Johnson picks up win at Fonda

FONDA – Ronnie Johnson dominated the modified feature Saturday night at Fonda Speedway, but what he did in Victory Lane brought the loudest cheers and applause from the fans.

Johnson dedicated his first win of the season at the Track of Champions to his father, 11-time modified track champion Jack Johnson.

“Bottom line is, this race is for my father Jumpin’ Jack,” Ronnie said in Victory Lane. “He is struggling right now, and I can’t say anything more than that.”

After being involved in a wreck two weeks ago, 602 sportsman driver Brian Pessolano made his return to Fonda Speedway and Victory Lane on Saturday. Joining Johnson and Pessolano with wins on the night were Kenny Martin (pro stock) and Rob VanAernam (street stock), while Wayne Gaige picked up the victory in the added Vintage Modified feature and Eric Wiltse won the ACOT sprint feature.

JaMike Sowle and Darwin Greene brought the field of 23 modifieds to the green with Sowle taking charge. Elmo Reckner settled into second as Greene and Jeremy Wilder battled for the third spot.

Johnson picked his way into the top five by lap five with Danny Varin in close pursuit.

On lap 10, Johnson got by Wilder for third and quickly closed on Sowle and Reckner.

Two laps later Johnson overtook Reckner and dove under Sowle, exiting turn two to take the lead at the midway point of the 30-lap feature.

As Johnson pulled away from the field, Stewart Friesen was making his presence felt.

With 10 laps to go, Friesen was locked in a three-way battle for fourth with Varin and Sowle, while Recker stayed six car lengths ahead in second.

Friesen came away with the third spot with seven laps remaining and was pressuring Reckner for the runner-up spot when his right-rear tire blew on the final lap.

Johnson finished a half-track ahead of Reckner for his first win of the season and 23rd of his modified career at Fonda.

“We were going good last week, I don’t know if we would have won it but the engine started running good [then blew] right about when we took the lead,” Johnson said. “We came back here tonight and had a different track in the heat race and it kind of threw us off. We changed a few things and I think we hit it pretty darn good.”

Varin got up for third with Wilder fourth and Sowle fifth. Mikee Mahaney, Jim Davis, Matt DeLorenzo, Mark Kislowski and Greene complete the to 10. Friesen limped across the line in 12th.

Tim Hartman Jr. and Pessolano swapped leads early in the 602 sportsman feature before Pessolano gained control on a lap seven restart.

As Pessolano pulled clear of the pack, Hartman and defending division champion Cody Bleau engaged in a tight battle for the runner-up spot.

The duo exited turn four side-by-side to take the white flag and remained that way for the final lap before Bleau edged ahead exiting turn four to get second well behind Pessolano who garnered his second career sportsman feature win.

Connor Cleveland finished fourth with Ray Zemken fifth.

Gus Hollner led the opening lap of the 20-lap pro stock feature but relinquished the lead to Nick Stone on a lap two restart.

Martin was on the move and took second away from Hollner on lap four and crossed the line in a dead heat with Stone on lap five.

Martin used the low side of the speedway to take over the point. Pete Broderson came on strong and moved into the runner-up spot behind Martin with eight laps remaining. However, with the race continuing to run under the green, Broderson could not cut into Martin’s lead before the checkers dropped over Martin’s hood for the second time this season and 48th time in his pro stock career.

John Young showed the street stock field the fast way around the speedway for the first eight laps before VanAernam found a way past with two laps remaining. Young fell off the pace as Wayne Rubsha got by to finish second with Neil Cosselman third, Jerry Cohn fourth and Jamie Warner fifth.

Racing returns to Fonda Speedway next Saturday with a regular race card plus fireworks sponsored by Sowle’s Tractor Repair.