After a quick engine swap, driver wins Devil’s Bowl race
WEST HAVEN — Jessey Mueller left the crowd speechless at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Friday night, staging a spectacular comeback to win the third annual C.J. Richards Memorial presented by Carrara Masonry & Concrete. The 19-year-old from Olmstedville, N.Y., took the fourth round of the Northern Modified Challenge Series with the win, and was joined in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victory lane during the evening by Bristol’s Josh Masterson, Shawn Duquette and Bobby LaVair.
Mueller’s night almost ended as quickly as it began, as the engine in his No. 19 Mueller & Sons Heavy Duty Towing machine blew in a huge cloud of smoke early in his qualifying heat. The Mueller team located and purchased a spare engine, then set to work in making the changeover. With less than 10 minutes to spare before the green flag, Mueller pulled his car onto the starting grid.
A random draw set the field, placing Airborne Park Speedway regulars Nick Heywood and Jayson Criss on the front row. Heywood was stout in the early going, leading the opening 23 laps despite heavy pressure from Leon Gonyo. A restart gave Gonyo the jump on the outside lane, and he was able to distance himself from the field.
Mueller, meanwhile, had made his way through traffic and tacked himself onto Gonyo’s rear bumper. After dogging Gonyo for 30 laps, Mueller swung wide trying to take the lead as the pair approached lapped traffic, but the hole closed quickly as Gonyo navigated past the slower cars, and Mueller bounced hard off the concrete wall. A spin by a backmarker two laps later brought the field together with eight laps remaining, and Mueller, unfazed by the contact, grabbed the lead and sped to the win.
Gonyo, of Chazy, N.Y., settled for the runner-up finish. Devil’s Bowl weekly series point leader Todd Stone of Middlebury made a late charge through the field to take third place. Brandon’s Vince Quenneville Jr. hung inside the top five throughout the race and finished fourth, while Joey Roberts made several late moves to take fifth.
MASTERSON WINS RACE
Also on Friday, Josh Masterson of Bristol posted his third victory of the year in the 30-lap Late Model feature, bringing his No. 11X Carrara Masonry & Concrete Chevrolet to the winner’s circle in his sponsor’s event. Masterson held off repeated challenges from championship rival Jamie Fisher during the event, making all the right moves through lapped traffic to keep Fisher at bay.
The pair finished 1-2 in the race, and now sit just one point apart at the top of the title chase, with Fisher leading 452-451, unofficially. American-Canadian Tour star Jimmy Hebert drove a clean race from deep in the field to finish third in his first weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series start of the year. Emily Packard rebounded from an early crash to finish fourth with Jamie Aube of Ferrisburgh fifth. Tommy Eriksen Jr. of Ferrisburgh was 15th.
Shawn Duquette of Morrisonville, N.Y., became the second consecutive Renegade driver to win his first Devil’s Bowl start of the season in a wild 25-lap race.
Lincoln’s Lance Masterson was the earlier leader in the 20-lap Central Vermont Motorcycles Mini Stock feature. He came home a career-best third driving the only rear-wheel-drive car in the field with his Ford Mustang. Point leader Chuck Bradford of Addison finished fourth in a race won by Bobby LaVair of Saranac Lake, N.Y.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway off Route 22A in West Haven is back in action on Friday with a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event that also features what promoters are calling the “wild-and-crazy” Enduro Series and kids’ racecar rides. Regular general admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and free for kids 12 and under. Racing begins at 7 p.m.
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