Courtesy of MemorEvents
Quenneville victory opens Devil’s Bowl Speedway;
Masterson, FitzGerald, Wood also take opening night wins
WEST HAVEN – Vince Quenneville Jr. showed a good opening night crowd at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Saturday, May 21 that he never missed a beat over the winter. The Brandon, Vt., speedster and defending asphalt track champion ran to a dominant win in the Sportsman Modified division to open the 50th season of racing at the Rutland County facility. Other winners in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) action included Josh Masterson, Scott FitzGerald, and rookie Zach Wood.
Quenneville left little doubt during the 50-lap lid-lifter, and was fortunate to start on the outside of the front row by virtue of random draw. He had to endure only a single restart, and quickly stretched out to a big lead and a relatively easy win. As fast as he was, Quenneville’s biggest challenge came from his own car, which was quick on the stopwatch but a monster to handle.
“The car was really tight entering the corners, so I had to compensate for it and drive harder to make the back end loose and help me rotate in the center of the turns,” Quenneville said. “It was a lot of work inside the car, but it was a lot of fun.”
A red-hot battle for second place between Jason Durgan of Morrisonville, N.Y., and Charlton, N.Y.’s Ron Proctor was interrupted when a lapped car spun off the track and brought out the yellow flag. The field had crossed over into two columns for the ensuing restart, but just after the yellow lights were turned off and as the pace car was exiting the track, another lapped car pulled out of its place in line, directly in front of Durgan, who was running in third place at the time. Per track rules, Durgan’s outside lane was supposed to have advanced, though several drivers tried instead to re-cross the order and caused a bit of confusion.
The restart was called off by race control and the re-cross was undone, therefore giving Durgan second place in the restart running order. He held on to keep the spot for the balance of the race, while a disappointed Proctor settled for third. Joey Roberts finished fourth with Jackie Brown Jr. fifth in his first start on the Asphalt Track at Devil’s Bowl.
Josh Masterson of Bristol, Vt., practically mirrored Quenneville’s performance in the 40-lap feature for the Late Model division. The defending champion started from the outside pole and survived a lone restart for the opening-night win. Veteran racer Jamie Aube of North Ferrisburgh, Vt., gave chase in the final laps but was unable to reel the leader in and took the runner-up spot. Robert Bryant Jr. of Brooklyn, Conn., won a hard-fought battle with Steve Miller for third place. Miller was fourth with Bill Donahue fifth.
Scott FitzGerald of West Rutland, Vt., made his large cheering section happy with a victory in the 20-lap Renegade feature. FitzGerald drove what he called a “perfect” racecar to his third career win ahead of a charging Jim McKiernan of Moriah Center, N.Y. Matt Monaghan, Austin McKiernan, and Bill Burlingame completed the top five.
Mini Stock rookie Zach Wood of Georgia, Vt., put a nifty story together in the first start of his weekly NWAAS career. Wood stole the lead from teammate and fellow rookie Eric Messier of Hinesburg, Vt., with a nudge, then put his father, Brett Wood, a lap down on the final lap to drive to his first victory. Messier took second in his first start as well. Defending champion Chris LaVair – who sold his title-winning car to Zach Wood – finished third ahead of Brad Bertrand and Garrett Given.
Winners of the Best Appearing Car awards from last week’s fan festival in Downtown Rutland were revealed; Durgan’s red-and-yellow No. 17 car topped the Sportsman Modifieds, Bryant’s black-and-blue No. 3RB Chevrolet won the Late Model class, Jimmy Bushey’s “Purple Rain” No. 11 car won in the Renegade division, and Messier’s white-and-green No. 88X car was the Mini Stock winner.
The dirt track at Devil’s Bowl Speedway was rained out on Sunday, May 22, a scheduled 50-lap race for Sportsman Modifieds, plus Renegades, Mini Stocks, and a tribute to inaugural Devil’s Bowl champion Mert “Socks” Hulbert. The event Sunday was scheduled to be the first-ever NASCAR Whelen All-American Series-sanctioned date on the 3/10-mile dirt track. (A future date to honor Hulbert will be announced.)
The asphalt track resumes on Saturday, May 28, with the first-ever “Yorkmont Memorial Day 5000” featuring a $5,000 cash prize to a fan, as well as NWAAS action in all four divisions, an Enduro Series event, and a holiday fireworks show. Regular general admission each event is $12 for adults and $10 for seniors (62+) and students (13-17). Kids age 12 and under are always admitted for free.
For more information, visit www.DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com.