By Mark Kane
For Capital Region Independent Media
Where has the 2022 racing season gone? Did we not just get the green flag on opening night with layers and layers of clothing?
No, it was 90 degrees and the checkered flag fell on the season-long track championships at Fonda Speedway. When all was said and done it was Matt DeLorenzo claiming his second Modified Track Championship (2007) to go along with his 2, 358 championships (2004-2005) and is well on his way to claim the Albany Saratoga Speedway Modified Championships as well.
The popular driver has always been a contender, but this year he came out on fire and the blaze still burns behind the wheel of the potent 3D machine.
With Matt behind the wheel and brother Mike turning the wrenches they have become a force to be reckoned with. It is tough to win a championship and always has been in the Capital District due to the amount of talent that has filled the pits on a weekly basis through the years. To win two in the same year is going to be something DeLorenzo can do.
With Fonda’s championship in the record books, and if he can continue on as he has weekly at the “Great Race Place” where he has four wins, he may just get himself another championship. The entire DeLorenzo team has been working hard to keep their hot rod ready as they have been using the same car at both tracks, making it even tougher getting it turned around for the next night and always starting mid-pack.
The last win at Albany Saratoga was aboard team mate Brian Gleason’s 3G ride. For a team that was not going to be a regular weekly at the start of the season at Fonda Speedway that all changed with such a great start to the race season. With his kid’s softball season coming right in the middle of race season, or I guess the other way around at times, it was made possible for Matt to pursue both Fonda’s SUNOCO Modified and Albany Saratoga’s NAPA Modified championships. Sometimes a little late to the track, sometimes making some long trips, but it seems they made it work with family, race team, softball and the everyday life of the DeLorenzo’s.
It was Championship Night at the “Track of Champions,” Fonda Speedway. Wow, it was sure a hot one in the old covered grandstands, but that didn’t keep the fans home. What a great view to once again see the race cars of yesteryear sitting on pit road as they had in the past before moving the pits over between turns 3 and 4.
The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series (MVVDMS) once again had a fine field of cars who are on the track to race and put on a show. Many of these drivers are former racers, winners and champions, and now they are just having fun bringing the history of racing back one lap at a time
Last week when point leader going into the SUNOCO Modified feature Matt DeLorenzo suffered mechanical issues and would finish 21st, the points chase had become a whole lot closer. Last year’s co-champions Ronnie Johnson was now only eight points behind and Rocky Warner went into the final event with a 14 point disadvantage.
Out of the 3 it would be DeLorenzo with the best starting position going off eighth, with Johnson and Warner starting inside the top 12.
At the drop of the green it was Brian Gleason looking for his second win of the season with the early lead into turn 1 with rookie Tucker O’Connor and Pep Corradi in the top 3. With Gleason out front Craig Hanson was on the move, as was DeLorenzo, both working their way to the top 5.
The caution flew when Darwin Greene scattered the field in turns 3-4. Once back to green Gleason returned to the lead as O’Connor was holding his own in second as Hanson had worked his way to third and started to work on O’Connor.
It was R.J., Ronnie Johnson, on the move and now had the 3D in his sights as the 111 of Demetrios Drellos was just outside the top 5 as the caution flew for Jessica Friesen, who came to a stop on the back stretch just about the same place she did the week before.
On the restart it was Gleason back to the front, with Hanson moving to second and DeLorenzo moving to third in turn 1 as Drellos was still on the move. The racing was heating up in the top 5 with Gleason and Hanson swapping the lead as there was tight action between DeLorenzo, Drellos, and Johnson. The 93 of Danny Varin and 1 of Rocky Warner were on a charge and just outside the top 5. Still in command at the halfway flags Gleason, Drellos, Hanson, DeLorenzo and Johnson held down the top 5.
Starting to work over Gleason, Drellos made his move down the front stretch and became the new leader at the flag stand and would stretch out to a comfortable lead as Varin continued to work his way through the top 5 and into second after a late race charge from the 13th starting spot.
Following Drellos and Varin to the line was the 2022 Fonda Speedway SUNOCO Modified Champion Matt DeLorenzo, Gleason, Hanson, Warner and Johnson rounding out the top 7.
Much like the SUNOCO Modified championship, the Swagger Factory Apparel 602 Sportsman was going to come down to the last race after Payton Talbot became the new points leader over Chad Edwards just last week.
Now all Talbot had to do was hold it, starting 12th and Edwards in 11th, and try to stay out of trouble. Easy, right? The green flag was out and the race for the championship was on. Together the two contenders worked their way through traffic as up front Stephen Gray would lead early before Greg Havlichek would lead lap 5.
The fine run for Gray ended after he backed his ride into the outside wall between 1 and 2. After working his way from the eighth starting spot, Troy Zilles would power his way to the lead. Lap after lap, Zilles hit his marks and was able to turn back all restart challenges.
