By Mark Kane
For Capital Region Independent Media
The Albany Saratoga Massive Weekend was just that.
Friday night started off with a massive number of cars in the pits that spilled out into the fan parking lot. With over 200 cars in the pits there was a massive amount of talent assembled, and a massive amount of on-track racing that took us late into the night or early morning, depending how you look at it.
Then Saturday came along, and again another fine field of cars assembled with a great crowd of race fans that were parking up and down Route 9 or wherever they could find a place to park. The SUPER DIRTcar series was in town for both nights with the Pro Stocks, 602 Sportsman, 358 Modifieds, and Big Block Modifieds Series events, along with the $10,000-to-win Autism Awareness Pro Stock event that had previously rained out.
KENNY TREMONT JR. RETIRES
Massive honor, respect and love was shown to one of the top Modified drivers on the East Coast as Kenny Tremont Jr. took his last checkered flag and did it the Tremont way, with style in front of a sea of red.
The man is a class act, a champion both on the track and in life. Always having time for his fans or giving help to a rookie was all in a night’s work. OK not work, but a night with his racing family.
Kenny found out over the weekend just what he has meant to the entire racing community over the years, from those on both sides of the fence. It was also Kenny saying goodbye, as well.
Racing has been a big part of his life. The number of friends and fans he has made is countless. How could you not like Kenny Tremont Jr.?
Thank you, Mr. Tremont, for putting on a show for us, the fans, over the years and again Saturday night 18th to 10th. You can still turn left with the best of them, doing it with class. You truly are a champion in every sense of the word.
A big thank you goes out to Albany Saratoga Speedway, DIRTcar and all that brought to a close the racing career of Kenny Tremont Jr. in such a great and emotional way. You should all be proud.
Kicking off the weekend Friday found the 358 DIRTcar and DIRTcar 602 Sportsman hitting the track, along with the Pro Stock Special and the weekly support divisions.
The DIRTcar 358 feature had Marc Johnson grabbing the early lead from his upfront starting spot with Mike Mahaney, who was fast out of the hauler, all over the rear deck of the Johnson 3J as the caution flew early. Showing early speed, Mat Williamson grabbed the second spot after staring sixth on the restart from Mahaney.
As he started to close in on Johnson, Mahaney kept the two leaders in his sights. With Johnson out front, Williamson made his first attempt on Johnson 3J. Johnson was able to turn back the Williamson 6 only to find Williamson not giving up, coming right back after the leader, working through turns 1 and 2 as Williamson or (Mr Money) powered his way to the lead down the back stretch.
Now it was Johnson having to deal with Mahaney. Finding the high side of the Albany Saratoga Speedway to his liking, Mahaney powered by Johnson to work his way to second. The racing behind the leaders was 2- and 3-wide with some of the best 358s in the Northeast working for position.
Staying on the top, Mahaney worked his way to the rear bumper of the Williamson ride. Pulling even through turns 3-4, he became the new leader down the front stretch and started to put distance between himself and the field as the caution would fly putting the field on the rear bumper of Mahaney.
With the green back out, Williamson powered his way back to the lead, a lead he would have to fight for through the remaining laps, holding back Mahaney and picking up the $5,000-to-win DIRTcar 358 event. Following Williamson and Mahaney to the line was Marc Johnson, Billy Dunn and Chris Raabe.
The 602 Sportsman feature found the Buff brothers, Zach and Andrew, leading the way with Zach out front as the duo started to put distance on the field and started to battle for the lead.
On the move was Tim Hartman from his fifth-row starting position, working his way through a tough field of weekly Albany Saratoga contingents and outsiders. With Zach out front, Andrew battled Hartman as the two made contact, with Hartman going off the back stretch continuing his momentum.
The battle heated up for the lead between the brothers as Hartman was on the gas and coming back to the leaders. As the leaders ran tight in lap traffic Andrew used a slower car to work his way around Zach for the lead. Now it was Zach having to deal with Hartman, who had worked his way back to the bumper of the younger Buff for second and third, with Hartman again having problems, this time in turn 4.
Picking up his third DIRTcar Sportsman Series win was Andrew Buff with Zach second, Canadians Cedric Gauvreau, Gavin Eisele and Travis Witbeck rounding out the top 5.
The rich Pro Stock feature with $10,500 on the line found longtime Pro Stock racer Pete Stafanski from western New York grabbing the early lead, with Shane Playford staying close and Nick Stone holding down third.
It was clear Stone had a real hot rod under him as he worked his way to the leaders, finding the high side as the fast way around. Joining the battle for the lead, Stone worked the outside. While Stafanski and Playford battled hard for the lead, Stone made it three-wide out of turn 4 to become the new leader.
