Harrington's Streak Ends in Coupes
BRADFORD -- Third-generation driver Jason Gray of East Thetford added to his family's storied history at Bear Ridge Speedway on Saturday night as he earned his first Sportsman Modified victory. The 18 year-old took the lead from polesitter Mike Dunn on lap 2, then stretched out to a large lead before the yellow flag flew on lap 17 of the 25-lap feature. With the field bunched together for the restart, Gray was forced to contend with point leader Chris Donnelly for the remaining eight laps.
Donnelly, of Piermont, N.H., pressured Gray on the outside lane immediately following the restart, but was unable to make a pass. After settling behind Gray for a handful of laps, Donnelly moved to the outside again with three circuits remaining, but Gray was still too much to handle.
"Last week was pretty rough, and the car wasn't anywhere close to where we needed it to be," said Gray, who finished an off-the-pace ninth last week. "We had carburetor trouble and went back to the shop and worked all week and put a new carburetor on and changed some other stuff."
The changes, he says, worked. "That's the way a car should go all the time."
Gray and Donnelly were complimentary of each other.
"It feels so good to finally win," Gray said. "Chris is probably the best driver we've got in this class, and for me as an 18 year-old kid to come out and race with these guys, it's awesome."
"I thought I could rattle him a little by getting on the outside of him and get him worked up, but it didn't work," said Donnelly. "He did a good job."
Prior to his battle for the lead, Donnelly turned in some close-quarters racing through with Bryan King, Jack Cook, Gary Siemons, and Mike Capra before the lap 17 restart, when he was able to overtake Cook on the outside. Cook held on for third place over Wayne Stearns and Capra.
Melvin Pierson of East Corinth ended Josh Harrington's win streak in the Sportsman Coupe division with his first win of the season. Pierson had to hold off Jason Horniak and Billy Simmons in the second half of the race, and slowed dramatically in the final corner when he was pinned behind the lapped car of Buster Kathan, but was successful in his bid to become the first driver other than Harrington to win in the division in 2009.
"Last week I rubbed the wall and finished second," said Pierson. "I don't know if I was the fastest car or not [tonight], but I was fast enough to stay out front. They caught up to me, but once I found that rhythm I was able to pull away again. I was gonna pull on the outside of the 13 (Kathan), but the checkered was out and I said 'I'm staying right here because somebody's going to sneak underneath me.' It was a much better week, and it's been a long time coming."
Rookie Horniak took his best finish in second place with Simmons third. Harrington was enver a contender for the lead and finished fourth, with Bryan King fifth.
Dan Eastman of Thetford Center won his third Limited Late Model event in four starts, with Jeremy Hodge second and T.C. Forward third. Dan Cook and Shane Race completed the top five. Wilder's Andy Johnson took his second win in the Fast Four division over Kevin Harran. Nathan Potter finished third in his first start of the season. Mitch Durkee was fourth with Steve Bell fifth. Bobby Lee Bell of St. Johnsbury took his second win of the year in the Hornet class with Tom Placey, also a two-time winner, finishing second. Carl Sweet, Amanda Gray, and Mark Harran were next in line.
The Granite State Mini Sprints were at Bear Ridge for special events; Lacey Hanson won the 500cc feature. Matt Robie walked away uninjured from a scary flip on the fronstretch as the green flag came out in the 600cc race; Dave Howes went on to win.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS -- Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank Night
Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford, Vt.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Sportsman Modified Feature
1. Jason Gray, East Thetford
2. Chris Donnelly, Piermont, N.H.
3. Jack Cook, Moultonboro, N.H.
4. Wayne Stearns, Thetford Center
5. Mike Capra, Alstead, N.H.
6. Bob Shepard, Corinth
7. Bryan King, Corinth
8. Mike Dunn
9. Jeremy Huntoon, Bradford
10. Gary Siemons, Orford, N.H.
Sportsman Coupe Feature
1. Melvin Pierson, Topsham
2. Jason Horniak, Bradford
3. Billy Simmons, Bradford
4. Josh Harrington, Topsham
5. Bryan King, Corinth
Limited Late Model Feature
1. Dan Eastman, Thetford Center
2. Jeremy Hodge, Bradford
3. T.C. Forward, Lyme, N.H.
4. Dan Cook, South Tamworth, N.H.
5. Shane Race, South Strafford
Fast Four Feature
1. Andy Johnson, Wilder
2. Kevin Harran, St. Johnsbury
3. Nathan Potter
4. Mitch Durkee, Sharon
5. Steve Bell, St. Johnsbury
1. Bobby Lee Bell, St. Johnsbury
2. Tom Placey, Bradford
3. Carl Sweet, East Corinth
4. Amanda Gray, Thetford
5. Mark Harran, St. Johnsbury
Granite State Mini Sprint 600cc
1. Dave Howes
2. Johnny Chestnut
3. Jack Currier
4. Terry Reil
5. Josh Boissoneau
Granite State Mini Sprint 500cc
1. Lacey Hanson
2. Zach Herbert
3. Jordan Eldridge
4. Josh Boissoneau
5. Troy Boissoneau
(PHOTO: Jason Gray of East Thetford earned his first Sportsman Modified win at Bear Ridge Speedway Saturday night. Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)