305 A-Main winner Griffin, Stockers Pangrazio and Wagner take first checkered flags of 2020
Another warm evening in the Finger Lakes region and Central New York invader Larry Wight from Phoenix remained red hot, scoring his second Pepsi Big-Block Modified win of the young season in blistering fashion at Land Of Legends Raceway.
North country wheelman Zach Sobotka joined the list of legendary winners at the hallowed Ontario County Fairgrounds half-miler with his first career Speed Connection Sportsman triumph while Brandyn Griffin closed out the open-wheel portion of the SuperGen Products ‘Saturday Spectacular’ with his first victory of the 2020 campaign in Canandaigua.
With over 100 cars filling the pits for the five-division showdown, also cracking the winner’s circle for the first time this year were Josh Pangrazio (Street Stock) and Casey Wagner (Hobby Stock) in a pair of fast-paced full-fender features.
Contending at Canandaigua until his family-owned Fulton Speedway opens in the coming weeks due to the pandemic, Wight has quickly found a second home for his #99L FX Caprara Honda-Tracey Road Equipment/Bicknell ride on Saturday nights.
“We seemed to have figured something out (here), the car is working well for us,” understated Wight, who kicked off the season in February down south by winning three features during the annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia (Fla.) Speedway Park.
“We’re able to make changes to (car) and it reacts, seems we’ve been making it faster and faster so we’re heading in the right direction.”
Pole-sitter Gil Tegg Jr. led his first laps of the season the first steering the back-up #22G A&G Food Service-All-Star Pizza/Bicknell entry, yet the high-flying Wight was no match for the 26-car starting field. Wight took the opening green flag in 12th and with just five laps scored improved to seventh. A sudden surge of power around Tim Fuller and Eldon Payne Jr. carried Wight from fourth to second on lap 13 before he darted under Tegg exiting turn four to author the lone lead change on lap 16.
“Up top, just too much dust there and the bottom had a ton of brown where you could put the left side in,” noted Wight, describing his switch from the high line to the inside lane to make the winning pass. “I was able to get a real good run off the corner. I knew there wasn’t anyone behind me that was gonna be able to roll the top so it was basically stay on the bottom and if I see a nose then worry about it.”
“This car has been phenomenal since day one, think its got four races on it and now two wins. Hopefully, we can get all the New York State tracks back open and everybody can start having fun,” added Wight, addressing only family and the viewers at home through Land of Legends TV as the fairgrounds grandstands remained empty with COVID-19 mandates still in effect.
With the initial 24 laps run off caution-free, the race behind Wight was a bigger attraction as all the top guns traded paint and swapped positions lap after lap over the second half of the headline 35-lapper. Finishing a straightaway behind in second was Justin Haers followed by 17th-place starter Jimmy Phelps, WNY traveler Matt Farnham, last weekend’s winner Erick Rudolph, Tim Fuller and all-time LOLR feature winner Alan Johnson.
Saturday marked the first week that events were handicapped based on early season feature finishes. And what a difference it made in a stacked Sportsman line-up as passing was at a premium with such a talent-laden field. Just qualifying for the 26-car feature field was a feat as 13 drivers were ultimately relegated to the B-Main.
Sobotka was not one of them and the Parish pilot continued to roll as he logged win number two over the weekend.
“We had a pretty good run coming from the back,” downplayed Sobotka, 19, after holding off second-generation driver Zach Payne for the narrow two car-length victory. “Had a pretty good run last night so this one made it two in a row for the weekend.”
“Been having a pretty good season so far. Last night won (Outlaw Speedway) on American Racer (tires) and we had to get the car switched over and ready for Hoosiers tonight. We seem to have it figured out pretty well,” Sobotka said.
Third-generation racer Tyler Vinson diced with first year LOLR runner Emmett Waldron while Dalton Martin, Jordan Moden and Payne looked for racing room in the early stages of the 25-lap feature. Weaving his way from 13th starting position was Sobotka as his no. 38 Northern Coat & Blast-Stirling Lubricants-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell ride closed in on the front-five with 10 laps complete.
After brushing the front wall on lap eight, Andrew Jacobson slowed on lap 12 to incur the first caution period. Dropping to fifth on the ensuing restart, Vinson caught a break and was moved back to the point when Ricky Newton and Kevin Ridley were involved in a back stretch mishap to bring out another yellow flag.
The second lap 12 restart was all that Sobotka needed, mastering a three-wide maneuver across the line past low running Waldron and Vinson who was sandwiched in between.
“Car was pretty good as soon as the (first) green dropped,” added Sobotka after emerging as the early season points leader. “About five laps in got some heat in the tires and it took off. At the end was trying to kinda take it easy because you don’t really know where anyone else is. And tonight I really didn’t want to get into any lapped traffic.”
