Three weeks into the racing season (well, five if you count rainouts), and Matt DeLorenzo is already feeling the heat.
The new promoter at Fonda Speedway was raked over the social media coals earlier this week for a slick, dry racing surface at the Track of Champions last Saturday.
DeLorenzo admits he was fooled by the weather forecast.
“After we got rained out [on May 3], we really sealed the surface and packed it in hard,” he said Monday, taking a break from mowing the grounds. “The track stayed like that all week. And then I saw there was an 80 percent chance of rain, so I didn’t do anything to the track. I was a little gun shy that it was going to rain, so I didn’t want to get too much water on the track.
“Then, it never rained and with the wind, it didn’t get any moisture into the track at all, and that’s why it was so hard and slick Saturday.”
Not everyone was complaining. Because of the lack of passing, Craig Hanson was able to come off the front row and lead the feature flag-to-flag, recording his first win at Fonda in four years.
But fans go to the track to see racing, not to see who can be the first car to the first turn.
So DeLorenzo continues to experiment. Don’t forget, he’s new at this track prep business.
Oddly enough, during the first two weeks of the season, some drivers were even complaining that the track was too fast.
“The fans loved it the first two weeks, but some of the drivers weren’t used to those speeds,” DeLorenzo said. “I’m still looking for that happy medium. But I’ve only had three weeks, and haven’t gotten a rhythm going yet.”
He also hasn’t gotten into a rhythm at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, where he’s getting his weekly racing fix. Because of all the time he’s been putting in at Fonda, he basically shows up at Albany-Saratoga on Friday night and straps in.
“I even missed warmups last week, but maybe I should do that every week, because I seemed to run better [finishing second],” he said.
But these days, finishing second to Brett Hearn, who has three straight wins, is almost as good as winning.
“He doesn’t make mistakes,” said DeLorenzo. “He wasn’t getting away from me, but I’ve got to keep plugging along.”
Hearn on a roll
Hearn could easily be on his way to one of the most dominant seasons in the history of Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
In four races this season, he’s got a second and three victories.
In 2002, Hearn broke the track record with six consecutive wins, and tied the single-season record with 12 victories.
He also had a five-race winning streak that season, which was snapped by Ken Tremont Jr., and Mike Perrotte ended his six-race streak. But when the season was over, Hearn had won 12 of 17 features.
DeLorenzo remembers that season well. During one stretch, DeLorenzo followed Hearn across the finish line on four straight Friday nights.
Robbie Speed is also making history at Albany-Saratoga, for the wrong reasons.
Last Friday, Speed was the first car under the checkered flag in the pro stock feature, but for the second consecutive week, he was disqualified.
Two weeks ago, after he had finished second, it was for an illegal axle; last week, it was a motor issue.
Nick Stone, who had picked up his first career win at the Malta track on May 2, inherited the victory last Friday, kicking off a great weekend as he also picked up victories at Fonda and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park.
Around the tracks
Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Fair Haven, Vt., will open tonight, its first Friday night opener in the 48-year history of the track. Todd Stone, who had 10 wins last season, returns to defend his modified point championship.
Hanson’s win at Fonda last Saturday came despite a smoking motor that was a major cause for concern.
“I could see the smoke coming out of the left side of the motor, but the oil pressure remained up on the guage, so I just kept racing,” he said after the victory. “If the oil pressure had dropped, I would have had to shut it off, but fortunately, it didn’t.”
JR Heffner picked a great time to get his first modified win at Lebanon Valley last Saturday. The victory was worth $4,500.
Rocky Warner also had a nice payday, picking up $2,711 for his win in the GRIT Series sportsman race at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park on Sunday.