The 4th Turn: 4/8/2021

~ By Tom Boggie

There’s an idiom that states you can’t keep a good man down.

That’s why I think Ken Tremont Jr. is going to have a bounce-back year at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.

The 13-time modified champion at Malta is coming off one of the worst years of his long, successful career. About the only milestone he reached last season came when he wrecked cars on three consecutive Friday nights. When the COVID-19 pandemic shortened season ended in October, Tremont had one win and was 12th in points.

If Tremont hadn’t taken the checkered flag on July 24 last year, it would have marked the first time since 2008 that he went winless on dirt at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.

There were some major changes to the Tremont racing program during the offseason when Tremont and longtime sponsor Kevin Starchuk of S&S Asphalt Paving decided to part ways. Tremont and Starchuk had been together for 25 years; heck, a lot of fans had never seen a Tremont car without S&S Asphalt on the side.

But this year, Tremont is going back to basics, running his own team with his father Ken Sr. Ken Jr. will have new Bicknell cars ready for both Albany-Saratoga and Lebanon Valley (where he had two wins last year) and he’ll also be fielding a Bicknell for his son Montgomery at the Valley. Their weekly schedule will be a little less hectic, now that Devil’s Bowl has switched to Saturday night racing.

Another longtime sponsor, Rifenburg Construction, will replace S&S Asphalt as the primary sponsor on the 115 for 2021.

The last couple of seasons have been tough on Tremont. In 2018, Tremont and Demetrios Drellos both received suspensions at Albany-Saratoga for an on-track incident, and that year, Tremont also had to deal with the death of his sister Kathy.

The 2019 campaign had its ups and downs, with two wins at Albany-Saratoga and a lot of frustrating Friday nights, and last season was just horrible.

But Tremont didn’t rack up 386 career wins and over 35 modified track championships by easily getting discouraged. And a fresh approach may be just what he needs to get back on track.

Some of Albany-Saratoga’s top sportsman drivers have been making news recently.

The latest one was Robert Bublak Jr., who was declared the winner of the opening-night sportsman feature at Orange County Speedway in Middletown last weekend.

Bublak finished second in the feature (in just his fourth stop ever at the track), but then was awarded his first career win at the Middletown track when Brian Krummel failed post-race inspection.

In victory lane, Bublak proudly displayed a panel from one of Jack Johnson’s iconic cars, a tribute to Jumpin’ Jack, who died on April 1.

Back in January, Andrew Buff picked up a $3,000 paycheck for his victory at Lake View Speedway in South Carolina. Buff dedicated the win to his grandfather, who had died two weeks earlier.

Andrew Buff’s brother, Justin, had a second and a third in the two-day series at Lake View. On the second night, Justin broke an axle during time trials and had to start 20th in the field.

Peyton Talbot, who also spent his Friday nights at Albany-Saratoga last season, picked up a win in a GRIT Series sportsman race at North Florida Speedway in early February, earning $1,500.

The sportsman division at Albany-Saratoga has produced great racing in recent years, even though Tim Hartman Jr. dominated the point race in 2020. It will be interesting to see what Hartman and another former champion, Connor Cleveland, can do this season after switching from Troyer chassis to DKM.

Now that Stewart Friesen has added late model racing to his repertoire, it’s hard to find a weekend when he’s not racing somewhere. Going into this weekend, he’s already made 23 appearances at both asphalt and dirt tracks across the country. He’s got four wins so far (all in his modified), with the last one coming on March 12 in Delaware.

I’m going to make a prediction. Jack Lehner is going to get his first modified win at Albany-Saratoga Speedway this season.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Albany-Saratoga will be holding inspection and practice on Friday, but no spectators will be allowed in the grandstands.

The season will kick off with the $5,600-to-win “Hell or High Water” modified feature on Friday, April 16. That card will feature all divisions in action. The last time I talked with promoter Lyle DeVore, he was having discussions with officials from both Saratoga County and the state of New York to determine how many fans are going to be allowed in the stands. Keep an eye on the Albany-Saratoga Facebook page and Twitter account for the latest developments.

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