MALTA ― Stewart Friesen is one of the hottest drivers on dirt right now and he showed that to a packed facility on Thursday night when Albany-Saratoga Speedway hosted their season opener at the Malta oval.
The 2012 opener, which management refers to as ‘the resurrection’ brought the fans out in droves and they witnessed an impressive starting lineup which boasted over 30 Modifieds and over 50 Budget Sportsman automobiles.
Friesen, who secured the win in the second qualifying event, started the 30-lap feature event from the front row alongside Todd Stone. The Canadian native took the lead on lap three and never looked back despite some challenges from Matt DeLorenzo and a very strong challenge by Kenny Tremont in the late stages of the event.
“Definitely starting up front helped us tonight, this is incredible,” said Freisen during post-race ceremonies. “I could hear Ken the whole time and I wanted to take his lane away and I guess it worked. We were bumping and banging the whole way.”
Over the last few years Freisen has been adding his name to the stat books at many different ovals and Thursday night’s win was his first at the 4/10 mile oval.
“This is huge, we had a good draw, we were up front in our heat race and everything worked out for us tonight,” said Freisen.
Tremont started the event in ninth place and wasted little time getting towards the front of the field. He was already in third place when the fifth circuit was recorded.
Tremont, Brett Hearn, Matt DeLorenzo and A.J. Romano rounded out the top five.
Brett Hearn, who holds the title for the most opening night wins, came from the 13th starting spot to finish in third place.
The Budget Sportsman race proved just as exciting. Joey Budka appeared to be the man of the evening. Budka easily won his qualifying event and was fast the entire night. He took off with the lead at the drop of the feature event but on lap 13 Derrick McGrew had Budka in his view.
Lapped traffic was becoming an issue so the duo were forced to cut in and out, keeping the crowd in suspense. With only four laps remaining McGrew passed Budka and the two continued to put on a fantastic showdown until the checkered flag deemed it official.
Jeff Rockefeller, Tim Hartman, Jr. and Fred Proctor rounded out the top five.
Bits: Don Ronca lettered his race car for the 2012 race season with his brother Mike’s familiar number seven. Mike passed away over the winter months at way too young of an age… Budget Sportsman driver Bobby Hackel loaded up early in the evening due to a skip in the motor… The Flach boys, Keith and J.C. were on hand for the season opener and will become weekly residents at the Malta oval… Jeff Trombley was taken from the speedway by way of the wrecker during the first modified consi, he would not start the feature event… Joey Scarborough won the Budget Sportsman ‘Rookie’ feature. Scarborough’s dad, Don, won on both the dirt and asphalt surface when the Richards family ran the speedway… Lebanon Valley Speedway owner Howard Commander was on-hand to watch his promoter [Lyle DeVore] and race director [Mike Burns] pull off a successful first run…. Commander was impressed when he saw how racy the track was and what a good show the 4/10 mile has always been able to rave about… The duo get another chance since the season opener consists of a dual show with a Thursday and Friday [April 19 and April 20] schedule planned…
Modified Heats: Todd Stone, Stewart Friesen, Matt DeLorenzo,
MODIFIED (30 Laps) – 1. Stewart Friesen, 2. Ken Tremont Jr, 3. Brett Hearn, 4. Matt Delorenzo, 5. A.J. Romano, 6. Ronnie Johnson, 7. Dustin Delaney, 8. Tim McCreadie, 9. Mark Kislowski, 10. Bodie Bellinger, 11. Donnie Corellis, 12. Don Ronca, 13. Mike Perrotte 14. Jimmy Cottrell, 15. Neil Stratton, 16. J.C. Flach, 17. Patrick Dupree, 18. Matt Depew, 19. Hector Stratton, 20. Brian Whittemore, 21. Pep Corradi, 22. Todd Stone, 23. Bob Savoie, 24. Keith Flach, 25. Elmo Reckner, DNS. Chris Busta, DNS. Jason Herrington, DNS. Joe Williams, DNS. Justin Barber, DNS. Jeff Trombley, DNS. John Lutes Jr, DNS. Rich Ronca, DNS. Kim LaVoy, DNS. Marc Johnson
BUDGET SPORTSMAN (25 Laps) – 1. Derrick McGrew, 2. Joey Budka, 3. Jeff Rockefeller, 4. Tim Hartman Jr, 5. Fred Proctor, 6. Mike Tholin, 7. Frank Hoard III, 8. Jim Eaton, 9. Anthony Perrego, 10. Anthony Marro, 11. Dan Santabarbara, 12. Jeremy Pitts, 13. D.J. Brundige, 14. Jon Miller, 15. Andy Durte, 16. Robert Budlak, 17. Mark Hughes, 18. Steve Akers, 19. Joey Scarborough, 20. Scott Duell, 21. Jeremy Digert, 22. Ray Hall Jr, 23. Brian Gleason, 24. Mike Minick, 25. Mike Burdo, 26. Jack Gentile, 27. Rocky Warner, DNS. Jeremy Pitts, DNS. Shannon Donnelly, DNS. Nick Lussier, DNS. Elliott Lussier, DNS. Jack Swinton, DNS. Chuck Dickinson, DNS. Mike Ostrander, DNS. Jerry Campbell, DNS. Paul Dunham, DNS. Skip Shippee, DNS. Mike Jeske, DNS. Frank Hoard Jr, DNS. Luke Klob, DNS. Bobby Hackel IV, DNS. Dave Baranowski Jr, DNS. Bert Film, DNS. Leo Sousie, DNS. Joe Orlando, DNS. Pete Carlotto, DNS. Matt Shadic, DNS. Mark Mortensen, DNS. Tyler Dippel, DNS. Butch Wilcox,
DNS. Joe Eastman, DNS. Stan Lemiesz
BUDGET SPORTSMAN ROOKIE (15 Laps) – 1. Joey Scarborough, 2. Dan Boni, 3. Chris Murray, 4. Milo Campbell, 5. Jack Speshock, 6. Ron Casey, 7. Brett White, 8. Jake Scarborough
4-CYL SINGLE CAM (15 Laps) – 1. Dan Older, 2. Keith Tesiero, 3. Mark Drescher, 4. Lance Robertson, 5. Josh Dupree, 6. Brooklyn Wescott, 7. Dave Labarge,
8. Blake Schwarting
4-CYL DUAL CAM (15 Laps) – 1. Chris VanDePutte, 2. Art Clement, 3. Dan Collins, 4. P.J. Bleau 5. David Frame, 6. Pete Vila, DNS. Todd Goldstein