Fleming, Grant & Conte take checkers in fast-paced ‘Full-Fender Frenzy’ at fairgrounds
LOLR 9/11 Tribute photo attachment by Mark Ranalletta
Canandaigua, NY – Sept. 11, 2020 – Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
On the brink of autumn moving into Western New York, a ‘Full-Fender Frenzy’ in the Finger Lakes Region took center stage at Land Of Legends Raceway and it was weekly regulars Josh Pangrazio and Willy Grant taking top honors alongside newcomers Chris Fleming and Rich Conte in the Saturday Spectacular.
While Pangrazio continued his dominance in the headline Les Whyte Top Gun Shootout for Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock entries, it was the first career win at the Ontario Co. Fairgrounds for Grant in the entry-level Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock ranks.
In rare appearances to close out the full-fender fall championship finale, Fleming authored a late-race rally to capture the RUSH Late Model Weekly Series special and Conte held a buzzing field at bay to claim the 4-Cylinder Mini Stock main.
Saturday also marked the 20th Anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the speedway honored the memory of the lives lost in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., paying due respect to the courageous individuals who risked their lives to help those in need on that day.
With red, white and blue leis handed out at the main gate, hundreds of fans filling the main grandstands were clad in symbolic colors further showing their patriotism while miniature American flags graced the property on this momentous occasion.
Following the conclusion of hot laps and prior to the start of the racing program, pitside patrons lined the edge of the race track in turns 3 & 4. On the front stretch the LOLR safety crew joined local firemen along with a pair of firetrucks from Hopewell and Manchester and a squad car from the Ontario Co. Sheriff dept., all lining up facing the turn one infield U.S and Australian flags that flew at half-mast.
Public address announcer Steven Ovens provided some words in remembrance of 9-11 followed by a moment of silence and reflection. An Amazing Grace rendition played by bag pipes and singing of our National Anthem fittingly closed out the pre-race ceremonies.
In Canandaigua’s customary tribute in memory of LOLR Pro Stock champion driver Whyte, Pangrazio made it three straight ‘Top Gun’ triumphs in the 30-lap feature, matching the streak of Jipp Ortiz from 2003-05. Ortiz also won in 2001 while Dave Schulz scored a pair (1999, ’02) and the late Brian Michels earned the 2000 trophy.
The Oakfield ace proved his superiority once again in the 10th edition, grabbing the lead a third of the way through in his no. 7 Skyline RV Sales & Service-Houseman Refrigeration-Cummings Trucking Ford Mustang and barely looking back to post another convincing victory in wine country.
“Was just patient early there with 30 laps, just made sure to keep the tires where they needed to be,” downplayed Pangrazio, following a seventh win in nine starts for the ’20 LOLR points king. Saturday’s victory worth $1,000 was easily the biggest with another $1,050 pocketed in lap money. His 17th career checkered flag in Canandaigua also vaulted him into fifth on the all-time street stock win list.
“The car was really good in the slick, really good on the top of turns one and two where there was some moisture. Always have to thank my buddy Josh, he puts a lot of effort into this deal. We were up until 2-3 o’clock this morning after (winning) Ransomville last night, then back at it all today. Fortunately, it all paid off,” added Pangrazio, who finished seventh in the final ’21 point standings after missing the opening five events.
Pangrazio copped the first of three qualifying heats although when it came time to re-draw he pulled the ninth (worst) pill to start the 15-mile main. But once under green it only took him 10 laps to wrestle the lead from pole-sitter Rick Crego and leave the 21-car starting field in the dust for the duration.
Crego —who ironically bought Pangrazio’s championship car at the end of last season— took the early lead with recently crowned points champion Jimmy Grant moving past Jared Hill for second. A pair of caution flags on lap six kept the field tight, with each slowdown shortening the distance between Pangrazio and the leader as he picked off the front runners one by one. After the second yellow, Grant spun in turn three when his engine locked up, him ending up 20th on the night.
