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Decisive Victories By Sheppard & Barney Headline 55th Canandaigua Opener

by Tom Skibinski

Guererri, Ferguson, DePuy & Cooper share opening night honors at Ontario County oval

Mon, May 7th 2018 06:20 am

Canandaigua, NY – May 5, 2018 – Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR

*Matt Sheppard Victory Lane Photo Attachment By Don Romeo

Convincing victories by open-wheel stars Matt Sheppard and Jason Barney brought Land Of Legends Raceway back to life for the 55th season-opening motorsports event as the lead-off Saturday Spectacular presented by A-Verdi Storage Containers launched a new racing era in Ontario County under the direction of track operator Paul Cole.


Seasoned speedway chauffeur Sheppard successfully began his bid for an eighth straight points title in Canandaigua's top division by capturing the35-lap Pepsi Big-Block Modified main while Barney claimed round #1 of the inaugural LOLR 360 Sprint Classic Series that boasted a stellar 39-car field of Patriot Sprint Tour wingmen.


While Cole celebrated a capacity crowd behind the scenes with 119 drivers signed in pitside, Sheppard and Barney set off the fireworks trackside, and together the triumphant trio brought the curtain down on an exciting six-star show to kick off the 2018 campaign in grand style.


For Paul and his new management team it was a real smooth night so I'm happy to put on a good show and get him started,” remarked Sheppard, 35, alluding to first-year promoter Cole who operates SuperGen Products, a national distributor of Champion Power Equipment, in neighboring Newark. “Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, a full house, lots of cars and a nice racing surface to keep everybody coming back.”


Capturing the Sportsman opener last spring, Matt Guererri helped usher in the new era of auto racing in wine country with a dominating run in the Donath Motor Worx Sportsman feature while second-generation driver Nick Cooper claimed the entry level New Legends Sportsman finale.


Winged warrior Dave Ferguson (Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car) and veteran full-fender driver Adam DePuy (Big Dog Country Street Stock) also collected opening day checkered flags in the lead-off Saturday Spectacular staged on the Ontario County Fairgrounds historic half-miler.


With only sunshine and blue skies on the horizon, car-loads of fairgrounds' faithful arrived to move the turnstiles in anticipation of the annual Land of Legends lid-lifter. Sheppard made the trip from Waterloo back to the reputed raceway well worth his while as he led all but four times around to secure a six car-length win worth $2,000 over third-generation pilot Erick Rudolph.


Sheppard finished second in the first of three Big-Block qualifiers and filed in fourth with the 'heads-up' starting line-up format in place. Veteran Steve Paine won the first heat race to earn the pole-position and opened up a commanding lead after the drop of chief starter Scott Hixson's initial green flag.


'Super Matt' wasted little time behind the wheel of his C.C. Performance-powered #9s Dendis Companies-Westmoreland Golf Club/Bicknell machine, overtaking third heat winner Jimmy Phelps on the third circuit then charging past Paine down the back chute two laps later to forge the final lead change.


On the heels of a Northeast Region-high 41 feature wins last season, Sheppard's victory on Saturday was his fifth of the new season, setting his sights clearly on a ninth overall Big-Block points championship at the Land of Legends.


This place has a good group of guys to race with every week, you just can't take a night off and expect to win,” added Sheppard, following his 66thcareer Big-Block win at LOLR. Saturday's victory was his fifth in a season-opening event, and three of those carried him to eventual track crowns. He ended 2017 dead-locked with Justin Haers atop the overall point standings yet by virtue of his track-high count of eight feature wins, he locked up the championship.


The car was reall good in the middle of the race but got tight the longer it went. I couldn't wait to see the checkers finally come out since I knew Erik was running well tonight,” Sheppard said.


Rudolph pulled into the runner-up slot a third of the way through the feature and protected his post for the duration. Four caution periods for a pair of minor spins by Jimmy Maier and Brian Sage, and a broken left-front shock tower on Peter Britten's mount were all that could slow the leader and keep him in sight down the stretch. Paine, Phelps and Billy Dunn filled out the final front-five while Haers, all-time LOLR winner Alan Johnson, Phelps' teammate Max McLaughlin, Gil Tegg Jr. and Kyle Coffey secured top-10 tallies at the line.


