Photo Credit: Don Romeo
Sportsman Grad Marcuccilli Enters Name In LOLR Big-Block RecordbookRidley wins rain-shortened Sportsman feature after Grant drops Pangrazio in Stock Car action
Canandaigua, NY – Aug. 1, 2020 – Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
Former track champion Dave Marcuccilli and front-runner Jimmy Grant kicked off the final full month of summer in victory lane while veteran Kevin Ridley was declared a winner pitside as late evening showers curtailed a second straight motorsports show at Land Of Legends Raceway.
With rain continuing to fall and more precipitation on the way, track officials were forced to put a halt to the first ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of August at 9:35pm, postponing the Pepsi Big-Block Modified feature and Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Main until Aug. 8. Ridley held the lead with 13 laps complete in the headline 25-lap Speed Connection Sportsman finale when the decision was made, thus giving him the win as half the race was run.
“Unreal,” remarked Marcuccilli, 43, as his voice cracked with emotion following his first career Big-Block Modified win at his long-time home in Ontario County. Racking up 28 victories at LOLR, the four-time (2015-18) DIRTcar Sportsman track points champion held off open-wheel all-star Tim Fuller to take top honors in the Modified main that was postponed from July 18.
“Never saw anybody (once out front) yet made a lot of mistakes the last two laps. Probably didn’t look like it outside the car but I made a ton inside the car. Maybe just starting to get nervous or something. To me this (win) is huge, probably the biggest race ever for me. Too bad there aren’t any fans in the stands to enjoy it but I’m sure those at home and the people here did,” noted Marcuccilli, who collected $2,000 for his memorable win on ADMAR Construction Equipment Night at the Ontario County Fairgrounds.
Gil Tegg Jr. paced a full field to begin the 35-lapper before Matt Farnham looped his Modified mount in turn two on the second circuit to bring out a yellow flag. Filing in fifth on the 25-car starting grid, Marcuccilli charged into first on the ensuing restart only to return it to Tegg as Justin Wright got caught up in a turn four skirmish to incur another caution period. A quick third slowdown came after Dillon Groover slid off the track high in turn three following contact with Billy Dunn, but this time lap two was scored and Marcuccilli was credited with the top spot.
Back under green, Marcuccilli opened up a comfortable advantage while the top contenders diced for position high and low. Twelfth-starting Fuller was the biggest mover, flying into third through six laps with only Kyle Coffey between him and the leader.
Lap 15 contact between Justin Haers and division points leader Larry Wight on the front chute ended with Haers spinning in turn one to bring Marcuccilli back to the pack, but the Montezuma wheelman stretched the margin back to a dozen car-lengths with 20 complete. Fuller finally tracked down Coffey on lap 29, then with still five to go pulled up to the bumper of the blue #M1 MP (Mike Payne) Delivery-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell machine when the yellow lights came back on for front-five running Erick Rudolph’s parked mount in turn four.
Fuller peeked low in turn two with a couple laps to go but Marcuccilli never flinched as he held on for a narrow two car-length victory at the stripe. Riding seventh for the final lap 30 restart, opening night winner Pat Ward rallied to place third ahead of James Sweeting, who netted his first top-5 tally of the season. Wight worked his way from 17th to settle for fifth at the wire, with all-time LOLR winner Alan Johnson and Coffey crossing the line next.
“We struggled with the Big-Block last season, made some changes this year and went in a different direction with Mike (Payne, LJL-Kevlar engine supplier) on how we do things and its worked out better,” said Marcuccilli, after becoming the 103rd Modified winner at Canandaigua since 1952. “There’s no pressure on Mike, at least with me, and he gets to come here and watch the races with his son (Zach, Sportsman driver) and still gets to watch me. We’ve been slowly improving and this kind of shows it.”
“We got lucky with the kind of race track we were on today. People don’t realize how tough it is to race here with track conditions always changing and the caliber of drivers. We just haven’t been even close enough or fast enough to win these races so this is a surprise to me as well,” added Marcuccilli, who scored his only other top-5 finish (4th) the last race run July 2.
Circling the hallowed half-miler in the Sportsman ranks since 2005, NOT pulling his no. 20x Fred’s Fab’N Fold-Champion Power Equipment-Lakeshore Auto Mall/Bicknell into victory lane this season is about all that surprised Ridley. Yet that changed Saturday as the Waterloo warrior took his first checkered flag of 2020.
“Been running good and always felt like we were going to win, just had to make the right changes for the slicker surface,” summed up Ridley, 42, who ironically surpassed Marcuccilli on the all-time LOLR Sportsman win list after his 29th career triumph. The 2008 & ’13 track points champion now stands third behind only Paul Guererri (45) and Steve Gray (30).
