Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

Chasin’ Racin’: Back on track


By Mark Kane

For Capital Region Independent Media

Ronnie Johnson had an up and down night, starts out picking up $4,451 for the Bill Ag Memorial and ending up in lap 1 with a red flag ending his night. Chasin’ Racin’ photo

Well, Chasin’ Racin’ lives on. We just had to take some time away, but we are doing much better and ready to get back to the racing action.

It has been a long eight weeks away from the smell of dirt in the air, the taste of dust on my fries, and missing the hell out of my racing family on both sides of the fence. While away I really did not miss that much racing due to Mother Nature being the top winner in the Northeast and FLO TV, what a savior.


The past few weeks the Fonda Speedway has been a busy place to be on Saturday nights with some great racing action in all divisions and with only 5-point races left, it’s go-time for those who are in contention for a championship.

Race fans, it’s about to get real. As good as the racing action has been on the track it has also taken its toll with some heavy damage as drivers are pushing the limits on what is a very fast racing surface.                                                                                                          

Our thoughts for a speedy recovery go out to Modified rookie Kurtis Hohensheldt. Kurtis had the throttle stick during the Amsterdam Truck Center Modified feature going into turn one, making hard contact with the outside wall.  Hohensheldt got into the air and came to rest with a destroyed race car and a trip to the local hospital.

A few weeks back it was Palmer Service Center Hall of Fame Night at Fonda. Drivers Danny Ballard, Jack Miller, crew chief Jeff Carter (crew chief for Dave Lape), track personnel John (Jack Black Flag) Blackwood and former pace car driver Billy Peek, who has missed only one Saturday night in 40 years at the Track of Champions, were inducted into the Hall of Fame. This group shows it takes more than the drivers to put on the show weekly. The Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame is a special place for any race fan, but for some it is a lifetime of Saturday nights watching your heroes.

The Modified feature would find a new name grace Victory Lane as (Mad Max) Max McLaughlin would become the 141st driver to win a Modified feature over the long history of Fonda Speedway. No stranger to wins in the Northeast aboard his Al Heinke-owned FX Caprara sponsored 8H, McLaughlin, a second generation driver (Magic Shoes Mike McLaughlin), worked his way to the front after starting seventh.

It was Jessica Friesen who would get out to an early lead that was short lived as Matt DeLorenzo used the bottom in one and two to become the new leader on lap two and started to pull away. Behind the leader McLaughlin was working his way to the front and worked his way to second.

Caution flags found the night of Bobby Varin, Stewart Friesen and David Schilling ending early. Once back to green, McLaughlin looked like a seasoned veteran at Fonda, making a great move to the inside of turn 3 and would be the new leader down the back stretch.

Once out front, Mad Max was the class of the strong field that had assembled for the Thunder on the Thruway Series $4,000-to-win the event. Behind the leader it was great nerf bar to nerf bar racing using the entire speedway as drivers were swapping positions.

Following McLaughlin to the line was Matt DeLorenzo, Ronnie Johnson, Tim Fuller and Jessica Friesen rounding out the top 5 after a great battle with Alex Yankowski and Mike Mahaney.

Other winners of the night were Payton Talbot picking up the Swagger Factory 602 Sportsman win, Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks found Beau Ballard with the win, Limited Sportsman Tyler Bobar.  The Mohawk Vintage Dirt Modified Series made their way to pit road and once again brought the history of our sport back to the track. Picking up wins were Cliff Haslun, George Palmer, Matt Mosher, Brian Gray and Randy Delaney.

Well, I made it through week one so right back at it we went to the “Track of Champions” for a regular show along with the Bill Ag Memorial Match race and fireworks both in the air and on the speedway.

Once again it was R.J., Ronnie Johnson, picking up his fourth Bill Ag Memorial match race in its eight-year history. The 2RJ of Johnson was quick off the line in each round, and round by round Ronnie turned back the top 5 in points, starting off with Demetrios Drellos and then making his way through Matt DeLorenzo, Rocky Warner, Alex Yankowski and rookie Cody Clark to take home the cool $4,451 for his efforts.

Young Alex Yankowski makes the long haul weekly from Pennsylvania to race at Utica Rome and Fonda as he learns his trade behind the wheel and learns it well. Chasin’ Racin’ photo

As good as things were going for the former track champion, it did not take long in the Modified feature for things to go south for the 2RJ of Johnson. It was David Schilling and former champion Dave Camara leading the field to green when the red was out quickly for a parking lot in turn 4 on the initial green flag.

Once the dust settled it was only Ronnie Johnson and Bobby Varin who would be done for the night. Back to green, it was Schilling grabbing the lead with Camara and Dave Constantino chasing the leader as Demetrios Drellos was on the move quickly from his seventh starting spot and started to pressure for the runner up spot.

Behind the leaders it was heating up as Cody Clark and Bobby Hackel were battling for fifth. As Schilling was pulling away, Drellos worked his way to the bottom and made quick work of Camara and Constantino to be the new second-place car and set out after Schilling, who was smooth out front.

Rookie Cody Clark sits fifth in the current Track of Champions points, racing hard, clean and consistent with the Fonda veterans. Chasin’ Racin’ photo

With Drellos trying to reel in Schilling a great battle developed between Constantino, Camara, Alex Yankowski and Cody Clark, who continues to be impressive as a rookie.

As the laps clicked away, the gap between Schilling and Drellos was getting smaller as Drellos was on the move and reeling in the leader. The battle continued in the top 5 as Drellos made his move and would be the new leader on lap 11 as Matt DeLorenzo was on the move and into the top 5 and looking for racing room when smoke could be seen from the 3D on lap 15 and the 3D slowed on lap 18 to bring out the yellow.

On the restart it was Drellos back to the front but the red was quickly out for the Hohensheldt crash in turn 1. After a lengthy red it was decided due to the time and the ambulance having to leave the speedway they would have the fireworks and then come back for the conclusion of the Modified feature.

Demetrios Drellos picks up his first win of the season and is the current Fonda Speedway Modified point leader. Chasin’ Racin’ photo

Once back to green it was all Drellos as he jumped right back out to the lead and would never look back, picking up his first win of the year as Schilling held on for second with Yankowski, Costantino and Cody Clark holding on for another impressive drive with a top 5.


In other action it was Payton Talbot picking up his fifth win of the season after starting 18th on the field in the 602 Sportsman feature. Luke Horning picked up the Pro Stock win as Johnathan Feagles picked up his second win of the year in the Limited Sportsman.

With his win Demetrios Drellos (363) has a 4-point lead over Matt DeLorenzo (359), Rocky Warner (349), Alex Yankowski (312) and Cody Clark (291) holding down fifth in the championship battle.

In the 602 Sportsman, Payton Talbot (454) is holding a commanding 64-point lead over Chad Edwards (390) and third-generation runner Tanner Warner (362) holds down the third spot. 

Payton Talbot is looking strong, picking up win No. 5 at Fonda Speedway in the 602 Sportsman. Chasin’ Racin’ photo

The Pro Stocks are in a tight battle as only 36 points separate the top 5 as Ivan Joslin is looking for his first championship and leads the way (406), Josh Coonradt (388), Beau Ballard (386), Kenny Gates (384) and Shane Playford (370).

Now more than ever, please support those that sponsor the drivers on a weekly basis. 

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