Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – The first night of Malta Massive Weekend at Albany-Saratoga Speedway certainly lived up to its name, as a massive of number of cars signed into the pits, necessitating a massive amount of time to complete the card, and Chad Jeseo walked off with a massive payday.
The Upstate Chevy Dealers Autism Awareness “Dare to be Different” 53-lap feature highlighted the first night of “Massive” Weekend. And it was Jeseo, a two-time pro stock champion at Malta, who took home the top prize of $10,500, the richest payoff of the season for pro stocks.
Jeseo started 11th in the 28-car starting field, but it was outside pole sitter Pete Stefanski and Shane Playford, who started fourth, who had the fans on their feet early in the race.
Stefanski jumped right into the lead and because of a couple of early cautions, Playford was able to stay right on his tail, with Nick Stone, who started third, waiting for the leaders to make a mistake.
Obviously getting tired of just watching the lead duo, Stone switched to the outside groove and the trio came out of the fourth turn on lap 16 three-wide, with Stone taking the lead for the first time.
Stone, Stefanski and Kim Duell, who started sixth, occupied the top three spots on lap 21, but by lap 30, Stone began to pull away. Then on lap 38, a pair of caution flags caution flag changed the complexion of the race.
On the first restart, Stefanski was able to get around Stone for the lead. Then, on the second restart, Duell appeared to get a flat left rear tire going into the fourth turn, and when the rear end of his car wiggled, he was hit in the left rear quarterpanel by Luke Horning, which sent Duell spinning in front of the field. Jeseo was able to avoid the traffic jam that developed as cars bounced off Duell and each other, and came away in second place, behind Stefanski.
After the next restart, Stefanski, Jeseo and Stone raced like they were glued together. Then, on lap 42, they went three wide through the third turn, with Jeseo in the middle, and he came out with the lead for good.
Eleven laps later, Jeseo secured the biggest payday of his career, beating Stone to the finish line by 0.453 seconds. Horning got up for third, with Stefanski fourth and Rich Crane, who won the Autism Awareness Night race in 2022, fifth.
“This is awesome,” said Jeseo in victory lane. “This was like Super DIRT Week. What a night. This was absolutely awesome. It was great to be a part of this.”
Dan Madigan started on the outside pole and led all 20 laps to win the 20-lap street stock feature, which paid $400 through sponsorship from Linda and Emil Meltz, and Jonathan Sheppard used a last-lap pass on Adam Montville to win the 15-lap four-cylinder feature. Robert Garney was eighth overall and had the first single-cam car across the finish line.
With over 200 cars in the pits, the final checkered flag on the long night of racing fell at 1:25 a.m. Saturday.
UPSTATE CHEVY DEALERS AUTISM AWARENESS NIGHT PRO STOCKS (53 laps): CHAD JESEO, Nick Stone, Luke Horning, Pete Stefanski, Rich Crane, Jason Casey, Jay Corbin, Beau Ballard, Shane Henderson, Chucky Dumblewski, Kyle Hoard, Randy Miller, Jordan Modiano, Rob Yetman, Shane Playford, Phil Difiglio, Zach Daniels, Jaxson Ryan, Tom Dean, John Greene, Kim Duell, Jay Casey, Devon Camenga, Burton Ward, John Rivers Jr., Caden Dumblewski, Dan Older, Shawn Perez.
LAKE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS: DAN MADIGAN, Pat Cram Jr., Chris Stalker, Jimmy Duncan, Jeff Meltz Sr., Mike Bussino, Matt Mosher, Lou Gancarz, Josh Hemming, Dave Striebel Sr., Wayne Russell, Mark Burch, Dan Buell, Dave Striebel Jr., Jason Meltz, Evan Denue, Mark Burch, Jason Barrett, Fred Shippee, Nick Napoli, Al Relyea.
GREG’S TOWING FOUR-CYLINDERS: JON SHEPPARD, Adam Montville, Jay Ingersoll, Josh Rheome, David Mullineaux, Greg Zindler, Damian Ward, Robert Garney, Kyle Lanfear, John Lindblade, James Guertin, Joe Wolfe, Brittany Ladd, John Mason, Daniel Joubert, Matt Tedrow, Andrew Palmer, Tom Hill, Ben Ladd, Blaze Post.