Chad Edwards Takes 75-Lap Sportsman Classic Friday At Albany-Saratoga; RJ Takes Mod Winner’s Classic

Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – The co-feature on Day 1 of Malta Massive Weekend was the 75-lap Sportsman Classic, which paid $4,000 to win after Northeast Paving and Sealcoating threw in a $1,000 bonus for the winner.

Chad Edwards, who looked like he was on his way to an easy win two weeks ago before suffering a late mechanical failure in the DIRTcar Eastern Region Sportsman Series 50-lapper, had everything go his way this time, and came away with the win in the Kollar Motorsports 10%.

Edwards, who started third, kept the fans on the edge of their seats with a good battle with Jim Nagle in the first third of the race, but once Edwards got the lead on lap 25, he began to dominate, easily working his way through traffic and opening up a full straightaway lead.

But that all changed when the yellow came out with five to go, and a second caution created a green-white-checkers finish, with Edwards holding off Pat Jones to record his second career win at Malta. They were followed by Andrew Buff, Brian Calabrese and Nagle.

“This is awesome,” said Edwards in victory lane. “This is the biggest win of my career. I hated to see that caution come out at the end.”

Michael’s Automotive sponsored a Dash for Cash for the top six sportsman qualifiers, with Jones getting the $200 bonus.

Also on Friday night’s card was the Winner’s Classic, a 20-lap showdown for the 15 different modified winners at Malta this season. The field was cut to 13 when Peter Britten and Matt DeLorenzo were no- shows, but that didn’t take away from the excitement.

The drama started in the revenge draw, in which the competitors drew starting spots, and then handed those spots to one of their competitors. When James Meehan drew the pole, he gave it to Rich Ronca and Adam Pierson wound up on the outside pole, thanks to Jeremy Pitts’ draw.

Pierson came out flying around the top and set the early pace, with Pitts, Ronca and Ronnie Johnson, who had started fourth, thanks to Ken Tremont Jr., right behind.

The move of the race came on lap 14, when Ronnie Johnson saw an opening coming out of the second turn, and dove low past both Ronca and Pitts to take over the No. 2 spot.

Then, just when it looked like Pierson was going to get the win, Johnson stuck his foot through the floorboard, caught Pierson coming out of the fourth turn on the last lap and beat Pierson to the finish line by 0.187 seconds.
That win was worth $2,000, with Bart Contracting chipping in an extra $800 to the original $1,200 payoff.

“With two to go, I didn’t think I’d catch him,” Johnson admitted. “I was running the last few on top, but I wasn’t going anywhere, so I moved down and found something.”

Jeff Meltz Sr., the 2021 street stock champion, put bookends on his season by winning the Roberts Towing street stock feature, which paid $500 to win. Meltz’s only other win this year came in the season opener.

Jaxson Ryan completed a dominant season in the four-cylinder division, recording his 10th win of the season. Jeff DeGroat, David Frame and Slappy White followed Ryan across the finish line. Jon Sheppard finished sixth overall, and had the first single-cam car across the finish line.

SPORTSMAN CLASSIC (75 laps): CHAD EDWARDS, Pat Jones, Andrew Buff, Brian Calabrese, Jim Nagle, Robert Bublak, Zach Sobotka, Daryl Nutting, Jeff Washburn, Mike Ballestero, Marty Kelly III, Travis Witbeck, Cody Ochs, Dan Grignon, Mike Coffey Jr., Frank Hoard III, Dylan Madsen, Jeff Gallup, Michael Sabia, Jon Miller, Drew Cormie, Connor Cleveland, Mark Mortensen, Jim Osgood, Josh Masterson, Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Tim Hartman Jr., Anthony Warren, Bryce Breault, Elliot Lussier.

WINNER’S CLASSIC (20 laps): RONNIE JOHNSON, Adam Pierson, Mike Mahaney, Rich Ronca, Jeremy Pitts, Ken Tremont Jr., Jack Lehner, Anthony Perrego, Jessey Mueller, Marc Johnson, Demetrios Drellos, Keith Flach, James Meehan.

STREET STOCKS: JEFF MELTZ SR., Adam Tranka, Dylan Fachini, Josh Bussino, PJ Cram Jr., Jason McClatchie, Ken Allen, Clifford Booth, Slater Baker, Brian Walsh, Pat Cram Sr., Dana Van Veghten, Fred Shippee, Harold Chadderton, Jeremy Hayes, Ray Pierre Jr., Dan Madigan, Mike Arnold, Cordell Younger.

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