Point Leaders Pounce With Strong Performances At Fairgroundsby Tom Skibinski
Sheppard & DePuy dominate dirt action, Smith captures first as Bay returns to victory lane
Open-wheel ace Matt Sheppard and full-fender veteran Adam DePuy extended their respective point leads in the 'Saturday Spectacular' at Land Of Legends Raceway, dominating the feature race action like they have done throughout much of the 2019 campaign in Canandaigua.
The Geneva Club Beverage and Cargill sponsored five-star show was no different from day one with Sheppard registering his seventh Pepsi Big-Block Modified win and DePuy capturing a track-best eighth triumph in the Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stock finale. Since sharing victory lane in the May 4 opener, the dynamic dirt duo has taken top dollar the same night on five occasions this season.
“It was a little challenging tonight, the track had a little bit of character,” remarked Sheppard, 37, on the heels of his 77th career Big-Block win at the fast Ontario County Fairgrounds half-miler. “It seemed like the longer the race went the better our car got, kind of opposite last week. We fired off good last (Saturday) then kinda faded as the race went on. We made some adjustments and the car was definitely better tonight.”
Joining Sheppard and DePuy in the winner's circle were first-time victor Andrew Smith (Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman Modified) and female flash Alysha Bay (Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car) while Robert Johnson and Tim McColman took home Dirt Modified Nostalgia Tour trophies.
The Modified main began with first-year track regular Dillon Groover overtaking pole-sitter Jimmy Maier for the lead on lap seven as 12th starting Sheppard was still on the brink of breaking into the top-10. Yet 35 laps was still the required distance and 'Super' Matt's foray to the front in his #9s Hurlock Auto & Speed-Dendis Companies/Bicknell ride was just getting underway.
Nearly matching last weekend's caution-free feature, Sheppard had ample ground to make up running ninth with 10 laps in the books. A quick move under last Saturday's nemesis Erick Rudolph put him seventh the next time around while top-five runners Justin Wright and Alan Johnson fell victim to the Waterloo wheelman when the Elab Boutique scoreboard flashed 15 complete.
Sheppard made his most emphatic maneuver of the night on lap 17, ducking under both Gil Tegg Jr. and Maier entering turn three, leaving only leader Groover and Justin Haers back in the red #1 Phelps Cement entry in his way. The eight-time track points champ wasted little time, disposing of Haers on lap 20 before blasting below Groover as the two navigated through turn four just three laps later.
“There were some slippery spots and some really tacky spots, you kind of raced from bitey spot to bitey spot,” described Sheppard of his latest $2,000 triumph, pushing his Northeast-high total to 27 checkered flags, with Haers settling for second followed by Johnson, Rudolph and Wright. “We kinda fell behind early and I was a little nervous, luckily for us the car got better.”
“Most of (adapting to conditions) is knowing Canandaigua speedway. A lot of the guys up front have run a bazillion laps around this place. Dillon has been doing an awesome job, battled with him at Outlaw (Speedway) last night and again tonight. He's doing fantastic, just needs a few more laps. This place changes in a hurry and the grooves move around just as fast. It seems like in a snap of your finger you're driving really fast then all of a sudden slow down and drive like your grandmother. So it's all about experience and that takes time,” added Sheppard, who leads Rudolph, 693-643, in the current point standings with Johnson (589) still lurking.
Fairgrounds favorite Steve Paine suffered a broken right-rear axle to incur the lone caution period in the Modified main with five to go, but back under green Sheppard stormed ahead to open up three-quarters of a straightaway advantage at the line.
Eighth-place starter DePuy showed even more superiority in his latest Street Stock success, charging from fourth to first following a lap one yellow flag then duplicating Sheppard's race deciding distance despite a final lap 15 restart bunching the field.
“The track got a little (rain) water this week and had some rough spots, otherwise it was pretty good out there,” noted DePuy, in quest of a third consecutive title at the historic Ontario County oval. The Macedon motorist leads Jimmy Grant, 724-644, with just three point shows remaining on the 2019 Canandaigua calendar. “The guys worked on the car after the heat ... we can't get any better, its really good right now.”
All-time LOLR stock car winner Mike Welch edged under Jason Quigley to lead the opening circuit just as Ryan Rozelle, in his season debut, looped his #5 Chevrolet Monte Carlo exiting turn four to require an immediate slowdown. Already hovering in the top-five, DePuy flew to the front on the ensuing restart aboard his no. 99 IFreeze Storage & Distribution Center-A.E.Y. Enterprises-Fox's Auto/Chevrolet Camaro and never looked back in the 10-minute main.
