MALTA, N.Y. — Stewart Friesen notched his fifth Albany-Saratoga Speedway win Friday night in the Twin Towers Memorial, in the process pushing his overall win total beyond the two dozen mark.
The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series regular bested Albany-Saratoga kingpin Marc Johnson for the $6,000 victory, with 14th-starting Larry Wight, early challenger Matt DeLorenzo and Anthony Perrego rounding out the top five.
“The track was coming to us at the end, but Stewart was out there,” summed up Johnson. “I’ve gotten used to finishing second to him here lately. But right now, he’s the man in modified racing and it’s fun racing with him.”
Canadian Matt Williamson drew the pole in the redraw and led the field to action with Australian Peter Britten alongside. The duo battled for the lead early on but Britten could never put Williamson away and by lap eight the third starting Friesen had kicked it into passing gear and drove under Britten to take second.
A lap-nine yellow flag brought a restart with an all-Canadian front row and Friesen rocketed around the high groove for a lap, disposing of Williamson and then dropping back to the bottom groove. From there, he was on cruise control.
“It’s fun having a great race car like this,” observed Friesen. “We’ve been tweaking on it all year and I just managed my tires and kept it fast. I kept switching lanes every couple of laps because I didn’t want somebody to find something before I did but right to the end it was good anywhere on the track.”
While Friesen was lane shopping, a fierce battle raged behind him between cushion hugging Matt DeLorenzo, low rider Williamson and Anthony Perrego, who stuck his mount anywhere there was room. By the next yellow, on lap 17, the infield hugging Johnson had joined the fray and the four swapped positions wildly through halfway, when Tyler Dippel stalled in turn four. This let Wight and Jimmy Phelps, who’d been clawing their way through the field, join the fray as well.
Lap 37 saw Williamson get squeezed into the wall and drop from contention, with Friesen leading DeLorenzo, Johnson, Perrego, Wight and Phelps on the final restart. Johnson soon dispatched the rim riding DeLorenzo for second with Wight, normally a rocket on the cushion, dropping low and working his way to third with three to go. Meanwhile, Friesen was rolling along out front.
“We always seem to run decent here,” declared Wight. “We were way too tight when the track was fast early on but it came to us and by the end we were getting to be really good. We usually run 100 laps when we come here and that’s what I needed tonight. I might have had something for Stewart by then.”
Phelps led the second five, trailed by Billy Decker, Jack Lehner, 2020 Albany-Saratoga champion Mike Mahaney and Ronnie Johnson, who barely qualified in the consi.
Andrew Buff claimed the $1,500 to win sportsman feature after an impressive run around the outside to catch, then pass, the early leaders.
Early leader Darryl Nutting was second ahead of Jack Speshock and Central New Yorker Zack Sobotka in a very entertaining race which, unfortunately, was not seen and appreciated by the speedway’s regular fans, though it was available on pay-per-view TV.