Friday, July 31, 2009
The Série ACT-Castrol Montmagny 250 at Québec's Autodrome Montmagny is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 1, while the 25th M&M Beverage Enduro 250 at Barre's Thunder Road will also run on Sunday.
But Thursday, on a night when Petty made his return to Thunder Road, so did Andrews to victory lane.
Andrews was asked after the race if he remembered the last time he won. He took a deep breath and smiled: "Nineteen ninety-two," he said. "Nineteen ninety-two."
The second-generation driver led the first 18 laps of the WDEV Radio/Calkins Portables 50 from the outside pole before losing the top spot to young Brooks Clark for seven trips around the high-banked quarter-mile. Andrews got back into the lead on lap 25 and never surrendered it again.
"It's just all my crew, they've stuck with me," said Andrews, who ranked 20th in points entering the event. "I've had a rough last couple weeks, the car hasn't been good. It's the same setup we've had, but this week we went through it with a fine-tooth comb and found two or three small things. It makes a difference here. Everybody's so equal, if you're off just a little bit it shows."
Clark was never more than an arm's length from Andrews through the race's five restarts from laps 18 through 45, despite Andrews using every restart trick in the book, and Clark only gave up the fight for the lead on lap 46 when Dave Pembroke and Cris Michaud were able to get underneath him. Pembroke held on for the runner-up finish over Michaud, while Clark beat Phil Scott for fourth place.
Andrews was very complimentary of Clark. "Brooks is a great kid," he praised. "He races me with respect, and I race him with respect. We never touched, neither one of us. He never touched me, I never touched him, and that's the way you want it. He's a good friend of mine and he's a good kid. He just came over and said, 'I overdrove.' I said, 'Yup, you did, but if you don't try it, you don't learn.'"
With the monkey off his back, Andrews realized his accomplishment, but also took a certain amount of pride in his own self-confidence.
"If you restart every time at the same time in the same place, they figure you out," Andrews said. "It's hard to [win against] these guys, they're good. I mean, they're champions. It's a real honor to beat these guys, it's hard. But it was just a matter of time. I didn't ever wonder if I was going to, it was when."
John Donahue finished sixth, followed by Mike Bailey, Jean-Paul Cyr, Doug Murphy, and Trampas Demers. Unofficially, Cyr now trails Pembroke in the point standings, 566-558; Cyr entered the night with a three-point edge over Pembroke.
Sophomore racer Josh Demers of Middlesex made the most of a lap 31 restart in the 35-lap Tiger Sportsman feature, passing rookie leader Steve "Mudflap" Quenneville on the outside and cruising to his first career victory in the division.
"That caution really helped us out big time, we needed that, I was kind of praying for that," said Demers. "The car was handling pretty decent on the outside, and [the caution] happened, and we did it, we got by him, and got our first victory of our Tiger career."
Completing a run that started deep in the pack, Tommy Therrien was able to sneak by Quenneville for the runner-up spot. Lance Allen finished fourth, with John Drinkwine a career-best fifth.
Tommy "Thunder" Smith of Williamstown won a photo finish Street Stock event over Jason Corliss, making his winning pass in the final corner of the 20-lap race. Bunker Hodgdon finished third over Markus Farnham and Bruce Melendy.
Lance Donald of Williamstown earned his first Junkyard Warrior win in a 15-lap race, beating Keith Fortier, Kevin Wheatley, Ken Christman, and Kevin Dodge, unofficially.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS -- WDEV Radio/Calkins Portables Night
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Pos.-Driver-Hometown (# - denotes rookie)
ACT Late Model (50 laps)
1. Tony Andrews, Northfield
2. Dave Pembroke, Middlesex
3. Cris Michaud, Northfield
4. Brooks Clark, Fayston
5. Phil Scott, Montpelier
6. John Donahue, Graniteville
7. Mike Bailey, South Barre
8. Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton
9. Doug Murphy, Tunbridge
10. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
NAPA Tiger Sportsman (35 laps)
1. Josh Demers, Middlesex
2. Tommy Therrien, Hinesburg
3. #Steve Quenneville, Barre
4. Lance Allen, Barre
5. John Drinkwine, Barre
6. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier
7. Tony Rossi, Barre
8. Jeff French, Northfield
9. Ricky Roberts, Washington
10. Scott Coburn, Barre
Allen Lumber Street Stock (20 laps)
1. Tommy Smith, Williamstown
2. Jason Corliss, Danville
3. Bunker Hodgdon, Hardwick
4. Markus Farnham, Randolph Center
5. Bruce Melendy, Danville
Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior (15 laps)
1. Lance Donald, Williamstown
2. Keith Fortier, Hinesburg
3. Kevin Wheatley, Williamstown
4. Ken Christman, Cabot
5. Kevin Dodge, Barre
(PHOTO: Tony Andrews of Northfield snapped a 17-year winless streak Thursday night at Thunder Road. Photo by Justin St. Louis/VMM)
"The King" Richard Petty, seven-time NASCAR champion, came to Barre's Thunder Road on Thursday night for the annual WDEV Radio/Calkins Portable Toilets "Port-A-Potty Grand Prix." In case you're out of the loop, the annual race is more than a decade old, and pits the point leaders from each division against each other in potty-themed push carts down the frontstretch.
Here, the crowd chooses the Best Appearing Potty from the four entries: Jean-Paul Cyr and the Late Model push team, Jimmy Hebert and the Tiger Sportsman group, Gary Mullen's Street Stock team, and Donny Yates and the Junkyard Warriors (sounds like an '80s garage band, no?).
Mullen's racing outhouse -- complete with sink! -- was chosen the winner by applause, and Petty clearly had fun presenting the "Golden Plunger" award.
And, of course, what kind of news outlet would this be without a video of the actual race? Hebert's snazzy orange and black tiger-striped crapper was the first to cross the T.P. finish line (we think that's crewman Jared Hart pushing at 100mph), for what is undoubtedly the most important victory of Hebert's young racing career. Unofficially, Yates was a close second, Mullen third, and Cyr -- in a ride that more closely resembles Santa's sleigh and a team of four dilapidated reindeer-bicyclists -- a distant fourth.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Well, we've already stolen a column idea from Shawn Courchesne once this year, why not steal one from our boyhood hero, Bones Bourcier? You might remember the "Nobody Asked Me, But..." theme from the old Stock Car Racing Magazine (when it was good, like '80s and '90s) and Speedway Illustrated, when Bones used to write a monthly column. He might still, but honestly, it's been forever since we picked up a copy of Speedway Illustrated and we really have no clue. So, paying tribute to Bones Bourcier, here we go.
The Late Model division at Thunder Road has left me scratching my head this year more than it ever has. And that's a good thing.
There may not be any more exciting weekly racing going on right now in this area than the Sportsman Modifieds at Bear Ridge. Strange to say it, but sixteen cars in that division is almost too many for that track, and the resulting three-wide action is just outstanding.
That said, give the Sportsman Coupes six or eight more cars, and you'd have two fantastic features every week at Bear Ridge.
The Junkyard Warriors racing backwards at Thunder Road last week was unbelievably entertaining. That type of stuff is what the Warrior division should be doing every week. I say ramp races next. Then office furniture obstacle courses. Then a "ring of fire". And barrel racing. Oooh, and a pie-eating contest! Tell me you wouldn't be proud to win that championship.
I'd still rather see the Warriors racing with the Street Stocks as one big, combined, rolling pile of mayhem.
I tried watching "America's Got Talent" last night. I tried. It failed.
What ever happened to Joey Porciello? Wasn't he winning PASS races, like, two years ago? And for that matter, is Sammy Sessions just totally gone now?
I'm a big fan of the Mustang and the Challenger being in the Nationwide Series next year. Now, if only we could get Toyota to build a muscle car.
Keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of years for the following youngsters: Shawn Knight, Travis Stearns, Brandon Watson, and Aaron Bartemy.
There are only 33 entries for the Camping World Truck Series event at Nashville Superspeedway this weekend. Among them are superstars including Jason Young, Jason White, Ryan Mathews, Brandon Knupp, Tayler Malsam, Timothy Peters, Nick Tucker, Tommy Joe Martins, Wayne Edwards, Norm Benneig, and John Jackson. So enjoy paying $58 for a granstand ticket to watch that. Or, $111 for the "All Access Pass", whatever that is.
Congrats to Jim Rice. Now please go remind those Red Sox boys how to win games.
Didn't I just meet Richard Petty at Thunder Road 17 years ago?
