FONDA, N.Y. — Canadian Jordan Poirier and Josh Pieniazek kicked off Fonda 200 weekend at the venerable Fonda Speedway by sharing Patriot Sprint Tour victories Friday night.
Poirier’s score came in the Earl Halaquist Memorial, postponed from its original Memorial Day weekend by rain, while Pieniazek claimed the crash-marred nightcap for the 360 sprints.
The card also included qualifiers for Saturday’s $53,000-to-win, 200-lap event for the Sunoco modifieds. Stewart Friesen won the opener from the tail of his 14-car heat with Josh Hohenforst easily winning round two. Round three saw 2019 Fonda modified champion Rocky Warner run down polesitter Bobby Varin and wedge his way by to claim the win. The trio earned the first three starting positions for the 200, with nine others from each heat also locked into the feature.
Danny Varin lead the Patriot opener off the pole with Pieniazek, who shot down Varin’s father, Bobby, on the green, trailing. Using his home-track advantage, Varin built up a huge lead on the sweeping half-mile and was lapping the tailenders well before halfway.
Then, on lap 15, he pulled off with a blown motor, the same malady that had parked his father a few laps earlier.
Pieniazek then led through lap 18, when Poirier went sailing by on the way to the checkers. Pieniazek was second ahead of Jordan Thomas, former modified standout Jeff Trombley, Davey Franek, Corey Spark and Dalton Herrig.
“I didn’t know I was first until the end,” offered Poirier. “The car was awesome and we had good luck besides.”
“I didn’t realize that Varin had dropped out,” said Pieniazek. “I thought he was just gone, so I slowed down a little and it cost me the race.”
In the $3,000-to-win nightcap, Pieniazek got the drop on polesitter Thomas on the green and was never headed despite two red flags that put the field on his heels again.
Matt Tanner was the first casualty, riding out a rough series of flips in turn two on lap seven. Mike Kiser managed to get by Pieniazek on the ensuing restart, but his time out front ended before the lap could be scored as, Pieniazak had built up a full head of steam by the time they hit turn three and took the lead back off turn four.
The field had settled into freight train formation, as the track was so fast that passing was extremely difficult, when Franek, who had locked up the Patriot championship one race ago, drilled the turn one wall. His car went straight up and disappeared into the night, flying over the high wooden fence that separates the speedway from Route 30A and landing in the grassy area alongside the highway. While he was unresponsive when the rescue crew reached him, he came around and was talking with the EMTs when he left for a hospital checkup.
A return to action, saw Pieniazek again run out to a full turn lead before another yellow with two to go closed the field up behind him. The loser on that sequence was Joe Trenca, who had passed Thomas for second but had to go behind him again when the lap didn’t count.
At the checkered flag it was Thomas in second ahead of a fast-closing Poirier, Trenca, ESS champion Paulie Colagiovanni and Trombley with only ten cars still mobile.
Nick Stone drove away from the field to claim the Pro Stock feature with Luke Horning, Kenny gates and Chucky Dumblewski trailing.