Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – Lightning struck Friday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
“Lightning” Larry Wight came out on top of a wild side-by-side battle with Keith Flach and picked up his second career victory in the 35-lap NAPA Modified feature at the historic Malta track.
Wight is no stranger at Albany-Saratoga, always making the trek for the Super DIRTcar Series races, and had finished third in this season’s opener. But he stepped up his game on Friday night.
“We had a really good car tonight,” said Wight after the race. “Last week, we missed by a little bit, but we checked our notes and made some changes, and the car was a rocket ship tonight.”
Despite starting 15th in the 31-car field, Wight took advantage of a couple of early restarts to make up a lot of ground and eventually got in a battle with Flach, who had started on the pole.
Flach, who had missed the season opener as he and his family recovered from a bout with the COVID virus, set the pace while Wight, who had his car wound up in the top groove, charged to the front.
Wight only needed eight laps to move into fourth place, and he sprinted by Jack Lehner for third on lap 13.
Two laps later, Marc Johnson, who had held down the No. 2 spot since lap 4, also fell victim to Wight’s charge, and “Lightning Larry” then set his sights on Flach, who was already running in lapped traffic.
Wight was forced to come off his preferred top line, where Flach was also running, as they worked through traffic, but by lap 20, Wight was only two car lengths behind the leader.
Running the bottom, Wight pulled even with Flach on lap 26 and then pulled off a classic slide job between the third and fourth turns the next time around, crossing over in front of Flach to get the lead.
That was all she wrote, as Wight steadily pulled away and got his second career win at Albany-Saratoga by a margin of just over three seconds. The only other time Wight had been in victory lane at Malta was in the season opener in 2016.
Marc Johnson finished third, with Lehner fourth and opening-night winner Peter Britten fifth.
“The bottom of (turns) one and two were better than the top, but three and four were real slick,” said Wight. “I knew that once he (Flach) got into traffic, he was going to have to move around, and that opened the door for me.”
“We were good for a real long time,” said Flach, who won a $200 bonus by winning the Four States Enterprises Dash for Cash. “But a couple of laps before he caught me, I think I chunked the right rear and I felt myself get a little free. Once he got by me, I tried to stay with him, but he’s such a good runner.”
The Northeast Paving & Sealcoat Sportsman ran the first leg of the John Ray & Sons/Dean’s Electrical Services Sportsman Shootout Series, and Scott Duell held off Dylan Madsen and David Boisclair to win the first prize of $1,500.
“I really had to work for that one,” said Duell. “Not so much when I was on the bottom, but when I had to go to the top, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to run there. It’s work up there. But in the end, all the lapped cars were going down, so I had to run the top.”
It was a historic night for Rob Yetman, as he recorded his second straight win in the 25-lap Eastwood Detailing Pro Stock feature and passed “Hollywood” Joe Santoro to become the winningest pro stock driver ever at Malta. Yetman began the night tied for the top spot with 26 wins.
Through additional sponsorship from Crane’s Outdoor Power Equipment, Yetman took home $1,000 for the win.
Yetman started 12th in the field, and was far enough back to avoid some carnage in front of him.
The first incident occurred on lap four, when leader Chris Murray got out of shape going through the first and second turns. Chuck Dumblewski, who was running second, actually straightened Murray out when the two cars smashed together, and Murray never lost his lead.
But the incident damaged Dumblewski’s car, and he began to drop. Rich Crane took over the No. 2 spot on lap five, and two laps later, Jason Meltz, who was running a high line, was the new second-place car.
Meltz dove back to the bottom and emerged with the lead on lap 10, and the next time around, Yetman got by Murray for second. After a yellow flag slowed the race on lap 12, Yetman used the subsequent restart to snatch the lead.
Yetman had to survive two more restarts before coming away with the record-breaking win. He was followed by Jay Casey and Scott Towslee.
“I called Hollywood Joe last Friday, about 1 in the morning, and said I was coming for him,” said Yetman in victory lane. “I guess I’ll have to call him again tonight.”