Fresh off his April win at nearby Outlaw Speedway in Dundee, Barney was the class of the field scoring his second victory of '18 in the 360 Sprint Classic Series. The big field of winged machines required four qualifiers and two B-Mains, yet Barney proved untouchable once his no. 87 Pit Stop Convenience Stores-Schneider Packaging-87Speed.com/X-1 entry found its way to the front.


Don't know if it can get any better than this,” beamed Barney, 38, following his second win in four starts, the others being a runner-up finish at Fulton(NY) Speedway and seventh at Williams Grove(PA) Speedway in a nationally-recognized ASCS sprint car event held Friday. “I drove all the way back from Pennsylvania last night, just didn't want to miss Canandaigua, always been one of my favorite tracks.”


Barney settled for third-place in the first preliminary and the customary pre-race redraw put him third out of 26 starters to begin the 25-lap A-Main. Under green all-time Patriot winner and former Canandaigua Modified regular Chuck Hebing bolted from his front row start with Dylan Westbrook and 2017 Canandaigua winners Bryan Howland and Barney in closest pursuit.


A roll-over low in turn four by Scott Goodrich mandated a red flag, forcing stoppage in the action with four laps complete.


Back under racing conditions, Barney slipped past Howland for second and then with 10 laps scored crept to within three car-lengths of an otherwise dominant Hebing entry. Barney proceeded to storm past the 'Cobra' the next time around in turn two and with 15 laps scored sped out to a half-straightaway advantage.


Barney's supremacy continued over the remaining laps as the Brewerton(NY) pilot pushed his Jimmy D-powered ride to the limit, building up a half-lap margin of victory under the checkered flag. Howland and Hebing were followed by Frenchman Steve Poirier and fellow Canadian Westbrook on the final scoresheet.


I always love coming to Canandaigua,” said Barney, following his fifth career LOLR sprint car win, this one worth $2,000 to the reigning Empire Super Sprints points champion. Barney now has 14 career Patriot wins and another 20 with ESS. “The competition here is always good and the track surface is among the best anywhere for sprint car racing. You can run high, low, in the middle, anywhere you need to get around. You just don't luck into a win here, its definitely a place you have to earn it.”


Barney will be back at LOLR for round #2 of the 360 Sprint Classic Series on July 5 (ESS), then return on Aug. 4 (ESS) and Aug. 29 (PST) to conclude the 4-race stint boasting a $4,000 prize fund. Barney not only leads the 360 Classic Series now, he also tops the PST and ESS point charts. “With some conflicts I don't think its possible to win both titles missing 5 or 6 races. We'll still try to race all we can, its already been a fun year,” Barney said.


Both Barney and Land of Legends Raceway will be showcased in the Empire State when Saturday's Patriot Sprint Tour event is aired on CW-23 in Buffalo at 2 p.m. on Sat., June 16, CBS-5 in Syracuse at 7:30 a.m. on Sun., June 17 and on CW-16 in Rochester at 10:30 a.m. on Sun., June 17. The hour-long production is part of 'Speedway Showcase' hosted by Rich Vleck with race analysis provided by Doug Elkins and pit reporting from Paul Szmal.


Despite a mild dip in temperature after sunset, Guererri still had to sweat it out early in the 25-lap Donath Motor Worx Sportsman finale after dicing with early leader Kane Bristol then fending off Kevin Root the last 10 circuits.


Once again the traditional early-season heads-up start regimen slotted heat winners Eric Giguere, Bristol and Guererri in the top-two rows and the trio went three-wide exiting turn four on the initial circuit. Guererri emerged unscathed to assume the early lead yet that slim advantage was short-lived when the first of four yellow flags flew on lap two for the disabled mount of Ricky Newton.


Bristol regained the point on the ensuing lap three restart before consecutive caution periods on lap eight slowed the early race action. Guererri was quick on the gas, moving back ahead when the green lights returned the ninth time around. Root advanced to challenge the leader on lap 14 as Matt's uncle Paul Guererri secured the show position with a handful of laps still to go.


