MALTA, N.Y. — For the third week in a row, the winning pass was made late in Albany-Saratoga Speedway’s DIRTcar modified feature.
This pass was for the win was the latest yet, as the starter was waving the checkered flag Friday night when Marc Johnson edged ahead of longtime leader Rocky Warner by inches.
Warner had led since lap five after charging from the third row to shoot down polesitter Matt Pupelo. His journey to the lead was slowed by a red flag for a hard flip by John Bellinger, subbing for son Bodie, on lap two and a backstretch melee two laps later.
Once the green stayed out, Warner blew by Pupelo and ran off to nearly a half track lead, leaving Pupello and Neil Stratton to battle for second.
By halfway in the 35-lapper, the 11th starting Johnson had clawed his way to second and began taking huge bites out of Warner’s lead as they both worked through heavy traffic.
By lap 25 he was a turn behind and as the lapped counter hit 30, he was four car lengths behind the leader. With the crowd up and roaring, Johnson lost ground in traffic, then got it back to draw even at the flagstand as they received the white flag.
Headed to turn three, Warner had the advantage again but a lapped car slowed his entry to the turn just enough that Johnson got alongside again. They hit the frontstretch even but Johnson managed to pull the win out by inches as they hit the stripe.
“That was a hell of a race,” quipped the normally laid back Johnson. “The laps were ticking off and I didn’t know if I’d make it. Rocky and I are good friends and I love seeing him win, but not tonight.”
Stratton was third ahead of 15th-starting Stewart Friesen, Pupelo, CG Morey, Kris Vernold, Matt DeLorenzo, Keith Flach and Brett Hearn.
Derek Bornt claimed the $1,000 Sportsman feature win, followed by Justin Buff and Connor Cleveland. Pro Stock action saw Robbie Yetman, subbing for Chuckie Dumblewski, drive to the lead from deep in the pack to best Josh Coonradt and Dan Older.