Brian Hoar's ACT Late Model Tour win at Beech Ridge last weekend is significant for a lot of reasons. First, it ends Hoar's winless streak that dates back to a Busch North Series win six years ago, and finishes his nine-year ACT drought. Second, it solidifies Rick Paya's RPM Motorsports team with its new identity as a group that can win with someone other than Jean-Paul Cyr behind the wheel. Third, the win -- along with his performance at the Oxford 250 -- reminds people that Brian Hoar is, in fact, still one of the top talents in the northeast.
I think of Pete Hartt almost every day, and I find that I still don't want to sit in the spotter's section without him. Pete would tell me to grow up and get over it.
Gary Siemons flipping end over end at Bear Ridge -- think somersault, not cartwheel -- was one of the most terrifying and also one of the coolest things I've ever seen at a race track. Terrifying because the crash was so fast, so violent, so high in the air, and because there were cars racing underneath Siemons as he approached orbit. Cool for all of the same reasons, and for the fact that he plans to have the same car back this week.
Surprise of the year: Shawn Fleury is only 15th in Thunder Road Tiger Sportsman points. A close second is Tony Andrews being 20th in the Late Models.
I like the fact that the True Value Modified Racing Series is confident enough in itself to boast in its most recent press release that it is New England’s "premier" Modified racing series. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing by any means, I just like that the TVMRS has arrived at that point.
Who would have expected The Tragically Hip to sell out at an outdoor show in Shelburne, Vermont? Not me. Dude, the show at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington in October '07 was barely half-full. I won't miss the show in Albany, N.Y. this fall, you can count on that.
Hey, has anyone heard from Dan McKeage? Wasn't he supposed to race ten ACT events this year? He wasn't even at Beech Ridge, his home track, for crying out loud. And where did Jeff Zuidema go?
I miss watching Robbie Thompson on the track, and I think anyone that really paid any attention would agree with me.
The last time I went to Twin State Speedway, Joey Laquerre wrecked three times and still got a top-ten finish. The last time I went to Canaan Fair Speedway, I saw two drivers collapse because of the heat. And the last time I raced at either place, um, it didn't, uh, go all that well. Let's hope it's cleaner at Claremont and cooler at Canaan this weekend, and someone let the officials know that I should be kept off the track at all costs.
In 'The Juice' on June 10, we did this little thing called 'The Top Ten Through Ten', evaluating the ten best drivers we've seen with any degree of regularity after our tenth race of the year. We just hit race #20 last Saturday, so it mush be time for the 'Top Ten Through Twenty'. The criteria are: 1. Overall performance; 2. Comparison against other teams with superior or inferior equipment; 3. If you haven't raced at an event we've attended, you're out of luck, sorry. Here we go...
1. Dan Eastman, Thetford Center, Vt., Bear Ridge Speedway -- The first time around, we left Eastman off the list because he was winning races with five cars in them, which, really, isn't that hard to do. But the car counts and the competitiveness of those cars at both Bear Ridge and Canaan have increased, and Eastman is still winning. Ten times this year, to be exact. That's pretty stout.
2. Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., Late Model -- You find a driver that has any more raw talent behind the wheel, combined with the guts it takes to run 100, 150, or 250 laps three-wide, and... well, you probably can't.
3. Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass., True Value Modified Racing Series -- We're continually impressed with Jon McKennedy's ability to win and his ability to use his head and save his car until it's time to pull the trigger. And at 22 years old, he's got all kinds of time to get even better.
4. John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt., ACT Late Model Tour -- For years, he was one of the very best Flying Tiger/Sportsman drivers on the track, and although it took a bit longer than expected, Donahue's beginning to reach the same level in the Late Model class. His victory at White Mountain was utterly dominant, and his Oxford 250 performance was outstanding.
5. Tom Placey, Bradford, Vt., Bear Ridge Speedway -- We understand that having a four-cylinder driver this far up the list might be unpopular, but just once, go and watch this kid race. He can be patient, he can be rough, he gives what he gets. And he's won four-straight features as of this writing.
6. Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt., Thunder Road -- A new car, a new crew, and a new challenge... and it's all clicking right now.
7. Reno Gervais, Island Pond, Vt., Thunder Road -- An old car, an old crew, and a new challenge... and that's clicking, too.
8. Brendan Moodie, North Wolcott, Vt., Thunder Road -- We remarked during a Sportsman feature at Thunder Road several weeks ago that our money is on Moodie for the season title, and there's been little indication that we should believe he isn't a threat.
9. Wayne Stearns, Thetford Center, Vt., Bear Ridge Speedway -- Maybe one of Vermont racing's best-kept secrets, Stearns has been running well everywhere he goes, and leads the Bear Ridge Modified title chase.
10. Tucker Williams, Hyde Park, Vt., Thunder Road -- Our comment the last time around was that we figured 18 year-old Williams' story would change. It has -- instead of one win, he now has five this season, including a 100-lap score. At this rate, Bobby Therrien's 2007 rookie records won't stand long.
Making this list the second time around was actually quite a bit harder, so here's an Honorable Mention list, too: Thunder Road drivers Craig Bushey, Jason Corliss, Cris Michaud, and Dave Pembroke; Bear Ridge Speedway drivers Chris Donnelly and Josh Harrington; ACT Late Model Tour drivers Brian Hoar, Brad Leighton, Scott Payea, Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., and Randy Potter; True Value Modified Racing Series driver Dwight Jarvis; and Oxford Plains Speedway drivers Mike Short and Justin Karkos, who each took three podium finishes in two days on Oxford 250 weekend.
AROUND THE REGION:
Time to take a look at the top Vermonters from the past weekend...
ACT Late Model Tour: Brian Hoar of Williston snapped a nine-year winless streak at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Me. on Saturday night, beating Eric Williams of Hyde Park, Cris Michaud of Northfield, Randy Potter of Groveton, N.H., and Ricky Rolfe of Albany, Me.
Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): Mike Bruno of Castleton finished fourth in the Modified feature on Saturday night, with Sheldon's Aaron Bartemy eighth and Milton teenager Cody Benoit, by way of Fort Myers, Fla., ninth in his debut at Airborne; Benoit is the son of the late Dan Benoit, and grandson of Sportsman driver Bill Sawyer, each of whom is a past Airborne champion. Milton's Larry Underwood finished ninth in the Tiger Sportsman feature. Swanton drivers Kevin Boutin and Dave Rabtoy finished 1-2 in the Renegade feature, with Rob Gordon of Milton third and Mike Terry of Grand Isle sixth. Billy Jenkins of Milton was fourth in the Mini-Modifieds.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, N.Y.): Friday's races were rained out for the second week in a row.
Bear Ridge Speedway (Bradford): Ryan Avery of Thornton, N.H. won Saturday's Sportsman Modified feature over Chris Donnelly of Piermont, N.H., Bryan King of Corinth, Thetford Center's Wayne Stearns, and Bob Shepard of West Topsham. Avery is the seventh different winner in the last seven Modified races at Bear Ridge. Bradford rookie Jason Horniak earned his first career Sportsman Coupe victory over Melvin Pierson of Topsham, Richie Simmons of Bradford, point leader Josh Harrington of Topsham, and rookie Billy Simmons of Bradford. Dan Eastman of Thetford Center won his seventh Limited Late Model feature of the season over Bradford's Jeremy Hodge, Will Hull of East Montpelier, Shane Race of South Strafford, and T.C. Forward of Lyme, N.H. Kevin Harran of St. Johnsbury earned his first Fast Four victory of the year over Sharon's Mitch Durkee and Andy Johnson of Wilder. Bradford Hornet driver Tom Placey won his fourth consecutive feature over Bobby Bell and Karl Sheldon, both of St. Johnsbury. Melissa King of Corinth won the Hornet Queen feature.
Canaan Dirt Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Friday's program was rained out.
Canaan Fair Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Kris Lyman of West Hartford finished second in the Pro Stock feature on Saturday with Mendon's Chris Wilk tenth. Bradford's Arnie Stygles was fourth in the Super Street race with Colby Hodgdon of Windsor ninth. Chris Riendeau of Ascutney won the Pure Stock feature. Chris McKinstry of Thetford won the Outlaw Mini race over Chris Lyman of Hartland, and Josh Sunn and Bobby Prior, both of White River Junction. Mike Parker of Bradford won the Bandit feature with Ascutney's Tyler Lescord second, Bruce Jaycox of Hartland third, and Quechee's Kyle Small fourth.
