Sobotka, Grant, Parrow & Eldredge collect checkers to launch 58th Canandaigua campaign
Canandaigua, NY – May 15, 2021 – Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
If the third try is a charm, finding success the fourth time around might just be like striking gold. Especially for track promoter Paul Cole and his loyal legion of race fans and teams as they all endured three straight weekends of wash-outs before kicking off the 2021 campaign.
When the checkers finally flew to open the 58th season of motorsports at Land Of Legends Raceway, it was Matt Sheppard returning to victory lane after authoring a convincing flag-to-flag run to capture the headline 35-lap Pepsi Big-Block Modified main event.
“Thankfully for us tonight we got a couple good draws, made a couple adjustments after the heat and we went the right way, and you know it just feels good to be standing in victory lane,” said Sheppard, 38, following his seventh opening night triumph at the Ontario Co. Fairgrounds.
Also pulling into the winner’s circle in the first ‘Saturday Spectacular’ presented by Prouty’s Bar in association with MP Delivery were Zach Sobotka (Speed Connection Sportsman), Jimmy Grant (Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock), Bobby Parrow (Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car) and Justin Eldredge (Lloyd’s Contracting).
Among the 22 Big-Block race teams entered in the lid-lifter, Sheppard drew outside front row before winning his qualifying heat. With the top-4 finishers in the three preliminary events re-drawing for the feature, ‘Super Matt’ again selected outside-pole and the race for second was all that really remained after that.
“I know Erick is tough here, knew he’d be right there lurking the whole race,” figured Sheppard referring to runner-up Rudolph, who bettered Matt by a single point in the final 2018 standings. “Was a little nervous about switching lines, didn’t really know where I wanted to be. My car felt pretty good everywhere and that actually makes it tougher sometimes.”
“Was carrying good speed on the top, hanging there a little bit in the middle and kind of judged (where to run) on lapped cars. When you’re in lapped traffic and don’t feel like you’re gaining as fast as you should and switch lanes and you feel like you’re gaining a little faster, you just gotta really go by the seat of your pants,” Sheppard noted.
After out-dueling front partner Garrison Krentz at the drop of the green, Sheppard had to wait another 20 minutes before he could lead lap two. A wild frontstretch crash on the opening circuit ended with Watertown’s Adam Roberts’ mount resting upside down in turn one, with an alert track safety crew rushing to the scene to extinguish flames as a handful cars sat scattered under red flag conditions.
Upon review of the ‘Tradition Automotive Group Replay,’ fifth starting Lance Dusett drifted high enough down the straightaway to ultimately pin Roberts’ car against the cement retaining wall and the ensuing impact sent the #63 Roberts Automotive / Troyer machine airborne and into a series of barrel rolls. Fire also broke out in the no. 11J James Sweeting car after the resulting contact, and when the dust finally settled the cars of Jimmy Maier and Marcus Dinkins remained parked on both sides of the ravaged Roberts entry. No injuries were reported in the breath-taking incident, yet the Roberts car was all but lost for the season.
“A lot of times you’re worried about a lot of different things but being on lap one and not really getting into the race enough I didn’t know what we had or didn’t have. So there wasn’t really too much to think about other than really hoping everybody was okay and that’s basically it,” Sheppard said regarding the sudden stoppage early on.
Back under green Sheppard was unstoppable steering the potent C.C. Performance-powered #9S Hurlock Auto&Speed-Westmoreland Golf Glub-St.Lawrence Radiology/Bicknell ride, opening up a comfortable distance over Rudolph and hard-charging Justin Haers as the laps clicked off. Tenth-starting Haers grabbed third from Krentz on lap 9 while Australian ace Peter Britten rallied from 12th to overtake the rising rookie for fourth with less than a handful of laps showing on the Elab Scoreboard.
The final margin of victory was over eight seconds with Sheppard’s 82nd Big-Block win in wine country worth $2,500, moving him past Danny Johnson into fourth-place all-time. Only Alan Johnson (124), Bob McCreadie (99) and Steve Paine (94) rank higher on the list which began in 1953.
Rudolph settled for second ahead of Haers, Britten and Krentz while Alan Johnson crossed the line sixth, the last car scored on the lead lap.
Embarking on his second season as a weekly racer at Canandaigua’s hallowed half-miler, Sobotka showed once again why he remains among the men to beat after securing opening night honors in the Sportsman class. The quiet campaigner from Parish wrestled away the lead from all-time LOLR Sportsman winner Paul Guererri then held off a late-race rally from nephew Nick Guererri to earn the $1,000 top prize in the 25-lap finale.
“We were definitely pretty close last night at Brewerton so its nice to get the win here,” downplayed Sobotka, 20, who claimed a pair of checkered flags in last summer’s virus shortened season en route to tying Matt Guererri atop the final points chart. Guererri won a division-high five features to take the tie-breaker.
