By Mark Kane
For Capital Region Independent Media
It was a couple weeks back that Danny Varin put on a driving clinic in his ESS Winged Sprint Car after having to go to the pit for repair to his wing after an early race tangle.
Once back to green Varin started to work his way forward and into the top 10 and then it was into the top 5, and this was against some of the best 360 Winged warriors in the Northeast.
Varin was not happy with a top 5 and the talented second-generation driver put the crowd on their feet in the Old Covered Grandstand. I have seen many drives around that old girl but there was something very special about this one. I have witnessed the talented young driver work his way up through the ranks, taking his bumps and bruises but coming right back. Racing was in Danny’s blood early as his father Bobby Varin is a past multi-time champion who is still in the thick of the battle weekly at the Track of Champions.
Each week I make my way to Danny’s pit to wish this very likable racer good luck and this week it was my first stop.
Watching a young driver work his way to the top of the sport he loves is something special; to watch him grow into a man is even more special and that is what Danny Varin has become — a hard-working family man who has come into his own.
Working his way to the front through lap traffic, Varin raced his way to the lead and then checked out from the field, hitting his mark lap after lap and continuing on for the popular win. The family-owned 01 team is on a roll, going undefeated on the tough ESS Tour to start out the season on the road and the run at his home track Fonda Speedway shows the talent behind the wheel and the support he has behind him and his Sprint Car team.
For Danny and his regular Saturday night ride, the Ed Munger MAGSARUS No. 93, it has been a tough year. The car has been fast, but motor troubles have sidelined the team and Varin has been sitting pit side come feature time. However, this week would be different.
Once again, the No. 93 car was fast in warm ups and the heat. A little carb work and a pre-race warm-up lap and Danny Varin had a great starting spot for the feature. On this night there would be no yellow flag for Danny Varin with a flat or Danny Varin slowing out of turn 2 and heading to the pits early, or Danny being caught in a wreck by no fault of his own.
On this night, it would be Danny Varin and the Ed Munger No. 93 coming together as one out on the town for a Saturday night drive around the Fonda Speedway.
I could make this simple — at the drop of the green Danny Varin grabbed the lead and at the checkers it was Danny Varin in for the win, but it is racing and nothing is simple.
Yes, Danny did drive away but how he did it was a true driver coming into his own.
Once out front, Varin found his groove and like in the Sprint Car the week before, lap after lap he hit his marks. Working through lap traffic and yes, with his foot to the motor plate he found lap traffic before lap traffic early and had a huge lead. Once in lap traffic Varin worked it with perfection.
As much fun as it was watching Varin dominating up front, the race behind the leader found great racing action in the SUNOCO Modified feature. The heavy hitters were all coming from mid pack.
Out front early was Pep Corradi, Ryan Odasz in his own 14R ride, Jack Lehner in the Nelson No. 85 and Jessica Friesen’s 1Z. Lap 3 found Lehner working his way to third with Friesen right on his rear deck and they would now be third and fourth, and started a great battle that found the two racing nerf bar to nerf bar.
Just outside the top 5, Bobby Varin, Rocky Warner, Ronnie Johnson and Demetrios Drellos were racing hard, running 2- and 3-wide. Out front Varin continued with his Saturday night drive with Pep Corradi having a great run, still holding down second as David Constantino moved into the top 5 on lap 11.
Once again, the battle in the top 5 heated up as the 1Z of Friesen and Lehner had found their way to the back bumper of Corradi, both getting past the 21P. The race mid-pack now had two more players as point leader Matt DeLorenzo and 17th-starting Stewart Friesen were on the move and it did not take the 44 of Stewart Friesen who had found the top side to his liking was deep in the battle with Johnson, Warner and Varin. DeLorenzo and Drellos were also looking for racing room in a great six-car battle that you could throw a blanket over.
This is Fonda Speedway SUNOCO Modified racing in 2022 with great 2- and 3-wide racing to keep the fans on the edge of their seats or on their feet.
