Stock cars: Stroke of luck turns it around for DeLorenzo in Fonda opener
To steal a line from Alanis Morissette, isn’t it ironic.
At about 3:30 Saturday afternoon, Matt DeLorenzo was talking about how inconsistent his 2012 season had been, and all the bad luck he had.
A little over three hours later, he was standing in victory lane at Fonda Speedway because of a lucky break.
DeLorenzo took home the top prize of $4,000 for winning the 40-lap “Ice Jam” season-opener at Fonda Speedway, but had it not been for a flat tire on Stewart Friesen’s car with 10 laps to go, DeLorenzo would have had to settle for second.
Friesen, the defending track champion, was off and flying from the drop of the green flag and if hadn’t been for the flat tire, it would have been interesting to see if he could have lapped the entire field.
But as Jack Johnson used to say, sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good, and luck was definitely with DeLorenzo on Saturday.
It was bad luck that haunted him last season. He wrecked a brand new car early in the season (he also wrecked a new car at Charlotte, N.C., to end the year), and never really got untracked until he went back to his old car, a 2007 TEO chassis, which, ironically, was the same car he drove to victory on Saturday.
“We had a great car to start out last year,” said DeLorenzo, who won the big-block track champ-ionship at Fonda in 2007. “We had good equipment, but we also had a lot of bad luck. After we got wrecked early, we were chasing it for a couple of months after that, and we finally realized it was too bent to do anything with. But once we got the old faithful car back out, we started coming back.”
He didn’t get his first win last season until May 30, and went almost three more months before returning to victory lane on Aug. 18, on the Night of Features.
DeLorenzo finished with three wins at Fonda Speedway last season, the same number he had in 2011, and he also finished third in the modified points race. But with the way Friesen dominated the competition last year, finishing third in points didn’t feel like much of an accomplishment.
“We had a lot of DNFs last year, I got into a lot of wrecks, but not many of them were my fault,” DeLorenzo said. “Even when I went back to the old car, we were good, but we weren’t good enough.”
Especially for a driver who is used to running up front. In 2007, he won nine features, and 2008 and 2009 brought seven-wins seasons. Those three years account for more than half of his big-block win total at Fonda.
“When you’ve had seven- and eight-win seasons, it get discouraging when you’re not winning,” DeLorenzo said. “The tough part is having people asking ‘What’s wrong?’ all week when nothing’s really wrong.”
Maybe Saturday’s victory is an omen. After all, DeLorenzo was almost prophetic before the feature.
“I always want to run good right off the bat,” he said. “It’s good for team morale.”
Sad but true
One of the people in the pits Saturday at Fonda was veteran announcer Jim King, which is also a little ironic, because if there’s a race going on, King should be in the announcer’s booth, not in the pits.
“This is the first time since 1972 that I haven’t had a track to work at fulltime,” said King, who has been one of the best in his profession for decades. “I don’t know if you have to be part of the clique now, or what it is, but it’s disappointing.”
King, who is also the voice of Unadilla Motocross and does a lot of snocross races during the winner, has announced at just about every track in New York, including Syracuse, where he worked with Jack Burgess, Joe Marotta and Gary Montgomery.
He has already asked to annouce Dave Lape’s final race at Fonda on Sept. 14, but fans should be hearing his voice on a weekly basis, somewhere.
“I still think I can relay my passion to the people in the grandstands,” said King.
Around the tracks
u One of the big questions at Fonda Saturday was, “Who’s driving the 14B?”
Turns out it was Jeff Trombley. The car is owned by one of his old friends, Jerry Darrah, whose son, Brendan, has been racing go-karts in recent years. Trombley will be running his own cars at Albany-Saratoga and Fonda, and might be back behind the wheel of the 14B for special events.
Trombley was also going to keep a Friday-Saturday schedule last year until he blew his Fonda motor, leaving him with one engine and one night of racing.
u Lebanon Valley will kick off its 61st season of racing Saturday night. The highlight of opening night will be a $3,000 to win mod-ified feature.
u Albany-Saratoga Speedway will be holding a test-and-tune session on Sunday. Practice is expected to run from 3-7 p.m. Grandstand admission is free.
The track, which opens its reg-ular season on April 19, is already touting a weekly showdown between track champion Brett Hearn and Friesen, on its website. Did someone forget about 12-time champion Ken Tremont Jr.?
u Tim Hartman Jr. will be running his sportsman fulltime on Saturday nights at Fonda this season because it’s the only track where he can run for a championship, and still get to college on time.
Hartman, who had been campaigning at Albany-Saratoga, will graduate from Hudson Valley Community College in May and will transfer to Florida Institute of Technology in August. and Fonda’s schedule, which includes closing in August for the Montgomery County Fair, is compatable with Hartman’s.
If Hartman is in the running for the sportsman championship in August, there’s even some talk about him flying back from Florida for the Night of Features.
u Fonda Speedway will return to its normal 7 p.m. racing time Saturday. All divisions will be in action, with point races also starting.