By Mark Kane
When you win a championship in every class as you move up the ladder through the ranks at Fonda Speedway, that’s an accomplishment.
From the Full Fender Street Stocks and Pro Stocks to climbing into a 602 Sportsman Rocky Warner did just that, picking up a total of eight championships along the way. Not only did he climb the ladder at Fonda, he was a threat at any track he ran with wins and championships to prove it.
Quickly making a name for himself in the Jake Spraker hot rod in the Modifieds he proved he was the real deal. He did the same thing to win the 40-lap Montgomery County Open at the “Track of Champions” and the cool $12,000 paycheck along with a guaranteed starting spot in the Fonda 200 that went along with it. Not only did he win, he did it with a dominating performance.
After going winless during the 2020 race season the “Flying Squirrel” had the Jake Spraker TEO Chassis, Pro Power horsepower under the hood combination on rails against a fine field of Modifieds that made their way to the pits for the high paying 40-lap feature.
It took four heats with Cale Ross who did not take long to find the way around the tricky oval, with Michael Maresca, Warner and Danny Tyler picking up wins and the $1,200 bonus that went along with it. The consi events were loaded with talent as former track champion Tim Fuller and AJ “Slideways” made a rare, but much appreciated visit. Win your heat, draw the pole, seemed everything was in line for Warner. All he had to do was hold back 27 hungry Sunoco Modifieds, and the only thing between them and $12,000 was Warner. At the drop of the green it was Warner taking command with invader Jackie Brown and Bobby Varin on the back deck of the 1J.
Quickly making his presence felt was Craig Hanson who was on a charge from his seventh starting spot. The caution flew as the fine night would come to an end for Cale Ross as he sat in the turn 1 wall while running inside the top five. Back to green and a quick yellow as Brandon Hightower – who definitely made the long tow award from Louisiana – was facing the wrong way on the backstretch.
Back to green and it was RJ, Ronnie Johnson now in the top three with Hanson right with him in fourth as the caution flew on lap 8 as Brian Pessolano was off the backstretch.
Back to green and Warner continued with the advantage, but this time he had Ronnie Johnson taking over second.
Back in the pack, the racing was heating up as Matt DeLorenzo was working his way into just outside the top five. Lap 14 would find the Maresca ride slowed down the front chute pulling to the infield and pulling behind the wall.
As the laps clicked away Warner was now in heavy traffic as Johnson and Hanson, who was having a great ride, were solid in the top three with DeLorenzo still on the march inside the top five after starting mid pack.
Lap traffic became a problem for Warner as Johnson started to make a run at Warner. Making the move, Warner was able to clear the lap car that had held him up, leaving Johnson to deal with the same car who could not hold his line through the turns or on the straights.
Contact was made between Johnson and the lap car as the yellow was out for the 44 on the back chute. The final green would be out, and Ronnie was all over Warner for the lead.
Back in the pack Tim Fuller was on the move after winning the consi and starting deep as Anthony Perrego was now in the top five and looking for racing room with Bobby Varin as the two battled with Perrego eventually getting the spot.
With the green flag laps Warner hitting his marks pulled away and was never challenged as he picked up the win over Johnson, Hanson and DeLorenzo, with Perrego rounding out the top five. Tim Fuller worked his way to sixth after starting 21st and picked up the hard charger award of a $500 certificate from MAC Tools.
Weekly the 602 Sportsman, Rookie Sportsman and the popular Pro Stocks put on a great show, and the racing this time around was no different.
In the always-exciting Pro Stock it would be a first-time winner for Devon Camenga who over the last two years has become a solid driver inside this very tough class. Starting up front Camenga would have no easy time. He would first have to hold off the challenge of Steve Cosselman and Jason Morrison who had moved into the top three. The racing outside the top three was door-to-door as Nick Stone, Chuck Dumblewski, Jim Noromoyle and Kenny Gates all fought for the position.
Once again Stone had his machine on the move and was in the top five. After a lap 6 restart the field was all over Camenga’s rear bumper, and he was up to the challenge.
Now it was Morrison and Stone in the top three as Stone made quick work of the third-place Morrison to set his sights on Camenga. With the leader in command Gates was starting to work his way into the top three. On this night it would be all the 110 of Camenga with Stone, Gates, Dumblewski and last week’s winner Beau Ballard putting on a late race charge to round out the top five.
In 602 Sportsman action Chad Edwards in the John Kollar 10% ride went back-to-back after picking up the win on opening night. All eyes were on the Cody Clark 4 as he had parked the #4 on the high side and was picking off cars two and three at a time with a great drive. It did not take him long to work his way into second, working his way past a fast field.
As fast as Clark was, he had nothing for the Edwards ride as he cruised to his second win of the year. Following Edwards and Clark to the line was Tim Hartman Jr., Tony Farone and Payton Talbot rounding out the top five.
In other racing Carter Gibbons was the Limited Sportsman winner to pick up his very first Fonda win. In the Cruiser Feature, Slappy White and Wayne Russell picked up wins.
Also on hand was the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS) with a fine field of cars. With the vintage cars parked on the old drag strip it brought back memories of when the cars used to park on the infield as well as the tower also on the infield.
What a sight it was to see the view with the Mohawk River as a backdrop. This club has come a long way over the years; it has put on not only great racing but has also been a great educational tool to show how far this sport has come.
Some of these cars are just as they were on the track, and then some not so much. But I will say when broken down in their classes they are very competitive.
Many of these drivers are former campaigners in one class or another here in the Capital District and are now enjoying vintage racing at its finest. Some others traveled some distances as the X full-bodied 55 Chevy from Georgetown, Delaware. They run a class of these steel body beauties in a class at Georgetown Speedway and get around very well.
Local racer John Flach was the 2020 champion in his division with other local drivers Darral Hulbert and longtime Modified and Vintage Modified driver Stanley Wetmore, and now we can add Joe Firstium to that list as the long-time John Flach crew member was a substitute in the 77J. Picking up wins were Frank Blachard for Antique, Sportsman Jon Kuleszo, Modified Darral Hulbert, and Curtis Condon in the Late Models.
In other action, when you’re hot you’re hot. That being the case, Stewart Friesen is on fire. No matter if it is the Super DIRTcar Series or the Short Track Super Series or breaking track records at Fonda Speedway, Friesen is at the top of his game. With wins at Can Am, Fonda, two at Bristol along with other early-season wins and the win now in Delaware, Friesen has nine wins for the season.
At Albany Saratoga Speedway Jeremy Pitts picked up his first-ever Modified win since moving up to modifieds after three Sportsman championships.
Rounding out the top five were LJ Lombardo, Jackie Brown, Matt DeLorenzo and Matt Depew. Pat Jones picked up the Sportsman win with Connor Cleveland, Tim Hartman Jr., Scott Duell and Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald rounding out the top five. In the Pro Stock Rich Crane grabbed the win over Rob Yetman, Jason Meltz, Chad Jesso and Chuck Dumblewski in fifth. Other action saw Limited Sportsman Chris Jakublak and Street Stocks Hunter Sanchez.
Please support those who support dirt track racing, stay safe and guess what? We are back to racing!