MALTA, NY – Don Ronca was ready to celebrate.
Matt DeLorenzo was ready to finish second again.
Then the caution came out.
DeLorenzo used a restart with two laps to go to snatch the lead away from Ronca and he went on to record his first win of the season Friday night in the 35-lap NAPA Modified feature at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
The win was worth $4,000 through sponsorship from John Ray/Dean Electrical Services.
Ronca, who had failed to complete an entire feature in the first four races of the season, started on the pole Friday night and took control, keeping a good pace in the high groove and taking command on a couple of restarts.
But DeLorenzo, the 2022 track champion, kept moving up from his 14th starting position and had broken into the top five midway through the feature.
On lap 22, DeLorenzo took fourth place away from Robert Bublak Jr., who had also started in the front row, and then went after Adam Pierson.
It took another eight laps, but DeLorenzo finally got by Pierson on lap 30, and the next time around dove under Neil Stratton coming out of the fourth turn to take over the runner-up spot.
Although Ronca was about to hit some real heavy traffic, DeLorenzo wasn’t gaining ground quickly enough to be a serious contender. But that changed when flagger Rich Peterson waved the yellow flag as Ronca was coming down to get the white flag, when Ronnie Johnson wound up nose-first against the barrier in the first turn.
Ronca, who had handled every other restart from the outside, again picked the top, but DeLorenzo got the better jump, got the lead with one to go and walked off with the $4,000.
“What do I have to do to get a win?” said Ronca after the race. “I saw the white in his (Peterson’s) hand and I was thinking, just one more lap. And then he switched and waved the yellow. I just didn’t get a quick enough jump on that last restart.”
Asked if he thought he had a chance to win, DeLorenzo replied, “Not without that caution. I was too tight through the middle. But on that last restart, the car locked right down. It was right on the money.”
Matt Depew recorded his first top-five finish of the season, crossing the finish line third, while Demetrios Drellos was fourth, despite starting 18th. Pierson completed the top five.
The sportsman again ran dual 20-lap features, with Chad Edwards and Eric Mack getting the victories.
The highlight was Mack’s victory in the second 20-lap feature, as it marked his first time in victory lane at Albany-Saratoga since 2001. Mack, who was inducted into the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame last summer, is one of the co-founders of DKM Fabrications, which had put extra purse money into the sportsman payoff Friday night.
Mack, who resumed his racing career this year in a car owned by Pete LeClair, started on the outside pole and led all 20 laps, but the race was marred by a multi-car incident on the first lap that involved 13 cars in the 20-car field. Pole-sitter Scott Bennett lose the handle going through the first and second turns, starting a chain-reaction incident that involved many of the division’s top runners, including Tim Hartman Jr., David Boisclair, Zach Buff, Travis Witbeck, Tyler Rapp and Scott Duell. Of the 13 cars involved, six were done for the night.
Mack had to hold off a challenge from Mike Ballestero. Ballestero took over the No. 2 spot on lap four and quickly drew up on Mack. On lap 13, he tried to get low in the fourth turn, but couldn’t complete the pass and after a restart on lap 13, Mack easily pulled sway for the win, with Ballestero second and Jon Miller, who had also been involved in the lap-one incident, third.
Edwards put the Kollar Motorsports 10% into victory lane for the first time this year in the first 20-lapper. Edwards started 12th, caught leader Brandon Darrah on lap 15 and after one lap of side-by-side racing, the two banged together in the third turn, with Edwards coming out with the lead. Darrah hung on for second, with Jim Osgood third.
Dylan Madsen won the Four States Enterprises Sportsman Dash for Cash, which was worth $200.
Luke Horning recorded his second win of the season in the 25-lap pro stock feature. Jay Casey and Horning put on a crowd-pleasing display of driving for most of the feature, as Casey started on the pole and Horning was second after three laps.
Horning was using the whole track in an attempt to get by Casey. Horning began his pursuit by running the top, but on lap 15, he ducked under Casey in the third turn and the two hit the start-finish line door-to-door. They stayed that way going through the third turn and Casey had a nose in front to complete lap 16.
Horning went back to the top on lap 19, and was back in the lead one lap later. And just when it looked like the race would be run caution-free, a yellow came out on the final lap when Pete Vila spun around between the third and fourth turns, as the leaders were charging down the backstretch.
