Malta, NY — It has been over nine years since Don Ronca was in victory lane at Albany-Saratoga. That drought is over and he is $4,000 richer to boot.
Using small block power Ronca took the lead on lap 9 of the 50-lap Sowle Trailer Repair/Advance Auto Parts Summer Showdown Modified feature and never looked back.
Ronca dedicated the win to his late brother Mike, a former competitor at the track who passed away. “Everything we do is for Mike, he is in our hearts and minds.” In celebration, Ronca did a backwards victory lap around “The Great Race Place.”
While Ronca started on the outside of the front row alongside side Elmo Reckner, a host of heavy hitters started deep in the field due to heat race troubles. As often happens, the cream always rises to the top. Stewart Friesen started 28th in the 29 car field and when the checkered flag fell he was making a last ditch effort to get by Ronca for the win. Friesen would settle for second followed by Jessey Mueller who hounded Ronca for the lead late in the event.
Point leader Peter Britten finished in fourth and Bodie Bellinger rounded out the top five. Marc Johnson would finish in sixth with Matt Delorenzo in seventh followed by Matt Depew, Demetrios Drellos, and last week’s winner Kenny Tremont rounding out the top ten.
Another rough night was had by the speedway’s all-time winningest driver, Brett Hearn, as he slowed on the backstretch on lap 17 and dropped from the race. Hearn’s quest for 900 career wins is stalled at 898.
The point battle is starting to turn into a three man race in the Modified division between point leader Peter Britten and defending champion Marc Johnson. Britten holds a 22-point advantage over Johnson without having visited victory lane in 2017. Keith Flach is 32 behind with nine races left.
Scott Duell turned in a dominating performance in the 50-lap “Sowle Trailer Repair/Advance Auto Parts” Sportsman feature. Duell picked up a $3,000 check for his first win of the season in the Sportsman division and his first for the Dodson Construction team he joined in the off season.
Tim Hartman marched from 10th to second but had nothing for Duell, settling for second. Connor Cleveland charged from 16th to finish third. Cleveland’s finish, along with a 31st place finish by point leader Rocky Warner, allowed Cleveland to close within 14 points of the lead. Jack Speshock and opening night winner Adam Pierson rounded out the top five.
Chucky Dumblewski held off the charges of a fast closing Robbie Speed to win the Sowle Trailer Repair/Advance Auto Parts 50-lap Pro Stock feature and the $2,000 prize that went with it. Speed would have to settle for second with early race leader Dan Older finishing in third. Nick Stone and Kim Duell rounded out the top five.
Joey Wilson won a wild Street Stock feature capturing his second victory of the season.
For much of the middle stages of the race the top four cars of Wilson, Al Relyea, Randy Miller and Jimmy Duncan battled back and forth under a blanket for the top four spots. Wilson was able to wrestle the lead from Duncan for good on Lap 13. From there Wilson would hold off point leader Relyea, Miller and Duncan. Damon Anderson rounded out the top five.
Lou Torres earned his first career win in the Limited Sportsman division in only his second time in the car. Justin Buff finished in second with Rob Lanfear, Bobby Gage and Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald rounded out the top five.
Coming up next Friday night, July 21, will be the DIRTcar Pro Stock series along with Kiddie Rides and a makeup Modified feature from June 23. All divisions will be in action including the Greg’s Towing and Repair 4-Cylinder Division.
Pit gates will open at 4 p.m. Grandstand gates will open at 5 p.m. Admission will be $10 for adults and $2 for children 11 and under.
“Summer Showdown” Modified Results (50 Laps) – 1) Don Ronca, 2) Stewart Friesen, 3) Jessey Mueller, 4) Peter Britten, 5) Bodie Bellinger, 6) Marc Johnson, 7) Matt Delorenzo, 8) Matt Depew, 9) Demetrios Drellos, 10) Ken Tremont Jr, 11) Brian Gleason, 12) Ronnie Johnson, 13) Neil Stratton, 14) Keith Flach, 15) Jeff Rockefeller, 16) Andy Bachetti, 17) Jimmy Cottrell, 18) Ricky Davis, 19) Rich Ronca, 20) Jim Nagle, 21) Floyd Billington, 22) Jeremy Wilder, 23) C.G. Morey, 24) Bobby Hackel IV, 25) Don Mattison, 26) Elmo Reckner, 27) Brett Hearn, 28) Kris Vernold, DNS) Ray Hoard
Sportsman Results (50 Laps) – 1) Scott Duell, 2) Tim Hartman Jr, 3) Connor Cleveland, 4) Jack Speshock, 5) Adam Pierson, 6) David Schilling, 7) Adam McAuliffe, 8) Andrew Buff, 9) Jon Miller, 10) Joe Orlando, 11) Daryl Nutting, 12) Ken Conroy, 13) Mike Ostrander, 14) Jeremy Pitts, 15) Dave Constantino, 16) Jack Lehner, 17) Elliott Lussier, 18) Jason Gray, 19) Nick Fretto, 20) Dave Baranowski, 21) Jim Osgood, 22) Jamike Sowle, 23) Brian Pessalano, 24) Chris Johnson, 25) Robert Bublak, 26) Nick Lussier, 27) Christopher Ronca, 28) Mike Coffey, 29) Fred Proctor, 30) Pat Jones, 31) Rocky Warner, 32) Alex Bell, 33) Jim Morgan, DNS) Josh Neal
Limited Sportsman Results (20 Laps) – 1) Lou Torres, 2) Justin Buff, 3) Rob Lanfear, 4) Bobby Gage, 5) Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, 6) John Stowell, 7) Stephen Kneer, 8) Colin Clow, 9) Gary Derocher, 10) Paolo Pascarella, 11) Derek Bornt, 12) Mike Parodi, 13) Ryan Heath, 14) Matt Rich, 15) James Meehan, 16) Jason Miller, 17) Steve Burch, 18) Scott Bennett Jr, DNS) Jerard LeClair, DNS) Bob Schmidt
Pro Stock Results (50 Laps) – 1) Chuck Dumblewski, 2) Robbie Speed, 3) Dan Older, 4) Nick Stone, 5) Kim Duell, 6) Kenny Martin, 7) Luke Horning, 8) Dean Charbonneau, 9) Rob Yetman, 10) Jeff Washburn, 11) Brandon Emigh, 12) Bill Smith, 13) Mike White, 14) Norm Loubier, 15) Josh Rozelle, 16) Darrell Older, 17) Chris Wemple, 18) Walt Brownell, 19) Dave Depaulo, 20) Ernie Greenier, 21) Ron Delease Jr. 22) Byron Wescott, 23) Dan Madigan 24) Matt Roberts, 25) Todd Hoffman, 26) Brandon Gray, 27) Nick Arnold, DNS) Jeff LaPalme
Street Stock Results (20 Laps) – 1) Joey Wilson, 2) Al Relyea, 3) Randy Miller, 4) Jim Duncan, 5) Damon Anderson, 6) John Filarecki, 7) Scott Lawrence, 8) David Pelis, 9) John Hayes, 10) Pete Vila, 11) Mark Burch