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Defending Fonda Speedway Pro Stock Champion Kenny Gates Claims Fifth Victory of 2017 at ‘The Track of Champions’


FONDA, NY- June 11, 2017- Some victories are more difficult than others.

One week removed from being proven fallible – a fact that many of his fellow competitors were beginning to think improbable – West Winfield, New York native Kenny Gates resumed his place atop the podium after winning his 70th career pro stock victory at the famed Fonda Speedway in Fonda, New York on Saturday night.

Gates, who is the defending track champion in the top full-fendered division at the historic fairgrounds oval, resumed his march of dominance with his fifth win of the young 2017 season. For all intents and purposes, the only thing that seems capable of stopping the driver of the familiar No. 35 is misfortune and that alone.

Though the victory may have seemed inevitable – and easy for that matter – Gates suffered a minor setback early on the evening that could have placed him even further back on the grid when the feature event took to the track. Needless to say, he definitely had to work a little harder than normal last night.

“We ended up with a right rear flat in our heat race,” Gates said after his victory. “One car didn’t quite get going well and Justin Knight tried to cut down and I was there. He got my right rear and mangled the tire and the wheel. Luckily my crew got me back out and we came from the back to second.”

Age and experience seem to coincide more often than not and though that may not necessarily be a fact that Gates likes to admit, it certainly helped him not only in his qualifying event, but in the main event later on in the evening as well.

“We got back up to second in our heat race,” Gates continued. “I could have pushed the issue and gotten by the leader but we really had nothing to gain by passing one more car. At point, if the leader messed up, we get the spot, if not, there’s no need to push the issue. We were in a handicapped position and there was no need to go any further.”

With his rebound complete from his heat race, the task at hand quickly turned into charging from the back to attempt to find victory lane yet again this season. Gates, who is well-known for using the bottom of the speedway for the most part, broke tradition and weaved his way through traffic using the top and bottom lanes in unison to drive to the front. It was a masterfully timed game of high-speed chess at its finest.

“The guys in front of me were turning some really good, fast laps,” explained Gates. “I had to drive for every position tonight. I think I shocked people tonight when I went to the top honestly. I knew the track was going to dry out from the top to the bottom as the night went on so I thought that we’d be alright.”

After being bounced around like a proverbial Ping-Pong ball during last week’s feature action, any concerns about his Jacr Chassis being back in dominant form were erased in rapid succession as the laps clicked by in rapid succession.

“We had a real good set up under this car tonight,” He continued. “We were able to get it back to where it was after last week so I felt pretty confident that we would be able to get up to the front. I didn’t know if we’d get another win but I definitely felt that I could get right up there.”

Gates, the consummate professional that he has become known as, is still in disbelief at how his season has started and in all honesty, the sky truly is the limit for the wily veteran.

“I didn’t think we’d have this many wins this early in the year,” He explained. “The competition here is pretty darn stout and when you’re starting in the back every week, you never know how the breaks are going to go. You can get caught behind someone and the leader can stretch his lead out and you can never get the opportunity to catch them. We’ve just been lucky that the breaks have been going our way this year. We’re off to a hell of a start.”

With a career that dates back nearly three-decades, if you would have told Gates that he would have 70-career wins at this stage in his career, he probably would have laughed you right out of his pit area. It’s been a long, difficult journey and at this stage, the time invested is paying off in a big way.

“I never thought we’d get as many wins as we have,” said Gates. “When I started racing, I just wanted to win one race. I mean, this is the ‘Track of Champions,’ I wanted to get a win where Lou Lazzaro and Jack Johnson have won. Then we finally got that first win and added two more and I thought ‘wow, now I want a championship.’”

He’s succeeded in more ways than he ever dreamed possible from his meager beginnings back in 1993 and has the track titles to prove it. For as long as he’s still competitive and as long as he’s still having fun, the end doesn’t seem to be in sight; at least not yet.

“The history is just so great here,” Gates concluded. “I’m amazed that we’re doing as well as we are and I’m enjoying every single second because I’m getting older, obviously, and you never know what the future holds. As long as the wins keep coming and we’re going good, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it. We’ve got a really good car right now and so far, so good.”

Matt Noles is contributing writer for Racers Guide and Dirt Track Digest. He currently resides in Sprakers, New York and can be reached via e-mail at