On this night the no. 38 Stirling Lubricants-Stoneburg Construction-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell ride would not be denied, forging the lone lead change from pole-sitter Paul Guererri on lap seven after the pre-race draw relegated Sobotka to sixth on the 28-car starting grid.
Shadowing Sobotka from lap one, Nick Guererri swept around his uncle in turn four to grab second on lap 13. A pair of yellow flags on lap 17 put the leaders bumper-to-bumper and after Sobotka sprinted ahead, Guererri crept to within a car-length as traffic tightened the gap on the final circuit.
“(Leading) is pretty much where I lost the race last night. Its not always the best thing leading, especially early,” Sobotka added. “Tonight I just found the line up top in turns one and two pretty early, started rolling the bottom then the caution came out. It was dusty up top in (turns) three and four so I figured the bottom was still going to be there at the end of the race. Did not know Nick was gaining the last few laps, just tried to go where the lapped cars weren’t at the end.”
Chasing Sobotka and Guererri across the stripe were Matt Guererri, Alex Payne and A.J. Lloyd, with Zach Payne grabbing sixth from Paul Guererri in the closing stages.
Looking to improve one position in the point standings, Grant made an early statement in the Street Stock ranks after a dominating performance aboard his Chevrolet Camaro sporting a brand new CRS chassis.
“Was way faster and was tired of waiting so I switched up high and that was it,” beamed Grant, 36, who started third and stayed patient before blasting by Marc Minutolo for the top spot then cruising home to win the headline 20-lapper by a straightaway. “Thought I was going to spin out Marc when I had such a run on him but didn’t want to do that. I rolled the center, could really put the car anywhere and went right around. This car man, we’re going to the top.”
Pole-sitter Minutolo and front row partner Rick Crego, who bought the former CRS ride from 2020 titlist Josh Pangrazio at season’s end, paced the 19-car full-fender field early before Grant rushed into high gear. Scoring three wins a year ago to finish second behind Pangrazio in the standings, the popular Penn Yan pilot edged past Minutolo on lap eight and was never challenged in the caution-free affair.
“We fought all night, we’re in and out of the line-up trying to get the car to stay cool. Had a little air in it but we worked it out,” said Grant, revealing that air had gotten in the car’s cooling system system and not allowed any circulation. “What else can you ask from it? First time racing here, couldn’t ask for a better race car.”
“We pulled the top off the expansion tank, jacked it up, had her wide open and pumped the air right out of her. There’s a light that comes on at a certain temperature and when that light comes on I look at it. If not, we’re sending her,” Grant exclaimed.
No light, no problem as the expansion tank, which absorbs excess coolant and minimizes excess pressure in the engine cooling system, did its job. And so did Grant as his sleek black #36 Hands Performance & Powder Coating-Washburn Excavating entry stayed cool under the hood while the driver poured on the coals.
Minutolo held off all-time LOLR Street Stock winner Mike Welch while C.J. Guererri slipped by Crego to round out the final front-five ahead of the family duo of son Parker Smith and his father Blane Smith.
Surviving an early scare from reigning LOLR points queen Alysha Bay then late-race contact with previous night’s Penn Can tour winner Kyle Pierce, Parrow remained unfazed to put the Tom Fletcher-owned #53 D.C. Rauscher-Wings For Cystic Fibrosis/Eagle sprinter in the winner’s circle in dramatic fashion.
“Really feels good for Tommy and I,” said Parrow, 52, who scored both of his A-Main 305 wins last year on the same night at LOLR. “We didn’t do too much to the car over the winter, just took the car to Loren Lincoln for welding and had to have a tube on the frame straightened out after bending it a little last season. Some new tires and fresh fuel was really about it after that.”
With winged veterans filling in the front row, heat two winner Parrow out-dragged pole-sitter Randy Years while Bay and her father Darryl Ruggles moved into contention at the drop of starter Scott Hixson’s first green flag. Jason Whipple suffered a right-rear flat tire on lap five to incur the first of back-to-back caution periods.
Matt Rotz and Jacob Lynch tangled in the first turn to force out another yellow flag with 16 laps still to go yet this brief slowdown erased a short-lived lead taken by Bay on the restart. Bay repeated her maneuver around Parrow high in turns one and two and this time was officially scored first a quarter of the way through. But Parrow from Waterloo wasted no time rebounding and made the final pass broadsliding out of turn four one lap later.
“Trying to get better on restarts, have to figure things out,” said Parrow, with his team utilizing a 4-year old engine originally prepared by Ray Preston. “Once we get the motor program straightened out we should be okay. Probably miss a couple races at Canandaigua this year driving a 360 but we’ll still be here a lot, its always a lot of fun.”