At the line it was Guererri from Waterloo in his #12g Tradition Automotive Group-Product 9-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell ride holding on for a three car-length victory ahead of Root, with all 21 cars taking the checkers finishing on the led lap.


The car was fast from the get-go,” noted Guererri, who tallied two of his five career Sportsman wins at LOLR last season when he placed sixth on the final points chart. “Its always nice to win an opener, a good starting point for the season ahead. I think we're finally getting there, closer to having a really great year.”


Heat one winner and pole-sitter Ferguson opened up a big lead from the drop of the initial green flag to begin the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car finale. The margin quickly ballooned to a half-straightaway after five laps were scored, with LOLR all-time sprint winner Darryl Ruggles, Brandyn Griffin, Ruggles' daughter Alysha Baye and Johnny Kolosek the early chasers.


The gap closed in a hurry when Ferguson met up with traffic, allowing Ruggles to gain ground before the Hopewell driver nosed underneath to complete lap eight. The front-runners continued to dice back-and-forth with Ferguson returning to the point halfway through the 20-lap feature and Ruggles snatching it back on a lap 13 restart.


With the final eight laps run non-stop under green, Ferguson was able to reel in Ruggles once more, forcing the final exchange for the top spot on lap 18. From there the Rochester(NY) racer rolled his no. 45 Speedy's Cleaners-KCC Carpentry/Helix sprinter to a half-straightaway victory, the 14th of his career in Canandaigua.


Things started out kinda tough, the car kept pushing toward the wall, just wouldn't turn,” revealed Ferguson, the first 305 Sprint points champion crowned at LOLR when the class debuted in 2012. “After we figured it out we got better by feature time, and the car was on rails after that. It handled better on the long runs so we were worried on those restarts because Darryl seemed to be much better early.”


Nine of the 10 drivers signed up for full-fender activity saw green to start the 15-lap Big Dog Country Street Stock feature. Defending track points champion DePuy copped the lone qualifier and went on to lead the entire distance in the first main event of the night.


I wasn't really prepared for the conditions out there tonight,” divulged DePuy, after registering his 31st career Street Stock win in wine country. “It was a perfect track, you could run high or low, really anywhere you wanted to go. Hats off to the track crew making it this good the first race of the year.”


DePuy out-dragged front row partner Marc Minutolo, himself a 48-time stock car winner at LOLR, to lead lap one and from there the Macedon driver rarely looked back despite three yellow flags tightening the pack for minor mishaps. The front-five remained intact the majority of the way with runner-up Minutolo, Blane Smith, Shawn Lloyd and Jason Doty riding in the shadow of DePuy's no. 99 Nance's Mustard-A..E.Y. Enterprises/Chevrolet Camaro throughout the race.


Originally scheduled to cover a 10-lap distance, the New Legends Sportsman feature was reduced to an 8-lap dash as a timely schedule curtailed the final event of the night. A seven-time 305 Sprint winner at the fairgrounds, Cooper put his no. 35 Wadsworth Contracting-Honeoye Auto Parts/Bicknell open-wheeler out front early yet still needed to stave off a last lap, lap ditch effort from upstart Billy Paine to preserve the victory.


The two Waterloo drivers made contact exiting turn three as Paine ducked underneath in a final bid, but Cooper quickly shut the door and Paine could only straighten out his HigFab entry in time to cross the line second in the caution-free affair.


The second 'Saturday Spectacular' on May 12 features another fabulous five-star card of Pepsi Big-Block Modfied, Donath Motor Worx Sportsman,Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint, Big Dog Country Street Stock and New Legends Sportsman action, with a Justin Vecchioli Scholarship Benefit Raffle held during the night. Race time is set for 7 p.m. Pit gates unlock at 4:00 and grandstand seating opens at 5 p.m. while hot laps go green at 6.


With the 55th season now officially underway, be sure to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visitingwww.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. Advance sale tickets are also available for purchase online throughout the upcoming months. Log into the website (LandOfLegendsRaceway.com), hit the red “Buy Tickets” button on the homepage, then make a selection from the list of dates & events highlighted.