Behind the leaders the racing was heating up as fan favorite Kim Duell worked his way to third with some great fender-to-fender racing action. It was Stafanski, Stone and Duell out front until things changed quickly. A pair of yellows found Stone grabbing the lead from Stafanski, only to have the caution back out. This time it was Kim Duell running third having trouble and getting spun in turn 4 in front of the pack sending cars scattering with Chad Jesseo taking advantage and working through the parking lot to become the new second place car.
Back to green and Stefanski, Jesseo and Stone were the class of the field, racing under a blanket. As the three raced door to door into turn 3, three-wide, it would be Jesseo coming out of turn four and down the front of the crowd as the new leader. Out front, Jesseo would hit his marks and would hold on to pick up the win, holding off a fast-closing Stone by inches to collect his biggest payday ever behind the wheel.
Following Jesseo and Stone to the line was Luke Horning, Stafanski and Rick Crane, the 2022 winner of the event, rounded out the top 5.
In other action, Dan Madigan picked up the Street Stock win as Jonathan Sheppard won the 4 cyl.
What a great night of action kicked off the 2023 Massive Weekend, long yes, but we were racing.
Saturday kicked off with all eyes on the weather; some had rain coming early, some late and some not at all, so what would the day bring? Yupper, a rain delay and great racing.
The fans arrived in red and did not care what the weather was or what it was going to be. They were at the Albany Saratoga Speedway saying goodbye to Kenny Tremont Jr., oh and maybe some great racing and that, fans, it was.
I had the chance to meet Canadian young gun Felix Roy, who has turned heads in his young career. The young Roy had a fan order a shirt from him online and Felix had to hand deliver it. Now I know why as this kid not only has talent, but is also a people person and fans are very important to him. And after this weekend, he has a few more in New York. The second-generation driver has a bright future in the Modified ranks and the personality to go with it.
Once again, a fine field had assembled for the 115-lap Super DIRTcar Big Block Series along with the DIRTcar Pro Stocks.
Kicking off the night was Anthony Perrago, who set fast time in both hot laps as well as in the time trials that set up the four heats that were like mini features with the talent in the pits. Picking up heat wins were Felix Roy, Adam Pierson, Justin Stone and Stewart Friesen, with Neil Stratton and Larry Wight picking up last chance qualifiers that were loaded with talent and top teams.
With all the pageantry in the books, a great video and send-off for Mr. Tremont, with the fans on their feet it was race time. It was 115 laps of ground-pounding, earth-shaking Super DIRTcar Modifieds coming to the track four-wide behind the 115 of Tremont.
It was race time.
Bringing the 27 Modifieds to the green was Stewart Friesen and Malta regular Adam Pierson on the front row with Friesen grabbing the early lead as Pierson fell to second, with James Meehan third. Once out front, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver quickly opened up the lead and was setting a torrid pace on a very fast, smooth racing surface. By lap 15 Friesen had caught the back of the pack and started putting cars down a lap.
Racing hard behind the leader, James Meehan worked his way past Pierson for second and Roy would work his way past Pierson two laps later to third. The first caution was out for Mat Williamson as his luck had changed since his win the night before after his 358 Modified win.
Back to green with Friesen again going to the point as the race for second heated up as Meehan and Roy were putting on a race for second. Out front, Friesen was the class of the field and continued to lead, working through traffic with perfection and using the entire speedway. Each time the caution would fly it was Friesen who would pull away from the field.
James Meehan had an outstanding performance with a strong third, Larry Wight put on a show from 22nd to fourth, with Peter Britten making a return after being out of racing due to an injury came from 17th to fifth, and Kenny Tremont in a brand new bar car finished 10th after starting 18th.
After picking up the $53,000 at the Fonda 200 and now $10,000 at the Massive 100 at Albany Saratoga, the Halmar racing team has met their stride. Could be the team to beat in upcoming big events.
Behind the leader there was some great nerf bar to nerf bar racing action as point leader Matt Sheppard worked his way into the top 5. After a caution near the 80-lap mark, Roy was able to get by Meehan for second. Lap 88 saw the caution out for Sheppard, who slowed on the top coming out of turn 2. Back to green and again it was all Friesen, who had no signs of giving up the lead and he didn’t as he cruised to the win with Roy in for a great second-place run for the rookie.
The DIRTcar Pro Stocks found third-place starter Luke Horning use the bottom of turn 4 to get by leader Chuck Dumblewski. Once out front, Horning was in a class of his own and was never challenged, even on the one and only caution restart.
Following Horning to the checker was Kim Duell, Pete Stafanski, Dumblewski and Jaxson Ryan rounded out the top 5.
The Limited Sportsman found young Chase Zimmer lead from green to checker, picking up the win over Dylan Grogan, Mike Arnold, Mike Parodi and Chad Gregory rounded out the top 5.