Sunday, August 16, 2009

Donnelly Rides High Side to Win at Bear Ridge

VIDEO: Horniak holds on in Coupes

BRADFORD -- Chris Donnelly said early in the season that he wasn't concerned with points at Bear Ridge Speedway, he just wanted to win races. He's doing a good job keeping himself happy.

"I've already missed two weeks and I may have to miss one more," said Donnelly. "So this is just for fun."

The Piermont, N.H. driver started seventh in the Swenson Insurance 25-lap Sportsman Modified main event on Saturday night and rode patiently in the inside lane up to third place. In one move on lap 10, though, Donnelly swung to the more grip-producing top lane and passed leaders Wayne Stearns and Mike Dunn. Despite three restarts that brought the field to his back bumper, Donnelly never looked back and cruised to his fourth win of the season at the Bradford dirt track.

"The top was real good," Donnelly said. "I was watching the earlier races and saw that they were running up there. I figured I'd save that for last when I really needed it. We got to the front on the bottom, and when I needed it, I moved to the outside."

Stearns, of Thetford Center, passed Dunn for second place on the outside following a lap 11 restart and ran about three car lengths behind Donnelly until Gary Siemons caught Stearns with six laps remaining in the race. A final caution period on lap 21 bunched the pack one more time, but Stearns was able to hold on for the runner-up finish. Siemons, of Orford, N.H., finished third with Ryan Avery and Dunn completing the top five.

Hometown rookie Jason Horniak continued his impressive freshman season in the Sportsman Coupe feature, taking his second win. Horniak led the race from the second lap until the checkered flag flew, but had his hands full of seven-time winner Josh Harrington of Topsham -- who owns Horniak's car -- during the final laps. Harrington dove underneath Horniak exiting Turn 2 on the final lap and held a half-carlength lead through the backstretch and Turns 3 and 4, but Horniak was able to power out of the final corner to win by a bumper.

"I got a little nervous on the last lap there when he pulled up on me," said Horniak. "I knew I had to give him a little room, I thought I did alright, I don't know. The car went good tonight. I've been struggling the last few weeks, no bite out there for me, I've talked to other drivers and their cars have all kinds of bite. We went through it this week really good with frame heights and stuff and we adjusted on that pretty good, and I think we've got it right where it needs to be."

"He did a good job," Harrington grinned in victory lane, "but I didn't run him as hard as I would have run anyone else." Billy Simmons finished third over Melvin Pierson and Bryan King.

The following video shows Horniak (#3) and Harrington (#71) duel for the win over the final three laps of the Sportsman Coupe feature:

Dan Eastman of Thetford Center dominated the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature for his ninth win in 13 races this season at Bear Ridge. Jeremy Hodge of Bradford finished second with Shane Race third, Will Hull fourth, and T.C. Forward fifth.

Steve Bell of St. Johnsbury recorded his first-ever Fast Four victory, leading every lap and holding off an early challenge from four-time winner Andy Johnson. Ryan Dutton finished third behind Johnson.

Tom Placey's streak of Hornet victories ended at six-straight as Mike Chapin of Williamstown notched his first career win. Chapin inherited the lead with two laps remaining when leader Mike Ryan's engine began to sputter. As Bobby Bell moved under Ryan on the final lap, Placey went to the outside and passed them both to finish second. Bell was third, Ryan held on for fourth. Mike Santaw of Lyme, N.H. was fifth.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS -- Swenson Insurance Night
Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford, Vt.
Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pos.-Driver-Hometown (# - denotes rookie)

Bond Auto Sportsman Modified (25 laps)
1. Chris Donnelly, Piermont, N.H.
2. Wayne Stearns, Thetford Center
3. Gary Siemons, Orford, N.H.
4. Ryan Avery, Thornton, N.H.
5. Mike Dunn
6. Kevin Chaffee, East Orange
7. Jack Cook, Moultonboro, N.H.
8. Jason Sanville, Grafton, N.H.
9. Jason Gray, East Thetford
10. Travis Shinn, Groton, N.H.

Wells River Chevrolet Sportsman Coupe (20 laps)
1. #Jason Horniak, Bradford
2. Josh Harrington, Topsham
3. #Billy Simmons, Bradford
4. Melvin Pierson, Topsham
5. Bryan King, Corinth

A Notch Above Limited Late Model (20 laps)
1. Dan Eastman, Thetford Center
2. Jeremy Hodge, Bradford
3. Shane Race, South Strafford
4. Will Hull, East Montpelier
5. T.C. Forward, Lyme, N.H.

Journal Opinion Fast Four (15 laps)
1. Steve Bell, St. Johnsbury
2. Andy Johnson, Wilder
3. Ryan Dutton, Bradford
4. Kevin Harran, St. Johnsbury
5. John Dunham, West Lebanon, N.H.

KDD NAPA Hornet (15 laps)
1. Mike Chapin, Williamstown
2. Tom Placey, Bradford
3. Bobby Bell, St. Johnsbury
4. Mike Ryan, Chelsea
5. Mike Santaw, Lyme, N.H.

(PHOTO: Chris Donnelly of Piermont, N.H. earned his fourth Sportsman Modified win of the season at Bear Ridge Speedway on Saturday night. Photo and video by Justin St. Louis/VMM)

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