard Jr., Jim Normoyle, Ivan Joslin, Josh Coonradt, Scott Towslee, Malcum Warner, Don Collins-DNS

MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN (15 laps) — Stephen Gray, Carter Gibbons, Clayton DuMond, Kyle Dingman, Jeremy Tyrrell, Taylor LaPlante, Lance Hill, Jeremy Slosek, Josh Kane, Cole Lawton, John Anderson, Walter Cook, Ryan Sweet, Connor Prokop, Bob Rowback, Yule Cook, Justin Howe, Jonathan Feagles-DNS

FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER (12 laps) — Kerrie Hallenbeck (DOHC), Slappy White, Ken Hallenbeck (SOHC), John Napoli, Shawn Hemstreet, Bodie Bellinger, TJ Marlitt, Ariana Schultz, Wayne Russell Jr., Lee Horning

CRSA SPRINT CAR (20 laps) — Mike Kiser, Jeff Trombley, Darryl Ruggles, Chase Moran, Josh Flint, Jordan Hutton, Dalton Herrick, Steve Glover, Jerry Sehn Jr., Kyle Pierce, Trevor Years, Dan Craun, Matt Priscott, John Cunningham, Dana Wagner, Hank Katz, Ron Greek, Mike VanPelt, Cory Sparks-DNS, Travis Billington-DNS

By Paul Wager