Connect with CMP
Welch & Vanderwall cop full-fender features, Ellsworth & Doell latest CMP legends
Canandaigua, NY – June 2, 2012 – Father's Day came two weeks early for past Canandaigua Motorsports Park point champions Milt Johnson and Todd Henderson as their sons Danny Johnson and Justin Henderson once again made their mark in victory lane at the Ontario County Fairgrounds.
Johnson out-dueled Justin Haers to earn his third Original Pizza Logs Modified feature win of the season while Henderson out-distanced the entire field to claim his first Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman Modified checkered flag in 2012.
Division point leaders Mike Welch (Parts Plus Street Stock) and Vance Vanderwall (Pure Stock) returned to victory lane while Jon Ellsworth (New Legends Sportsman) and Steve Doell Jr. (Castner Performance 305 Sprint) added their names to the 'Land of Legends” record book Saturday in the Victor Mobile Home Parks program.
The first show of the month was also Military Appreciation Nite with Staff Sargent Jody Hackemer heading a group of members from the New York Army National Guard Recruiting & Retention unit that set up camp behind the main grandstands.
In further tribute to our troops, Sportsman racer Eric Giguere and his Safety Awareness Solutions outfit backed a pair of four-lap dashes with winner-take-all pots of $150 up for grabs. Danny Johnson claimed the Big-Block portion in honor of Leonard Smith, grandfather of defending CMP Sportsman champ Dan Wiesner who served at Normandy during WWII, and Justin Henderson captured the Sportsman special recognizing Tom Kimball, the late father of Wiesner's crew chief Anthony who flew several missions in Vietnam.
Superb track conditions greeted a full field of Big-Block racers and Johnson took advantage of the multi-lane half-miler in heavy traffic to post his 75th career win at the historic Routes 5&20 oval.
“The low side was good tonight but the lapped traffic definitely played in my favor,” remarked Johnson, after edging Haers by 0.7-sec at the line in another memorable performance aboard the blue no. 27J Page Trucking-Honeoye Auto Parts-Waste Management/Bicknell entry. “I knew (Justin) was good on the bottom but luckily I was able to hang on. The traffic sure did help us get back here to victory lane.”
“I just tried to keep going and stay ahead of him at the end. He had a fast hotrod out there and made me sweat a little more for this one. Its been such a great run for us so far,” said Johnson, whose father Milt wore Canandaigua's 1961 Modified crown.
Starting 13th on the 24-car grid was anything but unlucky for Johnson as the Rochester racer watched Tim Currier open a commanding lead in the early stages of the headline 35-lapper before seizing control late. Gary Tomkins charged from 10th to pull even with Currier at the end of lap eight, yet needed a dozen more circuits to move ahead in search of his first win this season.
Rim-riding around the the track during his time out front, Currier bounced off the outside backstretch wall unassisted on lap 17 and his misfortune was repeated four laps later when a flat right-rear tire forced him high into the back wall to end a gallant effort.
Tomkins and Johnson waged a torrid battle for the number one spot for the next 10 laps, with Haers joining the fray with 10 to go. DJ finally got around Tomkins on lap 30 and was followed immediately by Haers as the trio bounded out of turn four. In a daring three-wide maneuver across the stripe, Haers ducked low to sandwich the lapped car of Colton Chappius although Johnson never flinched as he clung to the high side where he would remain the rest of the way.
“We work hard, we try hard, and Mike Payne (crew chief) has a lot of determination to get us in position to win every week,” added Johnson, who passed Tomkins with just two to go to score his last victory on May 5. Jimmy Phelps nipped Tomkins for second on the last lap this Saturday while Matt Sheppard rallied to round out the front-five and keep a 30-point lead over Johnson in the updated standings. “We just work together well and everything seems to be going well for us at the moment.”
Weekends have been just as satisfying for Henderson as of late and his first Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman win of the season elevated the Canandaigua chauffeur to the next plateau.
“We've had such a rough start to this year, want to thank everyone that's been part of getting us here,” said Henderson, who reached victory lane twice last season and now has 10 wins to his credit in wine country. “This brand new Bicknell car the last couple weeks has just been on an absolute rail.”
“I could put the car on the top but everybody was running up there and mine was great on the bottom. We could make some good moves on the low side so I just decided to stick it out down there and it worked out for us,” noted Henderson, whose father Todd earned Canandaigua's Sportsman title in 2006 and currently ranks second to Wiesner on the points chart with Justin climbing to third after eight events.
Outside pole-sitter Nick Guererri built up a sizable lead over front row partner Greg Cool with 10th starting Henderson cracking the top-five after just a handful scored in the 25-lap main. When Kane Bristol lost a left-front wheel exiting turn turn to incur the first yellow flag on lap 13, Henderson's silver no. 21 Coors Light-Molson Canadian-Twisted Tea-Valvoline/Bicknell machine was in prime position to move out front for good on the ensuing restart.
While Henderson remained unchallenged the second half of the race, Top-5 spots were up for grabs and continued to be traded every lap until the checkers. A turn four tangle between Tom Keyes and Jimmy Maier on lap 23 brought the leaders together for one last shot and only the top two spots never changed.
