ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY YEAR IN REVIEW
Story By: Don Davies/Albany-Saratoga Speedway
Photos By: Dave Dalesandro/RacersGuide.com
Malta, NY (January 8, 2018) – Although the 2017 season at Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, NY) will go down as a season of reduced number of events due to five rainouts, it will also be relived as one of the most competitive to date and the crowning of Peter Britten as track champion.
Beginning in 2012 when Howard Commander purchased the famed 4/10 mile oval and Lyle DeVore began as the speedway promoter their combined talents have brought a new life to the speedway that has fans arriving in the early hours of every Friday to be one of the first through the gates when they open.
At the conclusion of 2017 it was a fan favorite, Peter Britten, who stood with the champion’s trophy alongside his car owner, 1984 Sportsman track champion, Andy Romano. For a driver who wasn’t sure what 2017 would bring in terms of a weekly ride, it was the unlikely pairing of Britten’s talent and Romano’s desire to get back to having fun in racing that resulted in an extremely popular track championship.
Offering a highly competitive program that is strongly supported “The Great Race Place” has established itself as the place to be racing on a Friday night. whether you are a fan, a sponsor, or a race team. Operating under the DIRTcar NE banner weekly, Albany-Saratoga averaged 31 Big Blocks, the largest weekly Big Block car count of all DIRTcar sanctioned Big Block tracks, and a pit area filled with 140-150 race cars weekly with the support classes.
That car count included some of the most impressive dirt racers that run in the modern era—names such as Brett Hearn, Peter Britten, Kenny Tremont, Ronnie Johnson, Matt DeLorenzo and Keith Flach. Over the course of the 2017 season, including special events, 93 different drivers competed in the Big Block Modified class.
The track also boasts weekly some of the most talented up and coming drivers who are the future of not only Albany-Saratoga, but dirt racing in general—Marc Johnson, Jeremy Wilder, Bodie Bellinger, Demetrious Drellos, and Bobby Hackel IV to name a few.
There was no single driver who dominated the feature wins in 2017 for the Big Blocks. Fans stood and cheered for single event winners Stewart Friesen, Demetrios Drellos, Don Ronca, Ronnie Johnson, Matt Sheppard, Tim McCreadie and Keith Flach. Those who won twice were Peter Britten, Jeremy Wilder, Marc Johnson, and Ken Tremont, Jr. Brett Hearn garnered the most wins of the season at three. Of those Big Block Modified winners, Demetrios Drellos found his way to victory lane for the first time in front of the home track crowd.
The point battle came down to the last few laps of the last feature and it was an impressive win by Britten on the last lap over DeLorenzo that won him the title. The championship is Britten’s first in the United States. Britten, who hails from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia is a three-time Australian National Modified Champion. His 2017 season at Albany-Saratoga record run was based on two wins, 10 Top 5’s and 13 Top 10’s. Finishing in the Top 10 in points for the season behind Britten were Flach, Hearn, Ronnie Johnson, Wilder, Marc Johnson, Ken Tremont Jr., Neil Stratton, Bodie Bellinger and Matt DeLorenzo.
A singular significant event occurred at Albany-Saratoga Speedway this season when seven time track champion Brett Hearn won his 900th career feature at the historic oval, a win that has been well documented with national media coverage. DeVore had been hoping that win might occur at his track and he was prepared with a special trophy and victory lane celebration. The speedway name will always be connected to Hearn’s win as though it were meant to be.
Week in and week out the Sportsman class was strong in car count and intensity of competition from mid-pack and on forward. With weekly car counts typically in the 35 – 40 range in the Sportsman class, and an additional 25 – 30 cars in the Limited Sportsman class, fans were treated weekly to some of the most competitive Sportsman racing one would see anywhere.
Rocky Warner clinched his first track title for the Sportsman class in 2017 with five feature wins, nine Top 5’s, and 17 Top 10’s. Other feature winners were Connor Cleveland (2), Tim Hartman, Jr. (1), Dave Constantino (2), David Schilling (2), JaMike Sowle (2), Jack Lehner (1), Robert Bublak (1), Scott Duell (1), Adam McAuliffe (1), Andrew Buff (1) and Adam Pierson (1).
