Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – Patience paid off for Anthony Perrego Tuesday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
After chasing Ronnie Johnson for 58 laps, Perrego finally pounced with two to go and took home the top prize of $7,500 in the first leg of the six-race DIRTcar Oktoberfast presented by DIRTVision to wrap up the 2020 season at the historic Malta track.
The win was Perrego’s second of the season at Albany-Saratoga. His total earnings Tuesday amounted to $7,750, as he also earned a $250 bonus for starting on the outside pole.
Nearly $4,000 in bonus money was handed out by Bart Contracting in the three divisions that competed in the DIRT event Tuesday.
Johnson, who drew the pole, and Perrego turned the 60-lap feature into a two-car race. Johnson quickly went to the front and had a two-second lead when the first caution came out on lap 25. The only car that was able to stay within striking distance of the top two was the 3D of Matt DeLorenzo, but his night ended early when he bounced off the front straightaway wall on lap 35.
Lap after lap, Johnson raced around the top while Perrego hugged the inside.
Perrego got the break he needed when the final 20 laps were run under green-flag conditions. He kept inching forward, and was noticeably making up ground in turns three and four.
After taking the two-to-go sign from flagger Dave Farney, Perrego got a big jump coming out of the second turn, slid up in front of Johnson going down the backstretch and had the lead when he took the white flag.
Mike Mahaney, the 2020 modified point champion at Albany-Saratoga, got by Johnson on the final lap to finish second (which was worth $4,000), while Johnson, who went winless at Albany-Saratoga in 2020, crossed the finish line third.
Ken Tremont Jr. was fourth, with Larry Wight fifth, the only invading driver to crack the top five.
Johnson didn’t get his first win of the year, but he did end up earning $3,270.20, which included a $500 bonus for starting on the pole and $250 for leading the most laps without winning.
“The outside really slowed down at the end of the race, and I could see he was starting to lose his momentum,” said Perrego after the race. “I thought I could pin him in lapped traffic, but the cautions didn’t work out the way I needed. I needed that long run at the end to get by him.”
“I raced the whole race on the top,” said Johnson. “I had to live or die by the top. It just started to go away near the end, and the car got loose.”
Mahaney, who started 11th, was following Perrego on the inside during the closing laps of the race, but never got close enough to mount a real challenge to the leaders.
“It was kind of tough to do anything with those two side-by-side in front of you,” he said.
The hard charger bonus of $250 went to Matt Sheppard, who had to qualify through one of the consolation races, and finished ninth after starting 21st.
MODIFIEDS: Anthony Perrego, Mike Mahaney, Ronnie Johnson, Ken Tremont Jt., Larry Wight, Billy Decker, Mat Williamson, Marc Johnson, Matt Sheppard, Chris Hile, Erick Rudolph, Stewart Friesen, Jimmy Phelps, Rocky Warner, Tim Fuller, Peter Britten, Max McLaughlin, Jack Lehner, Jessey Mueller, Brett Hearn, Dave Marcucilli, Rex King, Bobby Hackel IV, Matt DeLorenzo, Pat Ward, Demetrios Drellos.