Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – Since beginning his 2022 racing season in early February, Peter Britten has experienced dozens of restarts.
And until Friday night, Matt DeLorenzo had experienced none.
That was the difference between winning and second place, as Britten held off DeLorenzo to win the 57th Season Opener, presented by Bart Contracting and Schaghticoke Wine & Spirits, at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
“That’s the difference between a fulltime racer (pointing toward Britten’s pit area) and a parttime racer (pointing to himself),” said DeLorenzo after the race. “I was stumbling on restarts.”
Britten took home the winner’s share of $6,500 in the 40-lap NAPA Modifieds feature. The victory was the third of his career on opening night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. The 57th season opener drew a huge crowd and over 175 cars signed into the pits.
DeLorenzo started on the pole in the heads-up starting format and Britten was right alongside him. When DeLorenzo went to the top early in the race, Britten followed, and that’s the way they ran for the first 18 laps.
The restart that decided the race occurred on lap 19, after Rich Ronca suffered a mechanical failure in the front straightaway. That caution came out just after DeLorenzo had avoided getting into the lapped car of Chas Wolbert in the third turn.
Britten got a good jump off the outside on the restart, grabbed the lead coming out of the fourth turn to complete lap 20, and that’s where he stayed.
DeLorenzo used lapped traffic to get one last shot by Britten, but “Batman” was up to the challenge, and came away with a very popular victory.
“I was nailing one and two on the bottom,” said Britten in victory lane after the win. “Matt was going pretty good, but I just got a better restart and then I got into a good rhythm. The last couple of laps, the track felt like it was narrowing a bit, and I was having more trouble with the lapped cars.”
Following Britten and DeLorenzo across the finish line were Larry Wight, Mike Mahaney and Michael Maresca.
Bart Contracting also put up a $200 bonus for heat race winners. The bonuses went to DeLorenzo, Britten, Anthony Perrego and Wight.
Bart Contracting also put up a $300 bonus for the hard charger. That was split by Matt Sheppard (25th to eighth) and Billy Decker (27th to 10th), who both had to qualify through the consolation races.
Cody Ochs started on the pole and led flag-to-flag to win the 25-lap NPS Sportsman feature, which paid $2,000 to win through sponsorship by West End Towing. The win was Ochs’ first career victory at the historic Malta oval.
Rob Yetman won the 25-lap Eastwood Detailing Pro Stock feature, which paid $1,000 to win through sponsorship from Saratoga Masonry. The victory was Yetman’s 26th career win at Albany-Saratoga, moving him into a tie with Joe Santoro at the top of the division’s all-time win list.
Ironically, Yetman’s major sponsor is Lazzaro’s Autobody, which also sponsored Santoro’s car.
Chris Crane Jr. worked his way around Tommy D’Angelo on lap 14 and went on to win the 20-lap Haun Welding Limited Sportsman feature. D’Angelo had led the first 13 laps, but began to fade once Crane went into the lead. Alex Layne, who started 25th in the 28-car field, drove an incredible race to come away with a second-place finish.
The Lake Auto Parts Street Stocks, who ran last on the card, put on a heck of a show. Paul Braymer started on the outside pole in the 15-lap feature and looked like he was on his way to victory until a caution came out with two laps to go.
On the restart, Braymer got loose in turn four and drifted up, leaving the bottom open for Andrew Fitzgerald, who got the lead going into the first turn. But coming out of the second turn, Braymer gave Fitzgerald a little nudge, regained the lead going down the backstretch and came away with the win by less than a car length.
NAPA MODIFIEDS: PETER BRITTEN, Matt DeLorenzo, Larry Wight, Mike Mahaney, Michael Maresca, Jessey Mueller, Demetrios Drellos, Matt Sheppard, Anthony Perrego, Billy Decker, Darren Smith, Dan Creeden, Ken Tremont Jr., Marc Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Jack Lehner, Tim Fuller, Brian Gleason, CG Morey, Adam Pierson, Jeremy Pitts, Derrick McGrew Jr., Jeff Taylor, Ryan McCartney, James Meehan, Neil Stratton, Chas Wolbert, Ryan Odasz, Don Ronca, Rich Ronca.
NORTHEAST PAVING & SEALCOAT SPORTSMAN: CODY OCHS, Walt Hammond, Chad Edwards, Alex Bell, Brian Calabrese, Tim Hartman Jr., Chris Johnson, Mike Coffey Jr., Travis Green, Jim Osgood, Justin Buff, Jason Gray, Mike Ballestero, Elliot Lussier, Gerard LeClair, Andrew Buff, Walter Hammond Jr., Billy Lussier, Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Nick Lussier, Drew Cormie, Travis Witbeck, Joey Scarborough, Jim Nagle, Tony Farone, Chris Jakubiak, Darryl Nutting, Dan Grignon, Pat Jones, Dave Baranowski.
EASTWOOD DETAILING PRO STOCKS: ROB YETMAN, Jason Meltz, Jason Casey, Luke Horning, Kim Duell, Scott Towslee, Jay Casey, Chad Jeseo, Shane Henderson, Rich Crane, Justin White, Josh Coonradt, Chris Murray, Nick Hilt, Bruno Richard, Dave Stickles, Mike Baker, Doug Sheely, Chris Stalker, Jaxson Ryan, Chucky Dumblewski, Jordan Modiano, Zack Daniels, Ken Griffen.
HAUN WELDING LIMITED SPORTSMAN: CHRIS CRANE JR., Alex Layne, Evan Roberts, Craig Wholey, Tommy D’Angelo, Justin Lilly, Scott Fitzgerald, Mike Parodi, Wade Acker, Chris Bisson, Nick Arnold, Mike Arnold, Gary English, Walter Cook, John Santolin, Dan Seguin, Dakota Green, David Zelker, Ashton Pierson, Dylan Grogan, Anthony Maxon, Wesley Sutliff, Scott Bennett, Derrick Counter, Ron Delease, Taylor Wason, Steve Burch, Nick Auspelmyer.
LAKE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS: PAUL BRAYMER, Andrew Fitzgerald, Jimmy Duncan, PJ Cram Jr., Jason Samrov, Dan Madigan, John Filerecki, Josh Bussino, Dana Van Veghten, Josh Samrov, Jeff Meltz, Cayden Dumblewski, Riley Pedrich, Slater Baker, Ray Pierre Sr., Patrick Cram Sr., Damian Ward, Matt Mosher, Al Relyea, Kaleb Shepard.