Not even scored in the front-five with three laps to go, Steve Gray muscled past Frank 'Bubba' Burnell Jr. and Greg Cool in a three-wide scrum, ultimately finishing ahead of Cool and last week's winner Paul Guererri at the line.
“Every week we make a couple little changes, see how it goes and re-evaluate them after the race,” Henderson added. “Everybody has been putting in a lot of hours to get the car here (victory lane) and it really feels good that things finally paid off.”
Buckling back into his customary black Original Pizza Logs no. 00 Yukon Gear & Axle-Parts Plus Chevrolet Impala mount also paid big dividends for Welch after the veteran from Lyons registered his second Parts Plus Street Stock feature win of the season at the fairgrounds.
“We broke a cam in the engine a couple weeks ago, so thanks to Roger Bush and his team for loaning a car last Saturday and keeping us in the hunt,” said Welch, after moving back ahead of third-place finisher Russ Marsden in the point standings. “Also have to thank Paul Gavenda, he put this motor back together again on short notice and it was strong tonight.”
“Jeremie (Corcoran, CMP promoter) gave us a fast track tonight. It was great out there, smooth and tacky. There was bite everywhere and a lot of fun getting around,” said Welch, following his all-time track division-high 45th trip to victory lane.
Nate Daggett settled for runner-up honors after leading the first four circuits, with Marsden finishing ahead of Blane Smith and Nate Peckham in the 15-lap finale that ran caution-free despite plenty of three-wide racing at the front of the pack.
Vanderwall bolted into the lead at the drop of starter Scott Hixson's initial green flag, yet his fifth Pure Stock victory of the '12 campaign was the hardest of the season as runner-up Marc Minutolo pushed him across the line in the closest finish of the night.
“Marc has stepped up his game for sure, he's gotten real fast lately,” stated Vanderwall, who owned four career wins at CMP before the season started and now leads reigning division points king Minutolo in search of his first track crown. “The competition is good out there, hopefully we put on a good show for everybody tonight.:
Vanderwall was a one-man show until a lap seven caution flag flew for trackside debris in turn three to tighten the field. In quest of his fourth straight win, Minutolo pulled even on the restart yet fell short in his bid to get past the orange no. 742 Pulcini Contracting-Carriage Stop Restoration Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Rookie Jesse Johnston, Roger Bush and Eric Chapman filled out the final front-five after 12 laps.
Pole-sitter Ellsworth out-dragged front row foe Daryl Nutting on the opening circuit and sped on to collect his first-ever victory by a decisive dozen car-lengths in the non-stop 10-lap Legends finale.
“This is a dream come true,” beamed Ellsworth, after the Marion driver became the fourth different winner in seven Legends races held to date. “Started coming here with my parents when I was four years old, now I'm on the same track of legends like Merv Treichler, Marcel LaFrance, Bob McCreadie and Jack Johnson. Still a rookie but I'm here.”
Ellsworth showed veteran poise in his no. 316 Magnum Auto Parts-Custom 31 Graphics-Red Apple Quik Fill/Bicknell ride, turning back every early effort made by Nutting to steal away the top spot. The green-to-checkers affair lasted only 3-1/2 minutes, with Billy Brown, Josh Dickinson and Jason Scales rounding out the Top-5. A heat race crash ended the night early for Jon Cordovani, Heinrich Kirschner and Andrew Jacobson.
In possibly the first-ever feature event to average 100 mph (100.849) in speedway history, Doell led the entire 15-lap distance to claim victory in the Castner Performance 305 Sprint Car A-Main. Blowing an engine in the division's April debut and not even making the starting grid, the second-generation racer from Rochester rebounded in convincing fashion to add his name to the 'Land of Legends' ledger.
“Had a little trouble in the beginning blowing a motor, thanks to Steve Glover he put together a good engine for us and we made it back here tonight,” said Doell, whose father Steve Sr. once competed at Canandaigua in the open-wheel divisions. “The car worked good everywhere, we had a good set-up in there tonight. It was a real fast track out there and everything worked out well in the end.”
With the field doubling from four to eight entries since that April opener, the no. 36 Elab Smokers Boutique-All-Pro Painting Pogo-powered/Maxim was untouchable, leaving the race for second the most hotly contested throughout the entire distance.
The final shake-up came on the last lap lap when second and third-place runners, Jake Muench and round one winner David Ferguson, tangled between turns three and four. May 12 winner Mike Stelter quickly filled the runner-up void while new points leader Jeff Frasier, Nick Cooper and Mike Castner Jr. completed the Top-5.
Oval track activity in the first official month of summer continues at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Saturday, June 9 when ABC Roofing and Finish Line Auto Center present a high-speed show of Original Pizza Logs Big-Block Modified, Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman, Parts Plus Street Stock, Pure Stock and New Legends Sportsman plus a second straight visit by the Castner Performance 305 Sprints, with Kids Power Wheels Races joining the card. Pit gates unlock at 4pm, grandstands open at 5pm and the first qualifying heat goes green at 7pm.