As the laps clicked away, Varin was showing no signs of slowing down as it was Friesen in the 44 still working his way to the top 5.
At the checker it was Danny Varin in for his 11th Modified feature win at the “Track of Champions,” Fonda Speedway, with Jessica Friesen, Jack Lehner, Stewart Friesen and Pep Corradi rounding out the top 5.
For Stewart Friesen it had been a long couple of days picking up the NASCAR Truck win Friday night in Texas and then coming back to run Saturday night in a Modified. Seems like the old way of racing, asphalt one day, dirt the next.
In other action, and there was plenty of it as along with the regular show the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series made a very strong car count and some very competitive racing action to provide the fans a look back at on track-racing history.
These teams take pride with their part in keeping the history alive for both new fans and veteran fans. Many of these drivers are past winners and champions, keeping their dreams alive as well doing what they enjoy doing and having fun doing it.
MVVDMS winners were Jimmy Fugal- Antique, John Roese- Late Model, John Flach picked up the Modified win, Mystique Feature- Carl Cram, and Joe Rondo picked up the Sportsman Feature.
Regular weekly action found Nick Stone pick up his fifth win in a row in what turned out to be a great race right to the end, with Stone grabbing the lead on lap 9 from Jason Morrison as the field was looking at Stone’s bumper once again. The field would come back to Stone when the caution flew on lap 15.
Back to green, Luke Horning, who was running third, made the move to be the new leader only to have Stone fire right back in turn 2. As the leaders made contact, Stone would lead down the back chute as now Horning had Morrison to contend with. Again contact was made, this time between Horning and Morrison, with Horning making hard contact with the wall and coming out with a damaged racer.
Back to green Beau Ballard grabbed the lead, but Stone was not going to let that happen and again showed his power, grabbing the lead. Behind the leaders Kenny Gates was working his low line to the front racing Devon Camenga and Shane Playford. Once Stone secured the lead he drove on to the win with Ballard, Gates, Camenga, and Playford to round out the top 5.
The Sportsman found the John Kollar 10% with Chad Edwards as the pilot of a very fast race car quickly working his way to the front after starting 12th on the field used two yellows and out of no place he was second with a great drive.
While Edwards was making his drive to the front, Jeremy Tyrell led early before Chip Constantino would be the new leader as the yellow was out. Back to green and it was Constantino with the lead, with Edwards in his tracks. On the move was Payton Talbot, who had made an early pit stop as the battle mid-pack was wheel to wheel.
The battle for the lead would heat up with Constantino and Edwards racing side by side in a good clean battle for the lead, with Edwards powering his way out of turn 4 as the new leader at the flag stand on lap 18 and from that point on the 10% was on rails and cruised to the win with Constantino, Talbot from the back, Troy Palmer, and third-generation Tanner Warner rounding out the top 5.
The Limited Sportsman found Harold Robitaille pick up his first win and Kerrie and Ken Hollenbeck picked up the 4-Cyl. wins.
Other local racing found Mike Mahaney picking up the NAPA Modified feature win at the “Great Race Place,” Albany Saratoga, with Jack Speshock, Jessey Mueller, Kenny Tremont Jr. and Demetrios Drellos rounding out the top 5.
Pro Stocks found Chad Jeseo with the win as Darryl Nutting picked up the Sportsman win with Scott Bennett in the limited Victory circle. Other winners were P.J. Cram in Street Stocks and Jon Sheppard in 4-Cyl.
The High Banks of Lebanon Valley Speedway saw Andy Bachetti pick up both the Modified and Small Block Modified wins. In the Mods, Brian Berger, Kyle Armstrong, Brett Haas and Eddie Marshall rounded out the top 5. The Small Blocks L.J. Lombardo, Alan Houghteling, Peter Carlotto and Ryan Charland rounded out the top 5.
Utica Rome Speedway had young Alex Yankowski over Matt Sheppard, Willy Decker, Jessica Friesen and Darren Smith was fifth. The Sportsman feature went to Dave Richer, and Jay Corbin won the Pro Stocks.
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