CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. – Nearly 50 racers signed in Thursday for the second practice session in three days, and with the Land Of Legends Raceway 57th season-opener less than 48-hours away, a packed pit area is expected for the first Saturday Spectacular of the year.
While a rain shower forced practice to be shortened near the end on Tuesday, the Thursday event began with light sprinkles teasing teams in the late afternoon.
Still, the arrival of 30 new drivers brought the two-day total to 87 with many more first-time faces expected to sign in over the weekend.
“We’re the only track in the area scheduled to run Saturday so if anybody wants to race we’ll be ready for them,” noted Land of Legends Raceway promoter Paul Cole, in the midst of launching his third successive season at the helm of the half-mile clay oval. “Should be a big field so we’re loading in teams through the north entrance, the same route our fans normally take past the ticket booth. Our expanded pits provide plenty of parking so we’ll have room for whoever can make the trip.”
Cole continues to follow Andrew Cuomo’s executive order of social distancing, encouraging participants to cover their faces with protective gear while on the fairgrounds. Spectators will still be unable to attend the early season events in person due to current government restrictions although live streamed coverage will be offered exclusively through Land of Legends TV.
Two new point champions will be crowned in Canandaigua at the end of summer, with the Pepsi Big-Block Modified and Street Stock divisions up for grabs. Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y., will be reigning modified champ Matt Sheppard’s Saturday night hangout while defending street stock champion Adam DePuy has pooled his monetary resources toward the purchase of a new house. Sheppard and DePuy won last year’s opening night feature races.
Kevin Root (Sportsman) and Darryl Ruggles (305 Sprint) indicated earlier they will both be back to defend their titles earned in 2019. However, practice during the past three days has been tough on the Ruggles family.
Alysha Bay suffered serious engine issues aboard her 305 during the Tuesday session while on Thursday in hot laps for 360 Sprints her father Darryl slammed the wall exiting turn four before ending up on his side to force out a red flag. Ruggles was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester for observation in a conscious yet confused state, with Alysha anticipating his return to the speedway on Saturday for the first points event is doubtful.
While Sheppard will be chasing track points at Orange County this season, he still plans to make at least a half-dozen shows in Canandaigua. Including the upcoming June 9 special, the Waterloo warrior has penciled in the three Super DIRTcar Series races at Land of Legends Raceway scheduled in July, August and September.
Similar to Sheppard, who took his first Big-Block checkered flag of the season last week out of state, Root will be in search of his second win of 2020 after capturing the initial NYS event for Sportsman held at Utica-Rome Speedway (June 3).