Devil's Bowl Speedway (West Haven): Kenny Tremont, Jr. of West Sand Lake, N.Y. won his fifth 358 Modified feature on Sunday, but was trailed across the line by Brandon's Vince Quenneville, Jr., Todd Stone of Middlebury, Jimmy Ryan of Whiting, Tim LaDuc of Orwell, and Rob Langevin of Londonderry, with Middlebury's Gardner Stone ninth. New Yorkers Derrick McGrew and Jack Swinton were 1-2 in the Budget Sportsman race over Seth Howe of South Londonderry, Hunter Bates of Middlebury, and Jon Bates of Mendon. Cale Kneer of Troy, N.Y. won his second-straight Pro Street Stock feature, with Fred Little of Salisbury second, Jeff Washburn of Benson third, and Chuck Towslee of Manchester fourth. Justin Perry of Hampton, N.Y. was fifth. Bill Duprey of Hydeville won the Limited feature over Dave Emigh, Lou Gancarz, Paul Braymer, and Garret Given. Justin Lilly of Castleton won the Mini Stock/Duke Stock race, and Mike Kiser won the Empire Lightning Sprint feature.
Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Peter Jarvis of Ascutney finished ninth in the Modified feature on Saturday night in his first start of the season at Monadnock. Putney driver Dana Shepard finished 12th in the Super Stock race. Joe Rogers of Ludlow was eighth in the Mini Stock feature, with Ricky Bernard of Whitingham tenth. Dick Houle of West Brattleboro was second in the 4-cylinder Enduro.
PASS North Super Late Models: Cassius Clark of Farmington, Me. won the Summerfest 150 at Riverside (N.H.) Speedway on Saturday night over Kelly Moore of Scarborough, Me. and Donnie Whitten of Biddeford, Me. Teenaged Danville rookie Steven Legendre finished eighth.
Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): Tucker Williams of Hyde Park won the Jake McDowell Memorial Street Stock 100 on Friday night over West Burke's Jesse Switser, Danny Doyle of Hancock, Dean Switser of Lyndonville, and Rick Utley of Wheelock. Steven Hodgdon of Danville finished fifth in the Late Model feature with Bob Ailes, Sr. of St. Johnsbury sixth, and Paul Schartner, III of Lyndonville eighth. On Saturday, Dilyn Switser of West Burke finished seventh in the Super Stock feature with Michael Smith of St. Johnsbury tenth. Andy Simpson of Lyndon Center won the Cyclone feature.
SCoNE 360 Sprint Cars: Clay Dow of Ossipee, N.H. won Saturday's feature at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford over Shawn Lawler of Mason, N.H., Tunk Berry of Center Ossipee, N.H., Si Allen of West Windsor, and Mark Cole of Lebanon, N.H.
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl (Barre): Cris Michaud of Northfield won Thursday's Late Model feature over Tunbridge racer Doug Murphy, Reno Gervais of Island Pond, Trampas Demers of South Burlington, and Jerry Lesage of Winooski. Milton's Eric Badore took his second Tiger Sportsman win of the season, with Ray Stearns of East Corinth second, Middlesex drivers Shawn Fleury third and Pete Ainsworth fourth, and Brian Delphia of Waterbury fifth. Tucker Williams of Hyde Park earned his third Street Stock win of the year over Northfield's Jason Allen, M.C. Ingram of Essex Junction, Troy Gray of Fairlee, and Billy "Weiner" Hennequin of Morrisville. John Prentice of Northfield took his first career Junkyard Warrior win over Kevin Streeter of Waitsfield, Ken Christman of Cabot, Kevin Wheatley of Williamstown, and Kevin Dodge of Barre.
True Value Modified Racing Series: Thursday's event at Thompson Int'l Speedway in Connecticut was rained out for the second time this season.
Twin State Speedway (Claremont, N.H.): Rutland's Dallas Trombley won the Late Model feature on Friday night over Dola Holland of Ludlow; Chris Riendeau of Ascutney was fourth. Ascutney rookie Joey Jarvis scored his second-straight Modified win with Riendeau second, Nate Kehoe of Windham third, Peter Jarvis of Ascutney (Joey's father) eighth, and Leo Martin, Jr. of Windsor ninth. Mendon's Chris Wilk was third in the Super Street race with Russ Davis of Cavendish fifth, Dave Davis of White River Junction sixth, and Bruce Jaycox of Hartland ninth. Josh Lovely of Barre won the Strictly Stock feature with Tara Tarbell of Springfield third and Jeremy Blood of West Hartford fifth. Jeremiah Losee of North Springfield won the Wildcat race over Cody Small of Hartland, Rob Leitch of Cavendish, and Rob Olney, III of Ludlow.
White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): Norm Andrews of Northfield won the make-up Late Model feature from July 11 on Saturday night, while Stacy Cahoon of St. Johnsbury finished fourth in the Late Model nightcap. Stevie Parker of Lyndonville won the Strictly Stock feature with Milton's Gordie Stone seventh, and Concord driver Rubin Call won the Strictly Stock Mini race.
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in Barre welcomes NASCAR legend "King" Richard Petty on Thursday night. The ACT Late Model Tour and NEMA Midgets are at Twin State Speedway on Friday night, with regular events at Albany-Saratoga, and Canaan Dirt. Saturday has the Série ACT-Castrol at Autodrome Montmagny for the previously postponed Montmagny 250, while the ACT Tiger Sportsman Series is at Canaan Fair Speedway, the All-Star Race Trucks and the Canadian Super Trucks are at Airborne, and regular events are held at Bradford's Bear Ridge Speedway, Monadnock, and White Mountain. The PASS North Super Late Models are at Unity Raceway on Sunday, while Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven will have a regular program along with a 50-lap Enduro, and Thunder Road has the 25th Annual M&M Beverage Enduro 250 with $5,000 to win. Sunday also has the Bond Auto Parts 4-Wheel Jamboree at the Champlain Valley Fairgroudns in Essex Junction.
(PHOTOS: 1. Yeah, that's me in the blue #3, destroying myself at Canaan in 2002; 2. Danny Eastman getting it done.)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven has announced that asphalt racers Jean-Paul Cyr, Brent Dragon, Cris Michaud, and Dave Whitcomb will take part in a special race using CVRA Brudget Sportsman cars on Sunday, Aug. 2.
Cyr is a seven-time ACT Late Model Tour champion, and is the current point leader at Thunder Road in Barre. Dragon currently ranks sixth in ACT points with a win in ACT Castrol Series competition this season, while Northfield racer Michaud won at Thunder Road last Thursday. Whitcomb, of Essex Junction, is a former Thunder Road, Airborne Speedway, and ACT champion.
Cyr and Dragon, both of Milton, might have a bit of an unfair advantage over Michaud and Whitcomb, however; Cyr was the 1990 Pro Stock champion on the Devil's Bowl dirt, and Dragon got his first taste of dirt racing at Bradford's Bear Ridge Speedway earlier this year behind the wheel of a car that C.V. Elms has won twice at Devil's Bowl with in 2009.
"They just want to come in and have some fun," said CVRA/Devil's Bowl Speedway promoter Bruce Richards. "Devil's Bowl has an asphalt history, and Cyr even raced here for a while, so it should be fun to see how they do."
Sunday, July 26, 2009
BRADFORD -- Bear Ridge Speedway had a bit of everything on Perry's Oil Service night on Saturday -- winged Sprint Cars, antique Midgets, its largest field of Modifieds all season, exciting battles for the lead, and an unforgettable crash.
Ryan Avery was the winner of arguably the season's most exciting Sportsman Modified race, one that featured a season-high 16 starters, countless position changes inside the top five, and an altitude record-setting flip by Gary Siemons.
Siemons, the two-time defending track champion at Bear Ridge, was running near the top-five when close racing turned into contact with Jack Cook. As the field stacked up in Turn 3, Siemons' car jumped a wheel, dug into the clay track surface nose-first, and turned a terrifying somersault about ten feet in the air. The pileup that followed involved Siemons, Cook, Todd Petschke, Blake Shepard, and Nick Berry. No injuries were reported, and in fact, Siemons said he plans to repair his car in time to return to Bear Ridge next week.
