Drivers duel in races at Devil’s Bowl

WEST HAVEN — Ron Proctor waited nearly two years to carry a checkered flag at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, but the wait became worth it as the veteran driver won the double-points Rutland Herald Mid-Season Championship in dominant fashion on Friday, July 18. Proctor headlined a list of winners that also included Bucko Branham, Jamy Begor, and Chris LaVair.
The outcome of the 25-lap main event for the Bond Auto Parts Modified division was never in question, as Proctor’s No. 27 Charlton Oil/Timco Transportation Teo Pro car jumped from its outside-pole starting position to lead the opening lap, and was never challenged. It was the Charlton, N.Y., driver’s first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victory since August 2012.
Runner-up Jason Durgan of Morrisonville, N.Y., ran lap times nearly identical to Proctor’s throughout the well-driven, caution-free race, but was never able to mount a serious charge. Joey Roberts and Middlebury’s Todd Stone waged a long battle for third place with Stone making several outside-lane attempts in the final laps, but Roberts of Fletcher held on for the spot. Stone was fourth with Johnny Scarborough fifth.
“This was a long time coming,” two-time track champion Proctor said of the win. “You have to really enjoy these victories, because you never know when the next one is coming.” Proctor became the eighth different driver to win in 11 Modified races in 2014. Stone stretched his championship lead only slightly, and now paces Roberts by 37 points.
Bucko Branham of Plattsburgh, N.Y., used a much-improved car and a dash of luck to win the 30-lap Late Model feature. Branham led the opening laps before Joey M. Laquerre took over, but an ill-fated three-wide attempt at the lead by East Montpelier’s Emily Packard left her car in a dramatic crash with Jamie Fisher of Shelburne and Bristol’s Josh Masterson. Packard, Fisher, and Masterson entered the race separated by just nine points for the championship lead.
Laquerre survived heavy contact in the incident to retain the lead at the restart, but Branham overpowered him three laps later and sped to the win, the first of his career at Devil’s Bowl. Fisher made a brilliant run through the field after restart in the back following the lap 15 crash to nip Jamie Aube of North Ferrisburgh at the finish line for second place by less than a foot. Robert Bryant Jr. of Brooklyn, Conn., finished fourth, just ahead of Masterson.
Packard took sixth, while Laquerre suffered a flat tire late in the race and did not finish. Fisher took over the point lead, topping Masterson by three points and Packard by 10.
Long-time Airborne Park standout Jamy Begor hauled from the Canadian border town of Mooers Forks, N.Y., to make his first start of the season in the Renegade division, and ended up in victory lane. Begor stalked leader Jim McKiernan for the first 15 circuits of the 20-lap race before making his move, bringing Robert Gordon along with him. Gordon made a bid on the inside on the final lap, but a spin by a backmarker forced the caution flag to wave, freezing the field. Begor was scored as the winner with Gordon second and McKiernan third. Richard Lowrey III and Dylan Rabtoy rounded out the top five.
Chris LaVair of Gabriels, N.Y., used a car borrowed from fellow competitor Dan Collins to take his second win of the season in the Central Vermont Motorcycles Mini Stock division. LaVair diced with brother Bobby LaVair in the early stages, but pulled away over the 20-lap distance. Point leader Chuck Bradford of Addison slipped by for the runner-up finish, followed by Bobby LaVair, Jake Noble, and John McCarron.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway will take its annual summer break on Friday, July 25, but returns to action on Friday, Aug. 1, with the third annual C.J. Richards Memorial presented by Carrara Masonry & Concrete. The Northern Modified Challenge Series joins the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions for the 67-lap event run in honor of the track’s late founder and the facility’s inaugural 1967 season.
The winners and local finishers were:
•Bond Auto Parts Modified Feature: 1. Ron Proctor; 4. Stone; 8. Vince Quenneville Jr., Brandon.
•Late Model Feature: 1. Bucko Branham; 3. Jamie Aube; 5. Josh Masterson; 7. Tommy Eriksen Jr., Ferrisburgh.
•Renegade Feature: 1. Jamy Begor.
•Central Vermont Motorcycles Mini Stock Feature: 1. Chris LaVair; 2. Bradford; 13. Lance Masterson, Lincoln.

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