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DeLorenzo & Johnson Share Mod Honors

MALTA, N.Y. — Matt DeLorenzo and Marc Johnson, both former track champions, shared the spotlight Friday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.  

DeLorenzo led the 358 modified feature flag-to-flag while slick-track specialist Johnson ran down the leaders from 15th on the grid to claim the DIRTcar big-block modified feature.

DeLorenzo and Johnson started the small block feature side by side but DeLorenzo immediately staked a claim to the low groove and with the exception of a few outside excursions in traffic, rode that line to victory lane with Johnson a few lengths back.

Adam Pierson dogged the lead duo in the early going but eventually fell back and became involved in a dogfight for third with seventh starting Ronnie Johnson and Mike Mahaney, up from 10th.  

The trio swapped spots back and forth but at the checkers, Ronnie Johnson was third ahead of Mahaney, Pierson, Andrew Buff, Corey Cormier and Robert Bublak Jr.

“I didn’t know where to be but it was obvious that the outside was going away, so I stayed on the bottom as much as I could,” offered DeLorenzo, who barely finished putting his small-block car together before race time. “It’s good to win, because my back has been out all week and I spent part of every day at the chiropractor.”

The big-block finale started with a melee on the frontstretch on the original start triggered by a car in the fifth row hitting the wall just off turn four, then bouncing off to send cars in every direction. Nine cars ended up disabled, including DIRTcar hero Brett Hearn, who took a rare flier and skidded atop another car on his left side before settling back on all four wheels.

With order restored, third-starting Neil Stratton dove under front row starters Ryan Stortini and Tom DeAngelo on the restart and, despite continuous challenges from C.G. Morey, appeared headed to victory until Johnson arrived on the scene.

Morey took command briefly on lap eight but Stratton dug deep and got the lead back as David Schilling and Kolby Schroeder attacked Morey and kept him busy through the middle of the 35-lapper.  

At halfway, it was Stratton, Schilling, Morey, Schroeder and Mahaney in the top five but as the track got shinier and slicker, Marc Johnson began closing on them in his patented low groove.  

With five to go, Stratton began struggling and Morey went around him only to give the lead back the next time around, but what the leaders didn’t know was that Johnson had run them down and as they battled each other, he shot under both of them exiting turn two and drove off to lead the last three laps.  Schroder also caught fire in the waning laps, moving to second ahead of Stratton, Bublak, Morey, Mahaney, Demetrious Drellos, Justin Stone, Schilling and Rich Ronca.

“I used some old school Marc Johnson lines there,” tipped the winner. “My right rear is pretty well gone but we made it work.  It’s a good start on the year. We ran our W-16 motor in the small block race but it wasn’t good enough to catch Matt. But this big block was perfect tonight!”

In support class action, Dan Sequin won the Limited Sportsman feature while Jason Casey outran Beau Ballard and Kim Duell in the Pro Stocks.