Avery, of Thornton, N.H., was ahead of the wreck, in the midst of a spirited battle for the lead with Corinth driver Bryan King. Following the restart for Siemons crash, Avery made a move under King to take the lead, bringing point leader Wayne Stearns with him. Stearns tried an inside bid on Avery on the backstretch, but was unsuccessful. Two additional restarts, including one on lap 18 for a fronstretch crash that eliminated Shepard, Jason Gray, and Jeremy Huntoon, allowed King to retake second from Stearns and also brought Chris Donnelly into the mix. Donnelly, who started 14th, was able to get under Stearns momentarily on lap 24, and the two traded lanes and positions for the remainder of the 30-lap event. Both drivers caught King, with Donnelly making a final-lap pass to take second place.
Avery said he knew that track position meant everything in the action-filled race. "It was challenging," he said. "The last few weeks I've been here I've had to start in the back and I've been able to come up through. I knew if I got a pretty good starting spot I'd have a pretty good chance at winning it tonight. At the front was the place to be tonight as far as I can tell. I mean, we came around and one car was upside down. I'm just glad those guys are doing okay and no one got hurt."
Donnelly, the runner-up, agreed, and pointed to some over-anxious driving by many in the field as the cause of the carnage. "That [wreck with Siemons and Cook] was right in front of me, the two of them. That was unbelievable," Donnelly said. "Everybody was pretty crazy tonight. I don't know, the whole place was going nuts. Too many cautions, or whatever, but it was tough going there, especially early on, and once it got sorted out a little bit it was even tougher because they were all over each other."
In a rough race, Avery appreciated the clean battle he had with King. "Me and Bryan ran Sportsman Coupes together for at least four of five years," said Avery. "So you give a little, take a little, and when it comes back around, you know, I expect the same thing from him."
Bob Shepard of West Topsham crossed the finish line in fifth place behind Avery, Donnelly, King, and Stearns. Travis Shinn finished sixth over Mike Dunn, the final car running on the lead lap. The balance of the top ten was completed by Blake Shepard, Gray, and Huntoon. Only eight of the 16 starters were running at the finish, including 11th-place finisher Jason Sanville. Avery was the seventh different Sportsman Modified winner in the last seven races.
Clay Dow of Ossipee, N.H. earned the Sprint Cars of New England (SCoNE) feature victory in a car borrowed from competitor Mike Kondrat. Dow destroyed his car in a flip at Rattlesnake Motordrome in New Hampshire last month, and used the Kondrat car to slice through the field, holding off Shawn Lawler for the win. Tunk Berry was involved in the first three caution periods before getting up to speed, and eventually made some impressive moves in traffic to finish in third place. Point leader Si Allen and Mark Cole completed the top five.
Freshman Sportsman Coupe racer Jason Horniak of Bradford made a big rookie mistake in his division's 25-lap feature by taking out leader Mike McGinley, but then put on the passing clinic of a veteran in coming from the rear of the field to score his first career victory. McGinley led the first seven laps from the outside pole before Horniak turned him around. McGinley was given his spot back during the caution period (one of eight in the first 15 laps), but surrendered the lead to Melvin Pierson of Topsham on lap 12. Richie Simmons gave Pierson a run one lap later, but was unsuccessful. Horniak came from the back to move under Pierson on lap 20, then cruised to his first win. Pierson finished second with Simmons third, point leader Josh Harrington fourth, and Billy Simmons fifth.
Dan Eastman of Thetford Center posted his seventh Limited Late Model win in ten events this season, passing leader Jeremy Hodge of Bradford with five laps remaining. Will Hull finished third over Shane Race and T.C. Forward.
Kevin Harran of St. Johnsbury led every lap of the Fast Four feature to collect his first victory of the year. Mitch Durke finished second over Andy Johnson, Nathan Potter, and Steve Bell.
Bradford's Tom Placey won his fourth-straight Hornet feature after a three-wide pass on the last lap to take the lead. Bobby Bell finished second with Karl Sheldon third, Amanda Gray fourth, and Mike Chapin fifth.
Melissa King of Corinth won the Hornet Queen feature over Misty Bell.
The Atlantic Coast Old Timers club ran an exhibition event featuring cars from the World War II era; the race was won by Carl Fink of Albany, N.Y.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS -- Perry's Oil Service Night
Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford, Vt.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Bond Auto Parts Sportsman Modified
1. Ryan Avery, Thornton, N.H.
2. Chris Donnelly, Piermont, N.H.
3. Bryan King, Corinth
4. Wayne Stearns, Thetford Center
5. Bob Shepard, West Topsham
6. Travis Shinn, Groton, N.H.
7. Mike Dunn
8. Blake Shepard, Newton, N.H.
9. Jason Gray, East Thetford
10. Jeremy Huntoon, Bradford
SCoNE 360 Sprint Cars
1. Clay Dow, Ossipee, N.H.
2. Shawn Lawler, Mason, N.H.
3. Tunk Berry, Center Ossipee, N.H.
4. Si Allen, West Windsor
5. Mark Cole, Lebanon, N.H.
Wells River Chevrolet Sportsman Coupe
1. Jason Horniak, Bradford
2. Melvin Pierson, Topsham
3. Richie Simmons, Bradford
4. Josh Harrington, Topsham
5. Billy Simmons, Bradford
A Notch Above Automotive Limited Late Model
1. Dan Eastman, Thetford Center
2. Jeremy Hodge, Bradford
3. Will Hull, East Montpelier
4. Shane Race, South Strafford
5. T.C. Forward, Lyme, N.H.
Journal Opinion Fast Four
1. Kevin Harran, St. Johnsbury
2. Mitch Durkee, Sharon
3. Andy Johnson, Wilder
4. Nathan Potter, Sharon
5. Steve Bell, St. Johnsbury
KDD NAPA Hornet
1. Tom Placey, Bradford
2. Bobby Bell, St. Johnsbury
3. Karl Sheldon, St. Johnsbury
4. Amanda Gray, East Thetford
5. Mike Chapin
P&C Foods Hornet Queen
1. Melissa King, Corinth
2. Misty Bell, St. Johnsbury
3. Dawn Woodward
(PHOTO: Sportsman Modified winner Ryan Avery (left) in victory lane. Photo by Justin St. Louis/VMM)
We couldn't decide which Bear Ridge Speedway video we liked best, so here are three to choose from. The first two videos feature the Sprint Cars of New England (SCoNE) and eventual feature winner Clay Dow in the #59 car, while the third has some tight action from the Sportsman Modified feature, including three-wide stuff from Nick Berry (#33), Chris Donnelly (#17), and Jason Gray (#00).
(All videos by Justin St. Louis/VMM)
Friday, July 24, 2009
The ultimate low-buck underdog of the Thunder Road Late Model division is the only full-time racer in the class that tows his car -- a well-used, ex-Jamie Fisher chassis -- behind a pickup truck on an open trailer. The members of his crew that aren't his father, Adrian, or mother, Gloria, are strictly at the track on a volunteer basis. The Yipes! Auto Accessories sponsorship on the #4 car is well-displayed, but the monetary value of the partnership, or that of Diversified Landscape Maintenance or Majestic Auto Body, is minimal at best.
But the combination works, and the Tunbridge driver is now officially a contender. At last week's double-points Times Argus Mid-Season Championship, Murphy shocked the Thunder Road crowd by leading twice for 34 laps and scoring a career-best third-place finish behind champions Jean-Paul Cyr and Dave Pembroke. On Thursday night, Murphy one-upped himself by leading the first 45 laps of the Casella Waste Management feature and finishing second to three-time track champion Cris Michaud after getting pinned behind a lapped car late in the race. The back-to-back performances have vaulted Murphy into the top-15 in points, just 51 points out of the top-ten.
"We're just running good. All of a sudden we're just clicking," Murphy said Thursday. "Unfortunately, the right-rear tire gave up at about lap 35. It really loosened up on me and I backed up to Cris. I kept looking up in my mirror when the car was good, and he was there but he wasn't gaining leaps and bounds on me."
That feeling alone must have been gratifying for Murphy. Eric Williams, the 2008 Thunder Road champion, has long been heralded as the low-buck racer making it big against the well-funded teams of the northeast. Murphy's budget, though, makes Williams' small potatoes look like a five-course dinner.
"ACT called [asking] me to run Beech Ridge, and I called them back [Wednesday] and I said, 'You know something, I have a hard time pulling a dime out of my pocket to race on Thursday nights.' explained Murphy.
"And that's where we're at. We have one spare shock in the race car trailer, and that's the only spare part we have with us other than our wheels and tires. We have no spare springs, the setup in the car is what we run every week. When I watch these guys beside us that are just throwing shocks and springs at their cars to make them go better, it's like, man, why do they do all that? We can do it with just what we have."
