By Mark Kane
For Capital Region Independent Media
Under bright skies it was race day at the “Battle of the Bullring” 50-lap Short Track Super Series at the tough, tight and elbows-up quarter mile Ulster County Accord Speedway.
With all the rain this spring, the Accord Speedway had lost its early season starts and this would be the first racing at the track in 2022.
Earlier in the night Dillon Steuer, Danny Tyler, Danny Creeden, Mat Williamson and Jerry Higbie picked up heat wins for the 43 STSS North Modifieds, making their way to the pits as Tanner Vandoren and Ken Ferrier picked up the two consolation wins to set the 24-car starting field with Matt Sheppard, David Schilling and Joe Judge added as provisional.
With the luck of the draw it was Danny Creeden and Mat Williamson bringing the field to the line with Mat Williamson powering his way to the front, with Creeden close behind. Setting a torrid pace on the quarter-mile track it did not take the leaders long to catch the back of the pack as Capital District runners Andy Bachetti and Bobby Hackel were putting on a great battle for fifth.
Lap 7 found the first caution out with Williamson, Creeden, Steuer, Chris Stevens and Andy Bachetti holding down the top 5. Once back to green it was Williamson returning to the point with Creeden all over his rear deck as the battle between Bachetti and Hackle continued, with Hackle getting the spot and looking for more closing in on the battle for third.
With the great battle for third shaping up, Creeden was now all over Williamson and looking to defend his home track against the outsider from Canada. Once again the leaders were in heavy lap traffic as Creeden used the high side out of turn 4 and became the new leader on lap 17, with Williamson in his tracks.
Once again the caution was out, this time for Jimmy Wells, giving the leaders a clear track once back to green. It was Creeden with Bachetti putting the power to the track, working his way back around Hackel as well as Stevens, now fourth on the field.
Lap 21 found the caution fly for Richard Smith, who spun in turn 4. Back to green it was Williamson showing power off the bottom and going into turn one, contact was made between the leaders with Williamson the new leader and Bachetti taking full advantage, working his way to second only to have Creeden fire right back and regained second a lap later.
At the halfway point it was Williamson, Creeden, Bachetti, Hackle and Steuer in the top 5. Once again, Bachetti and Hackle were in a heavy battle as Danny Tyler moved into the top 5 as he and Steuer were battling hard to stay in the top 5.
The final caution would fall on lap 28 and from that point it was all green flag laps.
With Williamson out front Creeden was in chase mode and once the leaders hit lap traffic, Creeden quickly reeled in the rear bumper of Williamson. Williamson was working the lapped cars with perfection having a clear track ahead of him. Anthony Perrago and Mike Mahaney battled inside the top 10 after starting deep in the pack as Bachetti and Hackle were in the top 5 and still battling.
Once clear of traffic Williamson remained out front, picking up his first-ever Accord Speedway win and the $6,000 paycheck that went with it with Creeden, Bachetti, Hackle and Tyler rounding out the top 5.
With the win Williamson now takes over the lead in the STSS North points, sitting 10 points ahead of Danny Creeden, with Andy Bachetti sitting third after two events. For Hackle it was his best-ever STSS event run with limited races at the Accord Speedway and with his fine run is now seventh in STSS North points.
In the companion STSS 602 Sportsman it was Brian Krummel picking up the $1500 win over Steve Davis, Justin Comes, Tyler Johnson and Doug Kline rounding out the top 5.
On a warm night at the Fonda Speedway, I am not sure what was the best race of the night. At the end of the night it had to be Brett Deyo beating Mother Nature as the fans were treated to a great night of racing action with a regular show and the ESS Winged Sprints.
The closer it came to race time the darker it became to the west. It was not looking good, but the rain never made it down the Mohawk Valley and headed north.
It has been a tough year for Craig Hanson so far in 2022 as early season motor problems sidelined him early the first two weeks and then last week he was involved in a crash, was just about done, but I bet that is said many Sunday mornings right before drivers head to the shop.
For the Hanson team it has been many late hours in the shop but that all paid off on Saturday night as he picked up the popular SUNOCO Modified feature win. It was an extra-special night for the second-generation driver as it had been six years since Hanson sat on Victory Square, and it was his dad’s birthday. His dad, Ken, was a long-time driver and winner at the “Track of Champions.”
At the drop of the green it was Hanson with the early lead with Pep Corradi, Jim Introne, Brian Calabrese and Bobby Varin on the move. Unfortunately, the red was out early. Second place runner Jim Introne was sitting in the middle of the backstretch sideways and was struck by rookie Modified driver Tucker O’Connor, Brian Pessolano and 2021 Modified co-champion Rocky Warner ending their night.