Adam DePuy traded the top spot twice with Crego before Aksel Jensen’s mount came to a stop to force out a third yellow flag. The ensuing lap 10 restart was all Pangrazio needed as he ducked under Crego to forge the final lead change and cruise home for the lucrative victory.
Despite Chris Beyea looping then sliding to a stop low in turns three and four with no brakes to incur the fourth and final caution on lap 29, Pangrazio remained untouchable stretching his advantage to five car-lengths at the line. DePuy stole second from Crego in the closing stages while Marc Minutolo and C.J. Guererri, in the recently purchased double-zero ride of Mike Welch, secured top-five finishing positions.
Veteran wheelman Carl Cleveland from Dundee improved from 18th starting position to finish seventh and earn the $150 Hard Charger Award presented by Debbie Everdyke, former wife of Les Whyte. Charging from 25th to fifth in the Pro Stock debut on the Syracuse Mile during Super DIRT Week in 1997 to earn Les ‘Hard Charger’ accolades inspired Debbie to sponsor the popular award.
While Pangrazio ran virtually uncontested in the street stock finale, Fleming needed most of the 30 lapper to get the job done in the high-speed late model main. A two-time winner this season in the Billy Whittaker Cars & Trux RUSH LM division at Fulton Speedway, the Auburn invader found victory lane just as rewarding in only his second-ever appearance at the hallowed half-miler.
“My car just kept getting better and better as the race went on,” remarked Fleming, 31, who finished third in Canandaigua’s 2016 crate LM season-opener. “Gotta thank Ed Carley, he’s the guy that put this car together and this is the first race he came to. Had me try out some things, gave advice all night and man did it wake up the car.”
Declared the ’16 season points champion when LOLR ran LMs weekly, Chad Homan won his heat then drew the pole, and the popular pilot from Penfield seemed destined to pick up his 11th career win in the chosen place. And after pacing the 18-car feature field the initial seven laps the former LOLR Modified and Pro Stock racer appeared poised for a return trip to Cazbah Victory Lane.
Yet Central Square traveler Sean Beardsley had other ideas, dashing low out of turn four to end Homan’s hopes with eight laps complete. In the meantime, Fleming was riding the rails, advancing from eighth starting spot to overtake fellow Fulton foe Bret Belden for third 10 laps in. Homan, who outscored Fleming in the final Fulton points chase, was the next to fall on lap 16, leaving Beardsley as the only obstacle although nearly a straightaway ahead.
Fleming reduced the gap to 3-seconds yet when Todd Chapman slowed to bring out a caution on lap 23, the deficit suddenly evaporated over two-thirds of the way through. Back under green Beardsley was no match for the red #10 Simon’s Agency-Beyea Headers-Premier Martial Arts-Hottenstein Bus Service-sponsored Rocket ride, with Fleming blasting by on the high side to determine the final outcome.
“Saw Sean kinda backing up to us so even if (race) stayed green I thought we might have a shot but that yellow definitely helped,” Fleming commented. “A couple laps before that caution I almost flat-footed it through turns 1 & 2 so I said I’m gonna do that on the restart and it worked. But you still gotta have grip just like any other car.”
“I knew I was pretty good in turns 1 & 2 so that’s where I tried to make it work and we did. This car is way better than what I had here five years ago,” added Fleming, following the convincing victory worth a cool grand.
Beardsley held on for runner-up laurels followed by Belden and Homan with Beamer Guzzardi rounding out the final front-five.
Sometimes the best is saved for last but on Saturday night the Hobby Stocks kicked off the four-feature foray, a 20-lap thriller that wasn’t decided until the final quarter-mile. Grant still saved his best for last, bolting from fourth to first on the final lap at the expense of seemingly sure-winner Frank “Bubba” Burnell Jr. and holding on for a shocking single car-length victory.