Land of Legends Raceway is located at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, east of the city on Town Line Road (County Road 10), with easy access off either Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) of the New York State Thruway, just ½-hour southeast of Rochester.


Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – May 5, 2018

Saturday Spectacular

A-Verdi Storage Containers presents 55th Season-Opener

360 Sprint Classic Series Race #1

Patriot Sprint Tour

*A-Main (25 laps): 1. 87-Jason Barney($2,000), 2. 51-Bryan Howland, 3. 45-Chuck Hebing, 4. 28fm-Steve Poirier, 5. 47x-Dylan Westbrook, 6. 10c-Jeff Cook, 7. 36-Matt Billings, 8. 22-Jonathan Preston, 9. 98-Joe Trenca, 10. 9-Josh Pieniazek, 11. 79-Jordan Thomas, 12. 53-Shawn Donath, 13.36d-Steve Doell Jr., 14. 14-Coleman Gulick, 15. 14b-Brett Wright, 16. 10k-Kelly Hebing, 17. 47-Kyle Drum, 18. 98x-Mike Stelter, 19. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 20. 67-Steve Collins, 21. 10-Paulie Colagiovanni, 22. X-Dan Bennett, 23. 11j-Chris Jones, 24. 81-Derek Jonathan, 25. 3-Tim Schneider, 26.30-Scott Goodrich.

Heats (8 laps/5 qualify)

#1: Poirier, Gulick, Barney, Wright, Stelter, Jones, S.Just, Azzi, Sparks, Richardson.

#2: Westbrook, Howland, Billings, Trenca, Bennett, Styres, Hutchinson, Thomas, Wickham, Evans.

#3: Cook, Doell, Schneider, Pieniazek, Donath, Drum, Ruggles, Colagiovanni, Glover, Juliano.

#4: C.Hebing, Collins, Preston, K.Hebing, Goodrich, Kuhn, Tanner, Jonathan, D.Just.

B-Main (8 laps/2 qualify)

#1: Ruggles, Jones, Styres, Kuhn, Thomas, Azzi, Juliano, D.Just, Sparks, Evans(DNS).

#2: Drum, Colagiovanni, Glover, Richardson, Jonathan, Hutchinson, Wickham, Tanner, S.Just(DNS).

Evingham Excavation Dash (4 laps): Billings, Trenca, Doell, Collins, Gulick, Cook(DNS).

DNQ: 0-Glenn Styres, 121-Steve Glover, 99k-Dan Kuhn, 67r-Pete Richardson, 17-Josh Azzi, 2-Steve Hutchinson Jr., 1j-Derrick Juliano, 80-Dave Wickham, 54j-Dave Just, 90-Matt Tanner, 1hd-Cory Sparks, 61-Parker Evans, 54jr.-Scott Just.


Pepsi Big-Block Modified

*Feature (35 laps): 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard ($2,000), 2. 25-Erick Rudolph, 3. 7x-Steve Paine, 4. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 5. 3rs-Billy Dunn, 6. 3-Justin Haers, 7. 14j-Alan Johnson, 8. 6h-Max McLaughlin, 9. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 10. 23-Kyle Coffey, 11. 8r-Rob Bellinger, 12. 19w-Justin Wright, 13. 11j-James Sweeting, 14. 28p-Eldon Payne Jr., 15. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 16. 77-Lance Dusett, 17. 9-Will Thomas, 18. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 19. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 20. 21a-Peter Britten, 21. 16k-Kaitlin Pashina, 22. 12-Brian Sage.

Heats (8 laps)

#1: Paine, Sheppard, Haers, Payne, Wright, Thomas, Daugherty.

#2: Tegg, Rudolph, Britten, Dunn, Sage, Dusett, Podsiadlo, Pashina.

#3: Phelps, McLaughlin, Coffey, Johnson, Bellinger, Sweeting, Maier.


