Veteran, rookie racecar drivers win at Devil’s Bowl
WEST HAVEN — Veteran Middlebury driver Todd Stone held off young up-and-comer Jessey Mueller to win the Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s most important open-wheel Modified event on Aug. 2, taking the second annual Carrara Masonry & Concrete C.J. Richards Memorial 67.
Orwell rookie Lacey Hanson also made history that night by becoming the first woman to win a main event in a weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division at Devil’s Bowl. Hanson held off a persistent challenge from Chris LaVair of Gabriels, N.Y., to prevail in the 15-lap Central Vermont Motorcycles Mini Stock feature. Jake Noble of Benson — Hanson’s teammate — finished third to protect his point lead in the division.
Stone’s win highlighted a night full of close finishes, with Brandon Atkins, Chris Bergeron, Hanson, and Karen Bushey also taking victories at an evening honoring the track’s late founder, C.J. Richards.
“It means so much to win this race,” Stone said in victory lane. “C.J. Richards is the reason we’re all here at Devil’s Bowl. I cut my racing teeth here a long time ago, and I considered C.J. a friend and a mentor as much as a race promoter.”
The outcome of Stone’s race — which was the second round of the five-race Northern Modified Challenge Series — was in question throughout the entire 67-lap distance. Veteran Leon Gonyo of Chazy, N.Y., started on the front row by virtue of a random draw, and led the opening seven laps.
Visiting short track standout “Liquid” Loud Cicconi of Aston, Penn., driving Stone’s team car, took command on lap 8 and dueled with Gonyo for the next 14 laps before Stone entered the picture. Stone took the lead from Cicconi at lap 31 and led his teammate in an entertaining battle, but Cicconi’s engine failed, forcing him out of the race at lap 39 while running second.
The resulting restart allowed 18-year-old Mueller, of Olmstedville, N.Y., to draw even with Stone, and the pair raced in lockstep for the final 27 laps. Both were forced to make daring maneuvers through lapped traffic with five laps to go, nearly causing them to crash, but Stone held on to beat Mueller by a car length to win. The victory was his fourth straight and seventh of the season in the Bond Auto Parts Modified division at Devil’s Bowl.
Gonyo finished third after a battle with Hunter Bates of Middlebury. Vince Quenneville Jr. of Brandon recovered from a mid-race pit stop to finish in fifth.
Rookie Brandon Atkins and veteran Chris Bergeron split twin 20-lap features in the Late Model division. Atkins, 16, of AuSable Forks, N.Y., posted his career-first victory in impressive fashion in the opening race. Bergeron, of Claremont, N.H., won a wild second race that featured a multi-car pileup. Bryant, who earlier made a three-wide pass to move from fourth place into the lead, finished second by a fender. Rookie Josh Masterson of Bristol finished third.
Karen Bushey of Cambridge became the first woman to win in the Daredevil “community” division — a series of track-owned cars driven by race fans drawn at random. Bushey, the mother of drivers Craig and Brad Bushey, beat Josiah Simons of Poultney and Billy Jones of Rutland for the win.
Full results for area drivers were as follows:
• Carrara Masonry & Concrete C.J. Richards Memorial 67: 1. Stone; 4. Bates; 5. Quenneville; 10. Dave Snow, Brandon.
• Late Model Feature No. 1 (20 laps) 5. Bates; 10. Masterson.
• Late Model Feature No. 2 (20 laps): 3. Masterson; 6. Bates.
• Central Vermont Motorcycles Mini Stock Feature (15 laps): 1. Hanson; 4. Chuck Bradford, Addison; 7. Jason Sabourin, Vergennes; 8. Garry Bashaw, Lincoln; 10. Lance Masterson, Lincoln.
• Daredevil Feature (four laps): 6. Carrie LaRose, Middlebury.
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