GRANT & ELLISON SAVOR WINNING RECIPES IN FULL-FENDER LOLR OVENS MEMORIAL
by Tom Skibinski | May 8, 2022
WIGHT, CORCORAN & GRIFFIN KICK OFF MAY WITH OPEN-WHEEL VICTORIES AT ONTARIO CO. FAIRGROUNDS
*Jimmy Grant victory lane photo attachment by Shawn Greene
Canandaigua, NY – May 7, 2022 – Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
The first weekend in the month of May kicked off at Land Of Legends Raceway with Jimmy Grant and Wayne Ellison taking top honors in the headline ‘Ovens Memorial’ for full-fender teams.
In his return to the cockpit Grant rallied to capture the fast-paced 20-lap Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock feature while Ellison dominated to claim his second straight checkered flag in the companion 15-lap Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock event. Nearly $1,400 in lap awards added to the Street Stock ($4,310) and Hobby Stock ($2,685) purses for the May 7 special presented by iFreeze Storage & Distribution Center held in memory of Stewart and Brad Ovens, father and brother of LOLR P.A. Announcer Steven Ovens.
Also taking checkered flags in the second ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the season were Larry Wight (Pepsi Big-Block Modified) for the second consecutive week, Tyler Corcoran (Speed Connection Sportsman) and winged warrior Brandyn Griffin (Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car).
“The Ovens Family holds a special place here at the speedway and tonight was a fitting tribute to Brad and Stu, made even better with Steve sharing the stage,” noted LOLR Promoter Paul Cole.
Brad, who at age 31 died last autumn on November 19 after a brief battle with CoVid-19, passed away just 16 days following the death of his father Stewart, 62.
The voice of the Yates County Fair and owner of Creekside Entertainment, Stewart won two stock car features at Canandaigua Speedway where he was the 1979 Rookie division points champ, also garnering track titles at Dundee and Weedsport.
On the track, Brad earned a go-cart championship in 1995 while taking 10 4-Cylinders (2 runner up points finishes) at Outlaw Speedway, yet he was recognized far more behind the scenes with his work featured on ESPN, MavTV, SPEED Channel, TSN in Canada and most recently LOLR TV.
In a special pre-race ceremony on Saturday spearheaded by Steve and joined by their mother Lee Ann Braman and stepfather along with Brad’s stepmother Marge Ovens, Brad also became the first individual in 2022 to be honored on the track’s growing Wall of Fame. Cole provided opening remarks to the racing fraternity gathered behind the main grandstand on Brad’s behalf.
Building a longstanding relationship with LOLR TV Executive Producer Art Rorick prior to Cole taking tenure at LOLR, Brad was an Intern at DIRT Motorsports/DIRTvision (2007-08) in high school, continuing that work through college traveling to many major venues covering the “Summer of Money” and ESPN shows alongside Art, Matt Thomas and Patrick Donnelly, son of DIRTcar founder Glenn Donnelly.
In 2020 Brad started work for Land of Legends TV as an assistant producer in charge of graphics and drone operation. For the 2021 campaign, he completely revamped LOLR TV’s graphics package to a custom, tailored-to-LOLR TV tool that featured distance-to-leader intervals, a Top-10 running order graphic as well as marketing space for track sponsors on the scoring ticker at the top of the screen. Those same graphic contributions continue to be used in his honor this season.
In addition, Brad and Steve worked together to broadcast iRacing events on the LOLR Facebook page during the winter months. That series featured LOLR drivers, crew members, staff and drivers from other area NE tracks. Brad was the kingpin behind the production of those shows and was an EMPA award winner for not only his work with LOLR TV but on the iRacing Series productions as well.
Ovens joins 2018 LOLR WoF charter members Donald ‘Dutch’ Hoag, ‘Barefoot’ Bob McCreadie, Glenn Donnelly and Alan Johnson, Class of ’19 inductees Steve Pesarek, Milt Johnson, Gary Montgomery and Gary & Donna Spaid , along with last year’s honorees Steve Paine, Paul Guererri, Mike Welch and Fred Taney.
