Albany Saratoga Speedway
ROUND 1 GOES TO HEARN
If the action in the 35-lap Modified feature event on Friday night is any sign of what’s ahead at Albany Saratoga Speedway then we are in for a real knock-down, drag out fight this season. The line-up was huge and so was the action.
When the green flag dropped Brett Hearn was ready to show the field why he is the reigning point champion, but he had to do battle with the new faces of A.J. Romano and Pete Britten before he would secure the race lead. Early on in the feature event Hearn took over the third position from Stuart Friesen ― the fifth time around the 4/10 mile oval Hearn put Romano behind him was ready to show the Australian, Britten, why he is so dominant.
Britten ― who was very impressive at the ‘Great Race Place’ ― had Hearn’s Madsen Motorsports mount all over him. He was about to relinquish the race lead but Hearn wasn’t successful on the high-side so he dropped down and swiped the lead from Britten. Hearn never looked back, despite late race attempts from Friesen, and went on to take his seventh season opener at the Malta oval and his 104th career victory at Albany Saratoga Speedway.
Friesen was second while Britten, Ronnie Johnson and Matt Delorenzo rounded out the top five. An impressive run was put forth by Kenny Tremont who came from the 29th place starting position, to finish the initial event in seventh place.
Sportsman driver Derrick McGrew was hoping for the same results as last year’s season opener ― and he got them. McGrew was fast all night and went from his seventh place starting position to the runner up spot by the ninth circuit. The next lap saw McGrew was in the lead. He went on for the win.
In the Speedway’s newest division, the Novice Sportsman feature consisted of 13 drivers. The sub-division to the Sportsman class is to give the new racers some more lap time and some more room while they learn. Connor Cleveland took the honors in the division’s inaugural 12 –lap feature event. Cleveland was followed by Jack Bublak who was consistent all night. Doug Hancock, Chris Murray and John Lindeblade rounded out the top five.
At the drop of the green flag in the Pro Stock feature event it was all Cale Kneer who is back behind the wheel of a Pro Stock automobile. Kneer, a seven time winner at the Malta oval, looked good all night but couldn’t hold back a hard charging Rob Yetman who took the lead on the fifth circuit. Kneer gave Yetman another challenge for the top spot but it was all Yetman when the 25-lap show concluded.
Kenny Martin, who started the event from outside the fourth row, was part of the entertaining trio with Yetman and Kneer. Ed Thompson and Bill Smith rounded out the top five.
The 20 lap Street Stock feature belonged to Matt Mosher. He took the lead at the drop of the green flag and despite a strong running Bill Duprey he took the honors for the first feature of the new season.
Things ― Due to the huge Sportsman car counts last season AS management decided to create a ‘Novice Sportsman division. This would allow the ‘lesser experienced’ racers to get more track time… 15 drivers took advantage of the new class… Seth Roberts was back in racing action after a few years off… Many number changes and new faces at the ‘Great Race Place’… Eric Mack was back behind the wheel driving the Constantino owned race car… Jeremy Pitts will be calling AS home on Friday nights… line up for the Modified heats was done by the ‘luck of the draw’, Hearn started his heat from the inside front row… Matt Depew vacated his QE early due to a heavily smoking automobile… A. J. Romano was in attendance, Romano’s son races go-karts are Friday nights and the season hasn’t started yet so Romano made the trip to Malta… AS’s 2012 ‘Rookie of the Year’, Bodie Bellinger, exited his QE early…Yule Cook, a ‘Malta Moment’ receipient at the banquet for his exciting effors in 2012 was running fourth in the Street Stock feature when he spun and took four-time race winner [in 2012] Randy Miller with him. Miller’s car flipped… the moon was beautiful as the modified feature started… an early lap eight exit from the Modified feature event for Brian Gleason who joins the division after running with the Sportsman division for the initial 2012 season… Hearn’s last season opener victory came in 2009… new face in the pits ― Jeremy Wilder was turning heads all evening for his Modified performance…
Modified Feature [35 laps]: Brett Hearn, Stewart Friesen, Pete Britten, Ronnie Johnson, Matt Delorenzo, A.J.Romano, Kenny Tremont, Jeremy Wilder, Bodie Bellinger, Marc Johnson, Keith Flach, Matt Depew, Pep Corradi, Mark Kislowski, Jimmy Cottrell, Justin Boehler, Mike Perrotte, C. G. Morey, Floyd Billington, Tony Ballestero, John Lutes, Jr., Ray Hoard, Neil Stratton, Rich Ronca, Don Ronca, Brian Gleason, Jeff Trombley DNS Chris Busta, John Proctor