WEST HAVEN, VT – Frank Hoard III was not sure if he was going to race at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Saturday, May 22, right up until it was time for the Sportsman Modified feature race to begin. Just 30 laps later, though, he was standing in victory lane. The win was the highlight of a five-division card that also included a career-first win by Melvin Pierson and repeat performances by Andrew FitzGerald, Chris Sumner, and Ray Hanson.
Hoard was involved in a devastating crash on opening night, May 1, which saw his brand-new Teo chassis get destroyed in a wild flip. Worse yet, Hoard suffered a back injury that has plagued him since, and he found himself cringing in pain each time he sat in the seat of his well-used backup car.
Having run only heat races for the last two weeks in between visits to the doctor and chiropractor, the Manchester Center, Vt., veteran made the last-minute decision to race Saturday’s feature. He led every lap en route to the 13th win of his Devil’s Bowl career, which is significant in that it matches his family’s longtime car number.
Hoard jumped to the lead from the outside of the front row and set a torrid pace. He reached lapped traffic by the halfway mark, and he then had to simultaneously navigate his way through the back of the field while holding off a furious effort from Marty Kelly III. The race’s lone caution – which came with 21 laps complete – gave Hoard a chance to breathe, and he seized the opportunity to drive away from the pack.
Kelly finished second for his best showing of the young season, and rookie Anthony Warren was a career-best third. Pat Jones erased some tough early-season luck for fourth place, and Mike Palmer grabbed his first top-five finish in two years with fifth place. Justin Stone was sixth ahead of Jimmy Ryan, Billy Lussier, Vince Quenneville, and Don Mattison.
Qualifying heats were won by Jones, Hoard, and Ryan, while Connor Cleveland won the consolation race. As the only driver to finish in the top 10 in each of the first four races, Quenneville holds the early championship point lead over defending champion Demetrios Drellos by 10 points, 158-148; it is Quenneville’s first time leading the standings since his most recent championship in 2017.
Melvin Pierson wrote a new chapter to his own history book by winning for the first time in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman division. The East Corinth, Vt., veteran survived a rough first-half of the 25-lap race to work his way past Katrina Bean and into the lead just past the halfway mark. Pierson was previously a two-time Coupe champion at Bear Ridge Speedway, and the race was just his fourth start in a Modified-type car.
Fellow first-year Modified racer Troy Audet finished a strong second after starting 14th, and early point leader Austin Comes continued his strong start to the year in third place. Teenager Evan Roberts finished fourth for the third-straight week, with Randy Ryan fifth.
Craig Wholey, John Gosselin, James Venditti III, Anthony Ryan, and Bob Kilburn rounded out the top 10 in order. Heats were won by Ryan, Kilburn, and Wholey. The consi was won by Larry Gallipo, and Samantha Mulready took a popular win in the last-chance qualifier B-Main.
Andrew FitzGerald electrified the crowd in the 20-lap Super Stock feature with an unlikely victory. The West Rutland, Vt., racer – the division’s reigning champion – was outside the top-five and out of reach of the leaders with just two laps left when the race came completely apart.
Leader Josh LeClaire had battled tooth-and-nail with Chris Murray for most of the race when the first caution flag flew on lap 18. With the field bunched tightly together for the restart, Murray made an incredible four-wide move for the lead, just as LeClaire spun on the backstretch, backing into the wall and flipping his car on its roof; he was not injured.
With another restart following the wild scene, FitzGerald held his foot to the floorboard and stole the win from Murray by about four feet at the finish line. Paul Braymer finished third with Josh Bussino and Mark Norris next in line. FitzGerald’s win is considered unofficial pending the results of an engine inspection.
Ripton, Vt.’s Chris Sumner made it back-to-back wins in the Summit Up Construction Mini Stock division, rambling through the field from 16th starting position to the lead in just five laps. His work was far from over, though, as Tim Simonds and Chris Conroy stayed on Sumner for the rest of the 20-lap race; Simonds led five laps before Sumner regained a razor-thin command for the balance of the event.
Simonds and Conroy completed the podium finishers ahead of Brian Blake and Derrick Counter. The top 10 was completed by Willie Rice, Craig Kirby, Jake Barrows, Lynn Denton, and rookie Austin McKirryher. Freddy Burch was unhurt in a rollover on lap 16.
The Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint saw Ray Hanson win for the third time in four races, but the caution-free race was mostly dominated by 11-year-old rookie Gage Provencher. Kamden Duffy, who is not quite 13 yet, reached Provencher in the final four circuits of the 15-lap feature and nosed ahead for the lead with two to go.
