MALTA, NY – As it turned out, the answer to Demetrios Drellos’ problems at Albany-Saratoga Speedway was sitting right under his nose.
Well, maybe not right under his nose, but at least in his garage.
Drellos brought his Super DIRT Series car to Albany-Saratoga Speedway for the first time Friday night, and walked out with an impressive victory in the 35-lap modified feature that highlighted A-Verdi Storage Container Night at the historic Malta track.
Prior to Friday night, Drellos had been behind the wheel of the Ed Munger-owned modified, but since a second-place run behind Marc Johnson on May 14, Drellos hadn’t been back in the top five. So he decided it was time for a change.
“The 93 (Munger’s car) is a good piece, but we wanted to give this a try,” Drellos said after recording his first win at Albany-Saratoga since winning the Super DIRT Series race on Sept. 21, 2019. “We won our heat, won the (Service Tire Truck Centers) dash, and then had a good starting spot and won this (the feature). Everything worked out pretty well.”
Indeed it did.
After starting in the second row in the feature, Drellos only needed five laps to get the lead and he had smooth sailing until he got into lapped traffic.
His biggest challenge came from Jack Lehner, who had destroyed his only race-ready car in a violent wreck the previous week. But Lehner and his dedicated crew were right back at Albany-Saratoga after putting together a new chassis that they had been saving for the end of the season.
Lehner had started seventh and finally took over the No. 2 spot on lap 17. When Drellos got hung up behind the lapped car of Jeff Rockefeller, Lehner was able to cut Drellos’ advantage to two car lengths.
The first caution came out on lap 25, when defending champion Mike Mahaney slowed on the front straightaway with a flat tire, giving Lehner an opportunity to get the lead. Drellos picked the inside on the restart, and Lehner started to build up momentum on the top. After a couple of laps, Lehner had a shot at Drellos coming out of the fourth turn, but as the top two came down the front straightaway, Lehner had to back off, as the slower car of Chip Meehan was sitting right in his path.
“I thought I had him (Drellos),” said Lehner. “I thought they were going to throw the yellow (for Meehan) because I thought he was coming to a stop. I checked up, and lost a lot of ground.”
That was all that Drellos needed, as he became the 11th different modified winner this season. Lehner was second and points lead Anthony Perrego was third, after starting 14th. Peter Britten and Marc Johnson rounded out the top five.
The Empire Super Sprints, presented by A-Verdi Storage Containers, made their first stop at Albany-Saratoga in two years, and Paulie Colagiovanni dominated the 25-lap feature, which paid $2,000 to win. Colagiovanni started fourth, and went to the top at the drop of the green flag. Shawn Donath came off the front row to set the early pace, but Colagiovanni only needed six laps to get the lead and that’s where the driver out of Cicero, N.Y. stayed.
Chuck Hebing, who won an ESS feature at Albany-Saratoga in 2014, crossed the finish line second as the 25-lap feature went all green, and Jeff Cook was third. Donath slipped back to fourth, while points leader Jason Barney, who had to qualify through the B-main, came from his 19th starting position to finish fifth.
Cory Sparks, who began his racing career at the old go-kart track at Albany-Saratoga, won the Cobra Coaches’ Dash for Cash.
Like Drellos, Andrew Buff shook off a season full of problems to come away with his first win of the year in the 25-lap sportsman feature. Buff started on the outside of the front row and took the lead away from Fred Proctor coming out of the fourth turn to complete lap seven. Buff then did a masterful job tip-toeing through lapped traffic and leaving Drew Cormie and Proctor to battle for second.
The first yellow of the race came out on lap 20, when Jim Nagle got around in turn two, but that started a rash of yellows, including one with one lap to go when Cormie and Proctor came together in the second turn, resulting in a Cormie spin.
Buff got the win, with points leader Tim Hartman Jr., who started 15th, making a late charge to grab the No. 2 spot. Mike Coffey Jr. finished third.
Ron Mensing’s Native Pride 5 bonus program offered $100 bonuses to sportsman drivers finishing in randomly selected positions. The bonuses went to Coffey, Joey Scarborough (seventh), Mike Ballestero (11th), Nagle (18th) and Cormie (22nd).
Chris Jakubiak recorded his second win of the year in the 20-lap Haun Welding limited sportsman feature. Jakubiak started 10th, but quickly made his way to the front and was never seriously challenged, as the race was slowed by only one caution. Tyler Rapp followed Jakubiak across the finish line, with Zack Buff third.
