What a weekend of racing here in the Capital District, with great weather and some terrific racing.
Albany Saratoga Speedway
The weekend kicked off at The Great Race Place, Albany Saratoga Speedway and once again it lived up to its name. The pits, once again, were packed with new cars in every division, including Jimmy Davis in the Thermo Control 34 Modified.
It was Stan “Da Man” night at the Speedway as they honored Stan DeVore, father to track promoter Lyle DeVore, who passed away in 2016. The Modifieds ran 32 laps as did the Sportsman and the Pro Stocks. Thirty-two was Stan’s favorite number.
Weekly the Modifieds run 35 laps, but Brett Hearn was glad it was shortened this week as he pulled off another win in front of a huge crowd. As Hearn pulled up on the front stretch, the power plant in his hot rod was overheating and oil was left on the track as he pulled away.
This puts Hearn at 899 wins. Wow. what a career Hearn has had and after his performance Friday night he sure shows no signs of slowing down. And yes, the fans still feel the need to boo and for what reason I don’t know. I guess it is the “love him or hate him” attitude, or everyone hates a winner. No matter what the reason, as a race fan I just don’t understand it - Brett Hearn is the ultimate professional at what he does and that is to put on a show for us, the race fans, and that is what he does.
Once again, third generation driver Bobby Hackle IV grabbed the early lead and pulled away as the racing behind the leader was hot and heavy with some great two and three wide racing. Just after the warm-ups earlier in the evening, water was put on the track and the high side of the speedway was run in and it made for great racing with three good lanes to race on, and they were sure using all three and then some.
As of late Brett Hearn has struggled but not Friday as he was on the move to the front from his eighth starting spot, the same spot as Kenny Tremont, who has also not had the best of luck won from last week.
What a battle was going on between point leader Peter Britten, Ronnie Johnson and Marc Johnson in a brand new Troyer Chassis machine. For Hackle, his fine ride would come to an end as he got into a lap car and suffered front end damage and quickly went pit side, handing the lead over to Hearn. The young Hackle is knocking on the door for the first win.
Once back to green it was all Brett Hearn. Now with Hearn out front the race behind him was heating up as Kenny Tremont was now on the move. The new Troyer mount of Marc Johnson was making steady progress to the front, brought out the yellow as he sat between turns 3 and 4, and now had to restart at the back of the field.
When it was back to green flag racing Keith Flach was using the high side after an earlier bringing out the yellow as now Britten were in the top 5 as Matt Depew was having a great run holding down the second spot.
As the checkers fell it was Hearn in for win number 899, with Depew holding on for second as Ronnie Johnson, Peter Britten and Kenny Tremont rounded out the top 5. The Ravena Rocket drove back to eighth.
The Sportsman had a little of everything - two red flags, multiple cautions, as well as some great racing.
Out front Jamike Sowle had a commanding lead when Rocky Warner took over the second spot and ran him down as the two raced nerf bar to nerf bar, putting on a great show for the fans with Sowle pounding the high side and Warner diving low. A late race found Sowle take the bottom on the restart.
The two wheeled their machines into turns 1 and 2, coming out of turn 2 side by side with Warner being forced off the back stretch, never getting off the gas came back on the track just before turn 3 dropping a few spots now had his sites on the Sowle 711, but ran out of laps. After the checkers Warner showed his displeasure on the move on the back stretch.
After the dust had settled Sowle grabbed the win over Jeremy Pitts, Rocky Warner from 13th, Chris Johnson from 16th, and Tim Hartman, who started 12th.
You would have thought there was a full moon out as the full fender Pro Stocks came on the Speedway for their 32-lap feature.
Once the green flag dropped the war was on with Ernie Greenier taking the early lead as the top point drivers were working their way to the front, driving hard and not always playing nice. After a series of yellows, Kenny Martin was now second and grabbed the lead on a restart and then things started to get interesting.
First there was contact between the 93 of Martin and second place car Robbie Speed sending Martin spinning in turn 4. Once back to racing Luke Horning was the new second place car. On the move was Kim Duell, who had pitted earlier. Once again there was contact with the leaders as this time it was Speed getting spun off the nose of Horning, with Horning being sent to the rear.
Now it was Chucky Dumblewski as the leader with Duell and Dean Charbonneu in a great clean side by side battle, neither giving an inch but respecting each other as Robbie Speed was on the move and coming to the front fast. Lap after lap he was picking off cars and clearly the fastest car on the track, making a great move on the high side and grabbing the lead from third using the high side.
At the checker it was Speed, who later in the night had his power plant pulled for tech, Dean Charbonneau, Dumblewski, Duell and Chris Wemple having a great run in for a solid top 5 finish. Other winners on the night were Colin Clow Limited Sportsman, John Filarecki Street Stocks, with Will Ryan and Jared Powell grabbed the 4cyl. wins. The night had everything, but one thing is for sure Albany Saratoga is where you need to be on Friday nights for some great family entertainment.
On Saturday it was off to the Track of Champions, Fonda Speedway for the annual 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees.
Drivers: Jerry Cook - 1968 Fonda champion, long-time NASCAR official, and member of NASCAR Hall of Fame; Earl Mewhorter - one of the early Late Model drivers; Jim Luke - 1955 Fonda champion, won first 100-lap event at Fonda; John Constantino - “The Dancing Bear” - raced at Fonda 46 consecutive years without a win until grabbing a win in a Vintage Modified; John Kollar, another driver who has been at Fonda for 51 years, took him 25 years to get to Victory Square and is now a car owner of the 10 percent he has always used for Tim Hartman; Keith Tesiero - another of the Late Model drivers who won the Late Model championship with 12 top five in 15 events in that very tough class.
Car Owners: Jim Magielda - Late Models 3M and M3; Jake Spraker - Former owner of cars from every class at Fonda and has had some of the very best in the seat of his Modifieds, now has Ronnie Johnson and Rocky Warner, both Track Champions in 2016; R.C. Putman - as an owner took Dave Lape to Modified championships.
Track Personnel: Clancy Miller, photographer.
Track Pioneer: Frank Trinkets, car owner of 62 driven by many of the early greats.
Dedication to Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame: Frank Blanchard, Mike, Patty and Anthony Cardamone, Cory White, Chuck Congdon, and Chef Shawn.
When you talk dedication, Modified driver Darwin Greene makes the long haul weekly from Pennsylvania, and he made it pay off Saturday leading from lap 3 to checker even after getting into the wall on the front stretch on lap 22 after making a power move on Pep Corradi on lap 3. After grabbing the lead Greene extended the lead lap after lap.
On the move was Josh Hoenforst, quickly coming through the field as Bobby Varin was struggling. As the laps clicked off the lap counter Pep Corradi and Hoenforst were starting to reel in Greene as Fuller was now working his way into the top 5 after a great battle with Ronnie Johnson. The margin was just too much as Greene grabbed his second win of his career.
On the last lap Hoenforst moved to second as Corradi’s fine ride came to an end as he went into the wall in turn 4. Following Greene to the line was Hoenforst, Boehler, Fuller and Johnson. Orange County runner and longtime racer Jeff Hoetzler was in the pits with his coil car.
Rocky Warner dominated the Sportsman feature, winning by half a track over Chad Edwards, Tim Hartman Jr., Tony Farone, and Mark Mortenson. The Pro Stocks had a great run with Ivan Joslin getting the win over Jay and Jason Casey, Kenny Gates, and A.J. Walters.
A scary accident found a red flag for Chuck Dumblewski as he hit the turn 4 wall and flipped. Word is he is very sore but looking for a ride.
It was one wild weekend filled with great racing.