Each capturing a pair of feature wins in the opening four events, traffic proved pivotal as Matt Guererri (started 20th) and defending track points champion Kevin Root (19th) had to cover plenty of ground to advance in the near non-stop finale.
After catching a turn two uke tire early on to send his #56 Bicknell mount skyward, Garrison Krentz remained on course to finish third while Guererri rallied for a solid fourth ahead of 16th starting Kane Bristol. Root placed 11th with 23 cars scored on the lead lap.
After the entire show at nearby Genesee Speedway in Batavia was washed out due to an afternoon downpour, Noah Walker headed east to find the sun shining by race time in Canandaigua. A first-ever trip to LOLR for the 22 year-old from Wheatfield paid dividends as he dominated the 15-lap Sportsman B-Main from start to finish.
“Not knowing how the season’s gonna go with (coronavirus) going on, trying to get as many laps as we can and being our first time here, don’t think we did too bad,” figured Walker, posing alongside his #22 Military Road Save A Lot-Halleens Automotive/Bicknell entry in victory lane. “Track position was tough, tough to pass, but the car was good, can’t complain for our first time. Made a lot of changes in the off-season and now we’re just trying to see what they all will do.”
Brett Martin, Nick Cooper, hard luck C.J. Castelletti and Torrey Stoughtenger completed the top-five in the five-minute caution-free affair.
Chasing the father/daughter duo of Darryl Ruggles and Alysha Bay across the stripe in the season-opening wing events, third time proved to be the charm for Griffin as the Clifton Springs chauffeur reached the top rung Saturday night to collect his first checkered flag in the 20-lap MEM A-Main.
“Second-place two weeks in a row so its awesome to get back out here,” said Griffin, 22, who scored a win each of the past two seasons under the track promotion of Paul Cole. “Weird without fans but still glad to be back in victory lane.”
Filing in fourth on the 10-car starting grid aboard his Jimmy D’s-powered #75 Tri-County Excavating-Ruggles World of Auto Body-SVRA/Mach1 machine, Griffin charged into second behind pole-sitter Bobby Parrow after just one lap around. Griffin pulled alongside Parrow under the flagstand a half-dozen laps in and when ‘7’ flashed on the scoreboard the drive to the front was complete.
Bay ducked under Ruggles for second on lap 11 and with five to go built up more than a 3-second lead. That margin quickly evaporated when Ruggles looped his sprinter to bring out the second and final yellow flag on lap 18.
Making his first start of the season, three-time reigning CRSA Sprint Car Series points king Jeff Trombley took full advantage, blasting from fourth to second with three laps left. But that’s as far as the Altamont all-star could advance as Griffin opened up a comfortable 10 car-length margin. Bay, Parrow, Dan Craun and ’19 points champ Ruggles followed across the line.
“Broke a left-rear shock in hot laps and fixed it, then it broke again in the feature and that was a handful,” Griffin revealed post-race. “Longest race I’ve ever had with the shock broken halfway through. (Car) was just real bouncy, didn’t do what you want it to do and was all over the place. Had to work my ass off the rest of the way! ”
The drive to the front was less stressful for Pangrazio as the Oakfield jockey stormed from seventh to first in just three laps en route to his fifth career win in Street Stock competition at Canandaigua.
“They changed the rules over the winter so we had to go back to square one,” remarked Pangrazio, 36, the 2019 Genesee Speedway points champion and nine-time winner last season, who will make Land of Legends his new Saturday night stop this year. “The only way we can capture data is by racing. Needed the first couple weeks to get some data and this week as well. Hopefully we can build on that and make it even better.”
Veteran Bob Buono out-jumped front row partner Blane Smith to begin the 20-lap feature yet it was third starting Jason Quigley chasing Buono across the line to complete the first circuit. Starter Scott Hixson unfurled the yellow flag just as fast when Marc Minutolo slowed after he inadvertently shut off his Tradition Automotive Group Chevrolet Camaro to regroup the 17-car field.
Following a second lap two restart, Pangrazio threw his sparkling red #7 Skyline RV Sales & Service-Houseman Refrigeration-Impressions Concrete Ford Mustang into the mix, joining Blane & Parker Smith and Quinn Sutherland in a wild four-wide battle down the back chute.
Pangrazio survived the scrum and grabbed the top spot before Dave Guererri looped in turn one to require another caution. Pangrazio led Buono and Parker Smith on the lap four restart with last week’s winner and ninth starting Jimmy Grant moving past fourth-place Sutherland.
