Mike Bruno added his name to the short list of drivers who have won races on both dirt and asphalt at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, as he drove the CRA Inc/Bruno’s Towing-sponsored Bicknell car to victory in the 35-lap modified feature Friday night.
Bruno had two victories on the dirt at Albany-Saratoga, the last one coming on May 13, 1994.
“This is a great feeling,” Bruno said in victory lane. “I raced here at Albany-Saratoga when I was a lot younger, and after I left here, I raced at many other places for 16 years before coming back. I gained a lot of experience by racing at other tracks on the asphalt, and knew that I was going to have to get up on the wheel and get off the bottom of the track tonight in order to win, and we were able to do it.”
The asphalt experience that Bruno spoke of included racing on the ACT Tour and on the Busch North Tour, where he was the Rookie of the Year in 1999.
Ron Proctor took the lead at the drop of the green flag from his outside pole position, with Derrick McGrew in tow. An early yellow came out at the completion of lap one and on the restart, Proctor continued to lead while Bruno moved up to the fifth position after getting by three cars on the outside.
That was the groove that Bruno would continue to use throughout the race, and he got around Chris Ross for the fourth spot by lap five.
After another caution flag flew on lap six, Keith Flach moved around McGrew for second while Bruno was dirt tracking, trying to get around the outside of McGrew for third.
On a single-file restart on lap 18, Flach got alongside Proctor in turn one, but Proctor retained the lead. Bruno finally got by McGrew for third position on lap 20, and five laps later, Flach and Bruno were side-by-side for second, with Proctor running his line and leading the event.
“The guys are starting to give each other some respect and I knew that I was probably throwing some people off guard by using the outside to get around them,” Bruno said. “The No. 76 [McGrew] wouldn’t give me the outside and I had to tap him a couple of times, which I don’t like to do, but I thought that I was faster, and didn’t want to lose out on the opportunity to get to the front.”
Bruno took over second on lap 26, and one lap later, went around the outside of Proctor in turn three for the lead. From there, Bruno stretched out his lead and won by a comfortable margin over Flach, Proctor, McGrew, Ross, Marc Johnson, Don Scarborough, Don Ronca, Kris Vernold and Jim Ryan.
“I had the car set up for the outside again tonight, and all the myths about not being able to pass on the outside here without rubber on the track were false,” Bruno said. “Albany-Saratoga needed a race like this tonight to put the myths to rest because there was no rubber out there tonight. It was all in the setup of the car.”
“I was happy with second, but wish that we could have gotten the win,” Flach said after the race. “The car was a lot looser than I wanted it, and we went back to basics with the setup, using some of the components on the car that we ran at Airborne in the past.”
“My left rear tire was bald, and that may have cost us the race,” Proctor said. “I built the motor in this car myself back in 1998, ran it all last year and again this year, and I am surprised how well it ran against all of the $25,000 Enders motors. I wasn’t even going to race this year, but my car owner, Ron White, told me if I could get the money together to get the car together, I could race it. Thanks to Biondi Crane and Rigging, Timco Transportation and Agway True Value in Ballston Spa, we were able to get it done.”
Jason Herrington won the sportsman feature over Marc Hughes, Luke Klob, Anthony Marro and Hunter Bates.
Mike Scorzelli won the pro-stock feature event after getting by Sheldon Martin with five laps to go in the feature. Martin ran a great race to finish second, and was followed by Jim Monroe, Fred Little and Kim Duell.