Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – Stan DeVore was a big fan of the side-by-side, up-on-the-wheel modified racing at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, so he would have loved the feature Friday night that was held in his honor.
Demetrios Drellos pulled out everything he had in his bag of tricks, and finally got the lead from Neil Stratton with two laps to go to win Friday night’s 32-lap NAPA Modified feature that highlighted “Stan Da’ Man Night” at the historic Malta track.
Each year since his death in 2016, “Stan Da’ Man Night” has been a tribute to promoter Lyle DeVore’s father. A custom car enthusiast, Stan DeVore’s favorite car was a yellow 1932 Ford, so the number 32 is prominent in everything that goes on during “Stan Da’ Man Night.”. By recording his second win of the season, Drellos took home $3,200, and became the first driver to win back-to-back “Stan Da’ Man Night” features.
“This means a lot to me because of how much Lyle puts into the racing community,” said Drellos after the win. “It’s important to him, so it’s important to me.”
Stratton, who has had nothing but bad luck this season, started on the pole, which turned out to be a good spot to be, putting him ahead of the chaos that was occurring behind him. The yellow flag flew four times in the first seven laps, which allowed Drellos to advance from his 14th starting position to sixth.
On lap 14, he took the No. 3 spot away from Vinnie Visconti and took off after Rich Ronca, who had started on the outside pole.
Drellos pulled up on Ronca on lap 16 and went around the top in turn two to move into the runner-up spot. Just as quickly, he was all over Stratton and looked like he was going to take the lead on lap 18. But another caution came out when the lapped car of Brett Graham lost power in the second turn, right in front of the leaders, who banged together trying to avoid Graham’s car.
Then, it got even more interesting. On the restart on lap 18, Drellos slipped off the backstretch, but never lifted, and only lost a little ground to Stratton. He quickly made it up, and pulled a slide job on Stratton in the second turn on lap 24, but Stratton did a slider of his own as they came out of the fourth turn, and remained in front.
The two leaders then bounced together in the second turn on lap 25, allowing Stratton to again get a little separation. But once again, Drellos quickly closed the gap and threw another slider at Stratton in the second turn on lap 30. This time, Drellos was able to remain in front of Stratton exiting the second turn, and had the lead coming out of the fourth turn to get the white flag. The next time around, he saw the checkered flag from starter Rich Peterson.
“This was a real tough one,” said Drellos after the win. “He put up a good fight. I was working hard for this one.”
Stratton knew he had his hands full when he realized he was battling with Drellos.
“He dirtied me up last week, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Stratton after his best finish of the 2023 season. “But he raced me clean. I got into him on that caution, but I had already committed to a slider and was moving up the track.”
Ronca finished a distant third, matching his best run of the season, while Visconti was fourth, marking the first time he’s finished in the top five this year. Peter Britten completed the top five.
The modified heats each carried a $320 bonus, through Chris Grady’s Racing Photos. Those bonuses went to Stratton, CG Morey and Robert Bublak Jr.
The sportsman ran the “Flying Trowel 32,” a tribute to Stan DeVore’s occupation as a mason, and defending champion Tim Hartman Jr. took home the top prize of $1,320, despite starting 22nd in the bulky field.
The sportsman feature was also marred by a number of cautions, which helped Hartman Jr. move from the back to the front. Hartman snatched the lead away from Marty Kelly III on lap 16 and was cruising along, until another yellow came out on lap 23. But Hartman got a good launch on the restart and easily outran Andrew Buff, who finished second after starting 23rd.
“It’s hard when you start 22nd,” said Hartman Jr. after chalking up his 37th career win. “There was a lot of carnage early on, but I was lucky that there weren’t a lot of yellows after that and I got into a routine.”
The pro stocks also ran for $1,320 to win, through Ron Mensing’s Native Pride program, and Brandon Emigh ended a long winless drought to grab the big check.
Emigh started ninth, but by lap 10, was engaged with leader Jason Casey and Chucky Dumblewski in a three-way battle for the lead. Emigh finally came out on top of that skirmish, grabbing the lead on lap 19 and then holding off a late charge from Kim Duell to record his first win since the 2019 season.
