Todd Stone punched his ticket into the big dance at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 27. The championship point leader captured the “Win & You’re In” Vermont 200 qualifier victory. He was joined in victory lane throughout the night by four drivers who earned the first wins of their careers — Gary English, Ed Bell, Brian Blake and Raelin Dunham.
Three-time champion Stone, from Middlebury, was both lucky and good. He was lucky enough to draw the number one starting position in both his qualifying heat and the 30-lap Sunoco Sportsman Modified feature, and he was good enough to lead every lap he ran all night long. The caution-free feature race was done in just over 11 minutes, from the initial pace lap off pit road to the checkered flag.
Justin Comes continued his hot streak to drive from eighth place to finish second, and Tanner Siemons grabbed a podium finish in third. Sophomore driver Shawn McPhee picked up his third top-five finish of the month in fourth place, and Justin Stone — the winner’s son — completed the top five finishers. Rounding out the top 10 in order were Marty Kelly III, David Boisclair, Jimmy Davis, Walt Hammond Jr., and Vince Quenneville. Heats were won by Boisclair and both Stones.
By virtue of his “Win & You’re In” victory — the 45th overall win of his career at the track — Todd Stone has a guaranteed starting position in the richest dirt Sportsman Modified event in the world: The $10,000-to-win Vermont 200 at Devil’s Bowl on Sunday, Sept. 4.
Gary English topped the list of first-time winners, scoring in the 25-lap Limited Sportsman race. The Salisbury racer, in his third year behind the wheel, led the first seven laps of the race before Alex Layn took over after a restart. Layn looked like a first-time winner himself, but English got a second chance with a lap-17 restart and reclaimed the point.
English held on through a final caution period with five laps left to seal the deal, and was greeted by a happy crowd in the winner’s circle. Layn posted the runner-up finish ahead of Bill Duprey, John Gosselin, and Josh LeClaire. Steve Miller was sixth, followed by Fred Little, Katrina Bean, Steve Pope, and Bob Kilburn. Heats were won by Gosselin, Duprey, and Randy Ryan.
Ed Bell won a highly competitive 20-lap feature for the Rookie Sportsman division, notching his first-ever victory. Russ Farr led the first half of the race before spinning off the top of turn 3 at lap 12, allowing Bell to take over. After the final restart on lap 14, Orwell, racer Bell engaged in an exciting four-way battle for the win with his cousin, Daryl Gebo, and Kamden Duffy and Josh Bussino.
Gebo nosed ahead to lead lap 16, but Bell lead the final four circuits as the foursome sliced and diced with each other every step of the way. Gebo finished second with Bussino edging Duffy for third. Randy Edson completed the top five, followed by Tyler Travis, Adam LaFountain, Aaron Clark, Boomer Patterson, and Bobbi Jo Hults. Gebo and Travis won the qualifiers.
Cornwall’s Brian Blake finally scored his first win in the Mini Stock division after almost three years of knocking on the door. Blake took the lead from Griff Mahoney one-third of the way through the 15-lap race and then held off hard-charging Chris Sumner for the win. Leading rookie Matt Wade finished third ahead of Griff Mahoney and Mark Mahoney. The top 10 was rounded out by Allen Hewitt, early leader Ronnie Alger, Jake Barrows, Adam Mahoney, and Craig Kirby. Wade, Sumner, and Chase Allen won the heats.
T.J. Knight of Wells, won the 10-lap Mini Stock B-Feature ahead of Carl LaPoint and Willie Rice.
Queensbury, New York’s Raelin Dunham was a popular first-time winner in the 500cc Mini Sprint division. The 16-year-old rookie took the lead on the first lap and led all 15 tours around the half-mile as she held off a race-long challenge from veteran driver John Smith. Gage Provencher made some late passes for third place ahead of Logan Denis and Ray Hanson. Chayton Young was sixth, followed by Lane Saville, Chris Lennox, Tommie Kasuba, and Kevin Smith. Lennox and Provencher were the heat winners.
Next up is the Vermont 200 on Sept. 3-4. All Sportsman Modified qualifying and the 200-lap main event paying $10,000 to win will be held on Sunday. Support divisions will be racing on Saturday and the Sprint Cars of New England tour will join the Sportsman Modifieds on Sunday. For info visit: DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com.