“The car was rolling really well,” underscored DePuy, after outdistancing Welch and Grant for the decisive victory, his 10th front-five finish in 11 features run. Fourth-place finisher Rick Crego was disqualified for a carburetor infraction following the customary post-race inspection, moving up Parker Smith and Quinn Sutherland in the final top-five order.
“There's always things that could happen but I figured we had a pretty good car so as long as I hit my marks and didn't miss anything we were in good shape. We stiffened up some things in the car before the race as we didn't want it to bounce too much. Don't know if we went enough but it all worked out,” added DePuy, following his 45th career win at the speedway since the turn of the century.
While Sheppard and DePuy continued to bolster their speedway stats on Saturday, Smith emerged as the 113th different Sportsman driver to break into the winner's circle since the division debut in 1987, ironically passing all-time track winner Paul Guererri to secure the coveted victory.
“When you race against the #7 (Guererri) or somebody like that, they knew what I did the lap before to pass them and they took it away .... ,” reflected Smith, 31, who was on his way to grabbing the lead from Guerreri on lap 13 when the yellow lights flashed to scrap the potential pass and align the field in running order during the previous lap. The Lockport laser continued to shadow Guerreri before advancing to the point nine laps from the end. “That guy's got a lot of talent and he made me work for it to get back by him.”
A New Legends Sportsman division driver with three wins a year ago, third-generation chauffeur Tyler Vinson led his first laps of the season before fifth starting Guererri slipped under for the top spot on a lap 10 restart. Taking the initial green flag to begin the 25-lap headline event lined up directly behind Guererri in row four, Smith methodically worked his way forward in the 29-car field.
The Western New York traveler cracked the top-five by lap eight and followed Guererri into second on the pivotal lap 10 restart. When first-year Canandaigua racer Mike Stanton Jr. spun to the infield in turn one following front stretch contact with Kane Bristol, Smith was relegated to refiring his black no. 1 Reservoir Bar-New Generations Racing Engines/Bicknell mount once again behind Guererri before forging the final lead on lap 17.
“To win here means a lot to me and my team,” beamed Smith, who spends Friday nights closer to home racing at Ransomville Speedway. Last night he made a rare appearance at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee and came away with a runner-up finish. “We worked really hard the last two weeks, put a lot of new stuff on this car. We've been running it every day that we can to try and practice and I think we're making some big improvements.”
“The biggest thing is the mindset ... got to go slow to go fast. You don't want to enter (turns) too hard and overdrive, just gotta hit your marks and race with what's given to you. And my team gave me one of the best cars I've had in a long time. You win a lot of races then go on a long stint and wonder if you're ever going to win again. Lots of late nights this week, right now everything feels worth it,” added Smith, after leading his first laps of the season en route to a fourth top-five tally. Guererri hung on to second a half-dozen car-lengths back followed by Tim Baker in his best finish of the season, Smith's fellow WNY invader Garrson Krentz and Matt Guererri.
Sportsman point leaders Kevin Root (565) finished sixth and Kane Bristol (533) placed 10th. In search of his first win, Matt Guererri stands third with 526 markers ahead of Smith (476).
For the second straight Saturday the 305 sprint car A-Main went non-stop, rewarding Bay for six minutes of high-speed work after a hard-earned victory over Dan Bennett. Last Saturday it was her father Darryl Ruggles claiming victory laurels with chief starter Scott Hixson again forced to save his yellow flag for another day.
“It was a little challenging out there but the car was set up great tonight,” stated Bay, 25, after the local Gorham pilot notched her ninth career 305 win at LOLR which ranks third all-time. “The lapped cars kinda held me up a little bit but that's alright, finally got by them. They went to the high side and gave me the bottom.”
Bennett out-sprinted front row partner Trevor Years from his outside-pole starting position to lead off the 20-lap affair. Strapped into the pretty pink Mike Mastin-powered no. 48A Danny Willmes-VanBortel Trucking-Ruggles World of Auto Body/Eagle, Bay began third right behind Years and immediately took over the number two slot while her dad diced early with points leader Johnny Kolosek.
While Darryl eventually faded, daughter Alysha flourished, digging deep on lap six to pass Bennett for the lead low out of turn four. Bennett remained in striking distance as the laps dwindled yet Bay was able to tip-toe through traffic en route to establishing an eight car-length margin under the checkers. Kolosek secured the show spot ahead of Brandyn Griffin while Erik Karlsen edged Ruggles for fifth on the final circuit.
“I'm trying to run different lines here and the line that I ran tonight was probably the best one that I could get here,” acknowledged Alysha, who scored her first win of the season in a June 8 doubleheader. “So we'll keep that in the back of our head.”
