Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – It comes down to simple math.
In the season opening modified feature at Albany-Saratoga Speedway on June 12, Stewart Friesen finished second after starting at the tail end of the 32-car field.
In Week 2, Friesen sat 13th on the starting grid.. If you don’t think the improved starting position would make a difference, you would be sadly mistaken.
Friesen had the Halmar-sponsored Bicknell at the front of the field midway through the feature, and cruised to victory in the 35-lap main event Friday night at the historic Malta track.
As he did in Week 1, Friesen did his best racing in the top groove, but unlike Week 1, the top didn’t go away in Week 2.
“Starting on the bottom didn’t help me,” he said after the win. “I got pinned down early. But the top, especially in three and four, was really fast.”
Friesen almost let this one slip away. Midway through the feature, he jumped the berm in turn one and suddenly, the front end of the Halmar modified was pointing toward the infield.
“I almost spun out there,” said Friesen. “But I got it under control and just tried to keep my momentum.
Rookie James Meehan started on the outside pole and did a masterful job, holding off some of the top drivers in the Northeast after three early restarts
The fourth yellow came out when Drew Cormie slowed in the second turn, and that’s when things changed drastically.
Ken Tremont Jr., who had started ninth, pulled up on the outside of Meehan for the restart. They took the green flag from starter Rich Petersen and headed into the first turn. But they made heavy contract heading into one, and the contact got Tremont airborne. He slammed down on the right side tires, and began a series of barrel rolls, with the 115 coming to rest on its wheels. Tremont took a couple of minutes to shake off the effects of the accident, and walked away from the wreck.
“I was a little loopy there for a while, but I’m okay now,” he said after the feature.
That incident put Jessey Mueller into the lead, with Mike Mahaney, who sat in victory lane on opening night, in second and Friesen in third.
As soon as the green flag came back out, the running order changed. Friesen charged down the backstretch, went low in the third turn, snapped his Bicknell chassis back to the right in the short chute, and rocketed out of the fourth turn, overtaking down Mueller and Mahaney for the lead.
And for all practical purposes, this one was over.
“I got some breaks,” said Friesen. “First Kenny and the 32 come together. Then Jessey and Mike were racing hard, and I saw an opening in three and I took it.”
Mahaney got past Mueller for second with two laps to go. Completing the top five were Mat Williamson, making a rare stop at Albany-Saratoga, Mueller and Matt DeLorenzo.
Tremont’s night wasn’t a total disaster. He won the STTC Service Tires Modified Dash for Cash and earned a $200 bonus.
Tim Hartman Jr., the 2018 sportsman champion at Albany-Saratoga, won the 25-lap sportsman feature. The win was Hartman’s first in the state of New York this season, with his other wins coming in South Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Hartman Jr., who started 20th, ran side by side for a number of laps with leader Joey Scarborough before putting his Parillo Enterprises-sponsored car into the lead on lap 18. Scarborough didn’t back down, and the two even made some contact in the third turn late in the race, but both were able to overcome the bobble and went on to finish first and second, respectively. Veteran Dick Bisson, who is back after a long layoff, was third.
Josh Coonradt outdueled Luke Horning to win the 25-lap pro stock feature. Coonradt, who started 11th, moved out in front after a restart on lap 11, but he had his hands full with Jeff Meltz Jr. and Horning. Meltz took over the lead on lap 19, but following a restart on lap later, Coonradt regained the top spot.
With two laps left, Horning appeared to finally get the lead away from Coonradt going down the back stretch, but before the lap was completed, Chad Jeseo spun, bringing out the yellow and putting Coonradt back into the lead. That’s where he stayed, with Horning second and Rob Yetman third.
Bryant Moore held off a strong challenge from Bryce Breault to win the 20-lap Haun Welding limited sportsman feature, and Kaleb Shepard started on the pole and lead flag to flag to win the 15-lap street stock feature, finishing just over a second ahead of defending track champion Al Relyea.
David Frame won the dual cam four-cylinder feature, with Johnny Bennett getting the victory in the single-cam division.
MODIFIEDS: Stewart Friesen, Mike Mahaney, Mat Williamson, Jessey Mueller, Matt DeLorenzo, Jackie Brown Jr., Marc Johnson, Jeremy Pitts, Ronnie Johnson, Anthony Perrego, Don Ronca, Matt Pupello, Matt Depew, CG Morey, James Meehan, Don Mattison, Derrick McGrew Jr., Justin Barber, Allissa Cody, Reggie Bonner, Keith Flach, Brian Berger, Bobby Hackel IV, Ricky Davis, Rich Ronca, Rocky Warner, Ken Tremont Jr., Drew Cormie, Peter Britten, Vinnie Visconti.
SPORTSMAN: Tim Hartman Jr., Joey Scarborough, Dick Bisson, Robert Bublak, Jack Speshock, Daryl Nutting, Thomas Van Vorst Jr., Andrew Buff, Justin Buff, Connor Cleveland, Pat Jones, Tony Farone, Marty Kelly III, Jim Osgood, Scott Duell, Dave Baranowski Jr., Dan Grignon, Derek Bornt, Justin Severence, Dave Richer, Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Dave Boisclair, Jeff Washburn, Justin Stone, Fred Proctor, Payton Talbot, Mike Ballestero, Brandon Gibbons, Jim Nagle, Mike Coffey Jr.,
PRO STOCKS: Josh Coonradt, Luke Horning, Rob Yetman, Jason Meltz, Brandon Emigh, Scott Towslee, Chuck Dumblewski, Kim Duell, Nick Arnold, Dean Charbonneau, Dan Older, Jay Fitzgerald, Mike Ostrander, Mike Baker, Yates Lansing, Randy Cosselman, Chad Jeseo, Dan Madigan, Phil Arnold, Jordan Modiano, David Cook, Ed Thompson.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN; Bryant Moore, Bryce Breault, Travis Witbeck, Chris Bisson, Kevin Groff, Scott Bennett, Yule Cook, John Santolin, Tommy D’Angelo, Shane Larman, Al Lajoice, Ron Delease Jr., Jared Powell, Brandon Jacobsen, Greg DeCamp, Tyler Rapp, Taylor Wason, Garrett Poland, Craig Wholey, Jon Coon.
STREET STOCKS: Kaleb Shepard, Al Relyea, John Filarecki, Matt Mosher, Jason Barrett, Jeff Meltz, Josh Hemming, PJ Cram Jr., Jacob Zennaiter, Craig Coon, Hunter Sanchez, John Hayes, Tim McFarland.