Monday, September 7, 2009

NO LOVE: Donahue and Laperle Trade Jabs All Day Long

BARRE -- What Thunder Road's Bond Auto Labor Day Classic might have lacked for action at the top spot, the battle for second place -- or rather, the day-long slugfest between John Donahue and Patrick Laperle -- was a bit more entertaining. From their multiple run-ins in qualifying until the final circuits of the 200-lap main event, the two seemed never more than an arm's reach from each other. And sometimes an arm's reach would have meant a little breathing room.

Laperle tried in vain to get under Donahue several times in the second heat race, in an attempt to get to the low lane and pass not only Donahue, but also the cars of Eric Chase and Travis Stearns. None of his moves worked, and despite moving to the high lane in the final laps, neither Donahue or Laperle qualified in the heat race.

"I wish he would have stopped hitting me and just let us race, because we would have caught those guys and passed them," Donahue said. Following the heat race, Laperle had a similar experience with Eric Williams in the second consolation race, one that saw him go from the speed bumps on the extreme inside lane of the track the far outside lane to finally pass Williams and take a qualified position. "Everybody does it, I don't think it's right, but he wanted the low side and he couldn't get around [up high]," said Donahue. "Everybody tried to get [qualified] and do what they had to do to get in. You're going to have bumping and rubbing in racing, that's just the way it is.

"I deal with it, I run with it, I try not to do that. But that's the way I race, not the way [Laperle] races. I went into defensive mode [racing against Laperle]. I knew he wasn't going around me and that's just the way it was. Instead of being focused on the guy in front of me, I focused on him and said, 'If you're gonna get around me, you're gonna go to the high side.' So I slowed down and stayed down low."

Laperle saw it differently. "Aw, I mean, [Donahue] was blocking, like Williams was doing in the consi," he responded. "I tried high, he went high, I tried low, he went low. He blocked me. The guy might be a bit faster if he would go harder in the corner. I tried to slow down and tried not to take him out."

"If you want to jack me up and [spin me out], well, you're going to the rear, too. That's just the way I look at things," said Donahue. "For me, it's just when he jacks you up, I try to focus on that instead of what's in front of me, and it's not the way it should be done, but I'm not going to let someone booger me around, either."

Early in the 200, the pair ran together after starting seventh and eighth. After Laperle got past Donahue on lap 18, Donahue gave Laperle a shot in the left-rear quarterpanel. Late in the race while running in third, Laperle forced his way three-wide under Donahue and the lapped car of Craig Bushey following a lap-181 restart. Donahue was not impressed by the three-wide move.

"The only time I thought [Laperle] crossed a line is when he tried to go three-wide on the restart. You can't do that here, not out of [Turn 4]," said Donahue. "The poor guy on the outside gets the shaft. It's not his fault he's there, he's just there. That time I thought he crossed the line."

Kendall Roberts, Donahue's car owner and crew chief, told Laperle's brother/crew chief, Eric, he's had enough. "I told Eric in victory lane that the way [Patrick] raced John today wasn't right," Roberts said. "He does it to us all the time. The one time John hit him was a long time ago and it was an accident, we apologized for it. They came up to me in victory lane and hugged me and shook my hand, and I looked at Eric and told him that the way he was driving just wasn't right and I'm sick of it."

"I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to say bad things," said Patrick Laperle. "The car is in one piece, and I don't have it all scratched like [Donahue]. Go look at his front bumper, that's it."

VIDEO: John Donahue (#26) and Patrick Laperle (#91) raced each other hard all day the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 at Barre's Thunder Road. Also in the video are eventual race winner Dave Pembroke (#44), ACT point leaders Scott Payea (#89) and Brian Hoar (#37), and others.

(PHOTOS: 1. Laperle (#91) gets Donahue (#26) crossed up in qualifying while racing with Jean-Paul Cyr (#11); 2. Laperle is sideways after contact with Eric Williams (#7) in Consi 2. Leif Tillotson photos. Video by Justin St. Louis/VMM)

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