By KEN BRUCE
Anthony Perrego is coming off a banner year in which he won the track championship at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway and both the big and small-block championships at the Orange County Fair Speedway.
In 2022, he’s adding another challenge to his slate.
Perrego is teaming up with legendary car owner Vinny Salerno to run his No. 4* Modified. As a result, for the first time in his career, Perrego is ready to chase the Super DIRTcar Series championship with the legendary car owner.
Salerno, who hails from Chester, N.Y., has had some of the best Modified drivers in the northeast wheeling his Modifieds. Superstars such as Brett Hearn and Tim McCreadie are just two drive who have had success driving for Salerno. Salerno hopes Perrego can add to that legacy in 2022.
“Anthony (Perrego) and I have always known each other,” said Salerno as he explained how the pairing came together. “We are fairly local to each other with me being from Chester and Anthony from Middletown. With having raced against each other at Middletown and I used to know his dad Tom well. Kevin Root races for me up in Central New York and everything is out of his shop up there. I was looking to race maybe 15 to 20 races out of my shop and Anthony was available to race the Super DIRTcar Series. It kind of fits my schedule. I don’t want to race every week so I can have a little bit of freedom on the weekends, so the SDS is perfect for us.”
Salerno believes Perrego deserves a shot on the Super DIRTcar Series.
“I think Anthony deserves a ride in this series,” commented Salerno. “He has worked hard. Anthony is kind of a one-man band right now. He has a lot of help at the track, but getting the cars prepared, it’s mostly himself. We have a full-time person in our shop, Zack Peckham who works on Brett Hearn’s stuff. We also run Dylan Madsen’s cars out of our shop. We are busy on the weekends with Dylan. Running the SDS with Anthony helps out and hopefully we can help his preparation on his stuff and get him better.”
In 2022, Salerno will field have a pair of cars ready to go for Perrego as they chase wins and possible a title.
“We will have good reliable cars ready for Anthony and we will se what he can do with them,” cited Salerno. “We still have the new Bicknell that Matt drove last year in the small-block race at Eastern States and we’ll also have a brand new TEO ready to go. We’ll have one of each already to go for the SDS. The big-block motors will be from Billy the Kid for both cars. I also have a Morrison small-block which we might do some racing with at the end of the season, but right now we are just concentrating on running the big-blocks and the SDS.
“I am at the point in my racing career. I have the wheel business (Keizer Aluminum Wheels) and Swift Springs and a lot of it is racing related and I like to be involved in it. I also want to be able to go anywhere and have a chance to win. You know, I don’t know how many more years down the road I will be doing this, and we have Brian and Guy Madsen who are big part of this team. We help them out a lot and they help us out a lot, so they are a part of this whole deal too”
Salerno, who operates Four Star Transmissions, was looking to compete in some of the bigger races on the biggest stages and running the SDS fits that bill for the veteran owner.
“We enjoy doing the bigger races at the end of the year and that’s probably a third of the series right there,” explained Salerno. “Racing at places like Charlotte and Oswego are place we usually race at already and it all seems to fit the schedule I want to race. I figured we’d give it a shot.”
Sponsorship for the new deal will come from Four-Star Transmission, Keizer Wheels, Swift Springs and Madsen Overhead Doors.
As mentioned above, Kevin Root drove for Salerno in 2021 and he will do so again in 2022.
“Kevin (Root) will still continue to race for me next year,” mentioned Salerno. “Kevin will race at Canandaigua (Land of Legends) full-time and also at Brewerton, which I believe will be part-time. He will also try to make as many SDS races as possible. Kevin will stay more local to where he lives.”
After a busy 2021 season which saw Perrego race in over 80 races, the young veteran Perrego will up that number even more this coming season with his new deal racing for Salerno.
“We raced a lot with Brian (Smith, car owner of the No. 44), I believe it was almost 80 races and that is a lot for Brian to do,” explained Perrego. “With me doing this deal with Vinny for the SDS, it allows me to race even more and takes some of the pressure off of Brian.”
Looking ahead to 2022, it will be a pretty big season of racing for Perrego.
“With Vinnie, like I sure he told you, we will be doing the SDS and I think he has a PA small block so we might dabble with some of those shows,” mentioned Perrego. “With Brian and the No, 44, we haven’t really settled on a plan yet. We are not too sure about Albany-Saratoga on Friday’s right now, that is still up in the air. Obviously, we will race Middletown on Saturdays and all of the Brett Deyo races. Brett has a lot of money out there and that new “Elite Series” is a good deal for us racers.”
Running for Salerno, Perrego knows that the expectations will be high, but is confident that he can live up to them.
“Vinny has had a lot of great drivers racing for him,” said Perrego. “Obviously that puts some pressure on me to do well, but I think I have run good pretty much anywhere we raced with Brian’s cars. Combined with the knowledge he has, I think that can really help us along to do well.”
Perrego pretty much does most of the shop work himself on the Smith cars and having a full-time person to take care of the Salerno cars is something Perrego is not familiar with, but is a part of the deal he is looking forward to.
“I have a couple of guys who help with Brian’s cars during the week,” mentioned Perrego. “It’s really hard to pay somebody and keep the operation going, but with Vinny, he has Zack over there working on the cars. Hopefully we can get rolling and Zack will be able to do some of the Deyo stuff with me.”
Perrego, who had run mostly all TEO cars in the past until 2020 when the No. 44 switched to Bicknell, will once again find himself back running a TEO with Salerno who has one of each.
“Vinny wanted to give the new TEO car a chance and I am good with that,” explained Perrego. “We ran TEO cars a long time with Brian and before that when I drove for Gary Mann. I am excited to see how the new TEO car works and obviously we know our stuff works really well. We are going to be on Penske Shocks like I am with Brian’s cars, and I think everything should work well together.”
It is a busy off-season for Perrego with a lot of work to be done in the coming weeks as he looks forward to getting his busy season started.
“Right now, we have all of Brian’s motors up at Billy the Kid getting freshened up,” said Perrego. “We have new cars coming soon so they have to be built and not quite sure if we will be going to Florida or not. If we do, it will be at All-Tech for the Deyo races with Brian’s stuff. You know, with the way things are going now in getting engines back, we just are not sure what will be ready at that time.”
Perrego his ready for the challenge ahead.
“We had a great year last year in winning three championships and improving on that will take an even greater effort but it’s a challenge I think I am ready for,” said Perrego. “Running on SDS full-time with Vinny will definitely help me become a better race car driver.”
Perrego has been on the cusp of becoming a Modified superstar and I think last year elevated him even closer to that status. Teaming up with Vinnie Salerno who has years of experience with some of the best modified drivers to ever race in the northeast will only help with that progression. I look for this team to do accomplish great things is 2022.
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