Nick Sweet prevails at Devil’s Bowl Speedway

By Andrew Cassidy/Devil’s Bowl Speedway

John Bruno Memorial 100 winner Nick Sweet poses with his son Isaac in the victory lane at Devil’s Bowl Speedway after his win Saturday night.

WEST HAVEN – Nick Sweet proved again that he is one of the best Late Model stock car drivers on the Asphalt Track at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, winning the John Bruno Memorial 100 on Saturday, June 4. The Barre, Vt., racer took the fourth long-distance victory of his career at the track and his first in an American-Canadian Tour race after a long fight with Wayne Helliwell Jr. Sweet’s triumph headlined a winners’ list that included Travis Bruno, Jim McKiernan, and Harold LaVair, Jr.

Sweet led the first 29 laps of the main event before giving way to Helliwell. The race ran caution-free for the first 79 laps as Dover, N.H., driver Helliwell led Sweet through heavy lapped traffic, running three-wide and making breathtaking passes on several occasions.  Four yellow flags slowed the pace in the final stages, however, setting up a final duel. Sweet nosed ahead before the final caution period on lap 91, then Helliwell snuck ahead again on laps 92-93 after the final restart. Sweet’s No. 40VT Malone Properties/Gary Clay Builders Chevrolet was too much and he grabbed the lead for the final time on lap 94, driving away from Helliwell for the win.

Dillon Moltz of Waterford, Conn., first fought past Rich Dubeau, then drove hard through lapped traffic to claim third place behind Helliwell.  Dubeau was an ACT career-best fourth, with Luke Hinkley fifth; Hinkley’s run came one year to the date of being diagnosed with leukemia, which is now in remission.  Brad Babb, Todd Davis, Bobby Therrien, Josh Masterson, and Brent Dragon completed the top 10.

The race was part of the “Tribute Series” during Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s 50th season and was dedicated to the late John Bruno of Castleton, Vt. Mr. Bruno was a multi-time champion driver and car owner at Devil’s Bowl and other speedways, and father of current Devil’s Bowl promoter Mike Bruno.

Morrisonville, N.Y., driver Travis Bruno – unrelated to the John Bruno family – scored his first career Devil’s Bowl Speedway victory in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, winning the 30-lap Sportsman Modified feature. Bruno’s No. 91 Egglefield Ford entry led every step of the way in the non-stop race, with Vince Quenneville, Jr. of Brandon, Vt., at his rear bumper virtually the entire distance.

Quenneville tried driving his car in multiple grooves to get by Bruno but was unsuccessful.  Championship point leader Jason Durgan, also of Morrisonville, N.Y., rallied in the final laps to make it a three-car fight for the win.  Quenneville held on for the runner-up spot with Durgan third, Billy Lussier fourth, and Ron Proctor fifth

Jim McKiernan of Moriah Center, N.Y., won the 20-lap feature for the Renegade division, taking his second-straight win.  Matt Monaghan threatened to take the lead from McKiernan on several occasions, but a late restart allowed Scott FitzGerald to sneak in for the runner-up position. Monaghan settled for third ahead of Ray Germain Jr. and rookie Austin McKiernan, the winner’s son.

Harold LaVair Jr. scored a popular victory in the Mini Stock division’s 15-lap feature race. The 30-year racing veteran and sentimental favorite from Saranac Lake, N.Y., led every lap to mark his first Devil’s Bowl win since 2012. Rookie teammates Eric Messier and Zach Wood finished second and third, respectively, followed by Brad Bertrand and Chris LaVair, son of the race winner.

A dreary weather forecast again forced the cancellation of the event scheduled for the dirt track at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Sunday, June 5.  The dirt track will instead be in action for its season opener on Sunday, June 12 at 6 p.m. with Twin 25-lap features for the Sportsman Modifieds in addition to Renegades and Mini Stocks.  Regular general admission is $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students, and free for kids age 12 and under.  The asphalt track’s next event is on Saturday, June 18.

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