“On one of the other restarts I tried to go to the top and I knew that wasn’t going to work, so that last caution knew I had to go to the bottom,” began a still stunned Grant, 37, attempting to describe his last lap heroics. “Went low and got around the #10 car (Jaren Israel), might have pushed a little. Bob (Buono) came down then I saw the #57 broke. Thought its too late now, gotta hold her to the floor and gotta go. Kept her where I needed to and couldn’t believe it. I was shocked when I came out of turn two leading the race, glad it was the final lap.”
Dropping down a class for the ’21 full-fender send-off, street stock stalwart Buono took off early from the pole yet Israel moved ahead out of turn two on a lap three restart. LOLR points champion Justin Eldredge and Burnell followed in Israel’s tire tracks, dropping Buono to fourth while Grant toiled in the top-five.
Yellow lights flashed for a second time when Jim Claypool slowed in turn two on lap five and Eldredge needed just one more time around to drop Israel back to second. Burnell secured the runner-up slot soonafter while Buono, Grant and Israel figured into the front-five halfway through.
Burnell finally reeled in the leader and inched past for the top spot on lap 14 yet the following circuit Eldredge regained his momentum to take over once more. Trading paint all the way around, Burnell returned to the point before a flat left-rear tire suddenly forced Eldredge off the pace and into the pits under caution.
With his biggest challenger returning to the rear of the field, Burnell’s third win of the season seemed well in hand. Yet just 100 yards from the finish a final yellow flag unfurled for a turn one tangle between John Almekinder, Mike Minutolo and Eldredge. And the lap 20 restart that followed was one for the ages, with cars scrambling four-wide without ever touching, all in search of that elusive win.
“(Dashboard) lights came on and the motor just shut off going into turn one, never had anything like this happen to me before in my life,” noted Burnell, who discovered a broken timing chain in the aftermath of the race-deciding incident. “Can’t believe nobody hit me, not even a scratch on the car.”
Certainly a wild ending for Burnell and his closest challengers, although maybe most fitting for first-time winner Grant in his ‘Wild Willy Special,’ the black #36 Hands Performance&Powder Coating-Cam Sutherland & Sons Construction-sponsored Chevrolet just last year sporting a blue body carrying the number 5.
“Can’t do this without everybody here, especially my brother, he tricked me into buying a race car this year,” divulged Grant, who received the biggest hug in victory lane from younger brother Jimmy as well as a $750 winner’s check. Originally a car in competition out west at Ransomville Speedway, Grant purchased it from LOLR street stock driver Ryan Rozelle of Seneca Castle and adapted to fit the hobby stock rule book. “My wife and kids are a big part of this deal too. I know my dad is looking down and has to be smiling after this one.”
When the smoke finally cleared and scorers compared notes, Buono placed a season-best second followed by Jamie Eldredge Jr., Tyler Burnell and Brian Lloyd.
With 4-Cylinders making their maiden voyage to the fairgrounds, Conte emerged as the newest entry into Land of Legends lore as the Bergen, NY driver edged Jeremy Bunn by a car-length for the $750 victory.
“Love this track, can’t wait to come back,” beamed Conte, 29, after parking his black no. 717 Weller’s Garage-Sloat’s Tire Shop sponsored 2001 Honda Prelude in the LOLR winner’s circle following his first trip to the fairgrounds. An 11-time feature winner at a half-dozen tracks in 2020, motor issues allowed competition in only a half-dozen events this year although a recent win on Aug. 28 at Genesee Speedway provided plenty of momentum coming into the Canandaigua show.
“The bottom line was the place to go, we had to be down there to catch any type of grip. And there still wasn’t any down there. Just knew I had to run low. Everybody was drifting up coming through the middle of the track. Knew the lower I went the faster I’d be so that’s what we did,” figured Conte, whose older brother Rocco was also in the 4-Cylinder field.
