MALTA, NY — official release — Doug Ayres Photo — Race fans at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway are used to seeing the Vinny Salerno owned four star machine sitting in victory lane following the night’s Upstate GMC Dealers DIRTcar Modified feature event. However it has been since opening weekend two years ago that the Salerno led group brought home the lion’s share of the purse at the track.
That all changed Friday night as Pennsylvania super star Jeff Strunk brought the team back to victory lane in the night’s 35 lap event. The win was Strunk’s first career triumph at the fast, four tenths of a mile oval and came following an entertaining battle with Fort Plain’s Jeremy Wilder.
“It was a good race,” Strunk said. “He ran me clean and I tried to run him clean. We didn’t do anything dumb out there, I hope he had a good finish. Thank you to the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Lyle and all of the staff.”
In other action Connor Cleveland (Featherfoot Warrior Series Sportsman), Robbie Speed (DIRTcar Pro Stocks), David Emigh (Limited Sportsman), Randy Miller (Don Don’s Delight’s Street Stocks) and Steve Ryan (Greg’s Towing and Repair Four Cylinders) each picked up feature wins.
Brian Gleason and Jeremy Wilder led the field to the start of the Upstate GMC Dealers DIRTcar Modified feature event with Wilder taking the early lead. Gleason would fall into the second position with Rich Ronca, Strunk and Brian Whittemore following. The first caution flag of the event slowed the field on lap two when John Lutes, Jr. and Keith Flach tangled in between turns one and two. The jingle collected among others, Brett Hearn and Peter Britten. All continued on.
On the restart Brett Wright broke on the front stretch causing another caution period. The rookie driver would make repairs and continue. Wilder held the lead on the restart with Strunk moving to second, Gleason third, Ronca fourth and Elmo Reckner fifth. Rookie Mike Minick came to a stop in turn three on lap three forcing the third caution period.
When racing resumed the battle was hot and heavy for the lead between Wilder and Strunk. Strunk took the lead on lap four however the pass was negated when Kris Vernold spun on the backstretch. Wilder moved back to the front and led the field to the green on the restart. He held the lead once racing resumed with Strunk, Ronca, Gleason and Reckner following.
Strunk meanwhile was all over the rear deck of Wilder. The Quaker State super star took a look underneath the Fort Plain young gun on lap six but couldn’t make it stick. On lap seven Strunk would take the lead heading into turn number two however Wilder had a great run on the high side exiting the turn and retook the lead heading down the back stretch. The same scenario played out on lap eight with the only difference Wilder regained the lead using the low side.
As the old saying goes, the third time is the charm and on lap nine Strunk repeated laps seven and eight. This time though Wilder was not able to come back and Strunk controlled the lead. Reckner meanwhile would move into third on lap ten with Ronnie Johnson taking fourth a lap later. By lap 16 Marc Johnson was gaining momentum. He took over fifth from Ronca on that lap and by lap 20 was all over Ronnie Johnson for the fourth position.
As the lap counter hit number 21 the battle for that third position was intense between Reckner and both Johnsons. The trio ran three wide exiting turn four on lap 21 and when the hit the flaggers stand they were side by side by side in a dead heat. Reckner got the advantage a half lap later with Marc Johnson following in fourth and Ronnie back to fifth. Marc Johnson moved into third on lap 23 and set his sights on a distant Wilder.
Johnson’s deficit to Wilder was erased on lap 24 when Matt Delorenzo spun in turn two. On the restart Strunk continued to lead with Wilder, Marc Johnson, Reckner and Ronnie Johnson following. Ronnie moved past Reckner for the fourth position on lap 26 while Wilder and Marc Johnson battled for second. Marc moved past Wilder for second on lap 27 and looked to close on Strunk.
Strunk had built nearly a straightway advantage over second by the time Johnson gained control of the spot. While the gap decreased a little with five laps to go it wasn’t nearly enough as Strunk pulled away to his first win at the Great Race Place. Marc Johnson held on for second with Ronnie Johnson third, Wilder fourth and Reckner fifth. Heat races for the 25 car field were won by Wilder, Gleason and Strunk.
Sophomore driver Connor Cleveland picked up the win in the third leg of the Featherfoot Warrior Series for the Sportsman division. Olden Dwyer and Mike Burdo led the field to the green with Dwyer taking the early lead. The second generation driver led until the caution flag waved on lap eight for a spun Robert Bublak, Jr. and Jack Speshock. On the restart Cleveland moved into the lead and started to pull away. Cleveland led the remaining laps to bring home the win over Alex Bell, Joey Scarborough, Hunter Bates and Jeremy Pitts. Heat races for the 34 car field were won by Dwyer, Bublak, Cleveland and Chad Miller. The consolation event was claimed by John Virgilio.
Robbie Speed picked up his second DIRTcar Pro Stock feature event win of the season. Danny Wood jumped out to the early lead in the 25 lap event and held the position until giving way to Byron Wescott on a lap five restart. Wescott held the top spot until himself losing the lead on a restart, this one coming on lap 18. Speed took over the top spot on lap 18 and held on for the win. Rob Yetman finished second with Wescott third, Chuck Dumblewski fourth and Kim Duell fifth. Heat races for the 17 car field were claimed by Wood and Bill Smith.
