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DIRTcar NE Sportsman Modifieds

STRIKE THREE: Andrew Buff strikes again with Malta Massive Weekend victory

Andrew Buff scored his third DIRTcar Sportsman Series victory Friday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway after delivering a performance of top-notch driving mixed with stellar decision making.

The Latham, NY driver joined his younger brother, pole sitter Zach Buff, on the outside of row one to start the 35-lap, $1,500-to-win, Feature.

As the green flag waved, Zach shot out in front pacing the field with Andrew behind him and Gavin Eisele following in third place. The brothers quickly distanced themselves from the rest of the field to begin their battle for the lead. After the first caution fell on Lap 5, Andrew began to explore which track groove worked for him, giving the outside groove his first look.

Zach stayed running the inside portion of the track, moving to the middle-outside lane on the straightaways to block his brother from passing through. He held the #92 at bay for over 10 laps with this strategy, but Andrew did not stay complacent for long.

As the two front runners approached lapped traffic, quick decision making became a necessity. Coming off of Turn 4, Zach stayed to the inside down the front straightaway, where he was faced with the challenge of maneuvering around a lapped car. He made the instantaneous decision to stay to the inside, coming right up behind the vehicle.

The road block slowed him down just enough for Andrew to speed around him on the top, then down to the middle around Turn 1 to definitively take the lead on Lap 25.

The younger Buff was quickly handed one last opportunity to take the lead back from his brother when the third race caution dropped the following lap. On the restart, Andrew took off out in front, unwilling to hand off the lead without a fight.

His stamina proved to be too much for Zach and his fellow competitors as he finished the race without error, cruising to his third DIRTcar Sportsman Series victory of the season. Zach finished out the race strong, coming in second place.

“We had a good start,” Andrew said. “I could pace with my brother. I just couldn’t really figure out a way to get around him. The middle wasn’t working. The bottom wasn’t working…I started changing up my line and really found the outside and took full advantage of the lapped cars. From there, it was just hold on.”

Zach held a similar perspective to the race’s climactic moment.

“I just made a driver error when it comes down to it,” Zach said. “In Turn 3 and 4, I was a few car lengths behind the lapped car and I didn’t think I was going to catch him that quick. But I got right to their bumper, and my brother went blowing around us. It is what it is. We’ll take second. We’re still happy with it.”

Gauvreau finished in third place to round out the podium, delivering a solid showing in only his third career visit to the Malta, NY track.

“It was a great race overall,” Gauvreau said. “We come from a long way and it’s our third race here in our career. So I think we did good finishing behind the two Buff brothers, because they’re champions here…we were missing a bit but we’ll come stronger next time.”

Gavin Eisele finished in fourth and Travis Witbeck finished in fifth to complete the top five.

UP NEXT: The DIRTcar Sportsman Series will next travel to Brewerton Speedway on Wed., Oct. 4, for a 30-lap, $1,500-to-win, spectacular.

DIRTcar Sportsman Series (35 Laps)

1. 92-Andrew Buff[2]; 2. 01-Zach Buff[1]; 3. 22C-Cedric Gauvreau[5]; 4. 18-Gavin Eisele[4]; 5. 405-Travis Witbeck[8]; 6. 64-Tyler Corcoran[12]; 7. 06-Michael Coffey Jr[7]; 8. 31B-Ryan Dolbear[10]; 9. 89-Dylan Madsen[3]; 10. 410-Mike Fowler[20]; 11. 38-Zach Sobotka[21]; 12. 30-Nick Root[16]; 13. 52P-Jessica Power[28]; 14. FOX28-Tyler Stevenson[29]; 15. 1B-Cody Bleau[19]; 16. 27-Michael Ballestero[25]; 17. 3-Nick Lussier[9]; 18. 10X-Cory Castell[14]; 19. 711-Chris Crane Jr[22]; 20. 711X-Connor Crane[13]; 21. T32-Taylor LaPlante[27]; 22. 66B-Jason Bruno[31]; 23. 81D-Angelo DiCarlo[26]; 24. 98-Kevin Ward[17]; 25. 95-Kearra Backus[30]; 26. (DNF) 22-TIM HARTMAN[11]; 27. (DNF) 667-Andrew Cormie[6]; 28. (DNF) 07W-Taylor Wason[15]; 29. (DNF) 2B-Bryce Breault[24]; 30. (DNF) 28-Martin Kelly[23]; 31. (DNF) 42D-Daniel Grignon[18]

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