PLATTSBURGH, NY -- Canadian Modified racers Pierre Berthiaume and Martin Roy put on a show for the packed grandstands as Airborne Speedway christened its new track layout with the Econo Lodge 50 on Saturday night, but it was all for naught; Berthiaume, of Joilet, Que., crossed the finish line in first place, but his #1H was taken down following post-race inspection for a weight violation. Roy inherited the victory in for the sixth Airborne win of his career.
Before the disqualification, the pair diced for the lead on several occasions. Roy, of Napierville, Que., dogged polesitter Berthiaume almost immediately after the race started, moving past Chris Cayea and rookie Mike Wells, and onto the back bumper of Berthiaume by lap 5. Roy looked to complete an inside-lane pass for the lead on lap 7 as the caution flag flew for Andy Kane's stalled car. Roy made additional inside attempts on laps 13 and 25 while navigating heavy lapped traffic, but Berthiaume pulled away as the laps cliked away.
Third-place driver Geroge Foley blew his engine on lap 38, bringing out the race's final caution period. Roy was unable to mount another serious challenge for the lead until the final lap, as he drew to within two car lengths of Berthiaume.
"(The new track) is very, very, very good. I was very fast tonight, but I gave a chance to Pierre because there's no bumping for us French people," Roy joked in broken English. "My objective is win the championship. It's my year. I've finished second and third, it's my year."
Mike Bruno of Bomoseen ran inside the top-five the entire race and inherited second place following Berthiaume's foul. Aaron Bartemy of Swanton was awarded third place over Leon Gonyo and defending track champion Patrick Dupree. The unofficial top-ten was completed in order by Matt Woodruff, Cayea, Adam Bartemy, Andy Heywood, and Jason Durgan.
Hometown Tiger Sportsman drivers Bucko Branham and Robin Wood left the fans guessing during their entire 25-lap feature, until Branham nipped Wood for the victory by six feet at the finish. Wood took the lead from polesitter Shawn Duquette on lap 2, then battled Branham, his uncle, for nearly the entire balance of the race, several times with contact. Unofficially, the pair traded the lead ten times before the final decision.
Branham, who used the new top groove banking the whole race, lost the handle on lap 20, sliding up the track in Turn 1 and allowing Wood to take over and pull away by several car lenghts. A final caution two laps later, however, bunched the field for a double-file restart. Wood led from the inside lane for lap 23, the pair drew even at the start/finish line with one lap to go, and Wood pulled to a half-car length lead on the backstretch, but Branham used his momentum out of Turn 4 to beat Wood in a drag race for the checkers.
"I got loose getting into 1, and my hat's off to Robin, he ran me clean all but one time. But I gave it back to him," said Branham. "We kind of sorted things out on the last restart, and I knew I had something for him if I could keep him down low."
Duquette survived a long battle with St. Albans driver Jason Bonnett to finish in third place. Skip Liberty trailed Bonnett for fifth. Toby Ebersole, Chris Reeves, Jamy Begor, Larry Underwood, and Tylor Terry completed the unofficial top ten.
Like Roy in the Modifieds, Branham was complimentary of the new track surface. "I love it," he said. "This is the way racing should be. This is the way it should have been a long time ago."
Joe Daniels of Saranac, N.Y. won the 25-lap Renegade feature after a sensational battle with Swanton's Kevin Boutin that ended prematurely. Boutin ran outside Daniels for many laps at the front of the field before Daniels took over on lap 18. A lap later, Boutin spun in Turn 2 after contact with third-place driver Mike Terry. Daniels held on for the win over Milton's Rob Gordon, Randy LaDue, Joe Warren, and Lance Rabtoy.
Dustin Duval of Keeseville, N.Y. won the first-ever feature event for the Mini-Modified division. Jason Durivage of West Chazy, N.Y. won the Bomber feature.
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Econo Lodge Modified 50
1. Martin Roy, Napierville, Que.
2. Mike Bruno, Castleton
3. Aaron Bartemy, Swanton
4. Leon Gonyo, Chazy, N.Y.
5. Patrick Dupree, Saranac Lake, N.Y.
6. Matt Woodruff, Bloomingdale, N.Y.
7. Chris Cayea, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
8. Adam Bartemy, Swanton
9. Andy Heywood, Morrisonville, N.Y.
10. Jason Durgan, Morrisonville, N.Y.
Tiger Sportsman (25 laps)
1. Bucko Branham, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Robin Wood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Shawn Duquette, Morrisonville, N.Y.
4. Jason Bonnett, St. Albans
5. Skip Liberty, Peru, N.Y.
6. Toby Ebersole, Peru, N.Y.
7. Chris Reeves, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
8. Jamy Begor, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
9. Larry Underwood, Milton
10. Tylor Terry, Morrisonville, N.Y.
Renegade (25 laps)
1. Joe Daniels, Saranac, N.Y.
2. Rob Gordon, Milton
3. Randy LaDue, West Chazy, N.Y.
4. Joe Warren, West Chazy, N.Y.
5. Lance Rabtoy, Fairfax
Mini-Modified (15 laps)
1. Dustin Duvall, Keeseville, N.Y.
2. Rick Doner, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
3. Eric Reyell, West Chazy, N.Y.
4. Dustin Criss, Peru, N.Y.
5. Chris LaVair, Gabriels, N.Y.
Bombers (15 laps)
1. Josh Durivage, West Chazy, N.Y.
2. Josh LaPorte, Peru, N.Y.
3. Jayson Blondo, Champlain, N.Y.
4. Cody Meyers
5. Gary Fredericks