Makin’ Tracks – The Tribute Race Pits – DTD Exclusive

By BILL FOLEY

For some Modified drivers at The Tribute Race at Albany-Saratoga it was a night to remember while for others it was a night they would rather forget.

There were a roller coaster of emotions as the teams headed off into the night for their journey home.

Marc Johnson in a Different Ride

Marc Johnson was in a different place at Albany-Saratoga on Tuesday for the Jack Johnson-C.D. Coville Tribute Race.




However, despite a change of scenery he found himself in a pretty decent position at nights’ end.

The night didn’t start well as he couldn’t qualify from his heat.

It was on to the consi where he outdistanced Andy Bachetti to qualify for 29th on the starting grid.

Johnson was in the Romano 97B usually driven by Peter Britten and at the end of the night he came from way back in the field to finish eighth in the 61 lap event to earn the “Hard Charger” award. This was worth $612 bucks.

Britten has had back problems since December and it has just gotten to a point that after the Weedsport show he was a bit too sore to compete.

Johnson, a former Albany-Saratoga champion driving for the defending champ said, “I spun midway between three and four last Friday night and took a big hit. From the motor block forward it needs replacement. The car is currently at Troyer’s being repaired and I hope to get it back this weekend.”

Continuing he said, “Peter and I are searching for the same things in these TD4 (Troyer Dirt) chassis and I was able to drive his car tonight. Peter’s helping me out and I’m helping him out at the same time.”

Pauch on Hook Early

Billy Pauch Jr. arrived to drive the Bill Pascual No. 3 and in the hot lap session got collected big time.

Rich Ronca got around and Pauch arrived at the scene with no where to go and flipped over the front end of the disabled vehicle.

The crews went to work on both cars, but the most extensive damage was the Pauch ride. Activity was quick and efficient as some pounded the body panels back to shape, others went to work replaced the header on the right side, nerf bars were removed, some pulled out the front axle.  There was plenty to do for everyone.

Pauch came out and started last in his heat, but really didn’t move and in the end it was a long trip from New Jersey for naught.

Whittaker Bad, Good and then Ugly

Billy Whittaker Jr. was on hand to prep for the upcoming Super DIRTcar Series tour stop.

He drew 53 out of 60 and started in the back of his 11 car heat.

Billy said, “It’s all about the draw. In the heat I’d get a run, get by a car, back out when someone pulled out and I just couldn’t’ get anywhere. I went to the top to pass a couple of cars, but then would get held up. I had trouble with side bite.”

Then came the consi where he started third and ran away with the win. He explained, “I went to the top again, but I’m not Larry Wight and I like it down low.”

In the feature he started 23rd and really wasn’t making much movement. Suddenly on lap 14 Keith Flach got around entering turn two and the 109 had no where to go. The huge hit decimated the right front and engine cowling as he was forced to go off on the hook.

Sheppard Does It Again

For the 16th time and at the seventh different track this season Matt Sheppard did it again.

He took the lead on the 15th lap and despite smoke (he later attributed it to an oil line) won comfortably in a race where he “hymned and hawed about even coming to.”

It was a $6112 payday for the Waterloo driver who started fourth behind pole sitter Danny Varin.

Albany-Saratoga Pit Stops

R.J. (Ronnie Johson) was a sentimental favorite and when he drew the pole it was enthusiastically received…

Billy Decker got tagged early in the race and spun. He worked his way back up for a hard earned 11th in the Jeremy Smith owned 91…

It was a quality 44 car field…

Stewart Friedens’ 61 tribute car to C.D. brought back some memories. He drew 11th for the main alongside Brett Hearn. Stewart didn’t move much early and got locked up in some heated battles. However, by the 44th lap he was battling for third with Danny V and RJ…

Erik Rudolph ran steady all night long and finished fifth behind Varin…

Steady and consistent run for runner up Kenny Tremont Jr. A late race yellow might have helped, but Kenny noted that’s just racing…

Heat winners were Brian Krummel, Stewart Friesen, Erik Rudolph and Danny Varin and they each picked up $150 bucks…

Heats were 12 laps and they proved to be quite competitive with 11 car fields. The 12 was obviously to recognize Jack Johnson while the 61 in the feature saluted C.D…

Keith Flach got shuffled early in his heat, but a steady and exciting run saw him come home in third. It was fun to watch…

Had to enjoy Stew and Matt in heat two as they simply put on a show you would expect from drivers of their caliber. Stew got the win, but it wasn’t by much…

Jeremy Wilder continues to impress with his small-block. He came home seventh in the main…

Danny Varin and Hearn put on a good show for the fans in the final heat…

Scott Huber got a yuke tire in his consi knocking out his chances to qualify…

Elmo Reckner and Whittaker chalked up the consi wins…

There was a scramble for non-qualifiers and Andy Bachetti picked that up for an extra $200 and earned the 31st starting spot in the main…

The marathon 25 lap Pro Stock event saw Kim Duell win his 50th career feature at the track. There was lots of carnage in that main-event which saw less than half the starting field finish…

Mod field did a missing man formation at the start saluting the late Bryan Goewey who was a major player in Modified racing for many years, especially in the Capital District…

There were plenty of bonus awards for drivers and it was appreciated.