Back under green Grant picked off his predecessors one-by-one, moving past Smith on lap four and Buono lap five, yet halfway through the headliner still trailed Pangrazio by a seemingly safe 10 car-length distance. The deficit grew to a half straightaway with five to go with Pangrazio holding on for a comfortable eight car-length margin over Grant at the wire.
Sutherland improved to third on lap 18 and season-opening winner Mike Welch secured fourth on lap 19 with Parker Smith settling for fifth-place at the line.
“The bottom was getting good traction so I kinda stayed there,” added Pangrazio, the only driver to lead all three features this season, winning two LOLR events each of the past two years. “Wasn’t getting any pressure and the crew guy said stay on the bottom so that’s where I stayed. The only one I watch during the race is my crew guy going into turn three. This year we’re gonna be running here weekly for points. This is a good way to get started.”
Enduring a rough start after an early season flip at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee, Canandaigua’s own Wagner rebounded in fitting fashion Saturday with his first career checkered flag at the fairgrounds.
“Had some bad luck at Outlaw for a couple weeks,” summed up Wagner, 37. “Decided not to run there last night, just turn our attention here for a little bit until we got the car straightened out … and it worked.”
Pole-winner Justin Eldredge out-dragged front row partner Wagner and pulled away in the first feature event of the night. With five of the 15 laps in the books, talented teen Tyler Burnell, Shawn Lloyd and Jamie Eldredge Jr. toiled in the Top-5.
Jamie Eldredge suddenly came to a stop in turn two with a broken steering box sidelining his efforts which proved just as costly for his younger brother on the point. Wagner shadowed Justin on the lap eight restart before riding around him in turns one and two, and a half lap later was scored the new leader midway through.
But Eldredge never fell off the pace, challenging the lead #42 Lloyd’s Contracting-Team Underbuilt-Dana Teed Snowplowing-Lloyd Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo entry until the end, trailing by just a car-length at the stripe. Burnell, Lloyd and Kenny Hunt, in his first appearance of the season, completed the final front-five.
“We’ve been chasing issues everywhere, between brakes and rear-ends, just all kinds of stuff,” Wagner divulged. “Justin was fast but I saw him starting to get loose, don’t know if his tires were getting worn out or he was spinning them. Then on the restart I got a good jump and that’s all there is to that.”
With summer now underway, Land Of Legends Raceway’s final event of the month arrives next weekend with four divisions filling the bill. Double points are on the line in each except for Speed Connection Sportsman, as Canandaigua plays host to the second scheduled Northeast Sportsman Series Central Region race paying $1,000 to the 30-lap winner on June 27. The mighty Pepsi Modifieds close out the Saturday Spectacular with a 35-lapper boasting a $2,000 winner’s share and are joined by a full card of MEM 305s and Street Stocks. Hobby Stockers have the night off.
Pit gates open at 4:00pm and race time is 7:00pm as the first month of summer comes to close in the Finger Lakes. With grandstand attendance once again not permitted due to the social distancing mandates currently in place, LIVE video coverage will be provided for each scheduled race date and can be viewed on Land of Legends TV for $15.
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With the 57th season now officially underway, be sure to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. To discuss marketing opportunities available at the track in 2020, please contact LOLR GM Greg Emerson via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 – June 20, 2020
SuperGen Products Presents Saturday Spectacular
360 Sprint Classic Series Race #1
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps)
1. 99L-Larry Wight ($2,000), 2. 3-Justin Haers, 3. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 4. 7f-Matt Farnham, 5. 25-Erick Rudolph, 6. 19-Tim Fuller, 7. 14j-Alan Johnson, 8. 12x-Dillon Groover, 9. 49-Billy Dunn, 10. 5h-Chris Hile, 11. 42p-Pat Ward, 12. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 13. 19w-Justin Wright, 14. 11j-James Sweeting, 15. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 16. 23-Kyle Coffey, 17. 77-Lance Dusett, 18. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 19. 33j-Robbie Johnston III, 20. 3b-Chad Brachmann, 21. 63-Adam Roberts, 22. 15-Todd Root, 23. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 24. 21x-Eric Williams, 25. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 26. 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr., 31m-Jimmy Maier(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Coffey, A.Johnson, Phelps, Ward, Dusett, Tegg, Wright, Johnston, Podsiadlo.
#2: Wight, Payne, Fuller, Groover, Marcuccilli, Dunn, Sweeting, Root, Williams.
#3: Rudolph, Farnham, Haers, Hile, Dinkins, Brachmann, Roberts, D.Johnson, Maier.
