Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – In the final tally Friday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, it was racing luck one, good karma zero.
Friday night was Stan Da’ Man Night at Albany-Saratoga, an annual tribute to promoter Lyle DeVore’s father Stan, who died in 2016. Stan was a custom car enthusiast, and one of his favorite cars was a 1932 Ford two-door sedan. So, the theme Friday night was the number 32, with the NAPA Modifieds running 32 laps for $3,200 to win.
James Meehan, who drives the No. 32 modified, started on the pole and led the first 30 laps. But that’s where the good karma ended. Meehan nearly spun out between the third and fourth turns coming to the white flag, allowing Demetrios Drellos to take over the lead and park his Bicknell chassis in victory lane for the second straight week.
Besides picking up the winner’s check for $3,200, Drellos also won the Madsen Overhead Doors/Flach Performance Products Back-to-Back bonus, which was worth another $500.
“I didn’t think I had a chance,” admitted Drellos in victory lane. “I was ready to finish third. But I thought I saw his left front tire going flat, and then he got sideways and an opportunity was presented to me. But he did a heck of a job running down there for as long as he did.”
Meehan, who recorded his only modified win on Aug. 6 last year, started on the pole and locked into a battle with Brian Calabrese, while Jessey Mueller, who started fifth, began buzzing the outside. When Calabrese, who had also been running the top, went back to the bottom to try to follow Meehan early in the race, that left the top wide open for Mueller, who took over second on lap 10.
Drellos, who started eighth, was obviously watching what Mueller was doing, because he also moved to the top, and went by Calabrese for third on lap 12.
With the final 28 laps of the feature being run under green flag conditions (the only caution of the race came out on lap four when Keith Flach flew off the second turn), Meehan kept hugging the bottom, while Mueller began to search for a quicker line. Meehan was getting a good run out of the second turn, but Mueller and Drellos, who had also committed to the bottom, seemed to have an advantage coming out of four.
Drellos finally got inside Mueller for second on lap 30 and as the leaders went through turns three and four the next time, Meehan got sideways. Drellos ducked to the inside, while Mueller stayed on top, and Drellos had the lead as they passed under starter Rich Peterson’s white flag. The next time around, Drellos had his second straight win, Mueller was second and points leader Matt DeLorenzo, who had started 13th, completed his charge to the top three.
Meehan crossed the finish line fourth, his best finish of the season, but a bittersweet one, no doubt.
“I hope the fans liked this one,” said Drellos. “We’re going as good as we ever have. Me and Jessey were really racing hard, but my car just took off about lap 28.”
“I made the wrong tire choice,” said Mueller. “I was waiting for the tires to fire, but it never happened.”
Mike Mahaney, Mueller and Peter Britten won $320 bonuses for winning the three NAPA Modifieds heats. The bonuses came courtesy of Grady Racing Photos.
Chris Johnson notched his first win of the season in the 32-lap “Flying Trowel” Northeast Paving & Sealcoating Sportsman feature, which paid $1,320 to win. Johnson became the 12th different winner in 14 sportsman features this season.
A rash of cautions early in the race allowed Johnson to quickly make up ground from his 15th starting position. After just seven laps, Johnson was already sitting second, and following another restart on lap eight, he was the new leader.
Travis Witbeck, who had started 14th, took over the No. 2 position on lap 11, but couldn’t hold off Zach Buff, who grabbed the No. 2 spot on lap 18. But by that time, Johnson had a full straightaway lead, and although he tip-toed his way through lapped traffic in the latter stages of the race, he still beat Buff to the checkered flag by over two seconds. Points leader Tim Hartman Jr., who had started 19th, nosed out Witbeck at the finish line to grab the other podium spot.
Jay Casey chalked up his first career win in the 25-lap Eastwood Detailing Pro Stock feature, which paid $1,320 to win through Ron Mensing’s Native Pride program.
Casey, whose son Jason is in the hunt for the pro stock point championship, had his hands full in the latter stages of the race, holding off Chad Jeseo and Chucky Dumblewski. As the leaders hit the finish line, Casey was 0.321 seconds ahead of Jeseo, with Dumblesski, who was looking for his second straight win, just another car length back.
Jeseo also picked up a $200 bonus for winning the Four States Enterprises Dash for Cash.
