The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Take the Champlain Valley Racing Association as an example. Both Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl switched from dirt to asphalt this season and many of the favorite drivers were gone, as they found new dirt tracks to call home. They were replaced by a number of new faces in the pits at the two CVRA tracks.
But in the end, there was a familiar champion — Ken Tremont Jr.
Tremont secured his 12th career point chamionship at Albany-Saratoga Speedway last Friday night, five days after wrapping up his second straight title (and sixth overall) at Devil’s Bowl.
“I’d spent some time on asphalt before, so it wasn’t like we were going in completely green,” said Tremont. “From the beginning, we had hoped to run well.”
The wins weren’t as numerous as they had been in the past. He won three races at Devil’s Bowl, picked up a pair of wins at Albany-Saratoga and also had three victories at Lebanon Valley, his regular Saturday night track.
“I would say it was a good year,” he said. “Naturally, when you’re winning 20 or 30 races a year, that’s really a good year. But winning eight races this year was still good for us.”
His only real disappointment was finishing sixth in points at Lebanon Valley.
“We won three features, and I don’t think anyone else won more, except for J.R. [Heffner, who had four wins]” Tremont said. “I’m not trying to put anyone else down, but I feel like we gave it away at Lebanon. Breakage killed us. I just wasn’t finishing races, and I’ve been the king of finishing races there for years. But you can’t break two or three times at Lebanon and expect to win the championship, especially with the caliber of drivers there now.”
Although Tremont made what looked like a very smooth transition to pavement racing on the CVRA, he knew from the beginning that he was in a whole different world.
“As far as where I’m coming from, it was a lot more difficult to come from the rear and pass the cars that I was used to passing before,” he said. “But I knew it was going to be difficult. Pavement racing requires a car that handles, that has to be right on the money. If you’re a little off, you’re not going to slide to the front, like you could do on dirt. If the car isn’t right, I don’t care who you are, you’re going to have a tough night.”
Tremont went into the final points race at Albany-Saratoga trailing Mike Bruno by three points, but a bizarre incident between Bruno and Marc Johnson early in the race resulted in heavy damage to Bruno’s car and Johnson’s disqualification. That allowed Tremont, who went on to finish fourth in the feature, to take home the title once again.
“I don’t base my whole year on the last night,” said Tremont. “I had the [points] lead for the majority of the summer, but a couple of poor performances on my part put me in that spot [trailing Bruno]. I know what it takes to win championships. I know what has to be done, and I know what will come back to bite me. You’ve got to finish races. Even if you break in the first week of June, you know it can come back to cost you.”
The incident between Bruno and Johnson has had the Internet buzzing all week. For those who haven’t seen it, or talked about it, Bruno got into the rumble strips in the third turn, bounced back up onto the track and slammed into the side of Johnson’s car. Under yellow, Johnson then cut through the infield, drove into the side of Bruno’s car in the third turn and pushed the car right up to the tree line.
I watched the tape, and here’s my take. Bruno went into three way too deep, and when he tried to get all four tires back on the asphalt, caught the lip of the track and shot to the right. An aggressive move, and not a smart one, at that, but it looked like a racing accident to me. Johnson’s retaliation was uncalled for, but the two have had more than their share of differences this season, and Johnson obviously hit the boiling point.
That incident overshadowed Rich Ronca’s first career win. Ronca joined his brothers, Don and Mike, on the all-tine modified win list at Albany-Saratoga.
There’s plenty of racing this weekend, beginning Saturday night at Fonda Speedway
, which returns from its annual break for the Montgomery County Fair. Fonda will be running modifieds, sportsman (a Thunder Series race), budget sportsman, pro-stocks, street stocks and four-cylinders. Racing will begin at 6 p.m.
Both Glen Ridge Motorsports Park and
Albany-Saratoga will be running on Sunday afternoon. The headliner at the Ridge in the 602 Nationals, a 60-lap feature paying $1,500 to win. The final points races for street stocks and cruisers are also on the card, along with an enduro. A number of sponsors have also put up money for bonuses for the Nationals. The card will start at 3:45 p.m.
Pro-stocks, Renegades, Bomber Warriors/Mini Mods and an enduro will be running at Albany-Saratoga, where the first green flag will drop at 1 p.m.