Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – AFTON, NY – It wasn’t until exiting Interstate 88 on Saturday afternoon that Demetrios Drellos got his first ever look at Afton Motorsports Park. He had never seen the track, let alone turned a lap on it.
But once on the track, Drellos looked very comfortable as he raced to a convincing win in the 50 lap Short Track Series American Racer Cup Supernationals 14. It was his first ever victory in the Short Track Super Series.
The win in the race, called “The Working Man’s Race”, was worth $5,500 to the Drellos team.
“I’ve never been here, the laps tonight were the first ever for me here,” Drellos said. “Pulling off the highway was the first that I’ve ever seen the place.”
Bobby Hackel IV was the early leader. With a series of early cautions, 3rd starting Drellos used the high groove to take the lead. Craig Hanson, fast all night, caught Drellos in lapped traffic and passed him and was pulling away as the caution flew on lap 19. As the race neared halfway, Drellos rebounded to run side-by-side for quite a few laps until Drellos was back to the lead.
After 31 laps were completed, there was a generator failure that caused the track lights to go out. Fortunately, all cars were able to slow without incident.
“Sitting there in the lead while the lights were out was the most stressful situation I’ve had in a while,” Drellos said. “If I was second, it wouldn’t have been too bad. It was nerve wracking.”
Nervous or not, Drellos was smooth for the balance of the race as he cruised over the final 19 laps to take the win by 1.4 seconds over Hackel, who made a late race pass of Hanson to finish 2nd.
“This is an awesome place to race. Great job by Afton Speedway, what a surface,” Drellos said. “It was an absolute blast, Probably the most fun race that I’ve ever been a part of.”
Drellos talked about the great race he had with Hanson.
“Tonight was a classic American Racer tire game. Which tire do you go to? I imagine that he went with a 48 or maybe even harder. I ran a 44 and not knowing the place, I had a good starting spot and as cold as it was, I used a little bit of knowledge and I hoped that it would work out. He got me good with his pass, but it was a good race and a lot of fun.”
And his reaction to winning his first Short Track Super Series Race:
“It’s awesome. It couldn’t have happened at a more awesome race, The Working Man’s Race. We don’t race full time, we race for fun. It’s a very fitting race to win.”
Hackel led some of the early laps, dropped back to 3rd, but passed Hanson late to take a great 2nd place run.
“We had a pretty decent piece under us. Demetrios was just a little better,” Hackel said. “I think the caution helped me out, gave my tires a second chance to get going. We got to race with Craig and it worked out. We finally got our first Short Track Super Series podium, so I’ll take it. We had a very good field of cars and I’m just happy to be here. This PMC race car was rolling and we’re going to just keep working and hope to be over in Victory lane some day.”
Hanson had earlier in the night had won 5 consecutive American Racer Cup One-On-One match races to take the $2,000 check as the winner. After leading the feature, he finished 3rd.
“We had a good battle. He (Demetrios) got stuck in lapped traffic on the bottom and I rolled the top. I started getting free, I probably should have dropped down, but I felt more comfortable on the top. That’s where we ran and it kind of bit me twice. after the red. We had a really good piece, just should have tightened it up more for the feature.”
Dillon Steuer finished 4th and Danny Creeden 5th. Finishing positions sixth thru tenth were David Schilling 6th, Justin Holland 7th, Alan Barker 8th, Billy Pauch Jr. 9th and Matt Meade 10th.
A good field of 50 modifieds signed into action.
Heat wins went to Geoff Quackenbush, Danny Creeden, Dillon Steuer, Danny Bouc and Demetrios Drellos.
Drellos became the 37th different winner in the history of the Short Track Super Series.