“Racin” Jason Casey picked up his first win of the year in the 25-lap pro stock feature, first winning a good battle with Kim Duell and then holding off points leader Chad Jeseo. Duell hung on for third.
“We’ve worked hard all year on this new Nick Stone car and the results have started to show the last few weeks,” said Casey in victory lane.
The 15-lap Lake Auto Parts street stock feature also saw a first-time winner, as Mike Arnold held off a late challenge from Al Relyea to get his first win of the season. PJ Cram Jr. set the pace for most of the first half of the feature, but Arnold, who started seventh, took over the top spot after a restart on lap 13. But Relyea wasn’t going to let Arnold get an easy win.
On lap 17, Cram and Relyea were battling for second when they made contact in the fourth turn, with Cram spinning out. That gave Relyea his shot at Arnold, and on the final lap, they came out of the fourth turn side by side. Arnold drifted to his right, carried Relyea right to the wall and then shot for the finish line, while Matt Mosher ducked under Relyea to finish third.
MODIFIEDS: DEMETRIOS DRELLOS, Jack Lehner, Anthony Perrego, Peter Britten, Marc Johnson, Ken Tremont Jr., Keith Flach, Ronnie Johnson, Jeremy Pitts, Matt Depew, Adam Pierson, Neil Stratton, Jack Speshock, Mike Mahaney, Don Ronca, Matt DeLorenzo, Brandon Walters, Jessey Mueller, Vinnie Visconti, Rich Ronca, Kris Vernold, Derek Bornt, Brian Berger, Jeff Rockefeller, Scott Huber, Corey Lowitt, James Meehan, Derrick McGrew Jr., CG Morey, Bobby Hackel IV, Bob Schmidt.
SPORTSMAN: ANDREW BUFF, Tim Hartman Jr., Mike Coffey Jr., Fred Proctor, Travis Witbeck, Chris Johnson, Joey Scarborough, Pat Jones, Dave Baranowski Jr., Connor Cleveland, Mike Ballestero, Scott Duell, Justin Buff, Justin Barber, Dylan Bokus, Elliot Lussier, Alex Bell, Jim Nagle, Jim Osgood, Brock Pinkerous, Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Drew Cormie, Jeff Washburn, David Boisclair, Dick Bisson, Garret Poland, Darryl Nutting, Dan Grignon, Nick Lussier, Ron Proctor.
PRO STOCKS: JASON CASEY, Chad Jeseo, Kim Duell, Josh Coonradt, Scott Towslee, Luke Horning, Chucky Dumblewski, Jay Casey, Rich Crane, Jay Fitzgerald, Rob Yetman, Shane Henderson, Doug Sheely, Pete Vila, Brian Carter, Mike Baker, Jordan Modiano.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN: CHRIS JAKUBIAK, Tyler Rapp, Zach Buff, Tommy D’Angelo, Ron Delease, Bryce Breault, Phil Arnold, Taylor Wason, Chris Crane, Craig Wholey, Scott Bennett, Dylan Madsen, Dan Seguin, Mike Parodi, Brandon Jacobsen, Dakota Green, Nick Arnold, Jon Coon, Joey Miller, Shane Powell, Dave Fachini, Walter Cook, Chris Bisson, David Zelker, Mark Burch, John Santolin, Wesley Sutliff, Pete Lorenzo, Joe Venditti.
STREET STOCKS: MIKE ARNOLD, Matt Mosher, Al Relyea, Jeff Meltz, John Filarecki, Josh Samrov, PJ Cram Jr., Josh Bussino, Nick Napoli, Dan Madigan, Kaleb Shepard, Josh Hemming, John Hayes, Tim McFarland, Harold Chadderton, Dana Van Veghten, Jason Samrov, Jason Barnett.
EMPIRE SUPER SPRINTS: PAULIE COLAGIOVANNI, Chuck Hebing, Jeff Cook, Shawn Donath, Jason Barney, Josh Pieniazek, Scott Holcomb, Matt Tanner, Danny Varin, Dylan Swiernik, John Smith IV, Lacey Hanson, Jake Karklin, Chad Miller, Kelly Hebing, Denny Peebles, Andrew Jacobus, Floyd Billington, Don Sharp Jr., Cory Sparks, Keith Granholm, Tyler Carter, Sammy Reakes IV, David Franek.