Murphy began racing twenty years ago in an eight-cylinder Street Stock at Thunder Road in Barre. After a few so-so seasons, he moved up to the Flying Tiger/Sportsman class. The first win came in 1994, followed over the years by victories at Thunder Road, Riverside Speedway in New Hampshire, and Airborne Speedway in New York, and several championship-contending runs. Murphy purchased the Late Model in 2007, running 11 times and finishing inside the top-15 just twice. He earned a single top-ten finish last year, but was limited by his budget to just eight races and often ran near the back. It's different this season.
"It was just a matter of time," says Michaud. "Doug's a good driver. He was good in the Tigers and stuff, and I think it was just a matter of time with him. He's underfunded and he doesn't have the help that other people do, but his dad is smart, and Doug is smart. He had a good car tonight, and quite honestly, if there wasn't that lapped car I don't know if I would have gotten by him. I think we could have gotten to the outside of him, but I don't know if we could have gotten by him."
Murphy knows that if he had pushed the issue, he likely could have held Michaud off with a three-wide move around Kyle Caron's lapped car on lap 46 of the Casella race, and might have carried his first Late Model checkered flag.
"Looking back on it, should I have tried it? Yeah, probably," he said. "My spotter didn't say anything to me and I said, 'Well, maybe he just wants me to hold my ground.' He didn't say 'go high' or whatever. You know, I was looking for a little coaching at the same time and I didn't get it, so I said, 'Well, I'm gonna sit here and hopefully the 22 (Caron) will either move down and get out of the way that way, or..."
Murphy suddenly interrupts himself, perhaps realizing his accomplishment. "I'm very happy with second," he said. "You know, two weeks ago I would never have dreamed that I'd be in this position and get one top-three, let alone back-to-back top-threes. It's rewarding to get top-threes against the competition with all the money they have. We have nothing, I can't emphasize that enough. I mean, we really shouldn't be here. And we're here and we're running good.
"Being a Tiger driver for a long as I was, I always dreamed of running a Late Model, and I'm getting to live my dream. I've been running good to boot, and that just ups that a little bit further."
Murphy looks over at his open trailer and smiles. It's not hard to figure out what he's thinking.
"Now I've just got one more trophy to add to the case and it'll be complete."
(PHOTOS: 1. Doug Murphy (#4) leads Heat 3 on Thursday night over Tony Andrews (#1), 2009 feature winner Grant Folsom (#81), and former Thunder Road champions Jamie Fisher (#18) and Dave Whitcomb (#25); 2. Murphy (left) on the podium a week ago with Jean-Paul Cyr (center) and Dave Pembroke; 3. Cris Michaud (#6) said Murphy successes were "just a matter of time." Photos 1 and 3 by Leif Tillotson; Photo 2 by Dave Heath/courtesy Thunder Road)
Pope, a PASS South Super Late Model driver, ran as a teammate to Polewarczyk's son, Joey Jr., at last weekend's TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway and, according to a BDI Racing press release on Tuesday, was scheduled to drive the same car at Beech Ridge, but will be replaced in the car by Steve Dickey instead.
Pope crashed in a consolation race at Oxford, then failed to qualify for the race in one of the last-chance events.
Dickey, of Londonderry, N.H., is a former Hobby Stock champion at Lee USA (N.H.) Speedway, and is a long-time crew member for the Polewarczyk team. Dickey competed in the Late Model class at Lee USA in 2004, and made one ACT Late Model Tour appearance at Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in 2005.
Pope will be racing at the Red Bud 300 at Anderson Speedway in Indiana with the CRA Super Series.
"I think [Pope] learned the hard way that racing up here in the north is nothing like what he's used to down south," Polewarczyk, Sr. said. "He and Bob Dillner (of BDI Racing) decided to focus on their deal in Indiana instead this weekend.
"Steve should be good. He's a good little driver and knows these cars, so we'll have fun with him this weekend. But the focus is still on winning the ACT championship with Joey."
Polewarczyk, Jr. is currently second in ACT Late Model Tour points, 23 points behind leader Scott Payea of Milton.
Ten years ago, Northfield racer Cris Michaud became the first competitor to use the original American-Canadian Tour 'spec' General Motors crate engine. Since then, the engine has widely been credited as the savior of the Late Model division in the northeast, with more than 400 sold since 1999. Four years ago, and again in 2008, Michaud helped to develop and diagnose problems with Goodyear's 8-inch slick tire, the tire that is run by nine weekly tracks and two touring series in the northeast.
So it seemed only natural for Michaud to be the pioneer when Ford Racing came calling with its new Late Model 'spec' engine this year. And, of course, the three-time Thunder Road track champion has delivered, taking the first victory with the new Ford powerplant in the Casella Waste Management 50 on Thursday night.
Michaud has worked closely with engineers from Ford Racing in Dearborn, Mich. this season to test and develop the engine.
"Mike (Delahanty, Sportsman Circle Track Racing Program Manager for Ford Racing), actually calls us just about every week," said Michaud. "Yeah, we expect a call from him, and finally we can tell him we won. I'm happy that we got the Ford motor and we got the first win."
Michaud, who started ninth on the 24-car grid, took over second place on lap 20, caught leader Doug Murphy by lap 37, and passed Murphy in lapped traffic with four laps remaining before driving to the win. Murphy's Chevrolet was faster coming out of the corners, but Michaud's Ford was able to cut in half any defecit Murphy applied by the end of each straightaway.
Michaud says that being sluggish out of the corners has plagued his car's performance all season at Thunder Road, but oddly nowhere else.
"It runs great at other tracks, we just have had a hard time figuring it out here," he said. "We haven't been running like we're used to. That's what our problem has been, is getting beat bad off the corners. That's the way it is at Thunder Road, but take me to Oxford (Plains Speedway in Maine) like last weekend, I mean, we were beating them off the corners or dead even, it was an equal thing, I don't know. For some reason at Thunder Road, I can't seem to get it turn right to get off the corner fast enough. I think it's a setup thing. We'll figure it out."
Tunbridge driver Murphy one-upped his performance of last Thursday with a runner-up finish; he had taken a career-best third-place effort a week ago. After starting in third place in the Casella 50, Murphy took the lead from Jerry Lesage on lap 13, a position he held until Michaud's winning move on lap 46. Reno Gervais of Island Pond finished third with South Burlington's Trampas Demers fourth and Lesage, of Winooski, fifth. Phil Scott, Nick Sweet, Jamie Fisher, Joey Becker, and Dave Pembroke rounded out the unofficial top ten.
Eric Badore of Milton took his second win of the season in the 35-lap Tiger Sportsman feature. The former Street Stock champion earned his first career Sportsman victory two weeks ago. Badore, from the fifth-place starting position, moved around rookie Neal Foster into the lead on lap 7, then held off charging drivers Ray Stearns and Shawn Fleury for the win. Pete Ainsworth finished fourth over Brian Delphia.
Rookie Tucker Williams of Hyde Park earned his third Street Stock win of the year. Jeff Martin, Jr. crossed the finish line in second place, but was disqualified for a weight violation. With Martin's disqualification, Jason Allen and M.C. Ingram each inherited career-best finishes in second- and third-place, respectively. Troy Gray finished fourth with Billy "Weiner" Hennequin fifth.
John Prentice of Northfield earned his first career Junkyard Warrior victory in peculiar fashion, finishing third in each of two segments of a monza-style event and earning a total low score of six points. The first segment was an eight-lap race with all cars running in reverse gear, while the second segment was a traditional 25-lap race in a forward, counter-clockwise direction. Kevin Streeter won the backwards race and finished fifth in the regular race for a total of six points; the tie-breaker was given to Prentice based on his better final-segment finish. Ken Christman inherited third place overall after Mark LaFleche was disqualified for illegal wheel camber.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS -- Casella Waste Management Night
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Pos.-Driver-Hometown (# - indicates rookie)
ACT Late Model (50 laps)
1. Cris Michaud, Northfield
2. Doug Muprhy, Tunbridge
3. Reno Gervais, Island Pond
4. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
5. Jerry Lesage, Winooski
6. Phil Scott, Montpelier
7. Nick Sweet, Barre
8. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne
9. Joey Becker, Jeffersonville
10. Dave Pembroke, Middlesex
NAPA Tiger Sportsman (35 laps)
1. Eric Badore, Milton
2. Ray Stearns, East Corinth
3. Shawn Fleury, Middlesex
4. Pete Ainsworth, Jr., Middlesex
5. Brian Delphia, Waterbury
6. David Finck, Barre
7. Ricky Roberts, Washington
8. #Neal Foster, Waterbury
9. #Mike Billado, Essex
10. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier
Allen Lumber Street Stock (20 laps)
1. #Tucker Williams, Hyde Park
2. Jason Allen, Northfield
3. M.C. Ingram, Essex Jct.
4. Troy Gray, Fairlee
5. Billy Hennequin, Morrisville
Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior (two segments)
1. John Prentice, Northfield
2. Kevin Streeter, Waitsfield
3. Ken Christman, Cabot
4. Kevin Wheatley, Williamstown
5. Kevin Dodge, Barre
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Leave it to Tom Curley to make things interesting. On Thursday night at Thunder Road, the Junkyard Warriors (back to being their own seperate division) ran a two-segment Milk Bowl/monza-style feature.
