Area Stock Car Racing Notes: Asphalt track offers new challenge for defending champion

With Albany-Saratoga Speedway switching over to asphalt this season, there’s bound to be a big turno

With Albany-Saratoga Speedway switching over to asphalt this season, there’s bound to be a big turnover in drivers, as many of the dirt die-hards will leave, and new faces will come in to tackle the new surface.

But one of the major players for the last 20 years will stilll be around, as Ken Tremont Jr. will return to defend his track championship.

Tremont won his 11th 358-modified point championship at Albany-Saratoga Speedway last season, and sits third on the all-time win list with 53 victories. Although he weighed his options during the winter, his decision was to return to Albany-Saratoga.

“In terms of geography, it’s pretty handy for me,” said Tremont, who teaches automotive, manufacturing and electrical engineering technologies at Hudson Valley Community College. “I’m getting tired of chewing up the highway.”

Tremont is no stranger to asphalt racing, as he competed at tracks like Sanair, Thompson, Oswego and Cayuga when DIRT held its original asphalt series. In recent years, he’s also made a couple of stops at Airborne Park in Plattsburgh when that track held special shows for dirt modifieds, and has been nearly unbeatable against his dirt brethren.

“I’ve run with a lot of the guys at Plattsburgh before, and I’m sure I’m going to be able to mix it up with them,” said Tremont. “This will be a new challenge for me. Maybe I’m at the point in my career where I need to do something to spice it up.”

Unofficial openers

The area stock car racing season unofficially opens this weekend with a pair of car shows.

Fondas Speedway will hold its annual car show at the Rotterdam Square Mall from Friday to Sunday. Many of the track’s top drivers will have their new cars on display, and will be available to talk with fans and sign autographs.

The show will be conducted during regular mall hours.

Champlain Valley Racing Association fans can get their first look at some of the cars that will be running on the asphalt tracks at the CVRA car show at the Wilton Mall.

That show will also run from Friday to Sunday.

Malta goes smoke-free

Albany-Saratoga Speedway will become more fan-friendly in the 2010 season.

In addition to a decrease in admission prices, the Malta track will become smoke-free.

“We’ve always had our family sections, with no smoking and no alcohol,” said track promoter Bruce Richards. “But this year, there will be no smoking anywhere in the grandstands. We will be setting up a designated smoking area to accommodate our many fans who enjoy the use of tobacco products, but the grandstands will be smoke-free.”

The big change that fans will see at the front gate is that kids 12 and under will now be admitted free of charge.

In addition, the adult front-gate admission price at Albany-Saratoga has been dropped to $10 for regular shows.

“With the new 12-and-under policy, there are going to be a lot of nights where we’re letting a lot of fans in for free, because we’re still going to have our regular Seniors Night, Bikers Night, CDL Night, and we’ve got some other things planned,” said Richards. “This is going to be an exciting year for Albany-Saratoga Speedway, and we want to make sure as many fans as possible participate in the excitement.”

Albany-Saratoga is still on schedule to hold its first practice session on Saturday, March 27. The practice, which will be open to cars in all divisions, will begin at 1 p.m., with pit gates opening at 11 a.m. Grandstand admission will be free. In the event of bad weather, the practice will be held on Sunday, March 28.

Late models at Fonda

Area fans are already marking July 27 on their calendars, as that’s the night that the Lucas Oil Late Model National Tour will be making a stop at Fonda Speedway.

The tour race, part of an Eastern swing that also includes stops at Utica-Rome on July 29 and Hagerstown (Md.) on July 31, will pay $10,000 to win, and the field will be headlined by 2009 national champion Scott Bloomquist, who has over 480 career dirt late model victories.

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