Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – MALTA, NY – The ‘Great Race Place’ lived up to its name on Friday night.
A four-car and sometimes five-car battle for the top spot of the 35-lap DIRTcar Modified feature at Albany-Saratoga Speedway produced one of the best races of the season and put Demetrios Drellos in victory lane for the second time in his Modified career at the track.
“That was probably the most fun race I’ve ever had in my career,” Drellos said. “That was unbelievable. The racing was just so competitive tonight.”
As the laps clicked off during the middle portion of the feature event, Drellos was in a dogfight for the top spot with leader Rich Ronca, Jack Lehner, Adam Pierson and Marc Johnson.
Lehner ended up grabbing the number one position away from Ronca and looked like he was on his way to victory.
That was, until 11 laps from the end.
All five cars were bearing down on the lap machine of Brandon Daley as they entered turns three and four. Lehner went to go around the #44, but as he did, Daley’s car pushed off the bottom due to what appeared to be a mechanical issue and the two made contact.
What resulted was a flat left front tire on Lehner’s mount and the yellow flag being thrown. However, Jack stayed on track, even as he began to realize he had an issue.
On the restart, it was on as Ronca, Pierson and Drellos began to chase the leader with all four duking it out with multiple slidejobs being made. Numerous times, Drellos made his way to the runner-up spot only to slide back to fourth almost instantaneously.
That was, until he finally worked his way around both Ronca and Pierson with three laps remaining.
Now, he had his sights set on the leader. It didn’t take long until the 111 was number one.
With Lehner holding on for all he could due to the tire issue, Drellos made the move on the highside to take the top spot as the two drivers came off turn four for two laps-to-go.
From then on, Drellos was in charge and went on to score his first victory of the 2022 racing campaign at the Malta, NY oval.
“I really think we could do anything with this car,” he said. “It seemed like we picked the right tire and my crew just did an unbelievable job. I’m super fortunate that we won tonight.”
The Queensbury, NY driver knows it’s not all about the driver who gets a car to victory lane, and he made sure to let that be known.
“I have to thank my Mom and Dad and this entire team,” he said. “They’re all behind our program and me, personally, so much. I can’t believe we got this one.”
He also made sure dedicate his win to someone pretty special to him.
“That one right here goes to Brandon Pitcher,” he said. “Brandon was one of my best friends and we lost him a few years ago. That was very unfortunate so this one’s for him.”
Lehner held on for a second place finish with Pierson, Johnson and Ronca completing the top five.
Sixth through tenth were Kenny Tremont, Don Ronca, point leader Matt Delorenzo, Keith Flach and Mike Mahaney.
FEATURE RESULTS 1) Demetrios Drellos* 111 2) Jack Lehner 2L 3) Adam Pierson 215 4) Marc Johnson* 3J 5) Rich Ronca 1 6) Ken Tremont Jr.* 115 7) Don Ronca 7 8) Matt Delorenzo*** 3D 9) Keith Flach* 43 10) Mike Mahaney* 35 11) Jeremy Pitts 27 12) Neil Stratton 87 13) Jessey Mueller* 19 14) Derek Bornt 4B 15) Peter Britten*** 21A 16) Jack Speeshock O8 17) Scott Huber 51 18) C.G. Morey 14 19) Brian Berger 60 20) Kris Vernold 97K 21) Brian Calabrese 21C 22) Brandon Daley 44T 23) Matt Depew 667 24) James Meehan 32C 25) Ryan McCartney 18 26) Alissa Cody 11