Duell also won the Four States Enterprises Dash for Cash, which was worth $320.
The limited sportsman ran a pair of 15-lap features, with Kyle Swart picking up his second win of the year in the first feature, and Tanner Coon making his way to victory lane for the first time in his career in the second feature.
Patrick Cram Jr. came out of a third row starting spot, had the lead by lap two and survived a late restart to win the 15-lap street stock feature. Chris Stalker, who started 10th, worked his way up to second, but finished a half-a-second behind Cram Jr., who earned $320 through sponsorship from Burt’s Tree Service.
Jonathon Sheppard won the four-cylinder feature. Kyle Lanfear was fourth overall and had the first single-cam car across the finish line.
NAPA MODIFIEDS: DEMETRIOS DRELLOS, Neil Stratton, Rich Ronca, Vinnie Visconti, Peter Britten, Robert Bublak Jr., Matt DeLorenzo, CG Morey, Ken Tremont Jr., Marc Johnson, Keith Flach, Jack Lehner, Adam Pierson, Jessey Mueller, Jeremy Pitts, Mike Mahaney, Brian Calabrese, Olden Dwyer, Ryan Stortini, Josh Hohenforst, Brett Graham, Jack Speshock, Matt Depew, Justin Stone, Don Ronca, Derek Bornt, James Meehan. DNS: Ronnie Johnson, Ryan McCartney.
NORTHEAST PAVING AND SEALCOATING SPORTSMAN (FLYING TROWELL 32): TIM HARTMAN JR., Andrew Buff, Marty Kelly III, Cody Ochs, Chris Crane Jr., David Boisclair, Chad Edwards, Mike Coffey Jr., Joey Scarborough, Dave Baranowski Jr., Dylan Madsen, Daryl Nutting, Craig Wholey, Ron Proctor, Drew Cormie, Floyd Billington, Scott Duell, Erik Mack, Elliot Lussier, Derrick McGrew Jr., Jon Miller, Tony Farone, Brandon Darrah, Tyler Rapp, Michael Sabia, Nick Lussier, Mike Ballestero, Alex Bell, Dan Grignon, Pat Jones.
SARATOGA MASONRY SUPPLY PRO STOCKS: BRANDON EMIGH, Kim Duell, Rich Crane, Jason Casey, Chucky Dumblewski, Kyle Hoard, Dean Charbonneau, Jay Casey, Jay Corbin, Shane Henderson, Mike Baker, Chad Jeseo, Phil Difiglio, Jordan Modiano, Pete Vila, Jimmy Eaton.
HAUN WELDING LIMITED SPORTSMAN (feature 1, 15 laps): KYLE SWART, Steve Burch, Dylan Grogan, Connor Crane, Mike Parodi, Timmy Wilmot, Mike Baker, Mick Arnold, James Galarneau, David Zelker, Damian Anderson, Chad Gregory, Dan Seguin.
HAUN WELDING LIMITED SPORTSMAN (feature 2, 15 laps); TANNER COON, Scott Towslee, John Santolin, Ron Delease Jr., Dakota Green, Nick Auspelmyer, Chase Zimmer, Phil Arnold, Matt Jordan, Sara Arnold, Walter Cook, Alex Palmer-Sawyer.
LAKE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS: PATRICK CRAM JR., Chris Stalker, Nick Napoli, Jimmy Duncan, Matt Mosher, Josh Samrov, Mike Bussino, Mark Lester, Josh Hemming, Fred Shippee, Mark Burch, Dan Buell, Jason Samrov, Jeff Meltz Sr., Dylan Shippee, Damien Ward.
GREG’S TOWING FOUR-CYLINDERS: DUAL CAM: Jonathan Sheppard, Josh Rheome, Micah Grant, David Frame, Josh Ramsey, David Mullineaux, Olivia Swinton, Ashlynn Ramsey, Adam Montville. SINGLE CAM: Kyle Lanfear, John Mason, Brittany Ladd, Danial Joubert, Robert Garney, Andrew Palmer.