The 4th Turn: 5/20/2021

~ By Tom Boggie

If you’ve been in the stands at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, or have been watching the pay-per-view through Dirt Track Digest TV for the last two weeks, you’ve witnessed a couple of scary flips and a couple of near-misses.

And they probably aren’t going to end soon.

Two weeks ago, Mike Maresca sailed off the racing surface on the first lap of the modified feature, and Jack Speshock wound up on his roof after a flip in the first turn. Last Friday, Keith Flach had the same situation in an almost identical spot on the race track, and also flipped his car. A couple of other drivers avoided disaster by reining in their cars at the last possible second.

So after the modified feature last Friday, I stopped to talk with Ken Tremont Jr. and try to get a handle on what’s going on.

“The issue is that everybody has the same car, and these short-rod, coil cars are very violent,” he said. “They react quickly. If you hit a hole, you’re going to roll over and wreck a race car.”

And he wasn’t talking about hitting a deep hole. He was talking about a rut, or catching the right rear on the cushion at the wrong angle.

“With these cars, the track has to be dry-slick and has to be table-top smooth,” Tremont added.

Tremont, who has started the last three features from the 29th starting position because of heat race issues, admitted that the present conditions have made him a little hesitant about running the top.

“I’m getting a little cautious about running the outside because I don’t want to wreck a race car,” he said.

He destroyed a race car last year in a bad wreck in the first turn at Albany-Saratoga, and you can’t blame him if he doesn’t want to do it again.

MARC JOHNSON, discussing track conditions after picking up his second modified win of the year last Friday at Albany-Saratoga.

“The track has been so different. We’ve got a good baseline for a track like this, but the way it was for the last two weeks, I was really searching out there.”

Johnson’s win came one week after he was involved in a wreck with Billy Decker and finished 25th.

TIM HARTMAN JR., after taking the checkered flag in the sportsman feature for the first time this year.

“It actually helped me by starting in the back, in 15th. I was able to see what line was the fastest. The best thing for me was when we got into the lapped traffic. I was able to pick the right spot to get about Justin (Buff).”

JOSH COONRADT, after picking up his first pro stock win of the season.

“We were missing some of the heavy hitters tonight, like Luke (Horning) and (Nick) Stone. Tonight was our night. We’ve been struggling a lot and I put some thought into stopping racing, but people just wouldn’t let me give up.”

Stone was racing at another track Friday night, while Horning suffered severe damage to his car during his heat race when Jay Fitzgerald spun in the first turn and Horning slammed into his car.

Neil Stratton had a fast race car last Friday, holding off Flach to win his heat race and then staying in the top five for most of the feature. But on a restart on lap 28, he caught the inside barrier in the first turn and tore the left front wheel off his car.

James Meehan must have had a big smile on his face after the modified feature. He ran with the leaders all night and finished third, the best finish of his short modified career. Meehan, who moved up to modifieds after running in the sportsman division for most of the 2019 season, lost the runner-up position to Demetrious Drellos on the last lap.

Elmo Reckner’s fourth-place finish was his best performance since finishing second to Brett Hearn on July 5, 2019, and if I’m not mistaken, CG Morey’s fifth-place finish marked the first time in his career that he’s finished in the top five of a modified feature at Albany-Saratoga.

Nice job by Jim Nagle last Friday. Coming off his first career sportsman win two weeks ago, he finished fourth in his heat race, despite running with a flat right front tire after making contact with Elliot Lussier. By hanging onto a qualifying position, Nagle started 13th in the feature and crossed the finish line fourth.

Reckner had a memorable weekend. After his fourth-place finish at Albany-Saratoga, he won the sportsman/modified feature at Devil’s Bowl on Saturday night. That was Reckner’s first win at the Bowl since 1996, when he won a feature in the pro street division.

Reckner is on the short list of drivers who have won features at Albany-Saratoga, Lebanon Valley, Fonda, Devil’s Bowl and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. His victories include the pro street win at the Bowl, two modified wins and two sportsman wins at Fonda, a small block modified win at Lebanon Valley, four pro street wins and one modified win at Albany-Saratoga and five sportsman/modified wins at Glen Ridge.

That short list also includes Tremont, Matt Sheppard and Hartman Jr. Any others that you know of?

While Reckner won the modified feature at the Bowl, 14-year-old Joe Venditti of Scotia recorded the first limited sportsman win of his career in just his third race.

LJ Lombardo won last Saturday’s modified feature at Lebanon Valley. JR Heffner looked like he was on his way to victory lane before the rear end in his car let go.

Andrew Buff won Glen Ridge’s opener last Sunday, and Albany-Saratoga regulars Mike Mahaney and Tony Perrego finished second and third, respectively, in Tuesday night’s modified race at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee.

I was doing some research on Glen Ridge earlier this week and came across two interesting dates from the 2007 season. The first was May 30, when Laurie Fallis, Janelle Davis and Kate Stealy had the top three spots in the cruiser feature. Does anyone know of any other time, other than a powderpuff race, when women finished 1-2-3?

Then there was Oct. 14, which became known as the Hoard Family Trifecta. Frank Hoard III won the budget sportsman feature, Frank Hoard Jr. was second and Angela Hoard finished third.

The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modifieds will be making their first appearance of the season at Albany-Saratoga Friday. Hey, don’t forget about the big Memorial Day weekend spectacular at Lebanon Valley, when the Super DIRTcar Series heads to the high banks on Monday, May 31, for the Mr. Dirt Track USA race.

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