Opening the season last weekend entered only in the Sportsman division, 2021 LOLR Street Stock points champion Grant returned aboard his familiar black #36 Hands Performance & Powder Coating-Washburn Excavation Chevrolet Camaro just in time to triumph in Canandaigua’s coveted Ovens Memorial.
“I’ll never forget this (win), being who it was for, its a great honor for me and my family,” beamed Grant, 36, after the Penn Yan pilot earned $550 plus lap money and the NG Promotions ‘Hard Charger’ Award after starting 9th in the 22-car field. “We all know Stu and Brad very, very closely and for us to win on this night, I couldn’t ask for anything more. Steve, that’s for us buddy, you know what I’m talking about man. I love ya.”
“And this is my first big check, I wanted it so bad. I’m putting this in my bedroom,” stated Grant, who was unable to start the Sportsman feature Saturday after losing a fuel pump rod in the #36 Nardozzi Paving & Construction-JE Marine Maint-Geneva Glass-Dailey Electric/Bicknell ride.
With his company name iFreeze topping the stock car doubleheader, front row starter Adam DePuy overtook pole-sitter Carl Johnson on lap four to set the early pace. Grant passed Johnson for third five laps in with runner-up Rick Crego next on his agenda. Opening day winner Josh Pangrazio grabbed fifth from Nick Dandino on lap seven and by the halfway point DePuy, Crego, Grant and Welch filed in line on the fast fairgrounds half-miler.
Grant finally got around Crego dicing down the backstretch on lap 11 and began in hot pursuit of leader DePuy. As traffic heightened so did Grant’s thirst for his first victory of the young season, finally stealing away the number one spot when DePuy fell victim to lapped cars as the duo crossed the line to complete lap 17.
With just two laps to go a rare red flew after a multi-car crash put Grant’s victory on hold and a number of cars on the hook in the 15-minute stoppage to clear the track.
The turn three melee began with John Burritt and Jeff Hand sliding into Jason Quigley at the end of the back chute and with no room to maneuver Dandino rammed into the helpless Burritt machine. With the track blocked ahead Brad Streinruck Jr. joined the fray and when the dust settled Pangrazio’s car sat motionless at the top of the back straightaway, missing a transmission that had been lost the lap prior.
Another slowdown on the ensuing restart for the disabled mount of Chris Beyea in turn four only delayed the inevitable, and back under green allowing Grant to open a three car-length margin over second-place DePuy at the stripe. Crego, Welch and Marc Minutolo filled out the final front-five.
“Knew I could roll the center and I was a lot faster than (Adam) on the bottom,” noted Grant, following the 11th career Street Stock win at the Ontario County oval. “He was tied down there so I knew I needed something to get by. It was so much fun running in that lapped traffic, most fun I’ve had in a race car in years I think. When you get a race car that works and can put it anywhere, and running with a guy like Adam, its doesn’t get much better than that.”
“Was still very nervous during that red checking gauges, telling myself not to step on it and going through my head what I needed to do. When we went green again then had another caution I was thinking about tires and if they were sealing over. But knew if I was out front and locked down on the bottom not too many cars that were gonna drive around this thing,” added Grant, whose team provided a $100 ‘Hard Luck’ Award, not surprisingly given to Burritt after the late-race misfortune.
The Hobby Stock portion of the Ovens Memorial was all but decided after just three laps with Ellison blasting from fifth to first in his #18 Moracco Machining-Smith Drywall Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Three caution periods for minor mishaps were all that could slow the Geneva wheelman in his quest for the $350 top prize.
“Want to thank the Ovens family, really appreciate them doing this for the full-fender classes here,” remarked Ellison, 56, who waited nine years to return to victory lane at LOLR and now has two wins in eight days. “Honestly, I think a lot of people love this kind of racing, most probably know someone involved with stock cars in some way, shape or form even though they probably still come out to watch the Modifieds. So for (Ovens) to do this for us really means a lot.”
