Dow takes Sprint win, Horniak first-time Coupe winner
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)