Stock car racing: The Ridge should benefit from switch to Sundays
It certainly wasn‘t a masterpiece, but The Ridge’s return to Sunday night racing should be the life preserver that the Montgomery County track needs to keep its head above water for the rest of the season.
Although the car count was a little disappointing, especially for the modified feature, which paid $3,711 to win, the crowd was good and with the exception of a couple of on-track shenanigans (which have been dealt with), the racing was entertaining.
So after trying to butt heads with Albany-Saratoga Speedway for the Friday night crowd, The Ridge will be sticking with Sundays.
“I thought everything went pretty good,” said co-promoter Mike Romano earlier this week. “Honestly, I’d love to have 50 modifieds, but we got 22 cars and everyone qualified. The sportsman car count was good, the cruisers were up, the crowd was good. This was our first afternoon show and we knew the track would be a little dusty, but we have two grooves, so overall, I think everything went pretty well.”
The only major problem was with power, as some of the lights on the backstetch went out prior to the features and caused a long delay. But that’s a problem that could have happened to anyone.
Because the modifieds and sportsman both ran 50-lap features, the show stretched out to nearly midnight, but Romano is adament that that won’t happen again this week.
“We’re going to start a little earlier, with warmups at 5 and racing at 5:30. We’re doing 35 laps for both the modifieds and sportsman this week, and we won’t have the Lightning Sprints, so without any major problems, we should be done by 9 p.m.”
The modified winner will receive $3,000 this week, while the sportman winner will again get $750.
With $3,711 on the line last Sunday, The Ridge drew a number of outsiders, including Matt Sheppard, who took home the top prize, Andy Bachetti, Mike Ricci and defending track champion Ken Tremont Jr., who is doing his Friday night racing at Albany-Saratoga this year. Although Tremont was involved in a late incident and finished eighth, he did pick up a $500 bonus when Sheppard drew the No. 8 spot on a blind draw after the feature.
One of the major changes that will take place this weekend is that Romano will be resuming duties as race director, replacing Mark Krosky, who had replaced Romano at the beginning of the season.
“I sat back and watched and evaluated things Sunday night, and I saw about 20 instances where we could have sped the show up,” he said. “It’s hard for me to be the race director because it puts me in a compromising position because of my business, but I think most of the drivers respect my decisions because they know that I raced for a long time.”
Romano and his partner, Jake Spraker, have made no definite plans past their three-week experiment with Sunday racing and sponsor-enhanced payoffs, so it will be interesting to see how things shake out. But it certainly looks like Sunday is the way to go.
More from The Ridge
Bobby Varin had a good run
going in the 50-lapper and was sitting right on Sheppard’s rear bumper on a restart with seven laps to go. But Varin broke an axle on the restart and was done for the night.
During intermission, drivers went through the stands and took up a collection for track videographer Tom Czaban, who was seriously injured in a car accident a couple of weeks ago. Fans generously donated over $800.
Greg Pessolano won the sportsman feature, and took home the $750.
Bachetti covered a lot of ground to finish fourth in the modified feature. He brought out the first caution on lap five when he made contact with Floyd Billington and wound up in the infield between the first and second turns. That put him at the rear of the 22-car field.
Around the tracks
Jeremy Wilder of Fort Plain had a nice weekend. He recorded his first modified victory at Fonda Speedway on Saturday night, then finished second to Sheppard at The Ridge on Sunday. He credited his Fonda win to a freshened Jack Boyd big block motor.
Stewart Friesen, who finished second to Wilder at Fonda, became the seventh different modified winner in as many weeks at Utica-Rome on Sunday night. The win was the 34th of his career at the track, moving him past Richie Evans and into second place on the all-time win list.
Think Tony Stewart loves to race? After finishihg third in the Sprint Cup race at Pocono Sunday, he jumped into a helicopter and headed north to Utica-Rome, when he raced with the UHOH 410 sprints and finished fifth.
Fonda Speedway postponed its “meet-and-greet” with drivers last weekend because of an unfavorable weather forecast. The meet-and-greet will now be held at intermission Saturday night. It will also be New York State Stock Car Association Night at the Track of Champions, with extra money on the line for NYSSCA members in all divisions.
Chris Johnson had the best finish of his modified career at Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday, chasing Mike Perrotte across the finish line. When was the last time a top five on dirt at Albany-Saratoga didn’t include Tremont or Brett Hearn?