Former DIRTcar Pro Stock campaigner David Emigh won his second Limited Sportsman feature event of the season. Emily Quinn grabbed the early lead before giving way to Anthony Alger on lap three. Alger held the lead until lap 13 when Emigh made racing contact with Alger. The contact pushed Alger off the backstretch and gave the lead to Emigh. Emigh led the remainder of the event to bring home the win over Ricky Davis, Ben Brownell, Alissa Cody and Chris Curtis. Heat races for the 20 car field were won by Jack Bublak and Quinn.
Randy Miller picked up the win in the Don Don’s Delights Street Stock feature event. Miller took the lead from Dave Stickles on lap 11 and brought home the win. Bill Duprey finished second with Stickles third, Jason Meltz fourth and Scott Lawrence fifth.
Steve Ryan won his fifth Greg’s Towing and Repair Four Cylinder feature event. Ryan crossed the finish line ahead of Clifford Booth, Chris Keller, Tim Meltz and Brett Horlacher.
The Albany-Saratoga Speedway returns to action this Wednesday night with a special 35 lap, $2,000 to win Upstate GMC Dealers DIRTcar Modified feature event. Also on the card will be the held over remaining 89 laps of Brett Hearn’s Big Show 6 presented by the Recovery Sports Grill, Ferris Industries and VP Racing Fuel. Racing is set to begin following the 6:30 pm hot lap session. General Admission is $10 with pit area pricing set at $15 for Members and $20 for Non Members. Wristbands from the original running of the Big Show on July 8th will not be honored.
For more information on the Albany-Saratoga Speedway including the 2014 racing schedule, photos and point standings please log on to our website at www.albany-saratogaspeedway.
Upstate GMC Dealers DIRTcar Modified Results (35 Laps) – 1) Jeff Strunk, 2) Marc Johnson, 3) Ronnie Johnson, 4) Jeremy Wilder, 5) Elmo Reckner, 6) Neil Stratton, 7) Rich Ronca, 8) Brett Hearn, 9) Peter Britten, 10) Ken Tremont Jr, 11) Brian Gleason, 12) Don Ronca, 13) Rich Scagliotta, 14) Chris Busta, 15) Matt Delorenzo, 16) Keith Flach, 17) Jimmy Cottrell, 18) Brian Whittemore, 19) Justin Barber, 20) John Lutes Jr., 21) Kris Vernold 22) Brett Wright, 23) Matt Depew, 24) Mike Minick, DNS) Mark Kislowski
Sportsman Featherfoot Warrior Series Results (25 Laps) – 1) Connor Cleveland, 2) Alex Bell, 3) Joey Scarborough, 4) Hunter Bates, 5) Jeremy Pitts, 6) Derek McGrew, 7) Cody Bleau, 8) Jon Miller, 9) Tim Hartman Jr, 10) Olden Dwyer, 11) Mike Burdo, 12) Dave Baranowski Jr, 13) Jack Speshock, 14) John Virgillio, 15) Jake Scarborough, 16) Bert Film, 17) Joe Orlando, 18) Mike Ostrander, 19) Chad Miller, 20) Chris Murray, 21) Scott Duell, 22) Nick Lussier, 23) Robert Bublak, 24) Chris Johnson, 25) Nick Anatriello, 26) Jack Swinton, 27) Timothy Davis, 28) Colin Bokus, DNQ) Colin Clow DNQ) Adam Gage, DNQ) Jack Gentile, DNQ) Elliott Lussier, DNQ) John Proctor, DNQ) Daryl Nutting
DIRTcar Pro Stock Results (25 Laps) – 1) Robbie Speed, 2) Rob Yetman, 3) Byron Wescott, 4) Chuck Dumblewski, 5) Kim Duell, 6) Ken Martin, 7) Danny Wood, 8) Dan Older, 9) Bill Smith, 10) Ed Thompson, 11) Kevin Loomis, 12) Randy Brownell, 13) Jeff Washburn, 14) Norm Loubier, 15) Dave Depaulo, 16) Walt Brownell, DNS) Brandon Emigh
Limited Sportsman Results (15 Laps) – 1) David Emigh, 2) Ricky Davis, 3) Ben Brownell, 4) Alissa Cody, 5) C=
hris Curtis, 6) Christopher Ronca, 7) Matt Atwood, 8) Zach Daurio, 9) Shannon Donnelly, 10) Randall Soucie, 11) Steve Wagoner, 12) Bruce Schwab, 13) Jack Bublak, 14) Anthony Alger, 15) Scott Flanders, 16) Andrew Buff, 17) Diana Huyck, 18) Emily Quinn, DNS) Jesse Edwards, DNS) Bob Schmidt
Don Don’s Delights Street Stock Results (20 Laps) – 1) Randy Miller, 2) Bill Duprey, 3) Dave Stickles, 4) Jason Meltz, 5) Scott Lawrence, 6) Matt Mosher, 7) Darrell Older, 8) Damon Anderson, 9) Jody Thew, 10) Jaske Currier, 11) Jason Barrett, 12) Josh Coonradt, 13) Fred Harris, 14) Jordan Kasper, 15) David Shippee, 16) Paul Braymer, 17) Jay Casey, 18) Frank Monroe, DNS) Chase Aussicker
Greg’s Towing and Repair Four Cylinder Results (15 Laps) – 1) Steve Ryan, 2) Clifford Booth, 3) Chris Keller, 4) Tim Meltz, 5) Brett Horlacher, 6) Dave LaBarge, 7) Dan Older, 8) Mark Linblade, 9) Joe Tallman, 10) Franky Twing, 11) Robert Garney, 12) Pete Vila