“I didn't know how far ahead of (Bennett) I was. I was just trying to get a little more grip on the bottom and here we are, that's all that matters,” figured Bay, who is listed fifth on the current points chart while Kolosek (558), Ruggles (542) and Karlsen (540) remain locked into the tightest battle down the stretch.
The DMNT made a return trip to the Land of Legends with Johnson leading the distance in his orange #56 “Modified” while McColman's black no. 20 car was the highest finishing (4th) “Nostalgia” entry. The truly international field was divided evenly as eight Americans and eight Canadians made the haul into wine country.
“I've come close to winning here a couple times so this is pretty cool,” said Johnson, after the Horseheads driver posted his fourth tour win of the season behind the wheel of his 1982 Pontiac J2000 bodied mount wrapped around a 2002 Troyer chassis. “Just kept hammering the bottom. Knew it would be really hard to pass on the top because it was dry and slick. Just hard to get a real good run up there.”
John Stanley settled for second ahead of fellow “Modified” driver Tim Hegarty as McColman from Kingston, Ont. crossed next in his 1939 Chevrolet coupe. Pat Charland filled out the front-five, with Johnson and Scott Gauthier winning heats.
A rare red flag flew with 12 complete in the 20-lap feature, and the 13th circuit proved unluckiest for Gauthier in his '37 Plymouth coupe. While dueling with former street stock contender and race runner-up Alex Morris, the 2nd- and 3rd-place runners made contact with Gauthier slamming the outside cement retaining wall at the end of the front chute before flipping three times and landing on all fours beyond turn one. No injuries were reported yet Gauthier was certainly shaken in the wild mid-race ordeal.
The 2019 New York Nationals are just four weeks away, turning Land Of Legends Raceway into a hotbed for some of the best 360 Sprint teams from throughout the Northeast on Sept. 6&7. The first full weekend of the month includes DIRTcar Sportsman, Street Stock and CRSA 305 Sprint Car action, with the wild winged warriors alone sharing over $35,000 in the inaugural two-day extravaganza.
Triple 15-lap races ($1,000 to win/$125 to start) highlight the Fri., Sept. 6 program for 360s, qualifying 6 drivers into the A-Main on Saturday.
Round four of the Land of Legends 305 CRSA Crown Series will also be contested Friday with $750 on line for the 20-lap feature winner. In addition, Friday night marks the return of the "Les Whyte Top Gun Shootout" for Street Stocks, with a $1,000 top prize up for grabs in the 75-lap full-fender frenzy. Posted lap money and contingency packages add to the growing race day pot.
The NY Nationals 360 Championship card on Sat., Sept. 7 includes heats, consolations and dash races to fill out the remainder of the field leading up to the $5,000 to win 30-lap finale, boasting $400 to start. Also on the docket are a 50-lap, $1,500 to win Sportsman special plus the fifth and final segment of the LOLR 305 CRSA Crown Series paying $1,000 to the 25-lap winner.
New York Nationals debut also closes out the five-race '19 Land of Legends 360 Championship Series. Winners of the Patriot Sprint Tour and Empire Super Sprint races held earlier in the season at LOLR are locked unto the A-Main with Chuck Hebing, Davie Franek and Paulie Colagiovanni securing those guaranteed spots.
The month of August reaches the midway mark for racers on Sat., Aug. 17 when Proctor Enterprises and the Ontario County Fairboard presents "Kids Power Wheels Night," providing a complete show of Pepsi Big Block Modified, Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman and Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stock action with the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprints contending in the third SuperGen Products with Champion Power Equipment CRSA Sprint Car Series event of 2019 accompanied by a Justin Vecchioli Scholarship Benefit.
Race time is set for 7 p.m. with pit gates unlocking at 4:00, grandstand seating opening at 5 p.m. and hot laps getting underway at 6 o'clock.
As the 56th season winds down, be sure to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. Advance sale tickets remain available for purchase online throughout the final weeks. 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 – August 10, 2019
Geneva Club Beverage and Cargill present Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard ($2,000), 2. 1h-Justin Haers, 3. 14j-Alan Johnson, 4. 25-Erick Rudolph, 5. 19w-Justin Wright, 6. 12x-Dillon Groover, 7. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 8. 82-Gary Tomkins, 9. 11j-James Sweeting, 10. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 11. 28p-Eldon Payne Jr., 12. 21x-Eric Williams, 13. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 14. 1-Steve Paine, 15. 77-Lance Dusett, 16. 63-Adam Roberts, 17. 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: A.Johnson, Sheppard, Dusett, Tegg, Wright, Tomkins, Daugherty, Payne, Williams.
#2: Groover, Haers, Rudolph, Maier, Paine, Sweeting, Roberts, D.Johnson.
Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 1x-Andrew Smith ($750), 2. 7-Paul Guererri, 3. 9-Tim Baker, 4.