No big shake, right?
Well, the first segment was run as an eight-lapper... with the field running in REVERSE gear! Outstanding stuff. While we were off running around in Turn 3 with our Junior Correspondent, we left the VMM camera behind for Jeff and Eddy Companion to film the madness. Enjoy the commentary, and we're sorry if there's the occasional "bleep" word in there (we couldn't hear any, but we might have missed one). Kevin Streeter drove to the backwards win in his #61 car, while John Prentice (#87) ended up taking the overall victory after finishing third in both the backwards segment and the regular 25-lap second segment.
We're not going to speculate about the entire history of the competitiveness of the Oxford 250, because, frankly, we've only been to eight out of the 36 run and are quite unqualified to make such projections. While any guess that we made about how the 2009 edition ranks compared to the rest would be farcical, but of the 250s we've seen, Sunday's race was far and away the best one ever. We've witnessed the race as a NASCAR Busch North Series event (1992), an ACT Pro Stock Tour race (1993), an open Pro Stock show (2001, 2004-06), and an open Late Model event (2008-09), and there is just no question that this year's TD Banknorth 250 was the best in terms of competition and race-long excitement.
Three-wide racing has become sort of a common thing at the previously one-groove Oxford Plains Speedway these last two or three seasons, but three-wide racing for the lead -- a lot of it -- is unheard of pretty much everywhere. And for the biggest race in the country? Get out.
Watching Patrick Laperle, John Donahue, and Brent Dragon go at it for the lead was thrilling. Watching Dragon, Ben Rowe, and Joey Polewarczyk doing it was thrilling. Watching the leaders slice through lapped traffic three- or four-wide was thrilling. Watching Eddie MacDonald slingshot his way up the outside was thrilling. Get the picture? Unbelievable action.
"What a cool track to race on the way they've got it right now," said Brian Hoar, who finished fourth in the race after leading 39 laps just past the halfway point. "It's pretty incredible, actually, it just makes you smile. I was watching heat races just smiling, I mean, watching Eddie MacDonald come three-wide up through there in the heat race. And you can just do that, there's a groove out there."
"It's intense, it's fun," said third-place finisher Donahue. "It was good from the second and third groove. In the beginning I was gonna go chase down Brent, and we got into the top three there, Patrick was in there, running three, four, five-wide when I took the lead, that was fun. Man was that fun."
Hoar said that the give-and-take shown at Oxford lately -- and at the 250 especially -- has been outstanding.
"Now everybody accepts and understands that it's [not] unacceptable to go three-wide," he said. "That mentality has to take place because, you know, somebody gets pissed sometimes when you go to a track and somebody goes three-wide and they go, 'What the hell are you doing?' And then they do something stupid to stop you or cause you not to be able to complete that deal. But [at Oxford], everybody respects that right now and is conscientous of it.
"[They're thinking] 'Gotta run the middle, I gotta stay here, don't move too high, don't move too low.' And the guy on the inside is saying, 'Don't slip up, I've got two guys out here.' And the guy on the outside goes, 'Give me some room, don't get too high.'
"The racing was fun out there."
It was fun from the grandstands, too. Congratulations to every one of the 71 drivers at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday for putting on a show that no one there will soon forget. Congratulations to Tom Curley of the American-Canadian Tour for getting the current northeastern Late Model rules program to the point it's at right now. And congratulations to Oxford promoter Bill Ryan for taking a huge chance back in 2007 and putting this type of car in the Oxford 250. We'll admit that even as a lifelong Late Model fan, the changeover from the Pro Stock division was scary and caused some skepticism. We now know that it was done for a reason, and the payoff was Sunday's event.
Just plain awesome.
Speaking of awesome, Saturday's Northeastern Speedway revival was something to behold. The 1/5-mile track in Lower Waterford, just outside St. Johnsbury, was dusted off for the first time since 1966, and brought together some of the greatest collections of memories in New England stock car racing history. We were honored to share moments with great drivers like Glenn Andrews, Johnny Gammell, Harold Hanaford, Paul Martel, Skip Easter, Glen Gadapee, Paul Belknap, and more, and would like to thank owners Paul and Lise Bellefeuille for their efforts in restoring the track to the beautiful condition it is in now.
We visited the place on a whim on Milk Bowl weekend in 2007, before the Bellefeuilles purchased the facility, and saw shadows of what used to be a great little race track hiding in a thick forest of . About eight months later, we received word that Northeastern had been purchased and was to be renovated. Instantly, we circled the date "July 18, 2009" on the calendar, and were glad to take part in its re-christening.
Here's a video (thanks to our Senior Correspondent, Ron St. Louis) of part of the parade laps that included restored and re-created coupe racers that actually raced at Northeastern Speedway from 1959-1966. We've got a photo album posted, too.
If you thought Jean-Paul Cyr never had a chance to contend for the Thunder Road championship this season, you thought really, really wrong. Cyr was his classic, winning self last Thursday, and we're only halfway through the year. Watch that #11 car, he's probably not done yet.
AROUND THE REGION:
Time to take a look at the top Vermonters from the past weekend...
Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): Todd Stone of Middlebury finished fourth in the Modified feature on Saturday night, with Aaron Bartemy of Sheldon sixth. Richie Turner of Fairfax was the runner-up in the Tiger Sportsman feature with Milton's Larry Underwood tenth. Mike Terry of Grand Isle won the Renegade feature with Swanton's Dave Rabtoy second, Lance Rabtoy of Fairfax sixth, and Milton's Rob Gordon eighth.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, N.Y.): Friday's races were rained out.
Bear Ridge Speedway (Bradford): Saturday's event saw double features for all regular weekly divisions, including the double-points Mekkelsen RV Mid-Season Championships. In the double-point features, Travis Shinn of Groton, N.H. scored the victory in the Sportsman Modifieds over Thetford Center's Wayne Stearns and Gary Siemons of Orford, N.H., while other winners were Melvin Pierson of Topsham (Sportsman Coupe), T.C. Forward of Lyme, N.H. (Limited Late Model), Andy Johnson of Wilder (Fast Four), Bradford's Tom Placey (Hornet), and Melissa King of Corinth (Hornet Queen). In the regular Clifford Concrete/Robbins Property Maintenance features, Chris Donnelly of Piermont, N.H. was the Sportsman Modified winner over Corinth's Bryan King and Ryan Avery of Thornton, N.H., while other events were won by Josh Harrington of Topsham (Sportsman Coupe), Strafford's Shane Race (Limited Late Model), Mitch Durkee of Sharon (Fast Four), and Placey again in the Hornet class.
Canaan Dirt Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Friday's program was rained out.
Canaan Fair Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Kris Lyman of West Hartford finished third in the Pro Stock feature on Saturday with South Royalton's Kevin Menard eighth. Bradford's Arnie Stygles was third in the Super Street race with Colby Hodgdon of Windsor seventh. Jamie Hodgdon of Ascutney was the Pure Stock winner, while Chris Riendeau, also of Ascutney, was third. Josh Sunn of White River Junction won the Outlaw Mini race over Chris McKinstry of Thetford, Chris Lyman of Hartland, Bobby Prior of White River Junction, and Robert Gioia of East Thetford. Quechee's Kyle Small won the Bandit feature over Ascutney's Tyler Lescord, with Bruce Jaycox of Hartland fourth and Mike Parker of Bradford fifth.
