Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – Jason Barney has been one of the most consistent performers on the Empire Super Sprints circuit for the last seven years.
During that time, he’s won two series championships, in 2017 and 2021, and has also finished second four other times. Along the way, he’s pushed his career win total to 27, which ties him for ninth on the all-time ESS win list.
But there’s still one box the 42-year-old Barney hasn’t checked off on his to-do list; win a series race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
He’ll get that chance on Friday, June 3 when the ESS 360 sprinters make their first of two 2022 stops at the historic dirt track in Malta.
In his last two appearances at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Barney finished third in 2019 and last year, was fifth, with Paulie Colagiovanni taking the checkered flag for his first career win at Malta. Barney earned the Hard Charger award last year, improving 14 spots in the feature.
The carefully manicured 4/10th-mile surface at Malta has always produced perfect conditions for the ESS cars, and winning has never been easy. The ESS series has made 30 stops at Malta since 1985, and there have been 20 different winners.
The deck will even be stacked against Colagiovanni on June 3. Only two drivers have ever won back-to-back ESS features at Albany-Saratoga. Dan Kaszubinski did it twice, when the ESS was making two stops per season at Albany-Saratoga. He won back-to-back features on July 31, 1988 and May 14, 1999, and then did it again on July 28, 2000 and June 15, 2001. Craig “Cricket” Keel was the first to pull off the back-to-back feat at Malta, accomplishing the double by winning both races at Albany-Saratoga during the 1995 season.
One of the most memorable ESS wins at Albany-Saratoga Speedway was recorded by Erin Crocker on Aug. 23, 2002, when the 21-year-old, who was heading into her senior year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, rocketed around the outside to collect her third victory of the season driving for veteran Mike Woodring.
“I won with the Rensselaer colors on the car, which helps since the college is just down the road and my whole family is here,” said Crocker after the race.
How did Crocker celebrate her win?
“My car is loaded to the roof, and I’m going to move into college tonight and tomorrow and then get ready for the ESS show at Devil’s Bowl on Sunday,” she said.
In addition to the ESS sprinters, all other divisions will be in action at Albany-Saratoga on June 3. Only the sprint cars, modifieds and sportsman will be running heat races. All the other divisions will have features only.
Adult admission will be $18, with racing beginning at 7 p.m.