Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – There are times Stewart Friesen seems to be operating on a whole different level than his competitors.
Friday night was a good example, as Friesen put the finishing touches on Albany-Saratoga Speedway’s regular season by chalking up his sixth win of the season in the “Friday Finale” 35-lap modified feature.
This one was no contest. After starting seventh by virtue of the redraw, Friesen only needed nine laps to get to the front and cruised to the win, worth $2,800, which included a $300 bonus for leading lap 15.
During the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Friesen has raced at Albany-Saratoga 10 times. He has six wins, two seconds, one third and one fifth.
“I’m really comfortable in this car,” said Friesen after his win Friday night. “We have 10 races under our belts here, and because there are no other big block races to concentrate on, we keep tweaking on this car, and we’ve got it right where we want it.”
Told that he makes winning look easy, he smiled, and said, “It’s never easy.”
Keith Flach, who was looking for his first win of the season, started on the outside pole and quickly jumped into the lead. The first yellow came out on lap seven, when Peter Britten came to a stop in the front straightaway, and on the restart, Friesen, who had already made his way up to fourth, jumped into second.
One lap later, Flach drifted too high in the second turn, and Friesen rocketed into the lead.
Leisurely rim-riding against the cushion, Friesen got into lapped traffic by lap 15, but never had to lift, easily pulling away and leaving Flach and 2020 champion Mike Mahaney to battle for second.
Mahaney, who had started eighth, kept the George Huttig-owned Bicknell stuck to the inside, and moved past Rocky Warner into third place on lap 13.
Mahaney steadily gained ground on Flach, who was trying to follow in Friesen’s tire tracks on the outside, and looked like he was going to get a shot at the No. 2 spot when he and Flach got into lapped traffic. But Mahaney then had to move to the outside, as many of the lapped cars were staying low, allowing Flach to get some breathing room.
Another caution on lap 25, brought out by Matt DeLorenzo, put Mahaney back on the inside for the restart, and he took advantage of that spot, moving past Flach on lap 26 and staying there, crossing the finish line 1.037 seconds after Friesen.
Marc Johnson got around Flach on lap 29 to finish third, while Jack Lehner for up for fourth and Flach crossed the finish line fifth. Flach also won the Service Tire Truck Center Dash for Cash, picking up a $200 bonus.
Andrew Buff continued his late-season hot streak, winning the 25-lap sportsman feature. The win was his second in a row and fifth overall. Since Aug. 21, Buff has four wins and a third in five starts.
Buff started fifth in the 30-car field, but didn’t get hooked up until late in the feature. Pat Jones started on the pole, but after just five laps, Buff was sitting second.
He kept running the outside, while Jones was hugging the bottom, and for a while, it looked like Jones was finally going to get his first win of the season.
But a restart on lap 18 bunched the field, and three laps later, Buff took the lead for good coming out of the fourth turn.
Jones crossed the finish line second, his best finish of the season. He was followed by Justin Buff, Daryl Nutting and 2020 champion Tim Hartman Jr.
Josh Coonradt and Chad Jeseo put on a show in the 25-lap pro stock feature, running side by side for the final seven laps of the feature. Jeseo, running the bottom, inched ahead for the lead on lap 23 but the two leaders were dead-even as they took the white flag. On the last lap, Jeseo wiggled coming out of the fourth turn, which was just enough for Coonradt to hit the finish line first, recording his fourth win of the season, and second in a row.
History was made in the 20-lap limited sportsman feature, as Tanner Warner, the son of modified driver Rocky Warner, chalked up with the first victory of his career.
Tanner took the lead after a restart on lap six, and then held off a challenge from Ron Delease Jr. to get the win. Following them across the finish line were Dylan Madsen, Carter Gibbons and Dan Maher.
Michael Wright, a regular competitor at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, made his first visit to Albany-Saratoga pay off, winning the 15-lap street stock feature. Wright started seventh, but only needed two laps to get the lead, thanks to an early incident that sent 2020 champion Jeff Meltz to the rear of the field.
Wright eventually opened up a half-a-straightaway lead, and easily beat Paul Braymer to the finish line.
The Tobias Slingshots made their annual stop at the speedway, with Brock Pinkerous coming away with the victory, which was worth $500. Pinkerous, who started fourth, led the entire 15-lap feature, outrunning Nick Auspelmyer to get the win. Devin Pierce, who started 17th, worked his way back up to finish third.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway will be back on action on Tuesday, Oct. 6, kicking off the six-day DIRTcar OktoberFAST. The racing card will be highlighted by a 60-lap big block feature, paying $7,500 to win, and will include the DIRTcar sportsman and DIRTcar pro stocks.
MODIFIEDS: Stewart Friesen, Mike Mahaney, Marc Johnson, Jack Lehner, Keith Flach, Anthony Perrego, Rocky Warner, Ken Tremont Jr., Ronnie Johnson, Jessey Mueller, Neil Stratton, Bobby Hackel IV, Matt Depew, Kyle Armstrong, Don Ronca, LJ Lombardo, Rich Ronca, CG Morey, Brian Calabrese, Ricky Davis, James Meehan, Drew Cormie, Scott Huber, Matt DeLorenzo, Derek Bornt, Peter Britten, Jackie Brown Jr.
SPORTSMAN: Andrew Buff, Pat Jones, Justin Buff, Daryl Nutting, Tim Hartman Jr., Connor Cleveland, Jack Speshock, Brian Calabrese, Mike Coffey Jr., Walt Hammond, Dan Grignon, Jon Miller, Jeff Washburn, Kale Groff, AJ Miller, Nick Lussier, Robbie Knipe, Robert Bublak Jr., Ron Proctor, Pete Carlotto, Stephen Kneer, Hunter Lapp, Garrett Poland, Mike Ballestero, Walt Hammond Jr., Dylan Bokus, Derrick McGrew Jr., Fred Proctor, David Boisclair, Scott Duell.
PRO STOCKS: Josh Coonradt, Chad Jeseo, Rich Crane, Jason Meltz, Kim Duell, Jason Casey, Luke Horning, Jay Casey, Brandon Emigh, Mike White, Zach Seyerlein, Scott Towslee, Tony Markou, Buck Gasner, Mike Baker, Doug Sheely, Dave Stickles, Jordan Modiano, Ken Griffen, Rick Spencer.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN: Tanner Warner, Ron Delease Jr., Dylan Madsen, Carter Gibbons, Dan Maher, Tommy D’Angelo, Taylor Wason, Pete Lorenzo, Craig Wholey, Karl Barnes, James Hinman Jr., Nick Plumstead, John Santolin, Nick Arnold, Dan Seguin, Joe Venditti, Scott Bennett, Greg DeCamp, Joe Smith, Kyle Plumstead, Chris Wainwright.
STREET STOCKS: Michael Wright, Paul Braymer, Dylan Fachini, Matt Mosher, Dom Denue, Tyler Irwin, Dave Fachini, Damon Anderson, Mark Burch, Jeff Meltz, John Hayes, Evan Denue, Jacob Zennaiter, Al Relyea, John Williams, Harold Chadderton, Janai St. Pierre, Josh Hemming.