Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – No, this wasn’t Gotham City. And there was no signal flashing across the night sky.
But make no mistake about it. Batman is back.
Peter “Batman” Britten ended a long winless drought Friday night with a wild victory in the 35-lap modified feature at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Britten, the 2017 modified champion at Albany-Saratoga, hadn’t been in victory lane at Malta since Aug. 9, 2019. But he was back Friday night, winning a spirited battle with veteran Vermont driver Todd Stone.
How long has it been since Britten was in victory lane at the historic Malta track? “It’s been toooo long,” he joked, adding, “I almost forgot the procedure.”
Britten, who had only one top five finish in his first five starts at Albany-Saratoga this season, came out of the 13th starting position in the 29-car field and was on the move early, breaking into the top five after just 15 laps of the feature, which ran caution-free.
Stone, who had taken the lead away from Rich Ronca on lap five, maintained a healthy lead over Ronca and Keith Flach until he got into lapped traffic midway through the feature. Both Ronca and Flach closed right in on Stone, and when Flach moved to the high side, looking for more traction, it opened up the bottom for Britten, who moved into third with 10 to go.
Stone was stuck behind the lapped car of John Lutes Jr. for a number of laps, allowing Ronca and Britten to stay within striking distance, and when Stone finally cleared Lutes, Britten used the lapped car as a pick to move into second.
Britten closed right in on Stone’s rear bumper on lap 31, and the two leaders were dead even when they crossed the start/finish line on that lap. Britten then pulled ahead of Stone for good going down the backstretch and came away with his 12th career win at the historic Malta track.
“I was confident coming into tonight,” said Britten. “But you never really know with these deals. We just kept tweaking on the car and we finally got it right tonight.”
Stone, who won his only modified feature at Albany-Saratoga on opening night in 1999, when the track ran triple features, was disappointed but not discouraged by finishing second.
“This is the best we’ve been all year,” he said. “The guys changed the car all around and it really felt great.”
Following Britten and Stone across the finish line were Flach, Jeremy Pitts and Neil Stratton. Ronca, who faded to eighth, went home with an extra $200 for winning the Service Tire Truck Centers Dash for Cash.
Drew Cormie led flag-to-flag to record his first career victory at Albany-Saratoga in the 25-lap sportsman feature. After Cormie opened up a comfortable lead, the field was bunched on lap 23 when Justin Barber came to a stop on the backstretch, but no one had anything for Cormie, who finished with a 1.020-second advantage over Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald.
“This one is for my grandfather,” said Cormie in victory lane. “I’m sure he was looking down on me tonight.”
Completing the top five were Nick Lussier, Dan Grignon and Andrew Buff. Greg’s Towing put up $100 bonuses for the sportsman drivers who finished in positions 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25. Those bonuses went to Buff, Connor Cleveland, Ricky Quick, Bryant Moore and Darryl Nutting.
Josh Coonradt drove to his second consecutive win in the 25-lap pro stock feature. Coming out of the fourth starting position, Coonradt only needed three laps to take the lead away from Jason Meltz and was cruising along until a couple of late restarts jangled his nerves a little bit. But he never bobbled and held off Meltz to get the win.
Completing the top five were Chad Jeseo, Jay Casey and Rob Yetman.
Track handicapper John Casterella Jr. put up $100 bonuses for the heat race winners, with Rich Crane and Dean Charbonneau getting the extra cash. The pro stocks also competed for $100 bonuses in the Andy’s Speed Pick 5. The random draw of finishing positions saw bonus money go to Casey (fourth), Scott Towslee (seventh), Shane Henderson (11th), Kim Duell (13th) and Ed Thompson (17th).
Like the modified feature, the 20-lap Haun Welding limited sportsman feature was also caution free, with Taylor Wason picking up his first win of the season. Brandon Jacobsen started on the pole and set the early pace, but Wason, who started fifth, started putting pressure on the leader on lap nine and when they got into heavy traffic, Wason grabbed the lead on lap 18 coming out of the second turn.
Tyler Rapp put the same move on Jacobsen one lap later to finish second, with Jacobsen third, Chris Jakubiak fourth and Bryce Breault fifth.
Matt Mosher won the 15-lap Lake Auto Parts feature, getting to victory lane for the first time this season. Former track champion Al Relyea seemed to be in control of the race, but Mosher used a restart on lap 14 to end Relyea’s bid for the victory, and also picked up a $100 bonus from Casterella.
The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modifieds made their first appearance of the season, winning over the fans with some beautiful vintage race cars. Winners of the three features were Jimmy Fugel (vintage antique), Steve Denton (sportsman/mystique) and former Albany-Saratoga Speedway sportsman competitor Randy Delaney (modifieds/late models).
MODIFIEDS: PETER BRITTEN, Todd Stone, Keith Flach, Jeremy Pitts, Neil Stratton, Anthony Perrago, Jessey Mueller, Rich Ronca, Mike Mahaney, Ken Tremont Jr., Jack Lehner, Matt DeLorenzo, Ronnie Johnson, Bobby Hackel IV, Marc Johnson, James Meehan, Derrick McGrew Jr., Jack Speshock, Demetrios Drellos, Matt Depew, LJ Lombardo, CG Morey, Derek Bornt, Ricky Davis, John Lutes Jr., Scott Huber, Jackie Brown Jr., Elmo Reckner, Brandon Daley.
SPORTSMAN: DREW CORMIE, Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Nick Lussier, Dan Grignon, Andrew Buff, Tim Hartman Jr., Jim Osgood, Justin Buff, Garret Poland, Connor Cleveland, Justin Stone, Joey Scarborough, Mike Ballestero, Cody Ochs, Ricky Quick, Elliot Lussier, Marty Kelly III, Johnny Bruno, David Boisclair, Bryant Moore, Jeff Washburn, Justin Barber, Pat Jones, Travis Witbeck, Darryl Nutting, Chris Johnson, Dave Baranowski Jr., Fred Proctor, Jim Nagle, Dick Bisson, Scott Duell, Dylan Bokus.
PRO STOCKS: JOSH COONRADT, Jason Meltz, Chad Jeseo, Jay Casey, Rob Yetman, Jason Corbin, Scott Towslee, Rich Crane, Chucky Dumblewski, Jason Casey, Shane Henderson, Mike Baker, Kim Duell, Nick Hilt, Yates Lansing, Darrell Older, Ed Thompson, Jordan Modiano, Dean Charbonneau.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN: TAYLOR WASON, Tyler Rapp, Brandon Jacobsen, Chris Jakubiak, Bryce Breault, Evan Roberts, Phil Arnold, Scott Bennett, Chris Crane Jr., Craig Wholey, Jon Coon, Casey Hufcut, Zach Buff, Mike Parodi, Dylan Madsen, Shane Powell, Tommy D’Angelo, Steve Burch, Beau Reeves, Joey Miller, Chris Bisson, Dave Fachini, Nick Arnold, Mark Burch, Karl Barnes, Walter Cook, John Santolin, Dan Sequin, Ron Delease.
STREET STOCKS: MATT MOSHER, Al Relyea, Jimmy Duncan, PJ Cram Jr., Jeff Meltz, Kaleb Shepard, Jeff Meltz Jr., John Filarecki, Mike Arnold, Wayne Gaige, John Hayes, Josh Hemming, Dana Van Veghten, Damon Anderson, Jeremy Hayes, Adam Tranka.