“To be up there high on the list of wins is pretty big. We don’t win too much so its difficult to move up with such a talented group. Don’t think anybody will ever catch Paul but we’re still proud of how long we’ve been able to win out here,” Ridley said.
With light rain in the air, Ridley wasted little time despite no particular pre-race plan in place to get to the point so fast.
Pole-sitter Torrey Stoughtenger out-dragged front row partner Timmy Borden Jr. at the outset before Mike Phelps looped his ride high in turn one to incur the initial caution with one lap in the books. The next time around Borden spun between the first two corners, collecting Nick Guererri to require a second slowdown with Stoughtenger holding back Nick Cooper in the early stages as Ridley charged.
When rookie Emmett Waldron spun over the turn one bank to end his night after only three laps, a mad dash for the top spot shuffled the deck over the next two miles. Dueling in three-wide fashion, Cooper slid between low-running Stoughtenger and high-riding Ridley to take the lead across the line on lap four. Stoughtenger rebounded to regain the lead the next time around only to give way to Ridley on lap seven in the final exchange up front.
Newcomer Cody Manitta spun in turn one to force out what amounted to the final yellow flag of the show as the field was sent into the pits with rain intensifying. Fifteen minutes later the final results were announced and Ridley was declared the winner over Stoughtenger followed by points leader Zach Sobotka, Cooper and Andrew Jacobson.
“With a lot of faster cars ahead of me I just planned to follow those guys to the front, be patient and not wreck the car early,” revealed Ridley, who started 13th in the 26-car field. “Its been tough out here lately with a lot of new drivers, all getting used to the speed and trying to find the fastest lines to follow. We’ve had a good stretch, been among the fastest since day one. Made some changes tonight and finally might have this coil car figured out.”
Grant seems to have things figured out in the full-fender ranks, for the second time this season not only cracking the elusive winner’s circle but authoring a late-race pass of perennial power Josh Pangrazio in doing so.
“I just take my time and take care of my tires, know I’ll be there at the end,” said Grant, 34, the only driver with top-5 feature finishes in all six events. “I just smile when I see (Pangrazio) sail on by, saying to myself ‘use ’em up, use ’em up.’ At the end of the race tonight my tires still looked pretty fresh.”
Despite Street Stocks leading off the program, the first feature of the night was ultimately the most dramatic as the Grant/Pangrazio slugfest continued in its purest form. Jason Quigley jumped out to the early lead with Grant (8th) and Pangrazio (10th) beginning the 20-lapper further back.
A pair of early yellow flags flew for a turn four mishap involving Doug Chappius on lap two and when Mike Welch checked up low in a three-wide scramble for position with Marc Minutolo (middle) and Ron ‘Bundy’ Metcalf (high) rounding turn three. Pangrazio slid high off the track onto the grass in the second incident and joined Welch in the pits for a brief stop although both returned to restart in the rear.
With Quigley still out front, all eyes turned to Pangrazio as the Oakfield ace blistered the outside lane in his bid for a fourth straight win. Already storming from last to eighth on the second lap two restart, Pangrazio grabbed fifth in a wild four-wide maneuver the next time around and after five laps only Quigley and runner-up Parker Smith remained in his sight.
Smith nosed ahead of Quigley on lap six but the lead lasted less than a half-mile as Pangrazio ducked low across the line to complete his mission to the front. Rolling quietly in the wings from lap one, Grant moved under Smith exiting turn two on lap nine and with half the race gone ’19 points king Adam DePuy behind the wheel of Quinn Sutherland’s #57J Chevrolet Camaro and Quigley settled into the front-five.
Mirroring the heroics in his last victory –and Pangrazio’s last loss– on June 13, Grant methodically cut into the deficit and lap after lap crept closer aboard the black no. 36 Washburn Excavating-Hands Performance & Powder Coating-Champion Scrap Chevy Monte Carlo. And while Grant got by Pangrazio for the lead with three to go in round one, the popular Penn Yan pilot needed 19 laps to gain the point and cruise on to a satisfying three car-length victory at the wire.
“(Pangrazio) has a helluva powerplant in that #7 car but he had to use up his tires going around everybody getting to the front,” figured Grant, who moved to within 10 points (338-328) of three-time winner Pangrazio heading down the stretch. “Know I don’t have his power but I just look for bite all over the track early on. I keep the car straight where its faster and I’m able to diamond the turns which really makes the straightaways a couple hundred yards longer where you can make up ground.”
