Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – MALTA, NY – Mat Williamson came home with a strong third place finish on Tuesday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Brett Hearn’s Big Show 11, but at the end of the feature event, he found himself almost as a spectator, watching the lead battle between two of DIRTcar’s best.
Starting in the eighth position, Williamson drove his Buzz Chew #88 to third place and had a front row seat for the epic battle between Stewart Friesen and Brett Hearn.
The race was so good to watch that at one point, he noticed himself paying more attention to their battle than trying to join the fray himself.
“Man, I don’t know if I was too busy at the end watching those guys instead of trying to race,” Williamson said. “I was good some laps, and then I would drive it in on the bottom and I don’t know if I sealed my right rear over or not, but it just didn’t stick.”
It was then that Mat started to figure out the tricky Albany-Saratoga surface.
“I’m not sure what it was, but the track was brown, shine and then sandy stuff (low to high groove),” he said. “You could get more grip in the sandy stuff so I started to roll the middle of the track and I was better.”
Tire selection was a key component to Williamson’s success on Tuesday evening. His team chose a D400 (hard) right rear, while some teams that had success early in the 111-lap main event, went with a D300 (soft).
“I think Decker and Sheppard were running 300’s while the others went with a 400,” he said. “We were good tonight. I saw Max (McLaughlin) under me with like two-to-go, but we kept our line and finished strong.”
While their tire compound choice was good, Mat and his team feel they may have needed a little more help in the feature.
“We probably could have used a little more stagger tonight,” he said. “Ours closed down during the race which hurt the way I was driving the car, but our right rear is perfect…minimal wear. Brett’s (Hearn) is all chewed up but we still had more left.”
Did Mat feel like he could run with the top two drivers and contend for the $11K payday? You bet.
“I definitely didn’t need that final caution,” he said. “We were reeling those guys in before the yellow came out. I just found out we were running very consistent laps, lap after lap, but those are the breaks.”
The day started off with severe rain in the area, and the night quickly turned to extreme heat. While Williamson may not have needed the final one, there was one caution, however, Mat was grateful to see fly.
“I really needed that one caution after the long run in the middle of the race,” he said. “I was sweating so bad that my eyebrows were full of water and it was dripping into my eyes. I couldn’t see.”
Mat Williamson had a great night and seems to be getting acclimated nicely to his new Super DIRTcar Series team. It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone to see that #88 in victory lane very soon.