Veteran Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr. grabbed the early lead with Nate Peckham and WNY invader Jaren Israel in tow. Ellison wasted little time storming to the front, ducking low from fourth to second on lap two then bolting under Burnell exiting turn four on a lap three restart.
Ellison built a commanding eight-car advantage with 10 laps complete and despite a yellow flag flying with two to go, finished with a decisive half-dozen car-length lead at the wire. Burnell settled for second followed by Peckham, reigning division points king Justin Eldredge and second-generation standout Tyler Burnell.
“Really gotta thank the crew. This is probably not like a normal Hobby Stock crew as they work on this car every single day, they just love doing it,” said Ellison, who also collected the NG Promotions ‘Hard Charger’ Award. “My sons, my wife, we even get some help from guys on the other crews. Just amazing how much these guys help each other.”
“Its a little bit different today. When I was younger doing this (racing) nobody helped anybody and now they seem to be really friendly. And the thing is we all drive so different, so what works for us doesn’t work for others and we do what we can for them,” Ellison added.
Wight not only matched Ellison’s full-fender dominance at LOLR with a second straight victory in the open-wheel ranks, it was the fifth successive Big-Block triumph circuit-wide for the high-flying leadfoot from Phoenix NY.
“The top (lane) has been my place to be here,” figured Wight, 29, after leading all 30 laps en route to the $2,000 victory. “The bottom just hasn’t really come up yet, think we just gotta get in some more races then the guys will get a little more comfortable with the water on the track. When the heat races are out and that dust sets on the top nobody really goes up there. As soon as the sun goes down that moisture comes back up. That little bit of dust and crumbs cover up so the sun doesn’t dry (track) out on us.”
Joining pole-sitter Kevin Root on the front row after the top-three heat race qualifiers re-drew for feature race starting positions, Wight pushed his #99L F.X. Caprara Honda-Tracey Road Equipment-LJL Gypsum Racing/Bicknell to the point and ‘Lightning Larry’ was off to the races.
On lap three Marcus Dinkins got out of shape in turn two and collected Dave Allen before Eldon Payne Jr. spun between turns one/two on lap nine to incur the lone caution periods. And that was all that could hinder Wight’s plight as he cruised home for a comfortable straightaway win over sixth starting Matt Sheppard, with his no. 9s car besting the no. 99L earlier in the night during qualifying.
Runner-up position proved profitable as during the ‘live’ streaming of the program by LOLR TV, the CNY Nuisance Wildlife Management team added $200 to second-place with Sheppard the unexpected recipient on Saturday night. Locally owned and operated serving the Central New York Area, this group specializes in nuisance wildlife removal such as bats, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, mice, woodchucks and other unwanted critters.
Sheppard improved to second in his lap 10 pass of Australian ace Peter Britten while Erick Rudolph scored fourth-place in his ’22 LOLR season-debut. Defending points champ Justin Haers slipped by Tim Fuller in the late stages to round out the Top-5 in the 20-minute main.
“Track conditions were pretty similar to last week, just seemed like there was a ton of bite getting into turn three on the top,” said Wight, who led all but the initial five laps last Saturday to out-distance Britten and Sheppard on the final scoresheet. “There was no way you shut down and go through the bottom and try to maintain. This car was turning on a dime and I could drive as straight as an arrow so that gave me the ability to throttle up quicker than anybody else.”
“I had no idea how close Peter was or even if it was Matt since his transponder wasn’t working, so you gotta take chances with the lapped cars. You choke up one time and the next thing you know a guy is pulling by you. Definitely drove it into turn three a little harder to make sure Peter didn’t attempt a slider or something.”
As assertive as Wight was with the Big-Block brass, Central Square chauffeur Corcoran was just as superior in the 25-lap Sportsman nightcap, leading the entire distance aboard his #64 Halmar Int’l-Power Seal-Dirt Track Digest/Bicknell entry. And while Wight won Friday night at Brewerton Speedway, Corcoran took the checkered flag one night earlier at Can-Am Speedway to mirror that success.
“Nice to go 2-for-2 for Mother’s Day. I told my mom ‘don’t worry, I’ll put it in victory lane this weekend,’” smiled Corcoran, 20, who won his first feature last August at LOLR, where his father Jeremie promoted race events from 2011-17.
