Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – It’s always good to have a backup plan.
With motor problems plaguing his primary car, Matt DeLorenzo opted to run BBL Companies teammate Brian Gleason’s car Friday night, and came away with his fourth win of the season in the 43-lap NAPA Modifieds feature that highlighted John Grady Memorial Nostalgia night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
The win in the 43-lap feature, which was a tribute to NASCAR great Richard Petty, who piloted his No. 43 to victories in the Grand National Albany-Saratoga 250 in the early 1970s, was worth $3,500 to DeLorenzo, but more importantly, allowed him to extend his point lead in the race for the modified track championship.
DeLorenzo said after the race that he had never driven Gleason’s car before, and adjustments had to be made early in the night.
“I had a hard cushion on the seat, and a mud plug on top of that,” said DeLorenzo. “Even then, I could barely reach the gas pedal. We had a motor problem last week that we thought we fixed, but we broke something in the valve train. I’m glad Brian let us use his car.”
The early stages of the feature included a battle between front-row starters Ryan McCartney and Matt Depew. McCartney was running the bottom and led the first five laps, until Depew could build some momentum running the outside, which allowed him to get by McCartney to lead lap six.
But two laps later, McCartney was back in front, and Jessey Mueller was poking his nose into the battle between the leaders.
Mueller, who started seventh, took the No. 2 slot away from Depew going down the backstretch on lap 10, swung back to the outside and appeared ready to pass McCartney on lap 13. But before he could complete the pass, a yellow flag came out, putting McCartney back in the lead.
Another yellow on the restart put the field in single file, allowing McCartney to lead a couple of more laps.
But on lap 16, while battling Mike Mahaney for second, Mueller rocketed past McCartney coming out of the second turn on lap 16 to get the lead, and Mahaney followed him through the same hole to grab second.
DeLorenzo, who had been hugging the inside, had moved up to third by lap 18, and then ducked under Mahaney to take over second on lap 21.
Three laps later, DeLorenzo had the lead, blasting by Mueller coming out of the fourth turn on lap 24.
From there, it was just a matter of getting through lapped traffic, which turned out to be an adventure. DeLorenzo avoided disaster on lap 29, when the lapped car driven by Brandon Daley slowed dramatically going down the backstretch. With nowhere to go, DeLorenzo ran right into the rear of Daley’s car, but came away unscathed.
DeLorenzo was then able to open up some breathing room, leaving Mueller, Mahaney and Peter Britten to battle for second. Mueller, who also won the Four States Enterprises Dash for Cash, finished second for the second week in a row, pocketing a total of $3,200, while Britten was third, getting $2,500 from Chris Grady, who upped the purses for all of the features as a tribute to his father, the original track photographer at Albany-Saratoga who died in 2018.
“This car was really good,” said DeLorenzo, “It really came on at the end.”
Asked about the lapped cars, he just said, “They were brutal.”
Although pleased with his big payday, Mueller said he really wanted to get a victory.
“This car was a rocket,” he said after the race. “I didn’t think anyone could get by me. But Matty D made us look stupid.”
Ken Tremont Jr. and Mahaney completed the top five.
Tim Hartman Jr. enhanced his bid for a fourth track championship by chalking up his second win of the season in the 25-lap Northeast Paving & Sealcoating Sportsman feature, getting a check for $1,000. Hartman Jr., who started 16th in the 33-car field, used a couple of early cautions to work his way forward and was already in the top 10 after just five laps.
He went from fifth to second after a restart on lap seven and needed just four more laps to get by leader Tommy D’Angelo, who was battling a broken left front suspension.
When they hit the finish line, Hartman was over three seconds ahead of D’Angelo and recorded his 33rd career victory. David Boisclair followed D’Angelo across the finish line, with Dylan Madsen fourth and Zach Buff fifth.
“We were able to get the lead early, and then it was just a matter of turning laps and not hitting the guard rail,” said Hartman.