Devil's Bowl Speedway (West Haven): Kenny Tremont, Jr. of West Sand Lake, N.Y. won his fourth 358 Modified feature of the season on Sunday over Ray Hoard of Granville, N.Y. Tim LaDuc of Orwell finished third, one spot better than Brandon's Vince Quenneville, Jr. Todd Stone of Middlebury was fifth, Rob Langevin of Londonderry was seventh, and Brian Whittemore of Florence was tenth. Robert Bublak of Fort Edward, N.Y. won the Budget Sportsman race over Whitehall, N.Y.'s Frank Hoard, Jr. and Frank Hoard, III of Manchester. Cullen and Seth Howe of South Londonderry were fourth and sixth, respectively. Cale Kneer of Troy, N.Y. won the Pro Street Stock feature over Jeff Washburn of Benson and Carl Vladyka of Fair Haven. Chuck Towslee of Manchester seventh with Lori Langevin of Londonderry ninth. Dan Older of Ballston Spa, N.Y. won the Limited feature over Brandon's Mike Clark, and Kayla Bryant of Rutland won the Mini Stock/Duke Stock race.
Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Putney driver Dana Shepard finished 10th in the Super Stock race on Saturday with Vernon's Heath Renaud 14th. Joe Rogers of Ludlow was 11th in the Mini Stock feature. Dick Houle of West Brattleboro was second in the 4-cylinder Enduro with Vernon's Josh Houle third.
Oxford Plains Speedway (Oxford, Me.): John Donahue of Graniteville finished third in the TD Banknorth 250 on Sunday night behind Eddie MacDonald and Patrick Laperle. Williston's Brian Hoar was fourth, Brent Dragon of Milton was sixth, and Cris Michaud of Northfield was eighth.
Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): Derek Ming of Island Pond won the Outlaw Sportsman feature on Saturday night with David Ofsuryk, Jr. of Newport Center fourth and Dan Sidney of St. Johnsbury sixth, while Dilyn Switser of West Burke won the Super Stock feature with Lyndonville's Ben Bedor seventh. Hardwick's Andy Fecteau won the first of two Street Stock features over Derby Line driver Brendan Hunt and West Burke's Jesse Switser, while Swister and Kyle Pembroke of Montpelier finished second and third, respectively, behind Brandon Lambert in the second feature. Ernie LaPlant of Lyndonville was third in the Dwarf Car feature, while Cabot's Johanna Christman posted finishes of first and second in the two Angel features.
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl (Barre): Late Model driver Jean-Paul Cyr of Milton scored his first win of the year in Thursday's Times Argus Mid-Season Championship, over Dave Pembroke of Middlesex, Doug Murphy of Tunbridge, Craig Bushey of Cambridge, and Phil Scott of Montpelier. Kris Grout of Waterbury won the Tiger Sportsman feature, with Plainfield's Matt Potter, Joey Roberts of Georgia, Pete Ainsworth of Middlesex, and North Wolcott's Brendan Moodie in tow. Tunbridge driver Gary Mullen won the Street Stock feature over Graniteville rookie Travis Hull, Mike Martin of Crafstbury Common, Garry Bashaw of Lincoln, and East Haven's Michael Moore, while Waterbury's Josh Erwin inherited the Junkyard Warrior win in the tech line over Barre's Kevin Dodge, Donny Yates of North Montpelier, Lance Donald of Williamstown, and Keith Fortier of Hinesburg.
True Value Modified Racing Series: Dwight Jarvis of Ascutney finished second in the Maine-ly Action Sports 100 at Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday night, with brother Peter Jarvis, also of Ascutney, in sixth. Point leader Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass. was the winner.
Twin State Speedway (Claremont, N.H.): Ascutney's Chris Riendeau finished sixth in Sunday's Late Model feature with Rutland's Dallas Trombley seventh and Dola Holland of Ludlow ninth. Ascutney rookie Joey Jarvis scored his first Modified win with Riendeau fourth, Leo Martin, Jr. of Windsor seventh, Nate Kehoe of Windham eighth, and Peter Jarvis of Ascutney tenth. Russ Davis of Cavendish was second in the Super Street race with fifth Mendon's Chris Wilk third. Tara Tarbell of Springfield won the Strictly Stock feature with Michael Burke of Bellows Falls sixth and Josh Lovely of Barre seventh. Kyle Small of Quechee won the Wildcat race over Jeremiah Losee of North Springfield and Cody Small of Hartland.
White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): Stacy Cahoon of St. Johnsbury was second in the Late Model feature on Saturday night with McIndoe Falls driver Bernie Lantagne eighth. Stevie Parker of Lyndonville finished third in the Strictly Stocks with Milton's Gordie Stone eighth, while Concord driver Rubin Call was the Strictly Stock Mini runner-up.
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in Barre is back in action on Thursday night, while the True Value Modified Racing Series is at Thompson Int'l Speedway in Connecticut. The Jake McDowell Memorial Street Stock 100 is at Riverside Speedway on Friday night while regular events will be held at Albany-Saratoga, Canaan Dirt, and Twin State. The ACT Late Model Tour is at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Me. on Saturday, while the PASS North Super Late Models are at Riverside, the SCoNE 360 Sprint Cars are at Bradford's Bear Ridge Speedway, and regular events are held at Airborne, Canaan Fair, Monadnock, and White Mountain. Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven will have the Empire Lightning Sprints on Sunday along with a regular program.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Brian Hoar -- champion five times over and the all-time winner on the American-Canadian Tour, champion at Airborne Speedway, Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, two-time Milk Bowl winner, accomplished superspeedway and road course racer -- was as giddy as a school child over a second-place finish in a simple 20-lap heat race.
The Williston veteran, nearing his 20th season behind the wheel, had just qualified for his first Oxford 250.
"I've tried four times to make it into this race now," said Hoar. "We missed it two years ago in our own car, we came here in 2000 running our old Late Model against the Pro Stocks, and my dad had a Pro Stock that I brought over in the '90s. After all these years, we finally made it in. I'm so excited, I'm pumped."
Driving for the Georgia, Vt.-based RPM Motorsports team for owner Rick Paya on the ACT Late Model Tour this season, Hoar says he's "still learning" how to drive the ACT cars. He made a season-long effort in 2007 in his own family-backed team, but was unable to regain the dominance he knew in the 1990s, or from 1997-2000 during a four-year reign as the ACT champion. After sitting idle last year, Hoar is looking stronger in his new ride this season; many expect a win out of him soon.
"I feel like a backwards rookie, maybe that's why we've got a yellow stripe on the front of the car," he joked. "I'm still learning how to drive these Late Models again. Everything is different than when we ran years ago with big motors and tire softener. All those races and titles I won, that was almost ten years ago, it's been so long. It's totally different now, I'm just starting over."
Overall, the born-again freshman is doing well in his studies this year: he's scored a pair of top-fives in ACT competition, including a runner-up finish at Thunder Road in May, and has had just one poor finish, 22nd at White Mountain Motorsport Park in June after a multi-car wreck. He sits third in points after seven events, just 55 markers behind leader Scott Payea.
And Sunday, he led 39 laps in the Oxford 250 before finishing fourth.
Not a bad effort for a rookie.
(PHOTOS: 1. Brian Hoar works under the hood of his #37 ride; 2. Hoar may have a yellow stripe on his car, but he's no rookie. Photos by Justin St. Louis/VMM)
The 29 year-old Rowley, Mass. racer, a regular on the NASCAR Camping World Series East and nicknamed "Outlaw" for his penchant to invade the occasional ACT or PASS event, was one of nearly a dozen drivers that played major -- and very entertaining -- roles in the 36th running of the classic event. The battle for the lead was almost exclusively two- or three-wide for the first two-thirds of the race, and the duels between MacDonald, Brent Dragon, John Donahue, Patrick Laperle, Brian Hoar, Ben Rowe, Joey Polewarczyk, Cris Michaud, Brad Leighton, and Nick Sweet -- all of them -- will likely remain etched in the memories of the thousands of race fans that watched them perform brilliantly on the biggest stage in asphalt Late Model racing for years to come.
MacDonald struggled in practice sessions throughout the weekend, but came alive during his qualifying heat race, running three-wide on the top to take the win and earn the third starting position for the Oxford 250. At the beginning of the main event, MacDonald and polesitter Dragon swapped the lead twice in the first 14 laps. MacDonald then raced with Laperle, Donahue, Michaud, and Leighton through lapped traffic inside the top-five before taking the lead from Donahue on lap 119.
He pitted for four tires on lap 129, but his resulting drive to the front was a quick one -- three-wide, of course -- as he retook the lead from Hoar just 38 laps later with what was ultimately the winning pass. Laperle, ot St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Qué., caught MacDonald late in the going, but was only able to run in the low groove over the race's final laps and proved to be no match for MacDonald as his tires went away.
