Sports
August 20, 2014

“Fireball” Roberts hot on cool night at Devil’s Bowl Speedway: Masterson tops Late Models after ten lead changes

WEST HAVEN – Joey “Fireball” Roberts sat through a half-hour rain delay and braved cool temperatures on Friday night, Aug. 15, at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, but the wait was worth it – Roberts dominated Stand Night for his second victory of the season. He was joined as a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series winner during the evening by Josh Masterson, Stephen Donahue, and Mike Whalen, Jr.

Roberts was as hot as his nickname suggests, winning both his qualifying heat and the 25-lap main event, leading every lap he turned around the half-mile during the night. The Fletcher, Vt. driver was nearly eliminated from championship contention in a hard crash last week, but the No. 50 Bicknell rebounded convincingly for Roberts’ fourth career win at Devil’s Bowl.

“There was a lot of work that went into this car this past week, and I’ve got to thank everyone on my team and all my sponsors for stepping up. This is a big win for us,” Roberts said. “We’re in a little bit of hole in the points, but we’re not giving up on the championship yet.”

Vince Quenneville, Jr. finished second in the race with Jason Durgan third. Leon Gonyo and Jessey Mueller completed the top five finishers. Point leader Todd Stone ran seventh, helping Gonyo and Roberts inch closer with four feature races remaining. Stone now leads Gonyo by 38 points, unofficially, 770-732, with Roberts third at 719.

“Kid Rocket” Josh Masterson of Bristol, Vt. won an intense 30-lap Late Model feature for his fourth win of the season. Polesitter Bucko Branham traded the lead with Robert Bryant, Jr., six times in first half of the race. A restart at lap 15 helped Masterson get past Branham, but he ran side-by-side with Bryant for the remainder of the event, with the pair trading the lead four more times.

Masterson pulled ahead on the final lap to take the win, with Bryant second. Point leader Jamie Fisher finished third, while Branham slipped to fourth. In his first appearance of the season, Dan Petronis recovered from a mid-race spin to finish fifth. Fisher now holds just a single-point advantage on Masterson for the championship lead, 564-563. The results and standings for the Late Model division are currently unofficial pending post-race technical inspection.

Mike Whalen, Jr. of Plattsburgh, N.Y., ran to his second Mini Stock victory of the season after a wild 20-lap event. Whalen stayed broke out to the lead in the early laps, but was forced to reckon with point leader Chuck Bradford and Bobby LaVair – who each crashed in separate incidents on lap 4 – in the final circuits. Whalen held on to win ahead of Bradford, LaVair, Matt Monaghan, and Chris LaVair.

Sixteen year-old Stephen Donahue of Graniteville, Vt. made up for lost time in the Renegade division with his third win of the year. Donahue missed last week with a blown engine, but came back in style to win the 15-lap feature.  Point leader Robert Gordon finished second with early race leader Scott FitzGerald third.

The New England Antique Racers club brought an impressive field of restored racers to Devil’s Bowl for a pair of 10-lap races. Joe Keefner won the Modified feature in the Gremlin-bodied car that Ray Liss drove to the 1977 championship at Flemington (N.J.) Speedway, while Barry Roy took the Sportsman race in a flathead Hudson that won many races at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt. with Tony Colicchio at the controls in the early 1960s.

The Daredevil “community” racing division provided the craziest action of the night, as five race fans drawn at random competed in a group of track-owned cars. James Price stepped out to the early lead before a second-lap melee sent three cars bouncing through the infield and left Billy Jones with a flat tire. Willie Rice of Poultney, Vt. survived the accident to catch Price in the final corner and steal the win. Randy Disorda and Stephen Beayon were next in line, while Jones was forced to retire early.

Devil’s Bowl Speedway wraps up its regular Friday night season on Aug. 22 with “Double Stack Night” presented by Sugar & Spice Restaurant. All four of the track’s weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will race double features, while Sugar & Spice presents the third annual Great North American Pancake Eating Championship at intermission. Regular general admission is just $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (age 62+), and free for children age 12 and under. The “Fans First” program will give free admission to residents of Poultney, Vt. who present valid identification. Gates open at 5 p.m., with racing at 7 p.m.

Devil’s Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, Vt. four miles north of Exit 2 on U.S. Route 4. For more information, visit www.devilsbowlspeedwayvt.com.

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