BRADFORD – There wasn’t much left for Chris Donnelly to accomplish at Bear Ridge Speedway. The Orford, N.H., driver is a winner and champion many times over at the Bradford dirt track, but could never recall winning two feature events on the same night.
Until now. And he did it in a borrowed car, to boot.
A veteran of more than 25 years running on dirt tracks in Vermont and New Hampshire, Donnelly decided to shift some of his attention toward the Sprint Cars of New England series this year. He was approached with an offer earlier in the week to sell his Sportsman Modified to another racer and jumped at the chance, but had some business to take care of: Donnelly’s fabrication business, Wicked Racing Products, was serving as the presenting sponsor for Saturday’s event at Bear Ridge, and he felt he needed to have an on-track presence for the race. He borrowed a Modified from Tom Forward, and in doing so swept the previously rained-out opening night two-segment feature and the regularly scheduled 30-lap race.
“I had a good opportunity to sell my car, so I sold it and then I went out and borrowed the best car in the area. I figured I’d be okay,” Donnelly said. “The secret was this car, I guess. It handles real good and it felt a lot like my other one. It made me happy, and when I’m happy I go fast.”
Between last week’s first segment and the segment that was postponed by rain to this week, Donnelly grabbed two runner-up finishes for a low total score of four points, earning him the overall win. Ryan Avery of Thornton, N.H., and rookie Dan Eastman of Thetford Center won the segments. Avery ended up second overall with East Thetford’s Jason Gray third, Bryan King of Corinth fourth, and defending track champion Gary Siemons of Orford, N.H., fifth.
Brian Whittemore of Florence started on the pole of the regular 30-lap feature and led the first three laps before Groton, N.H.’s Travis Shinn took over. Donnelly drove form 11th starting position to take the lead from Shinn on lap 19, then cruised to the win. Shinn, of Groton, N.H., finished second. As Whittemore and Jack Cook slowed to avoid a spinning lapped car coming to the checkered flag, Fairlee driver Adam Pierson squeaked by for third place. Cook held on for fourth with Whittemore fifth.
Jason Horniak of Bradford took the overall victory over East Corinth’s Melvin Pierson and defending champion Josh Harrington in the Sportsman Coupe make-up feature. In the nightcap, Pierson held a comfortable lead late in the going until the lapped car of Dwight Burgoyne spun. With nowhere to go as the caution flag flew, Pierson slammed head-on into Burgoyne’s car. Neither car was severely damaged and Pierson continued on in the lead once the race resumed; he held off Chris Carbee and Shane Race for the win, despite suffering a flat left-front tire in the crash with Burgoyne.
“It was a little tough with the flat tire, I had to use the brakes a little more,” said Pierson, “but the car was a rocket ship tonight.”
Newbury’s Jeremy Hodge scored his first career victory in the lone Limited Late Model feature after a tight battle with East Montpelier’s Will Hull and Tyler Stygles of Bradford during the closing laps. T.C. Forward and Sean Greene completed the top-five finishers.
Josh Sunn of White River Junction swept both Fast Four features. Danny Doyle of Danville beat Wilder’s Andy Johnson for second place in the first race, while Johnson beat Doyle for the runner-up spot in the second event.
Bobby Bell of St. Johnsbury won the Hornet feature over Bradford’s Tom Placey and Mark Harran of Danville, and Dawn Woodward of Corinth beat Melissa King for the Hornet Queen checkers.