Rain forced the Gerald Haers Memorial Build Your Bank Challenge event at Land of Legends Raceway to be completed Sunday afternoon.
Erick Rudolph emerged as the weekend’s biggest winner, earned a $6,000 paycheck by winning Sunday’s Modified feature at the Ontario County Fairgrounds — the last race of the 2019 season there.
The purse for the weekend eclipsed $50,000, with $10,000 of that reserved for Sportsman contenders. In all, more than 20 Modified drivers went home with at least $1,000.
The event was contested in memory of Gerald Haers, a longtime supporter of racing at the fair oval. Haers died earlier this year at the age of 74.
Drivers gathered to remember him in pre-race ceremonies held Saturday, the original race date, before the preliminary features began. Those features were completed for Modifieds, but the action was put on pause until Sunday following several bands of heavy rain.
Each of Saturday’s preliminary 20-lap Modified features were named for past Land of Legends Raceway greats. Rudolph took $500 in the first, named for “Barefoot” Bob McCreadie. The second was named for “Marvelous” Merv Treichler, and Larry Wight collected the $500 in that one. The third recognized Will Cagle, with Steve Paine taking the checkers and $500.
On Sunday, Rudolph stormed into the lead on a lap 2 restart. The pace was slowed twice more before lap 10 before the final 40 laps went off without interruption. Rudolph was chased by Larry Wight, and heavy traffic presented challenges, but Rudolph proved unstoppable. Wight held on for second ahead of Mat Williamson, who started 19th. Gary Lindberg and Justin Haers filled the top five.
Kevin Root walked away with the $2,000 top prize after securing the checkers in Sunday’s 40-lap Sportsman event.
Root captured the fourth qualifying event of five contested Saturday, and redrew ninth out of the top 10 positions. On Sunday, Matt Janzcuk was leading when Root moved to the runner-up position on lap 10. Janczuk skidded over the berm exiting the second turn, allowing Root to move to the lead. With traffic getting heavier at the halfway point, Kane Bristol entered the fray.
When Matt Guererri slowed on the track, Root appeared to be confused. Janzcuk pounced, moving from third to first. Root was forced to battle back, and was riding the extreme inside line with 10 circuits to go. Janczuk preferred the high line. Root inched ahead off the second turn on lap 32, but gave the lead back on the following circuit. Using traffic to his advantage, Root made a final bid and took the lead on lap 37.
Root built a six-car advantage by the time the checkers flew. Janczuk, Bristol, Kyle Inman, Garrison Krentz and Paul Guererri followed.
Land of Legends Raceway’s 2019 Awards Banquet will be Jan. 11 at King’s Catering & Party House on Routes 5&20 in Hopewell, near just east of Canandaigua.
The coming weekend will offer another longtime postseason staple, the Outlaw 200. Racing is scheduled Friday and Saturday, with the 34th running of the Outlaw 200 set for Saturday.
Friday’s program includes the 50-lap NLMA Late Model Championship, the 25-lap Mod Like Championship, 25-lap 4-Cylinder Open, a 20-lap Novice Sportsman race, and 15-lap Modified qualifying races. The winners in the 15-lappers will earn starting positions 17-20 in the Outlaw 200.
CNY Sportsman Shootout heats and consolations, which are booked for eight and 10 laps, respectively, also will be contested Friday.
On Saturday, the full gamut of Modified 10-lap qualifying heats, along with Modified and Sportsman last-chance qualifiers, will set the final grid for the 50-lap Sportsman Championship and Outlaw 200.
Racing begins at 7 p.m. Friday and 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Back after a 17-year hiatus, the Fonda 200 made an illustrious return to the Modified landscape Saturday.
Stewart Friesen endured an extended rain delay to post his sixth Fonda victory of 2019, and 60th overall. The win paid $53,000.
Friesen elected to pit prior to the lap 100 break, catching a caution period to stop for service. At the break, Friesen was able to leapfrog several other front-runners, including Matt Sheppard and Rocky Warner, each of whom took their “hot” pit service at that time. Many drivers elected to skip the hot pit — adjustments could be made and tires could be changed — in lieu of a cold stop during which only tear-offs or fuel could be added.
Restarting sixth, Friesen moved to fourth immediately, and ran down leader Matt DeLorenzo for the point on lap 107. Sheppard restarted 20th, and reached fifth by lap 124. Twenty-five laps later Sheppard was second and Warner third.
Sheppard was strong on the inside line, while Friesen preferred a higher groove. Restarting with Sheppard to his left on lap 178, Friesen saw the lead get away momentarily, but recovered to hold the point. On the rest of the restarts, Friesen took the inside line.
Sheppard closed in with seven laps to go as Friesen struggled to clear a slower car, and “Super Matt” made a bid at the lead on the final circuit, but drifted up the track off the final turn with the checkers waving.
Sheppard’s runner-up finish was wiped out when a post-race inspection found his car lighter than allowed. That moved Warner to second ahead of Mike Mahaney, Billy Decker and Brett Hearn.
Also Satuday, Tim Hartman Jr. won the $1,500-to-win Crate Sportsman 25-lap main.
On Friday, Jordan Poirier won the Patriot Sprint Tour’s Earl Halaquist Memorial event originally scheduled for May 25. Josh Pieniazek, Jordan Thomas, Jeff Trombley and Joe Trenca completed the top five.
In the regularly scheduled Patriot event, Pieniazek won over Thomas, Porier, Trenca and Paulie Colagiovanni.
Meanwhile, Dave Franek took a wild ride Friday in his 360cc ride. His sprint car broke in the second turn, and he catapulted through the wall and onto the sidewalk on Bridge Street outside the Fonda Speedway grounds. Franek is recovering from his injuries at home.
A trio of Modified heat races Friday transferred 10 cars to the 200-lap feature. Friesen won the first, and thus took the pole for the 200. Hosh Hohenforst captured the second, giving him the outside pole. Warner prevailed in the third, good for the No. 3 starting spot.
Ken Hollenbeck (4-Cylinder), Zach Sorrentino (Street Stock) and Nick Stone (Pro Stock) won features Friday as well.