MALTA, N.Y. – Anthony Perrego parleyed a fast car and a massive dose of patience into a win in the opening round of DIRTcar’s Super DIRT Week replacement, the multi-track OktoberFAST series, at Albany-Saratoga Speedway Tuesday night.
Perrego’s $7,500 score in the Super DIRTcar Series big-block modified event came at the expense of local hero Ronnie Johnson, who drew the pole in the redraw and led the 60-lapper right up to the last lap.
But Perrego kept getting stronger and stronger in the low groove while Johnson stuck to the extreme outside, which slowed noticeably at the end.
With 2020 Albany-Saratoga champion Mike Mahaney following Perrego on the bottom, Johnson ended up third at the stripe.
“I kept telling myself to be patient,” tipped the elated winner. “He drove away from me for a while, then at the end the track slowed down and he was struggling off turn four. It takes patience to run around that inside concrete wall but it finally came to me. We needed a long run and when we got it, at the end, my Bicknell was perfect!”
Johnson got the drop on front row companion Perrego at the start, with Johnson slowly stretching his lead through the first yellow on lap 25. Behind the lead duo, Mahaney was making a mad dash forward from tenth and when the yellow flew the order was Johnson, Perrego, Matt DeLorenzo, Mat Williamson and Mahaney.
The return to green was brief, as three laps later Pat Ward slowed, bringing Johnson back to the field once again.
The next green period was also short, as DeLorenzo tagged the frontstretch wall and went pitside, and the ensuing restart saw Mahaney move to third with eighth starting Kenny Tremont Jr in tow.
The duo then swapped third back and forth a few times before Mahaney took what looked to be permanent possession of the final podium spot on lap 55.
“I liked running the bottom but I went anywhere the other cars weren’t,” said Mahaney. “Then we got to the point where Ronnie and Anthony were two wide in front of me and there was nowhere to go. It was a great race to watch but there is no middle here. You either have to run the top or the bottom and they were both taken, so I was just following Anthony.”
The final 10 laps saw teammates Billy Decker and Larry Wight catch fire and make a run at the leaders with Tremont crossing fourth and Wight fifth ahead of Decker, Williamson, Marc Johnson, Matt Sheppard and Chris Hile.
“I ran the whole race on the top,” offered the disappointed Ronnie Johnson. “I never moved and finally it got loose up there. The track went away and he got better and better on the bottom. It’s disappointing to see someone get up beside you with two to go but that’s racing!”
Nick Stone edged Devon Camenga, Scott Towslee and Chad Jeseo in the Pro Stock feature while local Sportsman kingpin Tim Hartman Jr. drove from deep in the field to run down Garrison Krentz and claim the Sportsman feature.
With New York State’s COVID-19 limitations still in place, the event was run without fans.
The week-long series now moves west to the Utica-Rome Speedway, followed by stops at Fulton Speedway, Can-Am Speedway and Land of Legends Speedway before the weekend finale at Weedsport Speedway.
1. 44P-Anthony Perrego [$7,500]; 2. 35-Mike Mahaney [$4,000]; 3. RJ2-Ronnie Johnson [$2,500]; 4. 115-Ken Tremont [$1,800]; 5. 99L-Larry Wight [$1,600]; 6. 91-Billy Decker [$1,400]; 7. 88-Mat Williamson [$1,300]; 8. 3J-Marc Johnson [$1,200]; 9. 9S-Matt Sheppard [$1,100]; 10. 5H-Chris Hile [$1,000]; 11. 25-Erick Rudolph [$800]; 12. 44-Stewart Friesen [$700]; 13. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [$600]; 14. 98-Rocky Warner [$575]; 15. 19-Tim Fuller [$550]; 16. 21A-Peter Britten [$525]; 17. 32C-Max Mclaughlin [$500]; 18. 2-Jack Lehner [$500]; 19. 19M-Jessey Mueller [$500]; 20. 20-Brett Hearn [$500]; 21. M1-David Marcuccilli [$500]; 22. 165-Rex King [$500]; 23. 97-Bobby Hackel [$500]; 24. 3D-Matt Delorenzo [$500]; 25. 42P-Pat Ward [$500]; 26. 111-Demetrios Drellos [$500]