The young pair were running side-by-side for the lead at the start of lap 14 when they approached a slower lapped car, pushing it three-wide into Turn 1. Orwell, Vt., racer Hanson, however, had reeled everyone in and saw a hole open just at the right time, threading the needle in a breathtaking four-wide move to blast into the lead. Duffy finished second and Provencher settled for third ahead of Kaidin White and Austin Chaves, who each won a heat.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway hosts a big, two-night Memorial Day Weekend event with the 12th Annual “Northeast Crate Nationals” on May 29-30. Sportsman Modifieds will have first-round time trials and qualifying heats on Saturday night starting at 7:00 p.m., along with qualifying races for all of Devil’s Bowl’s weekly classes. Second-round time trials begin at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday night, followed by consolation races and a last-chance B-Main, as well as weekly division features and the season-opening race for the traveling Sprint Cars of New England tour.
The Sportsman Modified division will race 100 laps for a whopping $5,000 to win on Sunday night, and several drivers from outside the local Devil’s Bowl group are expected to invade for a shot at the big money.
Grandstand admission – which is good for both days – will be $20 for adults and $5 for children (12 and under). Tickets will be available online at https://buytickets.at/devilsbowlspeedway and at the speedway on race day. Infield drive-in parking will be $25 for adults and free for kids, available at the speedway. Pit passes are $35 for members and $45 for non-members.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, Vt., four miles north of U.S. Route 4, Exit 2, and just 20 minutes from Rutland, Vt. For more information, visit www.DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com or call (802) 265-3112. Devil’s Bowl Speedway is on Facebook at facebook.com/DevilsBowlSpeedway, and on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat at @DevilsBowlSpeed; follow the action using the #DevilsBowl hashtag.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway – West Haven, Vt.
Saturday, May 22, 2021
Sportsman Modified Feature (30 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (2) Frank Hoard III, Manchester Center, Vt.
2. (3) Marty Kelly III, North Bennington, Vt.
3. (4) # Anthony Warren, Shoreham, Vt.
4. (1) Pat Jones, Altamont, N.Y.
5. (7) Mike Palmer, Salisbury, Vt.
6. (11) Justin Stone, Middlebury, Vt.
7. (5) Jimmy Ryan, Shoreham, Vt.
8. (8) Billy Lussier, Fair Haven, Vt.
9. (20) Vince Quenneville, Brandon, Vt.
10. (18) Don Mattison, Wells, Vt.
11. (19) Demetrios Drellos, Queensbury, N.Y.
12. (6) Tanner Siemons, Orford, N.H.
13. (13) # Johnny Bruno, Castleton, Vt.
14. (17) Adam Pierson, East Corinth, Vt.
15. (16) Justin Comes, Middlebury, Vt.
16. (21) Elmo Reckner, Ballston Lake, N.Y.
17. (22) Connor Cleveland, Corinth, N.Y.
18. (15) Josh Masterson, Bristol, Vt.
19. (14) Joey Scarborough, Brandon, Vt.
20. (10) Brent Warren, Salisbury, Vt.
21. (24) Adam Piper, Leicester, Vt.
22. (25) James Hanson, Orwell, Vt.
23. (26) Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Gansevoort, N.Y.
24. (28) Todd Randlett, Holderness, N.H.
25. (23) Gene Pierson Jr., East Corinth, Vt.
26. (12) Tim LaDuc, Orwell, Vt.
27. (9) Brian Whittemore, Pittsford, Vt.
28. (27) # Shawn McPhee, Rutland, Vt.
29. (29) Mike Fisher, Castleton, Vt.
Did Not Start (1): Alex Bell, Cambridge, N.Y.
Lap Leaders: Pat Jones, pole; Frank Hoard III, 1-30. (1 lead change among 2 drivers)
Cautions (1): Lap 21.
Heat Winners: Pat Jones, Frank Hoard III, Jimmy Ryan
Consi Winner: Connor Cleveland
O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman Feature (25 laps)
1. (9) Melvin Pierson, East Corinth, Vt.
2. (14) Troy Audet, Bridport, Vt.
3. (17) Austin Comes, Middlebury, Vt.
4. (15) Evan Roberts, Fletcher, Vt.
5. (4) Randy Ryan, Orwell, Vt.
6. (5) Craig Wholey, Bolton Landing, N.Y.
7. (16) John Gosselin, Shoreham, Vt.
8. (13) James Venditti III, Scotia, N.Y.
9. (21) Anthony Ryan, Benson, Vt.
10. (8) Bob Kilburn, Fair Haven, Vt.
11. (19) Larry Gallipo, West Rutland, Vt.
12. (22) Justin Lilly, Castleton, Vt.
13. (10) Gary English, Salisbury, Vt.
14. (1) Timmy Aldrighetti, Bethel, Vt.
15. (6) Jeff White, Rutland, Vt.
16. (3) Mike McGinn, Elizabethtown, N.Y.
17. (24) Kyle Huntington, Bradford, Vt.
18. (2) Katrina Bean, Benson, Vt.
19. (20) Dakota Green, Cambridge, N.Y.
20. (12) Beau Reeves, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
21. (18) Joe Venditti, Scotia, N.Y.
22. (23) Samantha Mulready, Cambridge, N.Y.
23. (11) Steve Pope, Shoreham, Vt.