Once back to green Hanson again was on top and Bobby Varin continued to move forward, taking over second as Ronnie Johnson — who has weekly been making a charge to the front — had worked his way into fourth by lap 3 and started to work on the 21C of Calabrese. Finding the outside to his liking was the 111 of Demetrios Drellos as he was into the top 5, also getting by Calabrese.
Out front the 20C of Hanson was pulling away from Varin as the battle for third was heating up between Corradi and Johnson as Johnson grabbed the third spot down the back stretch as one lap later Drellos took over the fourth position. Racing continued to be hot and heavy inside the top 5 as Johnson and Varin, both past champions, battled for second, with Johnson getting a great run out of turn 4 and would be the new second-place runner, putting Varin back to third.
Jessica Friesen was just outside the top 5 after starting out on the sixth row of the feature. The caution was out once again as the 27A of Steve Akers slowed out of 2 with a right rear flat, bringing the field back to Hanson after he had opened up a huge lead on the field.
Back to green and Hanson remained the leader as Drellos moved to third and the 1Z of Jessica Friesen was now in the top 5.
Matt DeLorenzo was now on the move and worked his way to sixth. A great battle was developing between Varin, Friesen and DeLorenzo for the four, five and six positions, with DeLorenzo quickly working his way to fourth past Varin and looked as the fastest car on the track.
Up front the race for the lead was heating up as Johnson was all over the rear deck of Hanson and made the move on the bottom of turn 2 as they ran down the back stretch side by side, with Johnson completing the pass to be the new leader. Before the lap was complete, Jack Lehner in the Nelson 85 slowed and brought out the yellow, putting Hanson back to the top spot with Johnson, Drellos, DeLorenzo and Varin holding down the top 5.
Back to green and Hanson again was the leader as Drellos and DeLorenzo worked past Johnson. DeLorenzo was not done yet working his way to second with four to go and looking for three in a row as he closed in on the leader Hanson, who had run a great race out front. With the 20C of Hanson on the bottom and the 3D of DeLorenzo on the bottom, DeLorenzo was able to get within a car length of the leader but that was as close as he could get with Hanson picking up the popular win over DeLorenzo, the point leader, with Drellos, Johnson and Varin rounding out the top 5 in a great race.
Going into the night Danny Varin picked up the first 2 ESS Sprint Car features with wins at Fulton and Utica Rome Speedways. On Saturday night at Fonda, Danny started the feature in the 11th spot but was involved in a lap 1 crash and went to the pits with damage to his wing and returned to the tail end of the field.
At the drop of the green it became a Danny Varin show as he started to pick off cars lap after lap and by lap 18 grabbed the lead and cruised to his third win of the year on the tour with the impressive run to the front against a fine field of 360 Sprints with Jordan Poirier, Paulie Colagiovanni, Josh Pieniazek and Jason Barney rounding out the top 5 for the return of the ESS to Fonda Speedway for the first time since 2018.
Once again Varin had mechanical problems in the MAGSRUS 93 Modified, ending his night before feature time. In ESS warmups, Blake Warner had a scary flip between turns 3 and 4. After a few minutes Blake climbed from the destroyed Sprinter and walked to the ambulance.
In other action, the Sportsman found Cody Clark using the high side after starting 10th on the field to grab the lead on lap 12 to hold off Chad Edwards for his first win of the 2022 season at the famed half mile.
In the Pro Stocks it was Nick Stone and Luke Horning putting on a great battle out front as the two swapped the lead, with Stone picking up the win.
The Limited Sportsman found Zach Dufel picking up the win with Kerrie Hollanback winning the 4-cylinder feature.
At the Albany Saratoga Speedway Matt DeLorenzo picked up the NAPA Modified win with Kenny Tremont Jr., Peter Britten, Mike Mahaney and Demetrios Drellos rounding out the top 5. That makes it five different winners in as many weeks.
In other action, Pat Jones picked up the Sportsman win as Jason Casey took the Pro Stock win. Tommy D’Angelo was the Limited Sportsman winner, while Al Relyea picked up the Street Stock win and Jon Sheppard the 4-Cylinder win.
At the Valley of Speed, Lebanon Valley Speedway, Eddie Marshall was the Modified winner with Kolby Schroder, Kenny Tremont Jr., Andy Bachetti and L.J. Lombardo rounding out the top 5. In the Small Block Modifieds it was Andy Bachetti with the win as Tim Hartman Jr. picked up the Sportsman win, Chad Jeseo was the Pro Stock winner as Brady Cordova picked up the Limited Sportsman win.
Matt Sheppard, the 2021 point champion, picked up his third win in a row at the Utica Rome Speedway in the SUNOCO Modifieds with Andy Bachetti, Darren Smith, Bobby Hackel and Rocky Warner rounding out the top 5.
In other racing action Danny Varin was the ESS winner, Matt Janczuk picked up the Sportsman, Beau Ballard was the Pro Stock winner and Matt Backus picked up the Limited Sportsman win.
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