Touted traveler Rob Williams from Williamsport Pa. paced the 15-car starting field from the drop of head flagman Scott Hixson’s opening green. Two-time Genesee reigning points king Brad Whiteside moved into challenge early while pole-sitter Mike Webster and Conte contended among the front-five.
Alex Dykes looped low in turns three and four on lap four to require a yellow flag while debris in the second corner caused a quick caution in the only slowdowns of the 20-lap race. Conte took advantage of the second incident and jumped ahead of Williams on the lap 10 restart, with Whiteside dropping Williams to third in the same maneuver. Bunn and Jayson Smart battled in the top-five at the halfway mark.
With front positions remaining fairly constant, 10th-starting Bunn was the man on the move. The lone mini stocker to run practice laps at LOLR the previous Saturday, Bunn grabbed third from Williams on lap 12 then disposed of runner-up Whiteside with three to go. Continuing to dice through traffic and cut the deficit over the last mile, Bunn’s last turn last lap effort fell .6-sec. short and the 2020 Outlaw Speedway 4-Cylinder points champ from Branchport settled for second at the wire.
“I felt the #81 (Bunn) on the last lap, that was about it,” Conte noted. “I was just watching everybody else in front of me and saw they were running the middle of the track. Coming out of turn four they were all drifting up to the wall. So I just tried to hug the wall low and nobody could get by.”
Whiteside, Williams and Smart tallied top-five finishes while ‘Hangover Double Shot’ winner and 17th starter Cole Susice from Ransomville rebounded to place sixth after failing to start his heat.
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – September 11, 2021
Saturday Spectacular Howell Properties LLC Presents “Full Fender Frenzy”
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
10th Les Whyte Top Gun Shootout Championship
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 7-Josh Pangrazio ($1,000), 2. 57j-Adam DePuy, 3. 5c-Rick Crego, 4. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 5. cj1-C.J. Guererri, 6. 99-Nick Dandino, 7. 22-Carl Cleveland, 8. 9-Aksel Jensen, 9. 93-Jared Hill, 10. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 11. 74d-Dennis Cummings, 12. 93t-Mike Welch, 13. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 14. 61-Jacob Vick, 15. 24j-Marcus Springer, 16. 12-John Burritt, 17. 122-Chris Beyea, 18. 6-Zach Teed, 19. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 20. 36-Jimmy Grant, 21. 2d-Trevor Dudley, 55p-Parker Smith(DNS), 26-Kurt Stebbins(DNS), 34q-Blane Smith(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Pangrazio, Grant, Hill, Dandino, Jensen, Welch, Springer, Stebbins(DNS).
#2: Minutolo, Sharp, Hobbs, Beyea, Vick, Teed, Dudley, Burritt.
#3: DePuy, Crego, Guererri, Cummings, Metcalf, Cleveland, P.Smith, B.Smith(DNS).
Hard Charger Award (Debbie Everdyke sponsored) $150: #22-Carl Cleveland.
$1,500 Lap Money.
RUSH Late Model Weekly Series
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 10-Chris Fleming ($1,000), 2. 93j-Sean Beardsley, 3. 81-Bret Belden, 4. 91-Chad Homan, 5. 12-Beamer Guzzardi, 6. 1-T.J. Downs, 7. 3x-Kevan Cook, 8. 13two-Harry Halliday, 9. 32-Austin Allen, 10. 26-Kurt Stebbins, 11. 61-Ron Watson, 12. 71-Bill Button, 13. 21b-Billy DuBois, 14. 118-Mike Kazmierczak, 15. t54-Todd Chapman, 16. 01-Doug Ricotta, 17. 64c-Alan Chapman, 18. 94-Mark Sundt.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Ricotta, Beardsley, Button, Belden, Downs, DuBois, T.Chapman, Sundt, Watson.