Rounding out the top-5 were second-generation standout Smith, DePuy in his season debut aboard a foreign ride, and Marc Minutolo behind the wheel of back-up black no 25B entry for the first time. All-time LOLR stock car winner Welch regrouped to cross the line sixth ahead of fast starter Quigley.
When action resumes Aug. 8 at LOLR, double features for both the Pepsi Big-Block Modifieds and MEM 305 Sprints will highlight another big ‘Saturday Spectacular’ along with a full card of Speed Connection Sportsman and Street Stock racing.
Derrick Podsiadlo and Lance Dusett are slated to pace the stacked 31-car Modified field for a 35-lap feature go while Jerry Sehn Jr. and Trevor Years fill the front row with 18 winged machines lined up for a 20-lap A-Main.
SUPER DIRTcar SERIES SHUFFLE
The coronavirus continues its stronghold on the 2020 Super DIRTcar Series schedule and no track has been hit harder in recent weeks than the Land of Legends, losing its second tour blockbuster to the world-wide pandemic.
In the most recent setback, LOLR officials and the Haers family have jointly decided to move the 2nd Annual Gerald Haers Memorial Big-Block Modified race from Aug. 13 to Sept. 19. The event was originally scheduled to coincide with NASCAR’s Watkins Glen Weekend, with a few special guests expected to be in attendance.
As the premise of the lucrative Haers Memorial event remains to be big and offer one of the best weekends of Modified racing in honor of Gerald, NASCAR’s agenda adjustment to the Daytona (Fla.) Int’l road course initiated the schedule change. As per a press release from NASCAR, “New York State health and safety regulations” were cited as the reason for moving that weekend’s race south out of Watkins Glen.
Now rescheduled for the third Saturday in September, the unique ‘Triple 20’ heat format and 74-Lap Modified main event will highlight the Haers Memorial and be complemented by a Northeast DIRTcar Sportsman Series showdown.
Round #1 of the Super DIRTcar Series in Canandaigua was on tap for July 2 before ever-revolving NYS COVID-19 restrictions pushed the headline ‘Liberty 100’ to July 22. That event was ultimately scrapped altogether due to rain.
The final full month of the summer race season continues next week with the Aug. 8 ‘Saturday Spectacular’ featuring a four-star show of Pepsi Big-Block Modified, Speed Connection Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint and Street Stock action at Land Of Legends Raceway. Pit gates open at 4:00pm and race time is 7:00pm. With grandstand attendance currently not permitted due to the social distancing mandates put in place, LIVE video coverage continues for the remaining race dates and can be viewed on Land of Legends TV for $15
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – August 1, 2020ADMAR Construction Equipment presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps/$2,000-to-win): Rain-delayed to Sat., Aug. 8
Starting Line-Up: 1. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 2. 77-Lance Dusett, 3. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 4. 33j-Robbie Johnston III , 5. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 6. 11j-James Sweeting, 7. 7f-Matt Farnham, 8. 23-Kyle Coffey, 9. 21x-Dillon Groover, 10. 14j-Alan Johnson, 11. 3-Justin Haers, 12. 25-Erick Rudolph, 13. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 14. 19-Tim Fuller, 15. 49-Billy Dunn, 16. 44-Russell Morseman, 17. 44v-Phil Vigneri III, 18. 99L-Larry Wight, 19. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 20. 83x-Tim Sears Jr., 21. 42p-Pat Ward, 22. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 23. 63-Adam Roberts, 24. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 25. m1x-Tim Murphy, 26. 55-Matt Hulsizer, 27. 88-Mat Williamson, 28. 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr., 29. 82-Ryan Susice, 30. 19w-Justin Wright, 31. 21x-Eric Williams(ALT).
*Feature (35 laps / *curfew-delayed from 7/18): 1. m1-Dave Marcuccilli ($2,000), 2. 19-Tim Fuller, 3. 42p-Pat Ward, 4. 11j-James Sweeting, 5. 99L-Larry Wight, 6. 14j-Alan Johnson, 7. 23-Kyle Coffey, 8. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 9. 49-Billy Dunn, 10. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 11. 33j-Robbie Johnston III, 12. 77-Lance Dusett, 13. 63-Adam Roberts, 14. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 15. 25-Erick Rudolph, 16. 12x-Dillon Groover, 17. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 18. 3-Justin Haers, 19. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 20. 44-Russell Morseman, 21. 21x-Eric Williams, 22. 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr., 23. 19w-Justin Wright, 24. 7f-Matt Farnham, 25. 82-Ryan Susice.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Tegg, Johnston, Farnham, Sweeting, Rudolph, Ward, Murphy, Susice(DNS).
