Racing Around: Area tracks kicking off new season

The local racing season got off to a strong start last weekend, with Fonda Speedway and Lebanon Valley dropping their opening night green flags Saturday and Albany-Saratoga opening its gates Sunday for a practice session.

Donnie Corellis picked up the feature win over J.R. Hefner and Brett Hearn at the Valley, while Matt Sheppard pulled off a last-turn pass over Danny Varin after the caution flew on the white flag lap.

With Fonda Speedway’s program running later than expected (the modified feature finished at 11:45), many fans left before the 502 sportsman feature.

Cody Clark and Rocky Warner battled for the lead, with Clark taking a chance in traffic to pass Warner and held on for the victory.

After the race, a protest was put up against Clark’s engine, delaying the awarding of his first career sportsman victory at the Track of Champions.

Following DIRT rules, the car was impounded, and taken to DIRT headquarters and checked out.

The results came back Wednesday – 100 percent legal – and Clark was officially awarded the win.

“They tore it right apart,” Fonda Speedway promoter Matt DeLorenzo said. “I was there, Cody was there and Rocky was there. They inspected everything and there is nothing done to that motor. DIRT is putting it back together [Wednesday], putting the seals on it and Cody can pick it up [today].”

Warner was one of the first to congratulate Clark on the win.

I have to applaud all the people involved for the way the situation was handled.

The protest was made, which is a team’s right, in a timely manner after the race. DeLorenzo immediately checked the DIRT rules as to the proper procedure, and Clark’s team complied. I was at the pit shack shortly after the races, and there was no screaming, yelling or fighting. It was handled professionally by all parties involved.

They let the system work, and it did, and it should send a message to everyone in the racing community that the rules will be enforced and followed.

Opening night

After the long winter and a short time to get ready for opening night, DeLorenzo’s debut as promoter, other than for the winter snocross events, went fairly well.

The place looked impressive, especially with the billboards lining the backstretch, and a racy track surface.

The decision was made to move Victory Lane ceremonies to the track surface instead of on the black top because the water under the pavement on the infield made it soft. The pavement behind the grandstand showed what could happen, as it was flat when cars arrived but buckled by the time them left.

“The show ran late, but there were a lot of last-minute things and some things I wanted to get to that I didn’t get to,” DeLorenzo said. “We will keep making improvements and move forward.”

When asked what grade he would give for his opening night, DeLorenzo said, “B-plus. There was a little chaos, but we had a good car count and a really good crowd.”

The track surface remained tacky late into the night, and with the use of a new tiller, DeLorenzo stayed on top of the trouble spot in turn one that has plagued the track for several years.

“The track wasn’t that bad compared to what I have heard about how other tracks were,” he said. “It was a little faster than I thought it would be. I’ve been around forever, but it was my first time really prepping it. I wanted to put a little bit more moisture in the track, but maybe I put a little too much. I may have to cut that back a bit. The tiller worked really well. Most of it was the new clay that was put down and hadn’t adhered to the existing clay. That thing is nice because it can knock the cushion right down and pack it in quickly.”

Looking forward to this Saturday, DeLorenzo said, “I hope the weather cooperates and everybody comes back.”

Malta ready to go

Albany-Saratoga Speedway is slated to to kick off its 2014 season Friday night at 7 p.m.

On tap for the 2014 season opener will be the DIRTcar modifieds, sportsman, DIRTcar pro stocks, limited sportsman, street stocks and four-cylinders.

There will be a pre-race concert featuring The Just Looking Band.

Glen Ridge Motorsports Park and Utica-Rome Speedway have their season-openers scheduled for April 27.