Racing season kicks off at speedway

FONDA – Matt Sheppard led only 200 yards of Saturday’s modified feature at Fonda Speedway. But it was the right 200 yards.

Sheppard made the most of a one-lap shootout to pass Danny Varin on the outside of turn four and outdrag him to the finish line for his second career victory at the Track of Champions.

Joining Sheppard with victories on the 62nd season opener were Cody Clark (602 sportsman), Pete Broderson (pro stock), John Bradt (street stock) and Ken Hollenbeck (4-cylinders).

Ronnie Johnson and Bobby Varin brought the field of 29 modifieds to the green flag, with Johnson taking command.

The 2011 track champion set a fast pace until disaster struck on lap 12.

Johnson went high around a lapped car and caught a rough spot in the track, sending the modified barrel rolling seven times, bringing out the red flag.

Johnson was helped from the car and was shaken but remained at the track.

Bobby Varin inherited the lead, but Danny Varin overtook the leader on the restart and pulled away from his father.

A series of cautions kept the field tight and allowed Sheppard to move into third on lap 13, with Billy Decker fourth and Jeremy Wilder fifth.

Danny Varin was able to hold off strong bids for the lead by his father before Sheppard moved past him into the runner-up spot with four laps remaining.

Danny Varin turned back Sheppard’s challenges and had a four-car-length lead erased when the caution flew on the final lap because of a tangle on turn four while the leaders were on the back stretch.

Varin held off Sheppard heading into turn one. Sheppard rolled to the top side entering turn three and was able to get alongside Varin on the short chute. The duo exited turn four side by side, and Sheppard held a 0.351-second lead when they hit the finish line.

Danny Varin finished second followed by Bobby Varin, Pat Ward and Wilder. Decker, Marc Johnson, A.J. Romano, Alton Palmer and Dale Plank rounded out the top 10.

In the 20-lap sportsman feature, Clark held a 0.794-second lead over Rocky Warner at the line to record his first career win at Fonda Speedway.

Jeremiah Munson was third, with Tony Farone and Ricky Quick rounding out the top five.

Broderson and Chuck Dumblewski staged a race-long battle in the pro stock feature, with Broderson winning out over Dumblewski and Nick Stone in a green-white-checkers finish.

Randy Miller was first to the line in the 15-lap street stock feature but failed post-race tech, handing the victory to Bradt.

Ken Hollenbeck picked up where he left off last year with his opening night victory in the four-cylinder division.