By TOBY LAGRANGE
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – The Albany-Saratoga Speedway officially concluded the 2016 racing season Saturday night just a few miles up the road from the fast, four tenths of a mile oval. The annual awards banquet was held at the Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs, which is located in the heart of historic Saratoga Springs.
The evening started with a message from track promoter Lyle DeVore. First DeVore gave thanks for the great evening.
“None of this you see here would be possible without the incredible hard work of Marcy,” DeVore said. “She does an incredible job each year and each year she outdoes herself. I want to say thank you to Mia, Courtney, Denise and Jessica as well.”
DeVore continued about the 2016 season. “The 2016 season was pretty incredible. We had some of the best racing we have had and we had some incredible finishes. Some would say that is hard to duplicate but I think the 2017 season will be awesome.”
DeVore then looked ahead to the upcoming 2017 season. “We are really looking forward to this year. One guy, Mike Sowle has decided to join us for the upcoming season. We are going to have ten, $1,000 to win Sportsman events. We are doing what we can to make 2017 a monumental year.”
Other special events mentioned were the Summer Showdown Triple 50 event on July 14th (Triple 50’s for the DIRTcar Modified, Sportsman and DIRTcar Pro Stock divisions), Stan Da Man Night on July 28th (in honor of Lyle’s father Stan, all divisions will run 32 laps with the DIRTcar Modifieds racing for $3,200 to win), the Northeast Crate Nationals and $2,500 to win Pro Stock Showdown (courtesy of Mike Sowle) on September 8th and the $1,000 to win Classic Muscle Parts Street Stock Nationals to round out the season on September 15th.
The 2017 season will also see Brett Hearn’s Big Show return on June 27th (Super DIRTcar Series for Big Block Modifieds) and the inaugural appearance by Brett Deyo’s Short Track Super Series (The Stampede at Togo) on August 11th.
Awards were handed out in each of the weekly divisions as well as the Greg’s Towing and Repair Four Cylinder divisions.
Marc Johnson was crowned the Upstate GMC Dealers DIRTcar Modified Track Champion. Johnson claimed his first track title behind the wheel of the Johnson Family Troyer car. His four feature win propelled the Guilderland driver to the title.
“”It was a hell of a season,” Johnson said. “This is the best season that I have ever had; this is very special for me. My father was the glue that held our team together. It happened exactly as he would have wanted it to happen. I want to thank all of my friends and family who have gotten me here. We are going to be back next year better than ever.”
Brett Hearn finished second in points with Stewart Friesen third, Kenny Tremont, Jr. fourth and Ronnie Johnson fifth. The remainder of the top ten included Keith Flach, Matt Delorenzo, L.J. Lombardo, Elmo Reckner and Don Ronca. Lombardo also earned the Rookie of the Year Award.
In the Sportsman division Jeremy Pitts claimed his third division title. Pitts visited victory lane five times during the season.
“I want to thank Lyle (DeVore) and everyone from the track,” Pitts said. “I want to thank all of my crew.”
Finishing in positions two through ten in the final points was Connor Cleveland, Tim Hartman, Jr., Chris Johnson, Chad Edwards, Cody Bleau, Robert Bublak, Scott Duell, Andrew Buff and Jason Gray.
The DIRTcar Pro Stock track championship went to Robbie Speed. Speed visited victory lane five times with six second place finishes and two thirds. He finished in the top five 14 times.
“To say that the 2016 season was just shy of a dream season would be an understatement,” Speed said. The competition is the best that I have ever run against.”
The remainder of the top ten point finishers included Walt Brownell, Brandon Emigh, Kim Duell, Dan Older, Sr., Dean Charbonneay, Nick Stone, Dave DePaulo, Norm Loubier and Gus Hollner.
Josh Coonradt dominated the Street Stock division at the Great Race Place. He was crowned 2016 track champion with eight feature wins and 13 top five finishes. He finished inside the top ten in all 18 races.
“We have never been able to put it together like this year,” Coonradt said. “I want to thank everybody who helped, either a lot or a little, it went a long way.”
Coonradt, who is moving into the DIRTcar Pro Stock ranks in 2017 was followed in the standings by Jason Meltz, Jeff Meltz, Sr., Paul Braymer, Damon Anderson, Scott Lawrence, David Shippee, Chase Aussicker, Hunter Sanchez and Mark Burch.
The Greg’s Towing and Repair Four Cylinder division track champions were also honored. They were Steve Ryan (Dual Cam) and Mike Parodi (Single Cam). Parodi will be moving to the Limited Sportsman division in 2017.
While no point standings are kept in the Limited Sportsman division, Driver of the Year awards were presented to those drivers graduating from the division. A driver graduates when the win three feature events. The award winners were Jack Lehner, Zach Daurio and Nick Fretto.
Each season the Albany-Saratoga Speedway Spirit Award is handed out. This year it was awarded to Dick Hicks of HICO Fabrication.
“I am really honored by this award,” Hicks said. “This is a great racing community, we all work hard and do our best to go to the front.”
The Memorable Moment Awards were awarded to Ray Hoard (DIRTcar Modified), Tim Hartman, Jr. (Sportsman), Robbie Speed (DIRTcar Pro Stock) and Josh Coonradt (Street Stock).
It was also announced that the Street Stock division will continue to compete in heat races in 2017. The driver who wins the most heat races at seasons end will earn $300 courtesy of Damon Anderson. The remaining drivers will have their names entered into a draw with two winning $100 each, also courtesy of Damon Anderson.
For more information on the Albany-Saratoga Speedway log on to www.albany-saratogaspeedway.com. Updates on the 2017 racing season will be posted when available.