Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – From the early days of the Champlain Valley Racing Association, when the late C.J. Richards began staging his “Super Shootout” series, big races at Albany-Saratoga Speedway have always drawn big-name drivers from throughout the Northeast.
That tradition will continue this year.
When the historic track on Route 9 in Malta kicks off its season with the “Hell or High Water” card on Friday night, a number of top-notch modified invaders will be trying to walk out with the top prize of $5,600.
Promoter Lyle DeVore was working his phone Monday and received verbal commitments from Stewart Friesen, Billy Decker, Larry Wight, Matt Sheppard and Mat Williamson, as well as a number of other “maybes”. Those names should come as no surprise. They represent the upper echelon of dirt track racing in the Northeast, and each has had success at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in the past. From that group of five, both Friesen (2017, 2012) and Wight (2015) have notched opening-night wins at Malta.
The “Hell or High Water” card will feature a full night of racing, with all divisions in action, beginning at 7 p.m.. The increased modified purse is the result of additional financial support from Bart Contracting, as well as Schaghticoke Wine & Spirits.
The sportsman winner will receive $1,500 through sponsorship by John Ray & Sons and West End Towing, and Crane’s Outdoor Power Equipment is responsible for the $1,000 payday that will go to the pro stock feature winner.
The drivers who qualify for the modified feature will be also competing for a Hard Charger award, a $500 gift card for tools from Dave Prime Jr. of Mac Tools.
In the event of rain on Friday, the “Hell or High Water” card will be held on Sunday, with racing beginning at 4 p.m.
Mike Mahaney, the 2020 modified point champion, will be trying to achieve a rare feat on Friday night. The driver of the George Huttig-owned Bicknell won the opener last year and will be trying to become the first driver to win back-to-back opening-night features since Brett Hearn sat in victory lane to kick off the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
Two-time modified champion Marc Johnson, who set fast time during Albany-Saratoga’s practice session on April 9, will be looking for his first opening-night victory since 2014, while 13-time champion Ken Tremont Jr. will be attempting to end an even longer drought. Tremont hasn’t won an opening-night feature at Albany-Saratoga Speedway since the 2006 season