MALTA - As a promoter, Brett Hearn has watched other drivers carry away the winner's share of his "Big Show" prize money.
Tuesday night that changed.
After coming home second last year, Hearn broke through to claim victory at "The Big Show 5" sponsored by Recovery Sports Grill and Sowle's Trailer Repairs at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Brett Hearn poses in Victory Lane after winning the Big Show 5 at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta on Tuesday. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
"I was pretty close last year and close at Middletown once, but there is nothing like setting up a big race and taking the money. So that is pretty cool," Hearn said in Victory Lane. "I started eighth and I knew it wasn't going to be easy because, let's face it, those guys in the top 12 are really tough competitors and you never know how it will go when things start shaking out."
Hearn picked up $9,711 for the Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series victory over Billy Dunn, Gary Tomkins, Billy Decker and Dale Planck.
In the companion 35-lap Super DIRTcar Pro Stock Series event, Byron Wescott held off Dan Older for his first career pro stock feature win. Chuck Towslee was third followed by Fonda Speedway regulars Kenny Martin and Pete Broderson.
By virtue of a redraw for the top 12 starting spots in the 100-lap main event, Dale Planck and Billy VanInwegen brought the field of 31 modifieds to the green with Planck and Tomkins bolting to the front.
Tomkins took over the point on lap nine as the drivers made the most of a fast high groove and plenty of bite on the low side.
"I think that is a testament to [Albany-Saratoga promoter] Lyle [DeVore] giving us a track we could run high and low," Hearn said. "We had a choice and that is what makes great dirt racing. We were able to go bottom, top, middle, slide through the middle or slide from the top down. That is everything a dirt race should be."
While Tomkins and Planck battled on the front end, Hearn was engaged with Decker in a tight battle for third with Justin Haers and defending race winner Bobby Varin competing for fifth and sixth.
Planck challenged Tomkins for the lead on a lap-34 restart, but Tomkins was able to hold on to the point. Meanwhile, Decker slipped past Hearn and Planck to take second.
Planck got the spot back two laps later, but Hearn was moving in the high lane and got up to the runner-up spot before jumping the berm in turn one, allowing Planck to dive back into second.
At the halfway point, the leaders were picking their way through lapped traffic, allowing Dunn, who started 14th, to break into the top five within striking distance of the leaders.
With 40 laps remaining, Hearn, who had dropped to fourth, powered around the high side, passing Decker and Planck to take over second.
Hearn went to work trying to get the lead from Tomkins and was successful on lap 69.
With 20 laps remaining, Dunn swung past Tomkins for second and was gaining ground on Hearn as he made his way through lapped traffic. Dunn's momentum took a hit when the caution flew with 15 laps remaining, giving Hearn an open track.
"I know he [Dunn] had to come a long way because he didn't start inside the top 12," Hearn said. "I was thinking to myself he must be going pretty good so I better concentrate and keep my lines and figure out what my best line is. We got lucky with 15 to go and got a clear track until about three or four to go. I kept telling myself not to get too aggressive in lapped cars and leave a line wide open. It was all the concentration I could muster."
At the checkers it was Hearn picking up the win, followed by Dunn, Tomkins, Decker and Planck in the top five. Marc Johnson, Varin, Haers, Matt Sheppard and Jimmy Phelps made up the second five.
"As the race progresses it either comes to you or goes from you," Hearn said. "Luckily tonight it came to me. You take the best guys, put them on a track where they don't have to run nose to tail and they can move anywhere they want to go, you are going to get a show like that every time."
Brett Hearn's Big Show 5
1. BRETT HEARN, 2. Billy Dunn, 3. Gary Tomkins, 4. Billy Decker, 5. Dale Planck, 6. Marc Johnson, 7. Bobby Varin, 8. Justin Haers, 9. Matt Sheppard, 10. Jimmy Phelps, 11. Matt DeLorenzo, 12.Larry Wight, 13. Rich Scagliotta, 14. Jim Davis, 15. Kenny Tremont, 16. Mike Mahaney, 17. Stewart Friesen, 18. Elmo Reckner, 19. Tim Currier, 20. Peter Britten, 21. Keith Flach, 22. Dave Rauscher, 23. Bob Savoie, 24. Jimmy Cotrell, 25. Bill VanInwegen, 26. Andy Bachetti, 27. Danny Johnson, 28. Mark Kislowski, 29.Mike Perrotte, 30. Josh Hohenforst, 31. Dan Vautner.