By MATT NOLES
MALTA, NY – Ryan Godown hasn’t had the greatest of experiences at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y.
With only a mere handful of appearances at the fabled ‘Great Race Place,’ the Ringoes, N.J. pilot has a track record comparable to Jimmy Hoffa’s attendance tally at union meetings over the past four decades.
Aside from the Short Track Super Series ‘Stampede at ‘Toga’ and a rare appearance behind the wheel of Andy Romano’s modified that ended with a turn-one tumble on the first lap of his heat-race, the driver of the No. 26 Searock Fabrication sponsored entry hasn’t had much luck at the Saratoga County oval.
His latest visit, on the other hand, became a completely different story.
Though he was seemingly out to lunch during warm ups and barely made it into a handicapping spot during his heat race earlier in the evening, the New Egypt Speedway [in New Egypt, N.J.] regular turned more than a few heads as he drove from his 15th starting position to finish second in the Upstate Buick GMC Dealers 35-lap modified feature on Friday night.
“We were bad out of the box tonight,” stated Godown. “We worked on it after warm ups but we didn’t really get it that good for the heat but we didn’t finish fifth which was pretty key for handicapping and when we went out for hot-laps before the feature, that really helped us tune the car in better for the feature. We just kept nicking away at it.”
With little to essentially no notes to go on, Friday night became more of an uphill climb than anything. The setup wasn’t there from the onset of the evening and even the gear choice left a lot to be desired. Though Godown may have unloaded with a brick, he ended up with a piece of polished marble by the time the green flag dropped on the main event.
“We turned the car completely around,” continued Godown. “We just kept plugging away on the bottom and the car just kept going forward. I went to the top on a restart and ended up losing a spot; it didn’t feel good even though there looked like a groove up there and we ended up falling back to 11th which turned out to be a present for us.To come here and get second tonight is fantastic.”
After a quick caution reset the field, Godown found himself back on the bottom and he began to methodically work his way towards the front of the stout weekly modified field. What’s more, he now has a notebook to go off of when he returns for Brett Hearn’s Big Show 11 on Tuesday, June 25th.
“After tonight, we finally have some notes to go on for a few weeks from now,” Godown explained. “Before we didn’t have anything. We just wanted to get some information so when we come back here hopefully, we’ll be able to time trial in the top-five. Obviously it’s going to be better because if we showed up to his [Hearn’s] race the way we unloaded, it would have been really tough to make the show.”
Aside from having no prior setup information to go on, the stark contrast between the surface at his home track in N.J. to that of Albany-Saratoga is yet another bridge that needed to be crossed. The differences in speedway composition are comparable to that of driving a torsion bar car versus that of a coil car. It really is that different.
“For me, I have to have a whole different driving style up here,” Godown concluded. “That’s the biggest thing for me. Obviously, guys like Matt Sheppard and Stewart Friesen go back and forth between different surfaces like it’s nothing; they’re the greatest drivers in the northeast right now so they do well. For me that’s the biggest change not to mention our suspension setup for here is completely different than what we run at home and it’s hard but tonight, we made some big gains and we have a lot of good information going forward.”