24. (7) Cody O’Brien, Springfield, Vt.
Did Not Start (1): Scott FitzGerald, West Rutland, Vt.
Did Not Qualify (9): Bryon Linendoll, West Pawlet, Vt.; Joe Kemp, Clarendon, Vt.; Shawn Phelps, Richmond, Vt.; Russ Farr, Granville, N.Y.; Butch Wilcox, Gansevoort, N.Y.; A.J. Munger, Benson, Vt.; Matt Jordan, Cambridge, N.Y.; Bill Duprey, Hydeville, Vt.; Jason Quenneville, Quechee, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Timmy Aldrighetti, 1-2; Katrina Bean, 3-13; Melvin Pierson, 14-25. (2 lead change among 3 drivers)
Cautions (6): Laps 0, 2, 3, 3, 5, 16.
Heat Winners: Randy Ryan, Bob Kilburn, Craig Wholey
Consi Winner: Larry Gallipo
B-Main Winner: Samantha Mulready
Super Stock Feature (20 laps) – UNOFFICIAL PENDING INSPECTION
# – denotes rookie
1. (8) Andrew FitzGerald, West Rutland, Vt.
2. (5) Chris Murray, Fair Haven, Vt.
3. (6) Paul Braymer, Granville, N.Y.
4. (9) Josh Bussino, Fair Haven, Vt.
5. (7) Mark Norris, Benson, Vt.
6. (2) Kevin Elliott, Rutland, Vt.
7. (3) # Chuck Bradford, Addison, Vt.
8. (1) Ronnie Alger, Orwell, Vt.
9. (4) Josh LeClaire, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
10. (10) # Griff Mahoney, Bristol, Vt.
Did Not Start (1): # Chris Brown, Shrewsbury, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Ronnie Alger, pole; Kevin Elliott, 1-4; Josh LeClaire, 5-18; Chris Murray, 19; Andrew FitzGerald, 20. (4 lead changes among 5 drivers)
Cautions (2): Laps 18, 18 [red].
Heat Winners: n/a
Summit Up Construction Mini Stock Feature (20 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (16) Chris Sumner, Ripton, Vt.
2. (8) Tim Simonds, North Clarendon, Vt.
3. (13) Chris Conroy, Newport, N.H.
4. (10) Brian Blake, Cornwall, Vt.
5. (6) Derrick Counter, Leicester, Vt.
6. (7) Willie Rice, Poultney, Vt.
7. (14) Craig Kirby, St. Albans, Vt.
8. (11) Jake Barrows, Middlebury, Vt.
9. (12) Lynn Denton, Milton, Vt.
10. (1) # Austin McKirryher, Proctor, Vt.
11. (15) # Daryl Gebo, Orwell, Vt.
12. (9) # Chase Alen, Fair Haven, Vt.
13. (4) Mary Gardner, Middle Granville, N.Y.
14. (20) # Jake Mallory, Granville, N.Y.
15. (5) Tom Severance, Fair Haven, Vt.
16. (23) Josh Ostertag, Deering, N.H.
17. (3) Adam Stewart, Benson, Vt.
18. (18) # Jakobee Alger, Orwell, Vt.
19. (21) Jason Kerr, Shoreham, Vt.
20. (2) Freddy Burch, Middle Granville, N.Y.
21. (22) Erin Aiken, Claremont, N.H.
22. (17) # Scott Chandler, Pittsford, Vt.
23. (19) # Adam Mahoney, Rutland, Vt.
Did Not Start (3): Jarrod Colburn, Rutland, Vt.; # Kaydan Rice, Poultney, Vt.; T.J. Knight, Wells, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Austin McKirryher, pole; Freddy Burch, 1-4; Chris Sumner, 5; Tim Simonds, 6-10; Sumner, 11-20. (4 lead changes among 4 drivers)
Cautions (4): Laps 3, 10, 16, 16 [red].
Heat Winners: n/a
Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint Feature (15 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (7) Ray Hanson, Orwell, Vt.
2. (6) Kamden Duffy, Richmond, N.H.
3. (3) # Gage Provencher, Bridport, Vt.
4. (5) Kaidin White, Monkton, Vt.
5. (2) Austin Chaves, Chester, Vt.
6. (12) John Smith, Poultney, Vt. (substitute driver for Tommy Kasuba)
7. (4) Roger LaDuc, Orwell, Vt.
8. (11) Scott Bachand, St. Albans, Vt.
9. (9) # Kris Severance, Fair Haven, Vt.
10. (10) # Vern Woodard, Fair Haven, Vt.
11. (1) John McPhee Jr., Rutland, Vt.
12. (13) Kevin Smith, Brandon, Vt.
13. (8) # Kyle Bruno, Proctor, Vt.
Lap Leaders: John McPhee Jr., pole; Gage Provencher, 1-12; Kamden Duffy, 13, Ray Hanson, 14-15. (3 lead changes among 4 drivers)
Heat Winners: Kaidin White, Austin Chaves