Horning got a good jump on the restart, blocked Casey’s momentum coming out of the second turn and beat Casey to the finish line by 0.880 seconds. Casey’s son, Jason, finished third.
Steve Miller drove to his first win of the year in the 20-lap limited sportsman feature. The 66-year-old Miller started on the pole and was never seriously challenged, easily outrunning Mike Arnold and Scott Towslee.
Jimmy Duncan became the fifth different winner in as many races n the 20-lap street stock feature, beating Al Relyea to the finish line by about a car length.
Adam Montville dominated the 15-lap four-cylinder feature, leading from flag-to-flag. Kyle Lamfear finished fourth overall and had the first single-cam car across the finish line.
NAPA MODIFIEDS: MATT DELORENZO, Don Ronca, Matt Depew, Demetrios Drellos, Adam Pierson, Ken Tremont Jr., Robert Bublak Jr., Keith Flach, Peter Britten, JF Couriveau, Rich Ronca, Mike Mahaney, CG Morey, Marc Johnson, Jack Lehner, Ryan McCartney, Jessey Mueller, Jeremy Pitts, Neil Stratton, Jack Speshock, Brian Calabrese, Derek Bornt, Kris Vernold, Vinnie Visconti, Ronnie Johnson, Justin Stone.
NORTHEAST PAVING & SEALCOATING SPORTSMAN (first feature, 20 laps): CHAD EDWARDS, Brandon Darrah, Jim Osgood, Joey Scarborough, Dave Baranowski Jr., Andrew Buff, Chris Crane Jr., Elliott Lussier, Bryce Breault, Daryl Nutting, Chris Jakubiak, Drew Cormie, Mike Benson, Dan Grignon, Jeff Washburn, Dylan Madsen, Tommy D’Angelo, Craig Wholey, Pat Jones, Travis Billington, Justin Barber.
NORTHEAST PAVING & SEALCOATING SPORTSMAN (second feature, 20 laps): ERIC MACK, Mike Ballestero, Jon Miller, Zach Buff, Mike Jeske, Nick Lussier, Mike Coffey Jr., Cody Ochs, Tim Hartman Jr., David Boisclair, Ron Proctor, Floyd Billington (sub for Derrick McGrew Jr.) Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Scott Duell, Scott Bennett, Tony Farone, Taylor LaPlante, Travis Witbeck, Taylor Wasson, Tyler Rapp.
SARATOGA MASONRY SUPPLY PRO STOCKS: LUKE HORNING, Jay Casey, Jason Casey, Kyle Hoard, Chad Jeseo, Rich Crane, Shane Henderson, Steven Hankle, Devon Camenga, Brandon Emigh, Kim Duell, Jordan Modiano, Jay Corbin, Dan Older, Chucky Dumblewski, Pete Vila, Jaxson Ryan.
HAUN WELDING LIMITED SPORTSMAN: STEVE MILLER, Mike Arnold, Scott Towslee, Connor Crane Jr., Craig Coons, Dakota Green, Tanner Coon, Ron Delease Jr., Joe Venditti, Brent Bouplon, Nick Auspelmyer, Nick Arnold, Chad Gregory, Walter Cook, Steve Burch, Dan Seguin, Mike Parodi, James Galarneau, David Zelker, Chase Zimmer, Kyle Swart, Jon Santolin, Wesley Sutliff, Alex Palmer-Sawyer, Ben Balzer, Dylan Grogan.
LAKE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS: Jimmy Duncan, Al Relyea, Mike Bussino, Jeff Meltz Sr., Jason Meltz, PJ Cram, Josh Bussino, Jason Barrett, Matt Mosher, Milo Campbell, Ray Pierre Jr., Jim Dellea, Chris Stalker, McClain Campbell, Nick Napoli, Dan Buell, Damien Ward, Josh Hemming, Joey Wilson.
GREG’S TOWING FOUR-CYLINDERS: ADAM MONTVILLE, David Frame, Elmer Montville, Kyle Lamfear (first single-cam finisher), Robert Garney, Jordan Terry, Josh Ramsey, Tom Hill, Chris Duffney Jr., Brittany Ladd, Matt Tedrow, Olivia Swinton, Chris Danylieko, Ashlynn Ramsey, Daniel Joubert, Andrew Palmer.