MALTA, NY – After sitting on the pole for nearly five months, Anthony Perrego wasn’t about to let a big payday slip away.
Perrego came out on top of an early battle with Billy Decker, and went on to win Thursday night’s 54-lap “Come ‘N Get It” shootout that kicked off the three-day “Malta Massive Weekend” at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
“Come ‘N Get It,” which paid $5,400 to win through sponsorship by Bart Contracting and Schaghticoke Wine & Spirits, was originally scheduled as the season opener at the Malta track, but was rained out four times. But on one occasion, on April 23, all the modified heats were run before the rain came, and Perrego won the pole.
Decker, who started on the outside of the front row, slipped under Perrego on lap two to get the lead and the two leaders continually swapped lanes, looking for the quickest way around the track.
Following a restart on lap 14, Perrego built up momentum on the high side and got the lead on lap 16.
On three subsequent restarts, Perrego chose the outside lane in the Graham Racing No. 18, and each time, was able to pull away from Decker. When Perrego got into lapped traffic on lap 39, Decker was finally able to close the gap between himself and Perrego. But the final yellow came out with four to go, and Perrego was able to hold off Decker for the final four laps to get his first career win at Albany-Saratoga.
Perrego, the 2019 small block modified champion at Orange County Speedway, had finished second in last Friday night’s small block modified race at Albany-Saratoga, and those laps around the track seemed to pay off on Thursday.
“I had a good idea what the track was going to be like after running the small block here Friday,” said Perrego after the race. “It got a little slipperier than it was Friday, but it wasn’t too bad. We threw this thing [his car] together in three days. We’ve been on a pretty good run as of late, and I hope we can keep it going.”
The four heat winners from April 23 started in the first two rows, and finished the same way they started, with Decker second, Larry Wight third and Matt Sheppard fourth. Matt DeLorenzo, who had started 20th, was the first Albany-Saratoga regular across the line, finishing fifth.
Andrew Buff won the John Ray& Sons 25-lap sportsman feature, which paid $1,000 to win. Buff started fourth, took the lead away from Derrick McGrew Jr. on lap 11 and easily recorded his second straight win, as the race was run under all green-flag conditions.
Buff got a big scare on lap 19, when he hooked bumpers with the lapped car of Jim Osgood going down the backstretch. But because he had such a big lead, Buff was still comfortably in front when he shook loose of Osgood.
McGrew Jr. hung on for second, his best finish of the year, with Joey Scarborough third, Nick Lussier fourth and Derek Bornt fifth.
Dave DePaulo was in the right place at the right time to notch his first win of the season in the 20-lap pro stock feature. DePaulo was running third and watching Luke Horning and Chucky Dumblewski battling for the lead in the final laps of the race. On two consecutive laps, Horning and Dumblewski rubbed side rails coming out of the fourth turn, but after taking the white flag, Horning made hard contact with Dumblewski between the first and second turns, with both cars spinning around.
That gave the lead to DePaulo, who only had to lead one lap to record his third career win.
Brandon Emigh finished second, while his brother David was third. Darrell Older was fourth, and former track champion Kenny Martin finished fifth.
Martin had moved to North Carolina during the winter, but returned to the area to help with a raffle for his former car owner, Bob James, who is battling cancer. Martin, who was driving the car that he piloted to his final championship last season, had started dead last in the 20-car field.
Bill August held off David Boisclair in the 20-lap Haun Welding limited sportsman feature, while Al Relyea, who was honored during pre-race ceremonies as the 2019 street stock champion, made his way to victory lane for the fifth time this season.
Day 2 of “Malta Massive Weekend” on Friday, Sept 20, will be highlighted by the 40-lap Tom Clothier Suicide Prevention Awareness small block challenge, which will pay $4,000 to win.
COME ‘N GET IT (54 laps): Anthony Perrego, Billy Decker, Larry Wight, Matt Sheppard, Matt DeLorenzo, Keith Flach, Marc Johnson, Peter Britten, Stewart Friesen, Bobby Varin, Rocky Warner, Jessey Mueller, Bobby Hackel IV, Mike Mahaney, JR Heffner, Matt Depew, Bodie Bellinger, Scott Huber, Justin Barber, Ronnie Johnson, Matt Pupello, Jeremy Pitts, C.G. Morey, Jackie Brown Jr., Rick Ronca, Don Ronca, Demetrios Drellos, Tyler Thompson, Danny Varin, Jack Lehner, Ken Tremont Jr.
SPORTSMAN: Andrew Buff, Derrick McGrew Jr., Joey Scarborough, Nick Lussier, Derek Bornt, Brian Calabrese, Connor Cleveland, Mike Ballestero, Tim Hartman Jr., Daryl Nutting, Scott Duell, Pat Jones, Stephen Kneer, Kale Groff, Robert Bublak Jr., Addison Bowman, Jack Speshock, John St. Germain Jr., Mike Coffey Jr., Cody Hunt, John Stowell, Bill Lussier, Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Jon Miller, Jim Osgood.
PRO STOCKS: Dave DePaulo, Brandon Emigh. David Emigh, Darrell Older, Kenny Martin, Brian Carter, Scott Towslee, Doug Sheely, Chuck Dumblewski, Luke Horning, Dan Older, Nick Arnold, Burton Ward, Jordan Modiano, Nick Stone, Josh Coonradt, Phil Arnold, Jason Meltz, Brandon Gray, Rick Spencer.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN: Bill August, Dave Boisclair, Dan Grignon, Bryce Breault, Scott Bennett, Thomas VanVorst Jr., Tom DeAngelo, James Hinman, Richard Holmes, Craig Wholey, Montgomery Tremont, Gerard LeClair.
STREET STOCKS: Al Relyea, David Cook, Adam Tranka, Jimmy Duncan, Josh Hemming, John Filarecki, Jeff Meltz Sr., Matt Mosher, Curtis Condon, Tim McFarland, Mark Burch.