RPW Column By: TOBY LAGRANGE / RPW – GLOVERSVILLE, NY – The 2020 season has been an interesting one for sure here in the Capital District of New York. From Covid-19 restrictions to big races and surprising faces, this season has been one that none of us will soon forget.
Luckily for us here in and around the Albany area, each of the four tracks that make up the Capital District have been able to at least open their gates this season. With tracks such as the Albany-Saratoga Speedway and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park being able to run most of a full season (with some events left to go as of this writing).
One event that will not happen for the first time in its 48-year history is Super DIRT Week. The annual fall event has been replaced this season by the newly formed OktoberFAST six-night event. The six nights of racing will kick off on Tuesday October 6th here in the Capital District at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Three divisions will be on the card that night, including the DIRTcar Modified, Sportsman and Pro Stock divisions. They, along with the DIRTcar 358 Modified division will make up the divisions competing in the OktoberFAST event.
Each of these divisions also run weekly here in CapitaLand. What follows is a look at the 2020 season that was for each of these divisions at the four tracks that make up the Capital District.
The 2020 season kicked off for the Big Block Modifieds at Albany-Saratoga on Friday night June 12th. The event drew 34 cars and was won by Mike Mahaney. It would be Mahaney’s only win of the 2020 season within the Capital Region however he would go on to claim the track championship at Albany-Saratoga Speedway over Marc Johnson.
Johnson, who would claim one feature event himself on August 14th would finish second in the final standings at the Great Race Place with Matt Delorenzo finishing third. Delorenzo also claimed one feature win (August 7th at Albany-Saratoga). Stewart Friesen finished fourth with two-time region winner Anthony Perrego finishing fifth.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway was able to run 13 events in 2020 with an average car count of 36.31 (highest in the region). Friesen won the most races at the track, taking the checkered flag six times. The track also owns the highest car count of the season in the region – that being 45 on September 11th.
The Fonda Speedway completed ten events in 2020. When all was said and done a new face would be crowned track champion – Mike Maresca. Maresca, who started calling the Track of Champions home a few seasons ago, can now himself a Fonda Speedway Track Champion.
Due to Covid-19, opening day at Fonda was not held until Sunday June 14th. Friesen picked up the win that day over a 33-car field. The win would be the first of eight at the track during the season, giving him a remarkable 80 % winning percentage for the season. The eight wins would lead to a runner up finish in the final standings over Rocky Warner, Delorenzo and David Schilling.
The Track of Champions averaged 29.3 cars for the 2020 season and hosted the second highest car count of the season on Sunday July 5th when the Firecracker 50 drew 41 entries.
The Lebanon Valley Speedway played host to a nine-event season in 2020. The season kicked off on Saturday June 13th with Kenny Tremont, Jr. picking up the win over a 23-car field. Tremont would win again on August 15th on his way to a fifth-place finish in the final point standings.
Andy Bachetti would be crowned the 2020 track champion at Lebanon Valley. The Wild Child claimed three feature wins during the season, with those coming on June 20th, July 4th and August 1st. Keith Flach finished second in the final standings with Marc Johnson third and Eddie Marshall fourth. Kyle Sheldon (7/18), Brett Haas (7/25), Ronnie Johnson (8/8) and Rob Pitcher (8/22) also picked up feature wins.
The Valley of Speed averaged 23.22 cars per race in 2020 over their nine events. It should be noted that where the other area tracks run a combined Modified/358 Modified division, Lebanon Valley runs separate divisions.
Brett Haas was crowned track champion in the 358 Modified division. Haas claimed wins on July 18th and August 1st during the five-event season. Jason Herrington finished second in the final standings with one feature win (8/22). Olden Dwyer finished third in the standings with Andy Bachetti fourth. Bachetti visited victory lane twice – July 4th and August 15th. Ryan Charland rounded out the top five.
The 358 Modified division averaged 18.4 cars per race in 2020 during their five-race season. Haas and Bachetti tied for the most divisional wins.
Overall a total of 38 Modified and 358 Modified events were held in the Capital Region during the 2020 season. The overall average car count for the region would be 28.81 (30.44 excluding the 358 Modifieds). A total of 15 different drivers graced victory lane with Friesen leading the way with 14 feature wins.
One of the most popular divisions ever to take the track in the Capital District, the Sportsman division once again did not disappoint with their on the track action. All four Capital District tracks offered the Sportsman division for the 2020 season.
The 2020 season opened on June 12th at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Connor Cleveland picked up the win on opening day over a stout 44 car field. The event would be the highest car count of the season in the Capital Region.