The Haun Welding Limited Sportsman feature also saw a first-time winner, as Anthony Maxon outran Dakota Green in the 20-lap feature.
The race got off to an inauspicious start, as polesitter Shaedon Mosso started to spin in the first turn, got hit from behind and was then hit by Mike Parodi.
On the restart, Tanner Coon went to the front, but Maxon, who had started third, went to the outside and rocketed around Coon to get the lead on lap five.
A restart on lap six allowed Coon to regain the lead, but that only lasted until lap eight, when Maxon again went to the front and that’s where he stayed.
Green, who was also looking for his second straight win, moved into second on lap 16, but didn’t have enough time to challenge Maxon. Mike Arnold got up for third.
Josh Samrov started on the pole and led all 15 laps to win the Lake Auto Parts Street Stock feature, which paid $320 to win through sponsorship by Burt’s Tree Service. Al Relyea, who started 12th, worked his way up to second by lap 10 and found himself only two car lengths behind Samrov. On the final lap, Relyea tried to duck to the inside coming out of the second turn, but when the two leaders touched going down the backstretch, Relyea was forced to back out of the gas rather than take out Samrov, who came away with his first win of the year.
Damian Ward, who has spent his season running a street stock, dropped back to the four-cylinders as a substitute driver for Norm Lanfear, and dominated the 15-lap feature, leading from flag-to-flag. David Frame finished a distant second, while Robert Garney was third and had the first single-cam car across the finish line.
NAPA MODIFIEDS: DEMETRIOS DRELLOS, Jessey Mueller, Matt DeLorenzo, James Meehan, Brian Calabrese, Jeremy Pitts, Peter Britten, Ken Tremont Jr., Don Ronca, Adam Pierson, Jack Speshock, Mike Mahaney, Marc Johnson, Rich Ronca, Scott Huber, Jack Lehner, Vinnie Visconti, Keith Flach, Brandon Daley, Ryan McCartney, Matt Depew.
NORTHEAST PAVING & SEALCOATING SPORTSMAN: CHRIS JOHNSON, Zach Buff, Tim Hartman Jr., Travis Witbeck, Dylan Madsen, Chris Jakubiak, Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Brendan Gibbons, Mike Coffey Jr., Elliot Lussier, Dave Barnowski Jr., Mike Ballestero, Tyler Rapp, Frank Hoard III, Andrew Buff, Chris Bisson, Jim Osgood, Justin Barber, Scott Bennett, Mike Jeske, David Boisclair, Dan Grignon, Taylor LaPlante, Brock Pinkerous, Ron Proctor, Pat Jones, Drew Cormie, Jeff Washburn, Jon Miller, Gerard LeClair.
EASTWOOD DETAILING PRO STOCKS: JAY CASEY, Chad Jeseo, Chucky Dumblewski, Shane Henderson, Jason Casey, Rich Crane, Kim Duell, Jaxson Ryan, Luke Horning, Bruno Richard, Scott Towslee, Kyle Hoard, Mike Baker, Tyler Bushey, Rob Yetman, Nick Stone.
HAUN WELDING LIMITED SPORTSMAN: ANTHONY MAXON, Dakota Green, Mike Arnold, Tanner Coon, Mike Parodi, Chris Crane, James Galarneau, Scott Fitzgerald, Nick Arnold, Craig Wholey, Ron Delease, Ashton Pierson, David Zelker, Steve Burch, Kyle Swartz, Wesley Sutliff, Dylan Grogan, Alex Palmer-Sawyer, Phil Arnold, Taylor Wason, Shadeon Mosso.
LAKE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS: JOSH SAMROV, Al Relyea, Mike Bussino, Nick Napoli, Matt Mosher, Mark Burch, Jason Samrov, Jimmy Duncan, Kaleb Shepard, John Filarecki, Dan Madigan, Jeff Meltz, Dana Van Veghten, Andrew Fitzgerald, Josh Hemming, Tim McFarland, Gary Brust, Ray Pierre Jr., Fred Shippee.
FOUR-CYLINDERS: DAMIEN WARD, David Frame, Robert Garney (first single-cam finisher), Tim Meltz, Justin Ramsey, Daniel Joubert, Micah Grant, Kyle Lamfear, Josh Ramsey, Brittany Ladd, Tom Meltz, Olivia Swinton, Matt Tedrow, Chris Danylieko, Chyanne Garney.