MALTA, NY ‑ There’s an old saying that states that you shouldn’t change horses in midstream.
But there’s also a song that says, Love the one you’re with.
Mat Williamson went with the second theory Friday night, and came away with his first career modified victory at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
The driver from St. Catherines, Ontario, making his second straight appearance at Albany-Saratoga, switched cars, won a spirited battle with Keith Flach and was first under Rich Peterson’s checkered flag in Friday night’s 35-lap modified feature at the historic Malta track.
Two weeks ago, Williamson finished third in the modified feature in a car owned by Jeff Behrent. This week, he switched to the Buzz Chew Chevrolet-sponsored ride, and came out of the 13th starting position to get the win.
Williamson competed in two races at Albany-Saratoga in 2019, finishing third in both Brett Hearn’s “Big Show 11” and in the season-ending Super DIRT Series race last September, giving him four top-three finishes in his last four starts at the Malta track.
“We’re not getting any Series races in, so I thought I’d use Jeff’s car one week, and then Buzz’s one week,” said Williamson of his choice to switch cars this week. “I can’t thank Jeff enough for what he’s done for us. The reason we won tonight was because of the lessons we learned last week.”
The modified feature proved to be another heartbreaker for 13-time champion Ken Tremont Jr. After destroying his car the previous week, Tremont brought out a new chassis Friday night, started sixth and had the lead after just eight laps.
From there, he was on cruise control, getting into lapped traffic early and opening up a huge lead on polesitter Rich Ronca; Flach, who started fifth; and Anthony Perrego.
But Tremont’s night went up in smoke on lap 28, when he made heavy contact with the lapped car of Matt Depew at the end of the front straightaway, sending both drivers to the pits for the rest of the night.
The Tremont incident gave the lead to Flach and put Williamson in second, with Stewart Friesen, looking for his second straight win, in third.
But Williamson charged into the lead on the restart, leaving Flach to hold off Friesen for second.
Completing the top five were Matt DeLorenzo, who started 16th, and Perrego.
Tim Hartman Jr. recorded his second straight win in the 25-lap sportsman feature. Hartman Jr. only led the final few feet of the race, rocketing around the outside of leader Brian Calabrese and beating Calabrese to the finish line by about a bumper. The finish was so close that Calabrese stopped his car on the front straightaway, thinking he had won the race.
Hartman Jr., who started 16th in the 30-car field, posted his 25th career win at Malta, moving him into a tie with Tim Clemons for third place on the all-time sportsman win list. Defending sportsman champion Connor Cleveland followed Hartman Jr. and Calabrese across the finish line.
Nick Stone sat in victory lane for the second time in three starts after the 25-lap pro-stock feature.
There was some wild early racing, with polesitter Ed Thompson battling Jason Meltz and Nick Arnold for the lead, but there were also numerous cautions, including one that sent contenders Brandon Emigh and Chuck Dumblewski back to the pits.
Stone, who started 13th, used a restart on lap 16 to take the lead away from Meltz, and Stone went on to finish with a comfortable lead over Josh Coonradt, who was looking for his second straight win, and Luke Horning. Meltz finished fourth, with Dan Older fifth.
Garrett Poland drove to his first career win in the 20-lap Haun Welding limited sportsman feature. Poland started on the pole, but had to hold off a late charge from Yule Cook. Taylor Wason crossed the finish line third.
Vermont invader Chris Murray took the checkered flag in the 15-lap street stock feature, his second win in three weeks, but he was later disqualified for technical issues, giving the win to Jeff Meltz Sr. and moving defending champion Al Relyea up to second.
David Frame remained undefeated in the four-cylinder division, easily outrunning Jaxcson Ryan to pick up win No. 3 in the dual cam division. Steve Ryan finished third, and was the first single-cam car across the finish line. Jon Sheppard (single-cam) finished fourth, and Joey Morey (dual cam) was fifth.
MODIFIEDS: Mat Williamson, Keith Flach, Stewart Friesen, Matt DeLorenzo, Anthony Perrego, Ronnie Johnson, Peter Britten, Billy Dunn, Jessey Mueller, Marc Johnson, Mike Mahaney, Rocky Warner, Todd Stone, CG Morey, Rich Ronca, Ricky Davis, Jackie Brown Jr., Don Mattson, Jeremy Pitts, James Meehan, Bobby Hackel IV, Jimmy Cottrell, Ken Tremont Jr., Matt Depew, George Foley, Drew Cormie, Don Ronca, Derrick McGrew Jr., Cody Bleau, Jack Lehner.
SPORTSMAN: Tim Hartman Jr., Brian Calabrese, Connor Cleveland, Robert Bublak, Mike Coffey Jr., Scott Duell, Dan Grignon, Daryl Nutting, Payton Talbot, Marty Kelly III, Justin Buff, Jim Nagle, Joey Scarborough, Nick Lussier, Jon Miller, Derek Bornt, Jeff Washburn, Thomas VanVorst Jr., Dylan Bokus, Fred Proctor, Jim Osgood, Jack Speshock, Ron Proctor, Dave Baranowski Jr., David Boisclair, Cody Ochs, Pat Jones, Andrew Buff, Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Dick Bisson.
PRO STOCKS: Nick Stone, Josh Coonradt, Luke Horning, Jason Meltz, Dan Older, Nick Arnold, Jay Fitzgerald, Dean Charbonneau, Yates Lansing, Mike Baker, Jordan Modiano, Phil Arnold, Mike White, Tony Markou, Ed Thompson, Rob Yetman, Brandon Emigh, Chuck Dumblewski, Kim Duell, Chad Jeseo, Mike Ostrander.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN: Garrett Poland, Yule Cook, Taylor Wason, Tyler Rapp, Jared Powell, Bryant Moore, Kevin Groff, Shane Larman, James Hinman Jr., Bryce Breault, Tommy D’Angelo, Scott Bennett, Craig Wholey, Josh Bussino, Ron Delease Jr., Tim Billington, Joe Smith, Gary Derocher, Brandon Jacobsen, Chris Bisson, Travis Witbeck, John Santolin.
STREET STOCKS: Jeff Meltz Sr., Al Relyea, Zach Daniels, Paul Braymer, Kaleb Shepard, John Filarecki, Jason Barrett, John Hayes, Josh Hemming, Harold Chadderdon, Jacob Zennaiter, Matt Mosher, Tim McFarland. DQ: Chris Murray.