#2: Homan, Halliday, Fleming, Guzzardi, Cook, Allen, Stebbins, A.Chapman, Kazmierczak
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Willy Grant ($750), 2. 64b-Bob Buono, 3. 18-Jamie Eldredge Jr., 4. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 5. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 6. 42-Casey Wagner, 7. 86L-Shawn Lloyd, 8. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 9. 14-Ron Hawker, 10. 10-Jaren Israel, 11. 28-Brandon Barron, 12. 22t-John Almekinder, 13. 57b-Frank “Bubba” Burnell, 14. 25b-Mike Minutolo, 15. 11x-Glen VanCise, 16. 18x-Jim Claypool, 17. 61-Daniel Kerrick.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Grant, Buono, Ju.Eldredge, Israel, B.Lloyd, VanCise, Kerrick, Wagner, Hawker.
#2: F.Burnell, T.Burnell, Minutolo, Ja.Eldredge, Barron, Claypool, S.Lloyd, Almekinder.
4-Cylinder Mini Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 717-Rich Conte ($750), 2. 81-Jeremy Bunn, 3. 46x-Brad Whiteside, 4. 9mm-Rob Williams, 5. 8-Jayson Smart, 6. 98-Cole Susice, 7. 46-Brian Grant, 8. 3one5-Mike Webster, 9. 24-Brent Ayers, 10. 22c-Craig Dingy, 11. 24r-Curtis Rung, 12. 92w-Adam Whipple, 13. 04-Frank Gorganzola(Guererri sub), 14. 21-David Kinner, 15. 10-Alex Dykes, 27-Robert Decker(DNS), 717jr.-Rocco Conte(DNS), 52-Craig Mahrt(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Ri.Conte, Williams, Whiteside, Rung, Grant, Dingy, Dykes, Guererri, Ro.Conte.
#2: Webster, Smart, Whipple, Decker, Bunn, Ayers, Kinner, Susice(DNS), Mahrt(DNS).
Saturday’s 50/50 beneficiary was Bikers for Billy, in honor of William “Billy” Stubinger, with all proceeds going directly to his family, parents Rosalie and Jeff Plaisted. Billy, at age 15, lost his life after a tragic fire in his Shortsville home earlier this summer.
LOLR street stock racer Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf from nearby Manchester has organized a bike rally/car show slated for Sat. Sept 25 at Red Jacket Central School (on Rte 21 in Shortsville), with proceeds from his own 50/50 also going to the family.
At 11:15am kick stands go up on Billy’s Bike Run through the scenic Finger Lakes, while a ‘live’ DJ and chicken barbeque accompany the classic car show ($10 donation per vehicle) back on school grounds. The event runs 11am-4pm with awards presented at 3 o’clock.
To enter contact Tom at email@example.com and for more details Ron Metcalf can be reached at 585-794-3913.
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.
HAERS MEMORIAL CLIMAX IN CANANDAIGUA
Dropping the curtain on the 2021 season at LOLR is the 3rd Annual Gerald Haers Memorial, part of the Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds slated for Sat. Sept. 18. The “Haers 100” winner will collect no less than $10,000 while 20th-place pays $1,000. Adding to thousands in post-race rewards, over $5,000 in lap money is also on the line along with unique 20-lap qualifying heats that provide a separate payout while the special ‘Dash-for-Cash’ carries a $2,000 purse all by itself.
Joining the 2021 season finale presented by Phelps Cement Products and MP Delivery will be a 30-lap DIRTcar Sportsman Series Central Region Championship event paying $1,000-to-win with numerous bonuses bolstering the overall pot. In the first of two Sportsman Series stops staged at the Land of Legends on Aug. 4, Tyler Corcoran led flag-to-flag to claim his first career win in Canandaigua.
As the 58th season comes to a close in Canandaigua, be sure to check out the final point standings for all five divisions 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.
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, Cargill, Cazbah Internet Marketing, DC Rauscher Contractor, Donath Motor Worx, 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, Monroe Mechanical Services, 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, Dig Safely New York 811, Elab Smokers Boutique, Ferris Mowers, 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, Phelps Community Center Head Start, 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.