When Bobby Varin wins a modified feature, it’s usually not considered an upset. After all, he’s a six-time champion at Fonda Speedway and has won his share of big races during his career.
But Varin certainly would love to play the role of spoiler tonight when Albany-Saratoga Speedway hosts “Big Show 6,” a 100-lap Super DIRTCar Series race that will pay $10,000 to win.
The “Big Show” series is the brainchild of modified driver Brett Hearn. Hearn started the series six years ago at Orange County Speedway in Middletown, and moved the “Big Show” to Albany-Saratoga in 2012.
Hearn, who is closing in on his 850th career victory, has made Albany-Saratoga Speedway his personal playground in recent years, and so far this season, has won six of nine modified features, and finished second in two others.
But Varin, as fierce a competitor as you will find at any track, relishes the opportunity of beating Hearn on his own track and making sure that $10,000 doesn’t go into Hearn’s pocket.
“If I remember correctly, Brett has been beaten before, and we had to pass him to do it,” said Varin with a laugh Monday.
That was two years ago, when Varin and Hearn put on one of the best races ever seen at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Varin showed up at Albany-Saratoga in what was then his Glen Ridge Motorsports Park ride, owned by Andy Romano. He had originally planned to compete in the Dover Brakes-sponsored 00, but discovered engine problems on the eve of the race, and went with Plan B.
Which worked perfectly. Running low and weaving in and out of lapped traffic, Varin was able to hold off Hearn, who kept building momentum on the top, but couldn’t get enough of a run off the corners to make the pass.
Hearn came back last year and won “Big Show 5,” and judging by his record this season, has to be considered the favorite tonight.
But Varin isn’t conceding anything.
“I wouldn’t go if I didn’t think we had a chance,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for Brett. He’s been running very strong and has the home-track advantage. I hope we bring our ‘A’ game and have something for him. I think we should be alright.”
Varin, who will be behind the wheel of the Jake Spraker-owned 1J tonight, has only two career wins at Albany-Saratoga, compared to Hearn’s 113, but both wins have been in 100-lap races — driving for Jim Bobar in 2001 and Romano two years ago.
Varin and Spraker have just one win so far this year at Fonda Speedway, their Saturday night home, but like Hearn has dominated at Albany-Saratoga, Stewart Friesen has everyone else running for second at Fonda.
But $10,000 is a big incentive for any team.
“We had some engine issues early in the year, but we’re starting to get to the point where we can tune it in a bit,” said Varin. “Some people have said Malta’s been slippery this year, but we should be OK.
“This is a very prestigious race, and Brett pours his heart into it. It would mean a lot to me to win this again.”
Sportsman will also be running Twin 20s on tonight’s card. Racing begins at 7 p.m., with an autograph session scheduled from 5-6. General admission for adults is $24.