At the halfway mark of the 20-lap feature Parrow built up a seemingly comfortable 10 car-length advantage over Bay with the top-5 running equi-distance apart under and around lapped traffic. And with five to go the margin ballooned to over a half straightaway.
Yet suddenly the lead evaporated when turn two contact on the last lap between Parrow and Pierce opened the door for Bay. The difference was just 596-sec. at the line, although still good enough for Parrow to hang on for the $600 victory. Ruggles, Brandyn Griffin and Ethan Gray settled into top-5 spots at the wire.
Entry level Hobby Stockers provided the opening main event of the show, with a dozen cars featured in this fast growing division. The heads-up start pitted heat winners Eldredge and defending points champion Tyler Burnell in row one and that’s the way it remained all 15 laps.
“Knew Tyler was going to be there, he’s young and he has a stout car so I knew he was going to be there all race long,” said Eldredge after logging his first career win. “I knew that he was going to try and get underneath me because he tried that on the lap two restart, so I tried to hug the bottom and that worked out good.”
“Its a brand new car. My dad put a lot of time and effort into it and it really showed tonight. Definitely great having the fans back, missed you all last year,” added Eldredge, posing alongside his no. 25J Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling-Big Mike’s Auto-LaRock Logging & Firewood Chevrolet Monte Carlo parked in victory lane for the very first time.
Just two car-lengths separated the Waterloo pair at the stripe while third-starting Brian Lloyd finished where he began followed by Jeremy Trank and Minutolo.
The second ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the season arrives May 22 with another fabulous five-star card filled out by Pepsi Big-Block Modified, Speed Connection Sportsman, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock and Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock action along with the Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Cars competing in the first of three CRSA tour events scheduled at the fairgrounds.
Pit gates swing open at 3:30pm, spectators are admitted at 5 o’clock, hot laps start at 5:30 and the first qualifier goes green at 6:30 sharp on VanBortel Trucking and Sherwin Williams Paint Night at the speedway.
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – May 15, 2021
Prouty’s Bar presents in association with MP Delivery
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard ($2,500), 2. 25-Erick Rudolph, 3. 3-Justin Haers, 4. 21a-Peter Britten, 5. 56-Garrison Krentz, 6. 14j-Alan Johnson, 7. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 8. 23-Kyle Coffey, 9. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 10. 19w-Justin Wright, 11. 33j-Robbie Johnston III, 12. 77-Lance Dusett, 13. 21x-Eric Williams, 14. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 15. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 16. 36-Eldon Payne,Jr., 17. 44-Russell Morseman, 18. 63-Adam Roberts, 19. 11j-James Sweeting, 20. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 21. 19-Tim Fuller, 22. 10m-Henry Maier.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Rudolph, Tegg, Coffey, Sweeting, Johnson, J.Maier, Stoughtenger, H.Maier(DNS).
#2: Sheppard, Payne, Britten, Roberts, Podsiadlo, Johnston, Wright.
#3: Fuller, Haers, Dusett, Krentz, Williams, Dinkins, Morseman.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 38-Zach Sobotka ($1,000), 2. 25g-Nick Guererri, 3. 12g-Matt Guererri, 4. 70a-Alex Payne, 5. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 6. 7z-Zach Payne, 7. 7-Paul Guererri, 8. 111-Brett Senek, 9. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 10. 11n-Ricky Newton, 11. 9-Tim Baker, 12. 3-Justin McKay, 13. 35-Nick Cooper, 14. 132-Dalton Martin, 15. 68-Dave DiPietro II, 16. 51-Tim Lafler, 17. 61-Andrew Jacobson, 18. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 19. 2-Loren Lincoln, 20. 51a-Zac McDonald, 21. 4j-Jason Doty, 22. 90-Nathan Peckham, 23. 42-Brandon Grover, 24. 04-Eric Years, 25. 31-Kane Bristol, 26. 00-Sam Hoxie, 27. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 28. 31k-Kennedy Payne.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Bristol, Newton, Lloyd, Baker, Ridley, Senek, Borden, Grover, Jacobson, Doty.
#2: N.Guererri, Sobotka, M.Guererri, F.Guererri, Cooper, Lafler, Martin, Lincoln, Peckham.
#3: Z.Payne, P.Guererri, A.Payne, McDonald, McKay, DiPietro, Years, K.Payne, Hoxie.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 53-Bobby Parrow ($600), 2. 48a-Alysha Bay, 3. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 4. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 5. 17e-Ethan Gray, 6. 13t-Trevor Years, 7. 2-Randy Years, 8. 66Jordan Hutton, 9. 9k-Kyle Pierce, 10. 18c-Dan Craun, 11. 77-Matt Rotz, 12. 62-Jacob Lynch, 13. 38-Jason Whipple.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Years, Ruggles, Gray, Rotz, Craun, Lynch, Hutton.
#2: Parrow, Bay, Griffin, Whipple, Years, Pierce.