Taylor Wason dominated the 20-lap Haun Welding Limited Sportsman feature, notching his first win of the season. He finished with a comfortable lead over Phil Arnold and Chris Bisson.
Two-time defending champion Jeff Meltz took his first checkered flag of the season in the 15-lap Lake Auto Parts Street Stock feature. Meltz, who started seventh, took the lead away from front-row starter Nick Napoli on the seventh lap and then left the rest of the field in his wake. Dan Madigan got up for second, with Josh Bussino third.
Elmer Montville won the 15-lap four-cylinder feature, while Tim Meltz was fourth overall and had the first single-cam car across the finish line.
NAPA MODIFIEDS: LARRY WIGHT, Keith Flach, Marc Johnson, Jack Lehner, Peter Britten, Mike Mahaney, Matt DeLorenzo, Billy Decker, Demetrios Drellos, Ronnie Johnson, Don Ronca, Adam Pierson, Ken Tremont Jr., Darren Smith, Jessey Mueller, James Meehan, CG Morey, Jeremy Pitts, Derek Bornt, Scott Huber, Jeff Taylor, Ryan McCartney, Neil Stratton, Zach Payne, Dylan Zacharias, Bill August, Rich Ronca, Derrick McGrew Jr., Robert Bublak, Matt Depew, Jack Speshock.
NORTHEAST PAVING & SEALCOAT SPORTSMAN: SCOTT DUELL, Dylan Madsen, David Boisclair, Joey Scarborough, Bryce Breault, Mike Ballestero, Darryl Nutting, Chris Johnson, Andrew Buff, Tim Hartman Jr., Ron Proctor, Cody Ochs, Brian Calabrese, Alex Bell, Dave Baranowski, Jim Nagle, Zach Buff, Chris Jakubiak, Jon Miller, Travis Witbeck, Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Jake Scarborough, Frank Hoard III, Elliot Lussier, Justin Buff, Marty Kelly III, Mike Coffey Jr., Carter Gibbons, Butch Wilcox, Brock Piknerous.
EASTWOOD DETAILING PRO STOCKS: Rob Yetman, Jay Casey, Scott Towslee, Rich Crane, Luke Horning, Jason Casey, Ken Griffen, Jaxson Ryan, Pete Vila, Jason Meltz, Chad Jeseo, Chris Murray, Chuck Dumblewski, Shane Henderson, Mike Baker, Doug Sheely, Darryl Carl, Josh Coonradt, Kim Duell.
HAUN WELDING LIMITED SPORTSMAN: TAYLOR WASON, Phil Arnold, Chris Bisson, Ron Delease, Craig Wholey, Mike Arnold, Chris Crane Jr., Alex Layn, Nick Auspelmyer, Justin Lilly, Dakota Green, Tommy D’Angelo, Dylan Grogan, Mike Parodi, Melvin Pierson, Gary English, David Zelker, Dan Seguin, Cody Cordova, Scott Bennett, Nick Arnold, Scott Fitzgerald, Walter Cook, Wade Acker, Wesley Sutliff, Ashton Pierson, Frank Twing Jr., Jimmy Van Zandt, Brady Cordova, Mark Burch.
LAKE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS; JEFF MELTZ SR., Dan Madigan, Josh Bussino, Paul Braymer, Jason Samrov, PJ Cram Jr., Nick Napoli, Jimmy Duncan, Kaleb Shepard, Andrew Fitzgerald, Josh Samrov, Matt Mosher, Dana Van Veghten, Patrick Cram Sr., Cordell Younger, Damian Ward, Cayden Dumblewski, Fred Shippee, Al Relya.
GREG’S TOWING FOUR-CYLINDERS: DOUBLE CAM RESULTS: Elmer Montville, Chris Sumner, David Frame, Chris Danylieko, Allana Jordan, Justin Ramsey, Olivia Swinton, Jeff DeGroat. SINGLE CAM RESULTS: Tim Meltz, Robert Garney, Chris Duffney, John Mason, Lee Horning, John Sullivan, Daniel Joubert, Matt Tedow, Austin McKirryher, Brittany Ladd, Chayanne Garney, T.J. Marlitt.