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Mueller & Johnson Score At Albany-Saratoga

MALTA, N.Y. — Marc Johnson had a great night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway Friday, running a close second to Jessey Mueller in the DIRTcar modified feature, then coming back to score a convincing win in the second round of the 358 small-block mini-series.

Matt DePew led the early laps of the big block finale off the front row with polesitter Brendan Darrah in tow. 

But the fifth starting Mueller found his favorite outside groove was fast early on and rode it to the lead on lap 11 after the 35-lapper’s first restart. 

Behind him, last week’s winner Jack Lehner, Jeremy Pitts and Johnson engaged in a multi-lap war for third that saw them using the whole racing surface. 

Johnson finally broke loose, ran down Darrah and then drew a bead on Mueller. A caution on lap 23 then put him alongside Mueller for the final restart but Mueller got a big start and held off the former track champion to claim his eighth career win.

“I knew we had a fast car tonight,” said Mueller. “I was nervous restarting next to Marc but we held him off. Winning again is incredible because it’s so hard here to get to the front and stay there.”

Lehner hit the stripe third ahead of Peter Britten, who made another terrific charge from 25th, and Brian Calabrese. 

Pitts led the second five, which included Robert Bublak, Mike Mahaney, Matt DeLorenzo and Ryan McCartney.

Johnson’s small-block score came at the expense of rookie Andrew Buff, who started on the pole and led until the seventh starting Johnson blew around him on a lap eight restart. 

Getting to that point was the highlight of the race, as Johnson ran three wide with Ronnie Johnson and David Schilling in a pitched battle for second before finally prevailing with a Ricky Stenhouse like run up the middle.

Marc Johnson then ran off to a comfortable lead and his only problem came when he almost tangled with an errant lapped car.  But he made it to the checkers with Buff a solid second ahead of Bublak, DeLorenzo, Calabrese, Schilling, Mahaney and Garrett Poland.

Kim Duell snared the $1,000 to win Pro Stock finale after a run from deep in the field and a multi-lap side-by-side battle with Jason Casey, who finally had to settle for second in the caution-plagued event.  The victory was Duell’s 30th, enhancing his status as the speedway’s all-time leading winner in that division.

Brendan Gibbons prevailed in the Sportsman feature, besting Craig Wholen and Zach Buff.