For MacDonald and his team, the appreciation for the victory was felt on several levels: Crew chief Rollie LaChance began working on race cars many years ago at Oxford Plains Speedway. The pair have teamed to win a pair of Camping World events at New Hampshire, and set winning the Oxford 250 as their next major goal. And, after the struggles in practice, the win was a big turnaround. The win adds MacDonald's name to a list of previous winners that reads like a who's who of stock car racing; past champions of the Oxford 250 include Butch Lindley, Geoff Bodine, Junior Hanley, Dave Dion, Mike and Ben Rowe, and last year's winner, former Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick.
"This is just unbelievable. It's huge for our team," MacDonald said. "My crew chief, Rollie LaChance, he's from 15 minutes away from here, and he just does an awesome job, he does everything to 100 percent, and each and every one of the guys on the crew just works so hard.
"I've been coming up here for a while now. I came here probably 15 or 18 years ago with my father to watch the 250 and just watch these guys. I never thought I'd be able to come here and win the thing."
MacDonald said he owed the win to his team. "I was actually pretty discouraged in practice," he said. "We practiced for six hours straight [Saturday and Sunday], and we tried everything we could possibly think of to make the car faster. We weren't the fastest car all weekend long in practice, and Rollie, the crew chief, is just unbelievable to be able to turn the car around and get it to be this fast. I felt so bad for my guys today working in the heat. They were running around, I had them changing tires -- every five laps we'd come in and change something [during practice]. It's just an awesome group of guys and I'm so thankful to win this one."
Laperle had mixed feelings about his runner-up finish -- the best effort by a Canadian driver since Dave Whitlock's 1995 victory.
"The car was tight, I mean, I was not about to go on the outside," said an emotionally drained Laperle, who finished 35th last year and had just one top-ten effort (ninth in 2004) to his credit. "When Eddie saw my line on the bottom, he went on the bottom groove. I mean, he beat me. At first I was a little sad. I think I led, like, one lap, and I finished second, that's 12 grand, so it's 12 grand and 100 dollars. So it's okay. Right now I'm sad, but at the RV, we're going to have a party. I'm happy about the guys, they did a great job, they [made] a good call during the pit stop, so I'm happy for them. I'm glad it's over."
Graniteville driver Donahue, who led for a total 27 laps, including a stretch of 22 laps after a breathtaking three-wide move under Dragon and Laperle on the 91st circuit, seemed to have had the time of his life in finishing third.
"At the beginning I was going to go chase down Brent [for the lead]," said Donahue. "We got into the top three there, Patrick was in there, running three, four, five-wide when I took the lead, that was fun. Man was that fun. We're just happy. We've had a couple of bad races, this will pick up the whole team, we needed this."
Hoar, of Williston, led 39 laps before finishing fourth. Oxford regular Shawn Martin of Turner, Me. finished fifth for his second consecutive top-five run in the Oxford 250. Dragon, Rowe, Michaud, Leighton, and Travis Stearns completed the top ten in order. Donahue's teammate for the day, NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Steve Wallace, finished 21st, three laps down. Wallace's uncle, fellow Nationwide driver Kenny Wallace, retired in 33rd place with a souring engine.
With the victory, MacDonald now has the chance to return to familiar territory -- victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He and LaChance swept the Camping World Series East races at the 1-mile superspeedway in 2008, and now they'll try for the win in the inaugural ACT Invitational at the track in September; as the winner of the Oxford 250, MacDonald automatically qualifies for the race.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "With the New Hampshire wins last year and [the Oxford 250] this year, it's huge. [Winning the NHMS qualifier] is the best part, I wanted to be able to run there with this car and I didn't know how we were going to get an invitation, but finally we were able to get one." The winners of all ACT Late Model Tour, ACT Castrol Series, and a handful of 'open' events around the northeast will earn a starting berth for the ACT Invitational; as MacDonald's full-time commitment to Camping World Series dictates, his schedule did not allow him to run many ACT races in 2009. The Oxford 250 was only his third start in the Late Model car this season.
"I figured there'd be a caution with, you know, 20 laps to go, or ten to go, or even at one to go," MacDonald said. "I was thinking, 'The caution's gotta come out.' I was praying it didn't come and luckily it didn't and everything worked just the way we needed it to."
And with things just the way "Outlaw" Eddie MacDonald needed them, he cemented his place among the elite winners at the top of the short track stock car racing world.
OFFICIAL RESULTS -- TD Banknorth 250
Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, Me.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Pos.-(Start)-Car No.-Driver-Hometown-Laps Completed-Money Won
1. (3) 17x Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., 326, $35,300
2. (10) 91 Patrick Laperle, St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Qué., 326, $12,600
3. (6) 26VT John Donahue, Graniteville, 326, $10,200
4. (7) 37x Brian Hoar, Williston, 326, $9,800
5. (29) 94 Shawn Martin, Turner, Me., 326, $5,000
6. (1) 55VT Brent Dragon, Milton, 326, $12,100
7. (32) 10NH Ben Rowe, Turner, Me., 326, $3,500
8. (4) 6x Cris Michaud, Northfield, 326, $3,000
9. (8) 55NH Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H., 326, $2,500
10. (2) 85 Travis Stearns, Auburn, Me., 326, $2,400
11. (5) 03e Travis Adams, Canton, Me., 326, $2,300
12. (11) 25 Shawn Knight, South Paris, Me., 326, $2,200
13. (15) 15VT Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier, 326, $2,100
14. (21) 71 Scott Dragon, Milton, 326, $2,050
15. (12) 97 Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H., 325, $2,000
16. (9) 88 Nick Sweet, Barre, 325, $1,850
17. (37) 48q Karl Allard, St-Félicien, Qué., 324, $1,750
18. (31) 7ME Glen Luce, Turner, Me., 324, $1,700
19. (24) 51ME Ricky Rolfe, Albany Twp., Me., 324, $1,650
20. (39) 7VT Eric Williams, Hyde Park, 324, $1,600
21. (42) 66 Steve Wallace, Charlotte, N.C., 323, $1,550
22. (30) 02 Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H., 323, $1,520
23. (41) 72 Scott Robbins, Dixfield, Me., 322, $1,500
24. (38) 57 Doug Coombs, Livermore, Me., 318, $1,450
25. (40) 15 Ben Ashline, Pittston, Me., 318, $1,425
26. (26) 26ME Corey Morgan, Lewiston, Me., 318, $1,400
27. (34) 16 Joey Becker, Jeffersonville, 316, $1,375
28. (36) 63 Don Wentworth, Otisfield, Me., 315, $1,350
29. (33) 10ME Jimmy Childs, Leeds, Me., 312, $1,325
30. (23) 41 Pete Potvin, III, Graniteville, 309, $1,300
31. (13) 50 Jeff White, Winthrop, Me., 303, $1,275
32. (19) 48 Kenny Harrison, Pownal, Me., 274, $1,250
33. (43) 51MO Kenny Wallace, St. Louis, Mo., 269, $1,225
34. (35) 18 Carey Martin, Denmark, Me., 245, $1,200
35. (28) 36 Brad Hammond, Turner, Me., 227, $1,150
36. (27) 17ON Pete Sheppard, Brampton, Ont., 211, $1,125
37. (16) 80 Donald Theetge, Boischatel, Qué., 209, $1,125
38. (22) 6 Tommy Ricker, Poland, Me., 187, $1,125
39. (25) 37 Larry Gelinas, Scarborough, Me., 175, $1,125
40. (17) 1c Billy Childs Jr., Leeds, Me., 154, $1,125
41. (20) 1 Al Hammond, Paris, Me., 149, $1,125
42. (18) 78 Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H., 101, $1,125
43. (14) 60 Tim Brackett, Buckfield, Me., 97, $1,125
Green flag lap leaders: B. Dragon 1-4, MacDonald 5-13, B. Dragon 14-90, Donahue 91-112, Laperle 113, Donahue 114-118, MacDonald 119-129, Hoar 130-167, MacDonald 168-250
Cautions: 10 (laps 32, 32, 91, 129, 134, 135, 165, 167, 183, 212)
Time of race: 2 hours, 10 minutes, 48.591 seconds
Margin of victory: 0.969 seconds
(PHOTOS: 1. A jubilant Eddie MacDonald prepares to exit his winning car at the TD Banknorth 250; 2. MacDonald (#17x) runs the high groove around Scott Dragon (#71) and Joey Laquerre (#15VT) on his way to winning Heat 3; 3. MacDonald credited his crew with the win; 4. The spoils of winning at Oxford. Photos by Justin St. Louis/VMM)