Trio of locals net wins at Devil’s Bowl
WEST HAVEN — Salisbury drivers Mike Palmer and Brent Warren and Vergennes racer Kaleb Shepard all won on Sunday as Addison County drivers had a big night on the Devil’s Bowl Speedway dirt track.
Palmer’s victory in the 30-lap Central Vermont Motorcycles Sportsman Modified division was his first in 26 years, setting a new track record for time passed between wins.
Palmer, a 1988 Pro Stock champion, returned to competition in 2018 after years away — his last win came on June 20, 1992.
Palmer led every step of the 30-lap distance on Sunday after a string of recent near misses. He had been in position to win several times and has led more laps in the series this season than all but one driver, but misfortune had struck repeatedly as his previous best finish had been 16th place.
“I started racing here in 1986, and it feels so good to be back home at Devil’s Bowl,” Palmer said in victory lane. “We’ve had a tough year, and this win is just incredible.”
Rookie of the Year contender Marty Kelly III of North Bennington scored a career-best finish as the runner-up.
Warren came from an 11th-place starting position in the 25-lap O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman field to post his second win of the season. Warren stalked and then passed Kyle Hoard for the lead with seven laps to go. Hoard settled for second, Bristol’s R.J. Germain finished fourth.
Shepard backed up the first win of his career a week ago by taking his second-straight victory in the Portland Glass Mini Stock Division. Shepard held on in a green-white-checkered shootout at the finish, fending off a challenge from second-place finisher and Panton neighbor Mike Preston in the 15-lap race.
Austin Chaves of Chester scored his second win of the summer in the Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint Division. The winged, open-wheel cars ran two scored 10-lap segments for their Mid-Season Championship race, and defending champion Chaves was only named the overall winner after a frantic scramble in the final laps. He earned the victory in a tiebreaker with runner-up Kevin Smith of Brandon.
Smith, a rookie, won the first segment, but trailed early the second race. Chaves took the lead coming to the white flag and appeared to have smooth sailing, but Smith came alive in the final lap to pass three cars and take second. The scoring totals showed Chaves and Smith tied at five points apiece, but Chaves’ better result in the second segment gave him the tiebreaker and the overall victory.
Chris Murray of Fair Haven copped his sixth win in nine starts in the Super Stock Division by taking an exciting 20-lapper. Scott FitzGerald gave Murray a run for his money right up until the final corner when contact from behind sent him spinning out of contention.
Evan Roberts of Fletcher picked up his second win in a six-lap feature for the Bandit Youth Mini Stocks. Cornwall’s Thomas Given was third.
In Street-Legal Spectator Races, Woodstock’s Nipper Alsup defeated Brandon’s Adam Sears in the two-lap finale after a series of elimination races.
The winners and local drivers this past Sunday were:
• Central Vermont Motorcycles Sportsman Modified Feature (30 laps) 1. Mike Palmer, Salisbury; 6. Vince Quenneville Jr., Brandon; 7. Justin Comes, Middlebury; 11. Tim LaDuc, Orwell; 12. Jake Scarborough, Brandon; 17. Joey Scarborough, Brandon; 24. Jimmy Ryan, Shoreham.
• O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman Feature (25 laps): 1. Warren, Salisbury; 4. Germain, Bristol; 14. Adam Piper, Leicester.
• Super Stock Feature (20 laps) 1. Murray, Fair Haven; 5. Given, Cornwall; 9. Ronnie Alger, Orwell; 12. Michael Clark Jr., Salisbury.
• Portland Glass Mini Stock Feature (15 laps): 1. Shepard, Vergennes; 2. Preston, Panton; 9. Jake Barrows, Cornwall; 19. Andrew Kayhart, Addison; 20. Hunter Given, Orwell.
• Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint Feature (10 laps x2): 1. Chaves, Chester; 2. Smith, Brandon.
• Bandit Youth Mini Stock Feature (6 laps) 1. Roberts, Fletcher; 3. Given, Cornwall.
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