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps)
1. 38-Zach Sobotka ($750), 2. 7z-Zach Payne, 3. 56-Garrison Krentz, 4. 12g-Matt Guererri, 5. 31-Kane Bristol, 6. 28x-Jordan Moden, 7. 20k-Kyle Inman, 8. 132-Dalton Martin, 9. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 10. 7-Paul Guererri, 11. 34-Kevin Root, 12. 25g-Nick Guererri, 13. 80x-Zachary George, 14. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 15. 7t-Troy Sperring, 16. 93-Tyler Vinson, 17. 9-Tim Baker, 18. 4-Emmett Waldron, 19. 00-Sam Hoxie, 20. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 21. 70a-Alex Payne, 22. 24-Orval Harris, 23. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 24. 61-Andrew Jacobson, 25. 11n-Ricky Newton, 26. 27-Brian Fish.
B-Feature (15 laps)
1. 22-Noah Walker, 2. 99-Brett Martin, 3. 35-Nick Cooper, 4. 117jr.-C.J. Castelletti, 5. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 6. 7j-J.T. Sperring, 7. 92-Rick Martin, 8. 04-Eric Years, 1k-Bubby Pawlak(DNS), 34x-Byron DeWitt Jr.(DNS), 90-Nathan Peckham(DNS), 1-Andrew Smith(DNS), 4c-J.J. Courcy(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Sobotka, Ridley, Vinson, Harris, Baker, Lloyd, Stoughtenger, Pawlak, A.Payne, Smith.
#2: Hoxie, Waldron, P.Guererri, Krentz, Root, Fish, Walker, Peckham, R.Martin, Courcy.
#3: Jacobson, Z.Payne, M.Guererri, F.Guererri, George, Borden, Cooper, JT Sperring, Castelletti.
#4: D.Martin, Bristol, Newton, Moden, Inman, N.Guererri, B.Martin, T.Sperring, DeWitt, Years.
Consolation (8 laps)
#1: Fish, Lloyd, A.Payne, Walker, Stoughtenger, Pawlak, Peckham, R.Martin, Smith(DNS), Courcy(DNS).
#2: N.Guererri, T.Sperring, Borden, B.Martin, Cooper, DeWitt, Castelletti, JT Sperring, Years.
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps)
1. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 2. 3a-Jeff Trombley, 3. 48a-Alysha Bay, 4. 53-Bobby Parrow, 5. 18c-Dan Craun, 6. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 7. 13t-Trevor Years, 8. 17e-Ethan Gray, 9. 410-Jerry Sehn Jr., 10. 121-Steve Glover.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Years, Parrow, Ruggles, Sehn, Glover.
#2: Bay, Griffin, Craun, Trombley, Gray.
*Feature (20 laps)
1. 7-Josh Pangrazio, 2. 36-Jimmy Grant, 3. 57j-Quinn Sutherland, 4. 00-Mike Welch, 5. 55p-Parker Smith, 6. 93-Jared Hill, 7. 34q-Jason Quigley, 8. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 9. 64-Bob Buono, 10. 122-Chris Beyea, 11. 37x-Carl Johnson, 12. 9-Aksel Jensen, 13. 55b-Blane Smith, 14. cj1x-Dave Guererri, 15. 00x-Damian Long, 16. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 17. 9r-Roger Bush.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Buono, Welch, Sutherland, Quigley, Minutolo, Long, Johnson, Bush, Metcalf.
#2: Pangrazio, Hill, Grant, P.Smith, B.Smith, Guererri, Jensen, Beyea.
*Feature (15 laps)
1. 42-Casey Wagner, 2. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 3. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 4. 86L-Shawn Lloyd, 5. 97-Kenny Hunt, 6. 17jr.-Jamie Eldredge Jr., 7. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 8. 21h-Patrick Hampton.
Saturday Spectacular, June 27 @ 7:00pm; Mid-Season Championships: Big-Block Modified/DIRTcar Northeast Sportsman Series(30 laps)/305 Sprint/Street Stock (NO Hobby Stock).
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 Mike Emhof Motorsports, Pepsi Geneva Club Beverage, Speed Connection; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, Always Locked Storage, A-Verdi Storage Containers, Geneva Club Beverage, Honeoye Auto Parts/Auto Value, Pepsi/Mountain Dew/Lipton Lake Beverage, Phelps Cement Products, Red Osier Restaurant, Sherwin Williams Paint, Tradition Automotive Group; promotional partners Champion Power Equipment, Depew Excavating/Trucking, Dig Safely New York 811, Dobbers Sports Bar, Elab Smokers Boutique, Hoosier Racing Tire, Ontario County Fairboard, Proctor Enterprises, VP Racing Fuels, Weedsport Hall of Fame, Young Real Estate Agency.