MALTA, N.Y. – When Brett Hearn lined up in row three, most of the fans at Albany-Saratoga Speedway Friday night figured he’d win in a cakewalk.
He did win, his 136th score at the four-tenths-mile oval, but it was anything but easy as Mike Mahaney, from 11th, and arch rival Kenny Tremont Jr., from 24th, were right on him in the late stages of the 35-lap DIRTcar modified feature.
Jim Nagle took the early lead off the pole but Hearn took advantage of the race’s first restart, precipitated by a four-car melee on lap four, to shoot to second. It then took him until lap 13 to work under Nagle to take the lead, by which time Mahaney was third and closing. Mahaney grabbed second on lap 15 and was making a run on Hearn for the lead when Keith Flach drew another yellow at halfway in the 35-lapper.
Tremont, who had just gotten to 10th, got a terrific start, blasting to fifth on the green. He stood fourth when the next caution came, then shot down Peter Britten on the restart to get right on Mahaney’s bumper.
The final restart came with three to go, with Tremont using his trademark low groove to edge Mahaney for second after Hearn, who had restarted on the top all night, chose the bottom. By then Hearn had a small but comfortable lead and Tremont had no time to challenge for the win.
“I felt like I could get into turn one better if I started on the bottom that time,” offered Hearn. “We’ve had this car dialed in for a couple of weeks but had flats and other problems. For sure, we were good tonight.”
Point leader Marc Johnson was fourth, trailed by Britten, Ronnie Johnson, Matt DePew, Matt DeLorenzo, Rocky Warner and Bobby Hackel III.
In supporting class action, Scott Towslee topped Josh Coonradt and Jason Metz after a terrific battle in the Pro Stocks while Pat Jones led Brian Calabrese, Andrew Buff and Jack Speshock to the checkers in the Sportsman finale.