Oh, and as far as that race for the championship, picking up his first ever Fonda Speedway championship is Payton Talbot with a fine second-place run with Edwards third, and Troy Palmer and Brandon Gibbons rounding out the top 5 in another competitive 602 feature.
I have watched this young gun Payton Talbot over the last two years and he is the real deal, with plenty of talent behind the wheel and a great personality to go with it. He has that go-to-the-top-and-dig attitude or he can dive low and work his way through traffic, and not with the front bumper. There is a bright future ahead for Payton and the entire team.
The Algonkin Motel Pro Stock championship found Nick Stone picking up championship No. 4 after picking up his 10th win of the year. After grabbing the lead from Luke Horning, Stone never looked back with Luke Horning, Chuck Dumblewski, Ivan Joslin and Beau Ballard rounding out the top 5.
The Montgomery County Office for the Aging Limited Sportsman found Josh Kane pick up his second win of the year and with Zach Dufel eighth-place finish was enough for him to become the 2022 champion.
Another Warner is looking for a race win as young Corky Warner picked up a heat race and a fine second in the feature. The Fonda Fair 4 Cylinder Champions were Ken and Kerrie Hollenback as they continue to dominate the class.
Chasin’ Racin’ would like to congratulate all of the 2022 Fonda Speedway track champions and their teams. Job well done!
ALBANY SARATOGA SPEEDWAY
As the point race ended at one area track the points championship is starting to heat up at Albany Saratoga with only three point races left as Matt DeLorenzo sits on top of the points with Peter Britten, Mike Mahaney, Ken Tremont Jr. and Marc Johnson in the top 5. Of the five drivers, only DeLorenzo has not added his name to the “Great Race Place” record books as track champion.
The NAPA Modifieds made their way to the track on a perfect night for racing with a smooth, fast racing surface that would produce some great side-by-side racing action throughout the night, and there was plenty of action.
As the Modifieds took Rich Peterson’s green flag it was Scott Huber grabbing an early lead with the Hunt’s XLS7 power plant under the hood with James Meehan and Derek Bornt holding down the top 3. On the move was 2020 point champion Mike Mahaney working his way to the top 5 by lap 2 after starting eighth and third by lap 5.
Out front Huber continued to lead as Mahaney worked his way around Meehan down the back straight for second. Mid-pack there was a tight battle going on lap after lap as Britten and Jack Lehner battled for seventh as Tremont Jr. and Johnson were swapping the ninth position. As Mahaney started to close the gap and was now all over the rear deck of Huber, it was Britten working his way to the top 5.
Lap 16 would find Mahaney with a big run out of turn 2 and would be the new leader going into 3 with Huber, Meehan, Ronca and Britten, and Keith Flach staying right with the leaders in sixth. Once out front, Mahaney built a comfortable lead until the one and only yellow was out for Jeremy Pitts, who sat on the top side between turns 3 and 4 brought the field back to Mahaney.
Back to green and it was all Mahaney as he powered his way into turn 1 as Britten would grab the second spot from Huber. However, Huber would find his way back around Britten to retake the position and would hold on for a strong second behind Mike Mahaney with Peter Britten, Keith Flach and Adam Pierson rounding out the top 5 after a nice run late in the event and an outstanding battle with Kenny Tremont Jr. who hung on for sixth. Point leader Matt DeLorenzo was eighth in a great battle inside the top 10, with Marc Johnson and Jack Lehner much of the feature.
In other action, Chris Jakubiak picked up his first ever 602 Sportsman feature after starting ninth and making a move to the top to take the lead after a late race yellow. A graduate of the Limited Sportsman after four wins to his credit last year is another of the young drivers to keep an eye on as he gets more and more seat time.
There is one thing for sure — there is no lack of talent working their way to the top of the 602 Sportsman class here in the Capital District. What they do and in what direction they head there is a bright future here at our local tracks.
Early race leader Travis Billington, along with Andrew Buff, Jeff Washburn, current point leader Tim Hartman Jr. rounded out the top 5. The Pro Stocks found Luke Horning with the win over Rich Crane, Jason Casey the new point leader, Shane Henderson and Chuck Towslee rounding out the top 5. The Limited Sportsman found Phil Arnold with his first win, as did Mike Bussino, picking up his first in the Street Stocks.
The racing at Fonda is on a break until after the Fonda Fair. Once back to racing action, it will bring us to the year-end Fonda 200 weekend with $53,000 on the line to the winner, to be held Sept. 15-17. Rain date is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 18.
The year-end racing event for Albany Saratoga Speedway, Malta Massive Weekend, will be held on Sept. 23 and 24. Rain date is scheduled for Sept. 25. Don’t forget they still have regular racing for the next three weeks.
Utica Rome will be holding their year-end event, the STSS race, the New Yorker 50 Halmar International Elite, on Sunday, Sept. 4. This will be a $25,000-to-win race with a $80,000 total purse.
Thank you for your continued support of the sponsors that help make racing possible at our local tracks. A huge thank you goes out to the track promoters as without them there would be no racing.