MALTA, NY – Albany-Saratoga Speedway will kick off its 58th season on racing Friday night, with the NAPA Modifieds vying for a $5,800 winner’s payout in the 40-lap feature that will highlight the racing card.
Bart Contracting and Schaghticoke Wine & Spirits will co-sponsor the opening-night card, which will also include sportsman, limited sportsman, pro stocks and street stocks. Racing will begin at 7 p.m.
The sportsman and pro stocks will also be competing for sponsor-inflated purses. The sportsman will be racing for $1,000 to win through sponsorship from West End Towing, and Michael’s Automotive of Ballston Spa and Scotia will be adding money to the pro stock purse, which will also pay $1,000 to win.
If the Daily Racing Form created odds for dirt tracks, Peter Britten would be labeled as the favorite for Friday night’s modified feature. Britten won the opening race of the 2022 season, and also had opening-night victories in 2019 and 2016. The only other multi-time opening-night winner since 2014 is Marc Johnson, who sat in victory lane in 2014 and 2021. The list of opening-night winners since 2014 also includes Larry Wight (2015), Stewart Friesen (2017), Tim McCreadie (2018) and Mike Mahaney (2020).
Britten, who has finished in the top five in seven of his last nine opening-night starts at Malta, was one of many Northeast drivers who got some precious seat time in Florida in February. He had a fourth-place in one of the modified features at All-Tech Speedway in Lake City, Fla., on Feb. 9 and had two top-10 finishes in three races at the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia County Speedway later in the month. His best finish was a fourth in the series finale on Feb. 18.
He also traveled to Orange County Speedway in Middletown for its season-opening Hard Clay Open last Saturday, finishing ninth.
Two of the drivers not to be overlooked in Friday night’s opener are 13-time champion Ken Tremont Jr. and defending modified champion Matt DeLorenzo, Tremont’s last win on opening night came in 2006, while DeLorenzo sat in victory lane after the season-opener on 2008.
Albany-Saratoga promoter Lyle DeVore, who was named the Racing Promotions Monthly Promoter of the Year during the winter, has been busy in recent weeks, grooming a new surface in preparation for the 2023 opener. Drivers got their first feel of the new clay during a practice session on April 8.
While many tracks in the Northeast have raised their prices to help offset operating costs, DeVore has held the line at Albany-Saratoga. Regular Friday night admission is $12 for adults, and $2 for children 11 and under. Pit admissions remain at $30 for members and $35 for non-members.
In case of rain, the opening-night show will be held on Sunday, April 16. But with a daytime forecast of temperatures in the 70s and lots of sun, Friday’s opener should have a mid-season feel to it.