56-Garrison Krentz, 5. 12g-Matt Guererri, 6. 34-Kevin Root, 7. 25g-Nick Guererri, 8. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 9. 1-Billy Paine, 10. 31-Kane Bristol, 11. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 12. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 13. 93-Tyler Vinson, 14. 117jr.-C.J. Castelletti, 15. 2-Loren Lincoln, 16. 9x-Jonathan Reid, 17. 7z-Zach Payne, 18. 11n-Ricky Newton, 19. 80-Cody Wolfe, 20. 70-Alex Payne, 21. 00-Sam Hoxie, 22. 92-Wesley Hayes, 23. 21v-Tony Velez, 24. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 25. 13-Mickey Wilbur, 26. 04-Eric Years, 27. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 28. 3m-Mike Stanton Jr., 29. 327-Brett Baldwin.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Smith, Krentz, Lincoln, Bristol, Wolfe, Reid, Hoxie, Borden.
#2: Stanton, Lloyd, Paine, Vinson, Kimble, Z.Payne, Years.
#3: P.Guererri, Root, Ridley, F.Guererri, Castelletti, Hayes, Velez.
#4: Baker, M.Guererri, N.Guererri, A.Payne, Baldwin, Wilbur, Newton.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48a-Alysha Bay, 2. X-Dan Bennett, 3. 26j-Johnny Kolosek, 4. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 5. 66-Erik Karlsen, 6. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 7. 38-Jason Whipple, 8. 18c-Dan Craun, 9. 13t-Trevor Years, 10. 99-Andy Jacobus, 11. 53-Tom Fletcher, 12. 19j-Mike Jackson.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Bay, Kolosek, Years, Craun, Karlsen, Fletcher.
#2: Ruggles, Griffin, Bennett, Whipple, Jackson, Jacobus.
Smith Bros. Drywall Street Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 99-Adam DePuy, 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 36-Jimmy Grant, 4. 5c-Rick Crego(DSQ), 5. 55p-Parker Smith, 6. 57j-Quinn Sutherland, 7. 37x-Carl Johnson, 8. 64-Bob Buono, 9. 02-Brad Steinruck, 10. 34q-Jason Quigley, 11. 69r-Carl Whittaker, 12. 5-Ryan Rozelle, 13. 58d-Nick Dandino, 25b-Marc Minutolo(DNS), 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: DePuy, Welch, Quigley, Minutolo, Buono, Johnson, Metcalf, Dandino.
#2: Smith, Crego, Sutherland, Steinruck, Whittaker, Rozelle, Grant.
Dirt Modified Nostalgia Tour
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 56-Robert Johnson, 2. 2s-John Stanley, 3. 40-Tim Hegarty, 4. 20-Tim McColman, 5. 42-Pat Charland, 6. 111-Craig Chisom, 7. 07-Mark Shadwell, 8. 19-Megan Ciglich, 9. 12-Tim Charland, 10. 5-Chip Gauthier, 11. 00-Darrell Wilson, 12. 75-Allie Elkins, 13. 88-Brad Litzenberger, 14. 09-Alex Morris, 15. 9-Scott Gauthier, 16. 11-Jim Hillmire.
Heats (6 laps)
#1 Modified: Johnson, Morris, Hegarty, Shadwell, Stanley, Ciglich, P.Charland.
#2 Nostalgia: S.Gauthier, Chisom, McColman, Hillmire, C.Gauthier, T.Charland, Wilson, Elkins, Litzenberger.
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, August 17 @ 7pm; Proctor Enterprises and Ontario County Fairboard present CRSA Sprint/Big-Block Modified/Sportsman/Street Stock plus Kids Power Wheel Races with Justin Vecchioli Scholarship Benefit.
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Along with recognizing its weekly 50/50 raffle fund beneficiaries, 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 current division sponsors Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Mike Emhof Motorsports, Pepsi Geneva Club Beverage, Smith Bros. Drywall; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, American Equipment, A-Verdi Storage Containers, Geneva Club Beverage, Honeoye Auto Parts/Auto Value, Pepsi/Mountain Dew/Lipton Lake Beverage, L&L Transmission & Towing, Main Energy, Red Osier Restaurant, Sherwin-Williams Paint, Tradition Automotive Group; promotional partners Champion Power Equipment, Dig Safely New York 811, Dobbers Sports Bar, Elab Smokers Boutique, Hoosier Racing Tire, Hoselton Chevrolet, Ontario County Fairboard, Radio 95.1 Rochester, Star Headlight & Lantern Co., VP Racing Fuels, Weedsport Hall of Fame, Wright Beverage, Young Real Estate Agency.