FIRST CAREER WIN AT FONDA NETS JEFF HEOTZLER $4,000 IN THE FIRECRACKER SHOWDOWN
By: Ron Szczerba
Fonda, NY – The “Jeffer” as he is called by many, Jeff Heotzler won his first career Sunoco Modified feature at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway on Saturday evening in the $4,000 to win Firecracker Showdown. The race was named as such as it was a shakedown run for the Firecracker 50 to be held on Wednesday, July 1.
Saturday evenings racing events were sponsored by long time track sponsors School House Pools Inc. of Amsterdam, NY.
Heotzler won the event in the iconic Palmer’s Service Center #76 Teo Pro car owned by Carole and Alton Palmer. Heotzler was named as the driver of the car earlier this year and the combined experience of both Heotzler and car owner and former driver Alton Palmer make it a very potent race team for sure.
In the Fuccillo Automotive Group Mike Cole Memorial victory lane, Mimi Lazzaro was honored to interview Heotzler, who her father Lou Lazzaro used to race with during his career while Mimi grew up around them all in the pit area.
“Thanks to Alton and Carole for choosing me to drive this racecar,” Heotzler said in victory lane. “We really couldn’t get a handle on this Teo Pro car, but we were finally able to do so this week. Hopefully, we can keep it up front.”
Heotzler dedicated the race to Jared Petruska who passed away earlier this year. Petruska and his family owned the Atlas Paving #66 who Heotzler drove for at times during his career. “This one is for Jared Petruska,” Heotzler said.
Early day rain made some hard work for the track crew to get the track ready for the racing events on Saturday evening, but they did a tremendous job which led to some really quick lap times during the evening.
In heat three, Danny Varin came close to breaking the track record of his father Bobby who set the record back on April 11, 2009 with a lap of 18.136. Danny’s turned a lap of 18.199 secs in heat race number three on Saturday evening.
Ed Biittig Sr. won the 50/50 on Saturday evening worth $751.
Fonda Speedway head starter Joe Kriss opened the racing program with a fantastic rendition of the National Anthem.
DTD TV did a fantastic job videoing the racing events on Saturday at Fonda as there were no fans allowed in the grandstands for the racing events.
It was the first night of handicapping of the 2020 racing season and after winning heat race number one Jeff Heotzler was handicapped to start on the outside pole and he took the lead at the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag in the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature. After starting in the sixth position, Danny Varin gained two spots up to fourth just before the first of only two caution flags slowed the event.
On the restart, Craig Hanson was the new second place car with Varin just behind in third with ninth place starter Josh Hohenforst and 10th place starter and defending track champion Rocky Warner completing the top five. At the halfway point in the event the top five remained the same with the leader in lap traffic by lap 16.
Varin got by Hanson on lap 17 for the second position and one lap later Varin started putting pressure on the leader. Hohenforst and Varin swapped the second position a couple of times with the final caution of the event out with five laps to go for Hanson whose great run came to an end with a flat right rear tire. Hanson would pit for a new tire and rejoin the rear of the field.
Warner took the third position away from Hohenforst with three laps to go with 14th place starter Matt DeLorenzo following him through for the fourth position. Warner got by Varin for the second position with two laps to go in the event but Heotzler kept the car straight and true to the checkered flag for his first career win at Fonda.
Warner, Varin, DeLorenzo, and Hohenforst completed the top five along with a great run by Scott Huber to finish sixth.
“This is another one for the bucket list,” Heotzler said. “I haven’t got many years left but it’s always great to come to Fonda. Thanks to Carole and Alton for giving me this opportunity.”