Donath Motor Worx Sportsman Modified

*Feature (25 laps): 1. 12g-Matt Guererri, 2. 34-Kevin Root, 3. 7-Paul Guererri, 4. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 5. 31-Kane Bristol, 6. 25g-Nick Guererri, 7.29g-Steve Gray, 8. 93-Rich Vinson, 9. 67g-Eric Giguere, 10. 21x-Eric Williams, 11. 9-Tim Baker, 12. c21-Jeff Davoli, 13. 2-Loren Lincoln, 14. 90-Nathan Peckham, 15. 7j-J.T. Sperring, 16. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 17. 17s-Steve Cheesman, 18. 77-Benny Karlsen, 19. 13t-Trevor Years, 20. 50-Tim Downs, 21. 132-Brandon Michaud, 22. 7s-Troy Sperring, 23. 2k-Anthony Kimball, 24. 113-Frank Guererri Jr., 25. 11n-Ricky Newton, 20x-Kevin Ridley(DNS).

Heats (8 laps)

#1: Giguere, Marcuccilli, Williams, Lincoln, Vinson, Michaud, Years, Newton, Ridley.

#2: Bristol, P.Guererri, Baker, Gray, Peckham, JT Sperring, Downs, Cheesman.

#3: M.Guererri, Root, N.Guererri, F.Guererri, Davoli, Kimball, Lloyd, T.Sperring, Karlsen.


Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint

*Feature (20 laps): 1. 45-David Ferguson, 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 48a-Alysha Baye, 4. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 5. 26j-Johnny Kolosek, 6. 4-Tim Smith., 7. 18c-Dan Craun, 8. 19j-Mike Jackson, 9. 38-Jason Whipple, 10. 65-Levi Arthur,11. 23-Tyler Cartier, 12. 26-John Trenca, 13. 99-Andy Jacobus, 66-Erik Karlsen(DNS), 53-Tom Fletcher(DNS), 8g-Bobby Gardner(DNS).

Heats (8 laps)

#1: Ferguson, Ruggles,Griffin, Baye, Craun, Arthur, Trenca, Cartier(DNS).

#2: Smith, Kolosek, Jackson, Whipple, Jacobus, Karlsen, Fletcher, Gardner(DNS).


Big Dog Country Street Stock

*Feature (15 laps): 1. 99-Adam DePuy, 2. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 3. 55p-Blane Smith, 4. 86L-Shawn Lloyd, 5. 4j-Jason Doty, 6. 58d-Jason Quigley, 7. 74-Ron “Bundy” Metcalf, 8. 5c-Rick Crego, 9. 37x-Carl Johnson, 10. 8-Mike Welch(DNS).

Heat (6 laps)

#1: DuPuy, Minutolo, Smith, Crego, Johnson, Doty, Lloyd, Metcalf, Welch, Quigley(DNS).


New Legends Sportsman

*Feature (8 laps): 1. 35-Nick Cooper, 2. 1-Billy Paine, 3. 14n-Dwight Nichols, 4. 2-Jimmy Steffenhagen Jr., 5. 132-Jessica Kriegisch, 6. 93-Tyler Vinson.


Track Instant Info

Website: www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com

E-Mail: info@LandOfLegendsRaceway.com

Twitter: @LandofLegendsNY

Facebook: @LandofLegendsRaceway


Land of Legends Raceway is proud to salute several sponsors and corporate partners that continue to help bring its fans the best Saturday night racing show in the Northeast. Listed alphabetically are division sponsors Big Dog Country 103.5FM Radio, Donath Motor Worx, Mike Emhof Motorsports, Pepsi/Geneva Club Beverage; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, A-Verdi Storage Containers, Daldry Canvas, Geneva Club Beverage/Mountain Dew, Honeoye Auto Parts/Auto Value, L&L Transmission & Towing, Phelps Cement Products, Pilat Graphic Design, Proctor Enterprises, Product 9, Tradition Automotive Group; promotional partners Champion Power Equipment, D.C. Rauscher Inc., Dig Safely New York 811, Hoosier Racing Tire, Ontario County Fairboard, Sherwin-Williams Paint Stores, Star Headlight & Lantern Co., VP Racing Fuels.