The DIRTcar Pro Stock class saw 60 different drivers compete during the season with the full fender action a real weekly challenge to its competitors. When the season was all over it was the ever popular Kenny Martin who was crowned the track champion for 2017. For Martin, this was his second track championship and he achieved it with an impressive season record of three wins, 10 Top 5’s and 15 Top 10’s. Martin also captured the Ron Mensing sponsored “Featherfoot Series” crown.
Rounding out the Top 10 in the Pro Stock class were Kim Duell, Chuck Dumblewski, Dave DePaulo, Brandon Emigh, Dan Older, Luke Horning, Jeff Washburn, Ernie Grenier and Nick Arnold. Feature winners during the season were Dumblewski (2), Emigh (1), Horning (1), Robbie Speed (3), Dean Charbonneau (1), Brandon Gray (1) and Rob Yetman (1).
Al Relyea was crowned the track champion in the Street Stock division after finishing the season with one win. Randy Miller finished second (7 wins) with Jim Duncan (1), Damon Anderson, Joey Wilson (2), Scott Lawrence (2), Chase Aussicker (1), Mark Burch, John Hayes, and John Filarecki (1) completing the top ten finishing spots. Also scoring a win in 2017 was Paul Mulrain.
Will Ryan (Single Cam) and Ben Grant (Dual Cam) were crowned the champions in their respective Greg’s Towing and Repair sponsored 4-Cylinder divisions. Completing the Top 5 in the Single Cam class were Robert Garney, Allana Jordan, Tyler Burch and Johnny Bruno. In the Dual Cam division PJ Bleau, Steve Ryan, Jared Powell and Jason Lang rounded out the Top 5 in points.
There were several special events held during 2017 in addition to the DIRTcar NE Big Block Modified Series event (“The Big Show 9”) that brought 45 cars to the track and at which Tim McCreadie won the $10,000 first place money. The mid-week Short Track Super Series event was won by Matt Sheppard who was one of 49 cars entered for the event. The speedway also hosted the “Featherfoot Series for Pro Stocks” and the “King of Dirt (KoD) Series” races for Pro Stocks, Sportsman and Small Blocks.
Add to the above “Stan Da Man’s 32 Night” memorial event held in honor of DeVore’s father who passed in late 2016, as well as appearances at the track by the Mohawk Vintage Modifieds, the Short Track Super Series, Patriot Sprints, DMC USAC Midgets, and the Capital Region Sprint Association. There was something for everyone all season long.
Also a part of this year’s program was the very popular “Sowle Summer Showdown” sponsored by Sowle Trailer Repair, consisting of Triple 50’s for the Modifieds, Sportsman and Pro Stocks that paid $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000 respectively.
DeVore would like to thank the many seasonal sponsors including Advance Auto Parts, American Tactical Systems, Adirondack Nationals, Trustco Your Hometown Bank, Mangino GMC, Saratoga Masonry supply, Saratoga Surveillance, Garones Concrete, Cleveland Brothers landscaping, Malta Asphalt Lawn and Landscape, Fairfield Inn and Suites, A-Verdi Containers, Albany Rods and Kustoms, and Lazzaro’s Auto Body.
Thanks also to the many marketing partners including Rifenburg Construction, Tremont Rentals, Team Goewey, Elmo’s Autobody, Sowle Trailer Repair, GMC, Pallette Stone Corp, World of Life, Adirondack Nationals, Madsen Overhead Doors, It Works!, Benjamin Moore, Satch Sales, Larosa’s, Wendy’s, Race Pro Weekly, Rounds 623 Dirt, Charlton Oil Co., Emerick Associates, Malta Asphalt, Rounds Paving, Malta Med Emergency Care, County Waste & Recycling, GA Bove Fuels, Senator Kathy Marchione, T & T Body King and Bart Contracting.
For the faithful who attend Albany-Saratoga weekly, the end of the 2017 racing season not only marked the end of another exciting year of dirt track racing at “The Great Race Place,” but the beginning of a feeling of anticipation as to what will await them when the gates for weekly racing open on Friday, April 20, 2018.
For the 2018 schedule and up-to-date Albany-Saratoga Speedway information be sure to visit online at www.albany-saratogaspeedway.com or Twitter at http://twitter.com/Albany-Saratoga@Albany_Saratoga or out Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Albany-Saratoga Speedway.