Overall, the Great Race Place has run 13 Sportsman events as of this writing with feature wins going to Andrew Buff (5), Tim Hartman, Jr. (4), Brian Calabrese (2), Connor Cleveland (1) and Jack Speshock (1). The average car count for the season so far is 36.62.
Hartman would pick up the track championship with Cleveland, Buff, Calabrese and Darryl Nutting rounding out the top five. One more event remains on the 2020 schedule and that is on October 6th as part of the OktoberFast event.
The Fonda Speedway would hold ten events during the 2020 season with an average car count of 28.70. In all the Track of Champions produced eight different winners during those ten events with Chad Edwards and Cody Clark leading the way with two wins each. Drivers winning one event each include Joe Williams, Calabrese, Nick Scavia, Hartman, Tony Farone and Bobby Hackel, IV.
The season opened on June 13th with Scavia picking up the win over a field of 29 cars. Edwards was crowned the track champion over Williams, JaMike Sowle, Brian Borst and Calabrese.
Just over an hour southeast of Fonda sits the Lebanon Valley Speedway. The track does not offer weekly Sportsman racing however the division was able to compete seven times on the high banks.
John Virgilio was crowned track champion over Robbie Knipe, Ryan Larkin, Joseph Coppala and Pat Jones/Nikki Ouellette. There were seven different winners for the 2020 season at Lebanon Valley with those wins being claimed by Virgilio, Larkin, Jones, Ouellette, Tim Hartman, Jr., Gary O’Brien and Nathan Johnson.
The track averaged 28.57 cars per event in 2020 and opened the season on June 20th with Virgilio picking up the win over a 30-car field.
The Glen Ridge Motorsports Park held the most events in the Capital District with a streak of 14 straight events without a cancelation. The track averaged 16.07 cars per event with Tony Farone winning the season opener on June 14th. One more event remains on the track schedule and that will be the Halloween Havoc event on October 16th.,
Travis Green and Andrew Buff were crowned track champions at the quarter mile in 2020. Scott McCoy finished third with Cody Ochs and Tucker O’Connor rounding out the top five.
Buff led everyone with three feature wins with McCoy, Farone and Brendan Gibbons winning two events each. Single feature wins would go to Green, Ochs, O’Connor, Bill August and Ryan Heath.
Overall 44 different Sportsman division events were held in 2020 with an overall average car count of 26.68. Andrew Buff led the way overall with eight feature wins.
Like the Sportsman division, the Pro Stock division was offered at all four local tracks. The Fonda Speedway led the way with 21.44 cars per event with the Albany-Saratoga Speedway currently holding 21.08 cars per event average. The Lebanon Valley Speedway averaged 18.56 cars per event while the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park averaged 12.64 cars per event.
The overall average car count in the Capital District is currently 18.02 with two events yet to be run (Albany-Saratoga 10/6 and Glen Ridge 10/16). Nick Stone leads the way with a Capital District total of 14 feature wins.
Stone opened the season at Albany-Saratoga with a win on June 12th over a 19-car field. The Great Race Place had held 13 events to date with Luke Horning, Josh Coonradt and Stone leading the way with four feature wins each. Chad Jeseo has the only other track win this season.
Horning was crowned track champion over Coonradt, Jason Meltz, Dean Charboneau and Kim Duell.
Stone also would win the season openers at the Fonda Speedway and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park on the same weekend.
At Fonda, Stone would win seven of the nine events held at the track. He would be crowned track champion over Horning, Kenny Gates, Coondradt and Jim Normoyle/Bill Knapp. Stone’s season opening win came over a 19-car field. Horning and Coonradt would each pick up a feature win.
Stone’s season opening win at Glen Ridge came over a 13-car field. He would go on to win three events at Glen Ridge. Luke Horning and Beau Ballard would also score three feature wins during the season. Buck Gasner and Ivan Joslin would pick up two checkered flags each while Andy Graves would win one event.
Horning would be crowned track champion over Ballard, Gasner, Joslin and Graves.
The Lebanon Valley Speedway opened their season on June 13th with Scott Towslee picking up the win in the Bubba Tanner Classic. The win came over a 19-car field. Chad Jeseo led the way with four feature wins while Towslee, Jason Casey, Doug Olds, Tom Dean and Tony Markou each won a single event.
Jeseo would claim the 2020 track championship. Nick Hilt finished second in the final standings with Towslee third, Steven LaRochelle fourth and Jason Casey fifth.