#2: Sheppard, Maier, Fuller, Haers, Groover, Marcuccilli, Hulsizer, D.Johnson.
#3: Sears, Dunn, Vigneri, Dusett, Coffey, Roberts, Williamson, Williams(DNS).
#4: A.Johnson, Phelps, Wight, Podsiadlo, Morseman, Payne, Wright(DNS).
Speed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (13 laps/rain-shortened): 1. 20x-Kevin Ridley ($750), 2. 7s-Torrey Stoughtenger, 3. 38-Zach Sobotka, 4. 35-Nick Cooper, 5. 61-Andrew Jacobson, 6. 27-Brian Fish, 7. 12g-Matt Guererri, 8. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 9. 117jr.-C.J. Castelletti, 10. 31-Kane Bristol, 11. 9-Tim Baker, 12. 7-Paul Guererri, 13. 56-Garrison Krentz, 14. 70a-Alex Payne, 15. 11n-Ricky Newton, 16. 410-Mike Fowler, 17. 32-Ryan Shanahan, 18. 44-Dave Conant Jr., 19. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 20. 7z-Zach Payne, 21. 99m-Mike Phelps, 22. 6-Cody Manitta, 23. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 24. 90-Nathan Peckham, 25. 4-Emmett Waldron, 26. 25g-Nick Guererri.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Krentz, Jacobson, Conant, Borden, Waldron, Shanahan, R.Martin, D.Martin, Manitta, Moden.
#2: Newton, N.Guererri, Fish, Peckham, Fowler, Joy, A.Payne, Years, Close, Nutting.
#3: Stoughtenger, Ridley, Cooper, Sobotka, Bristol, Lloyd, Mackey, Talbot, Hoxie, Reid.
#4: P.Guererri, Baker, M.Guererri, Castelletti, F.Guererri, Phelps, George, Z.Payne, Vinson, Barrett.
Consolations (8 laps)
#1: Shanahan, Manitta, A.Payne, 132-Dalton Martin, 28x-Jordan Moden, 17j-Brent Joy, 92-Rick Martin, 04-Eric Years(DNS), 42-Darryl Nutting(DNS).
#2: Lloyd, Phelps, Z.Payne, 3r-Chris Mackey, 80x-Zachary George, 9r-Jonathan Reid, 14t-Payton Talbot, 79-Brandon Close, 00-Sam Hoxie, 93-Tyler Vinson, 21x-Ryan Barrett(DNS).
Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): Rain-delayed to Sat., Aug. 8
Starting Line-Up: 1. 410-Jerry Sehn Jr., 2. 13t-Trevor Years, 3. 17e-Ethan Gray, 4. 121-Steve Glover, 5. 53-Bobby Parrow, 6. 18c-Dan Craun, 7. 48a-Alysha Bay, 8. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 9. X-Dan Bennett, 10. 38-Jason Whipple, 11. 9k-Kyle Pierce, 12. 77-Matt Rotz, 13. 8g-Bobby Gardner, 14. 3-Bri Donath, 15. 56-Josh Pieniazek, 16. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 17. 2-Aaron Jacobus, 18. 7-Andy Jacobus.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Ruggles, Sehn, Gray, Parrow, Bennett, Pierce, Gardner, Pieniazek(DNS), Ar.Jacobus(DNS).
#2: Bay, Years, Craun, Glover, Whipple, Rotz, Donath, Griffin, An.Jacobus.
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant, 2. 7-Josh Pangrazio, 3. 55p-Parker Smith, 4. 57j-Adam DePuy, 5. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 6. 00-Mike Welch, 7. 34q-Jason Quigley, 8. 93-Jared Hill, 9. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 10. 37x-Carl Johnson, 11. 64-Bob Buono, 12. 55b-Blane Smith, 13. 25L-Jamie Eldredge, 14. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 15. 12s-Dakota Sharp, 16. 5c-Rick Crego, 17. 122-Chris Beyea, 18. 4q-Doug Chappius.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Quigley, Buono, Grant, Metcalf, P.Smith, DePuy, B.Smith, Crego, Eldredge.
#2: Pangrazio, Minutolo, Welch, Hill, Johnson, Beyea, Chappius, Sharp, Hobbs.
UPCOMING EVENTS: Saturday Spectacular, Aug. 8 @ 7pm; Lee Depew & Son Trucking presents Big-Block Modified/Sportsman/305 Sprint/Street Stock.
Honeoye Auto parts presents Thursday Spectacular, Aug. 13 @ 7pm; Big-Block Modified-40L $4,000-to-win/Sportsman-25L $1,000-to-win/Street Stock-20L $500-to-win. *No Racing Sat., Aug. 15.