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant, 2. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 3. 00-Mike Welch, 4. cj1-C.J. Guererri Jr., 5. 5c-Rick Crego, 6. 55p-Parker Smith, 7. 55b-Blane Smith, 8. 37x-Carl Johnson, 9. 34q-Jason Quigley, 10. 64b-Bob Buono, 11. 122-Chris Beyea, 12. 63-Mike Fellows, 13. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 14. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 15. 57j-Adam DePuy, 16. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 17. 24j-Marcus Springer, 18. 15k-Jared Hill, 19. 15j-Brad Steinruck Jr.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Minutolo, Welch, P.Smith, Quigley, Buono, Beyea, Metcalf.
#2: Crego, B.Smith, Fellows, Johnson, Hill, Steinruck.
#3: Grant, DePuy, Guererri, Sharp, Hobbs, Springer.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 2. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 3. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 4. 15k-Jeremy Trank, 5. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 6. 36-Willy Grant, 7. 86L-Shawn Lloyd, 8. 36ww-Jeff Hand, 9. 28-Brandon Barron, 10. 52-Amber Pierce, 11. 54-Allison Pierce, 12. 42-Casey Wagner, 5-Don Slover(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Eldredge, B.Lloyd, Trank, Barron, Am.Pierce, Al.Pierce, S.Lloyd(DNS).
#2: Burnell, Wagner, Minutolo, Grant, Hand, Slover(DNS).
If you can’t make it out to the race track this season, LIVE video coverage of every event can still be enjoyed weekly through Land of Legends TV as for the first time ever all LIVE streaming will be offered FREE in 2021. On-line registration at https://landoflegendstv.com/orders/customer_info for a free account is the only step to take.
Also available for download is the LOLR mobile app found at Google Play
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/land-of-legends/id1508128970?uo=4 to secure your raceday pass today.
In 2021 weekly ticket prices are set at $15 Adults, $13 Seniors, Kids under 16 FREE. For those youngsters needing pit access, Child Season Pit Passes are $30 for 2 & Under and $150 for kids 3-14. Camping is FREE at all race events. To purchase ticket and pit pass bundle packages in advance or discuss marketing opportunities available at the track this season, please contact LOLR Marketing Director Tana Robinson via e-mail email@example.com or cell 716-799-5669.
With the 58th season now officially underway, be sure to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com.
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.
Saturday’s 50/50 beneficiary was Mia Babies Foundation, an organization passionate about giving animals born with defects the opportunity to lead full and happy lives. This non-profit foundation, operated solely by donations, has many success stories of nursing animals born with disabilities or injured back to health and ultimately finding them homes. To learn more and find out how to make a donation, log into www.themiafoundation.com today.
Check out www.landoflegendsraceway.com often as the latest schedule information for the upcoming season will be posted right up to raceday. To discuss marketing opportunities available at the track in 2021 please contact Tana Robinson via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also available for download is the LOLR mobile app found at Google Play
Land of Legends Raceway is located on County Road 10 at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, just 1-1/2-miles north of Routes 5&20, and is easily accessible from the NYS Thruway (I-90), taking Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) traveling from the east or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) coming from the west.
Saturday Spectacular, May 22 @ 6:30pm; VanBortel Trucking and Sherwin Williams Paint present Big-Block Modified/Sportsman/CRSA 305 Sprint Tour/Street Stock/Hobby Stock with Ontario County 4-h Horse Program Benefit.
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 2021 division sponsors Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling, Mike Emhof Motorsports, Pepsi Geneva Club Beverage, Speed Connection, Lloyd’s Contracting; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, Always Locked Self Storage, Auction Direct USA, Auto Value Parts Stores, A-Verdi Storage Containers, DC Rauscher Contractor, Emerson Oil Company/Castrol, Genesee Beer/Coors Light/Twisted Tea, Geneva Club Beverage, Honeoye Auto Parts/Auto Value Parts Stores, Howell Properties LLC, iFreeze Storage & Distribution Center, MP Delivery, Midstate Basement Authorities, Phelps Cement Products, Regional Truck & Trailer, Seneca Auto Sales & Service, Sherwin Williams Paint, Tradition Automotive Group, VanBortel Trucking; promotional partners Baker’s Externinating, Cazbah Internet Marketing, Champion Power Equipment, Lee DePew & Son Trucking, Dig Safely New York 811, Elab Smokers Boutique, FLX BBQ Company, Hoosier Racing Tire, Lisa Johnson Real Estate Services, Mac’s Dairy Bar & Mini Golf, MighTea Boba, On The Rocks Bar & Grill, Ontario County Fairboard, The “Original” Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, Schultz Heating & Cooling, Seneca Auto Sales & Service, Superior Plumbing Service, VP Racing Fuels, Weedsport Hall of Fame, Young Real Estate Agency.