Chucky Dumblewski picked up his fourth win of the year in the 25-lap Eastwood Detailing Pro Stock feature, which also paid $1,000 to win. Rich Crane came out of the second row to set the early pace, but Dumblewski, who started ninth, was sitting second by lap eight and four laps later, gave Crane a little nudge coming out of the fourth turn and took the lead to complete lap 12.
Jason Casey held off Chad Jeseo for second, while Crane crossed the finish line fourth.
Craig Wholey outran Dylan Grogan and Mike Parodi to win the 25-lap Haun Welding Limited Sportsman feature, which also paid $1,000 to win. The victory was Wholey’s third of the season.
The 15-lap Lake Auto Part feature provided the most dramatic finish. Mike Bussino, who had taken the lead on lap 12, was trying to hold off Al Relyea on the last lap but as the leaders came into the short chute between the third and fourth turns, Relyea made contact with Bussino’s car, sending him into a spin. When Relyea was forced to check up, Jimmy Duncan charged by both cars to get the lead, and the victory. Jeff Meltz finished second, with Nick Napoli third, and Relyea was placed at the end of the lead lap, in 14th, for making contact with the leader.
Following the theme of Nostalgia Night, the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modifieds were part of the John Grady Memorial, with Jimmy Hyde (vintage antique), Curtis Condon (late model), George Palmer (vintage mystique) and John Flach (modified/sportsman) winning their features.
MODIFIEDS: MATT DELORENZO, Jessey Mueller, Peter Britten, Ken Tremont Jr., Mike Mahaney, Neil Stratton, Marc Johnson, Adam Pierson, Demetrios Drellos, Jack Lehner, Jeremy Pitts, Ryan McCartney, Brian Calabrese, Derek Bornt, Jeremy Roy Jr., Felix Roy, Matt Depew, Vinnie Visconti, Jack Speshock, Brandon Daley, Kris Verold, James Meehan, Scott Huber, Rich Ronca, CG Morey, Keith Flach, Don Ronca.
SPORTSMAN: TIM HARTMAN JR., Tommy D’Angelo, David Boisclair, Dylan Madsen, Zach Buff, Drew Cormie, Mike Ballestero, Andrew Buff, Travis Billington, Brock Pinkerous, Chris Jakubiak, Dave Baranowski Jr., Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Mike Coffey Jr., Travis Witbeck, Justin Buff, Cody Ochs, Jim Osgood, Tyler Rapp, Chris Bisson, Taylor LaPlante, Elliot Lussier, Scott Bennett, Jeff Washburn, Brendan Gibbons, Ron Proctor, Chris Johnson, Floyd Billington, Gerard LeClair, Darryl Nutting, Jon Miller, Dan Grignon, Nick Lussier.
PRO STOCKS: CHUCKY DUMBLEWSKI, Jason Casey, Chad Jeseo, Rich Crane, Luke Horning, Scott Towslee, Jason Meltz, Jay Casey, Shane Henderson, Kim Duell, Jaxson Ryan, Jordan Modiano, Kyle Hoard, Pete Vila, Phil Defiglio, Mike Baker, Nick Stone.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN: CRAIG WHOLEY, Dylan Grogan, Mike Parodi, James Galarneau, Mike Arnold, Chris Crane Jr., Steve Burch, Alex Sawyer-Palmer, Anthony Maxon, Taylor Wason, Nick Arnold, John Santolin, Ashton Pierson, Justin Lilly, Ron Delease, Tanner Coon, Joey Miller, David Zelker, Bill Lussier Jr., Kyle Swartz, Shaedon Mosso, Phil Arnold, Wesley Sutliff, Dakota Green.
STREET STOCKS: JIMMY DUNCAN, Jeff Meltz, Nick Napoli, Fred Shippee, Mark Burch, Jason Samrov, Dana Van Veghten, Dave Streibel Jr., Damian Ward, Josh Samrov, Jason Barrett, Gary Brust, Mike Bussino, Al Relyea, Tim McFarland, Matt Mosher, Dan Madigan, Ray Pierre Jr., Josh Hemming, Michael Achzet, Cordell Younger.