Like the Big-Blocks, the top-three qualifiers re-drew, and not only did Corcoran cop the initial heat, he selected the #1 starting spot come feature time. From there he only needed to withstand three yellow flags to secure the convincing win.
Sam Hoxie performed a 360-degree spin after contact with Matt Guererri entering turn three to initiate the first caution on lap four before Hoxie eventually pulled to the backstretch infield with a broken front-end to bring out the last slowdown on lap eight. In between, Guererri slowed out of turn three, returning after a quick pause pitside; with the two-time defending points champion ultimately salvaging ninth-place in the final rundown.
Corcoran was hardly fazed following all three restarts, pulling away from race-long runner-up Paul Guererri and leaving Nick Guererri, Zach Sobotka and Tyler Murray to battle in his shadow. Nick Guererri managed to hold on for third while eighth-starting Kane Bristol surged forward in the closing stages to steal fourth from Murray as Sobotka faded to sixth under chief starter Scott Hixson’s checkered flag.
“Them cautions really killed me,” stated Corcoran, after earning the $750 first-place payoff. “Felt really good there at the start but at the end I got nervous because I saw Nick’s number on the scoreboard and he’s running on the bottom where all the Guererris are good here. The car just got tighter and tighter and I knew just one little slip up and Nick could’ve been there but I guess he wasn’t. So I just drove the car really hard (into turns), just hoping it stuck through the brown on the bottom and I didn’t make any mistakes.”
For the second straight week Griffin selected a front row starting position in the early season feature re-draw yet this time he made no mistakes in holding off rival Darryl Ruggles to lead flag-to-flag in the caution-free 20-lap MEM 305 A-Main.
“Started this time with Darryl outside, made me a little nervous as he’s the fast guy here,” admitted Griffin, 24, who led the opening seven laps last Saturday before 2021 points champ Ruggles took over the remainder of the way. “So having him start there and winning last week definitely had me nervous.”
“Last week we lost heat in the tires under caution and the car got really loose, just didn’t have a fast car after the slowdowns. Hoping we didn’t get any yellows tonight because it might happen again,” noted Griffin, after scoring his sixth career winged victory at the Land of Legends..
The Clifton Springs driver got his wish Saturday and his #75 SVRA-Scales Lawn & Landscape-Tri-County Excavating/Eagle ran untouched without a single yellow flag falling to affect tire temperature. Ruggles once again provided the biggest challenge yet fell just 858-sec. shy in his final last lap bid to repeat.
Alysha Bay placed third ahead of 11th starting Jason Whipple while veteran Bobby Parrow tallied another Top-5 in the seven-minute main.
“I messed around too long to get by those lapped cars and Darryl was able to close in,” added Griffin, who finished just eight points behind Ruggles in the final ’21 standings with a pair of wins. “Had to decide which way to go as one car was on the top and the other on the bottom. I could hear (Darryl) coming so I said I gotta do something now.”
The Humane Society of Yates County was the beneficiary of the weekly 50/50 fund on Saturday night. The HSYC is a private 501(c)3, No-Kill, Animal Shelter located in the Finger Lakes with its Shelter of Hope providing the best care possible to companion animals until they are adopted into loving, forever homes.
HSYC volunteers, staff and board members support its mission to help domesticated animals, striving toward making Yates County a community whose animals rest in loving homes without need or want. To learn more, stop by (or call 315-536-6094) the shelter in Penn Yan, located 2.5 miles north of the village on 14A, and be sure to sign-up for the subscription newsletter.
The second ‘Saturday Spectacular’ of the month arrives on May 14 with a high-speed show of Pepsi Big-Block Modified, Speed Connection Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock and Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock action along with a return of the MighTea Boba New Legends Sportsman division.
Seneca Meadows sponsors the big six-star card with pit gates swinging open at 3:30pm, spectators gaining admittance at 5 o’clock, hot laps starting at 5:30 and the first qualifier going green at 6:30 sharp.