WEST HAVEN, Vt. – Tim Fuller winning a big race is nothing new, but the way he did it in the “Slate Valley 100” at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Sunday, September 26, was a bit of a surprise. The former Super DIRTcar Series champion stormed past dirt Modified hotshot Matt Sheppard and ran away from everyone to pocket $10,000 in the early-autumn special. Also scoring wins at the event were Justin Stone, Troy Audet, Daryl Gebo, and Chris Sumner.
Fuller was not the only star of the show by any means; he shared that distinction in the first half of the race with Sheppard, Mike Mahaney, Michael Maresca, Adam Pierson, and Marc Johnson. Fresh off a career-highlight win at Albany-Saratoga Speedway the previous night, Mahaney drew the pole position starting spot and set to work immediately; he led the opening 22 laps, but never by too comfortable a margin, and once he reached lapped traffic, things got intense.
Maresca caught Mahaney and poked his nose ahead to lead lap 23 in heavy traffic, but Mahaney was back on top the following circuit despite having a deflating left-front tire. The race’s first yellow flag waved on lap 28 for Anthony Perrego’s stalled car; Mahaney restarted as the leader, but Sheppard had climbed from fifth place to second and quickly grabbed control. Maresca, Fuller, Johnson, and Rocky Warner also entered the picture as Mahaney began to fall back through the field, eventually stopping on the track at lap 42 to bring out the second yellow.
Sheppard beat Fuller at the restart and was out front when Warner found trouble for the third yellow at lap 54. On the restart, Johnson took Sheppard and Fuller both by surprise with a daring three-wide move for the lead, but his pass was negated by the fourth and final caution period before the lap was completed. Sheppard and Fuller learned a valuable lesson for the subsequent restart and beat Johnson into the first corner, setting up a thrilling five-lap duel for the lead.
Sheppard and Fuller traded lanes a couple of times before Edwards, N.Y., racer Fuller was finally able to execute the winning pass on the extreme outside lane on lap 57. The race ran 46 laps without an additional yellow flag, and Fuller drove away uncontested to a massive 7.519-second margin of victory. Sheppard finished second without company in traffic.
The battle for third place was an entertaining one in the final stages. Vermont favorite Pierson started third, fell back as far as 10th place at lap 30, and then drove through the field to hold third inside the final 20 laps. When he encountered slower lapped traffic, though, Pierson was caught in a box and the late-surging Mat Williamson rocketed past to take the podium position. Pierson gave Williamson chase, but ultimately settled for fourth. Erick Rudolph came to life late to drive from 14th to finish fifth.
Johnson faded to sixth after his early heroics, followed by Ronnie Johnson who was the final driver on the lead lap. Kenny Tremont Jr., Mahaney, and Warner completed the top 10, each a lap behind Fuller. Qualifying heats were won by Mahaney, Perrego, and Marc Johnson; Ronnie Johnson won the consolation round.
Third-generation driver Justin Stone put together a thrilling drive in the 40-lap, $2,000-to-win Sportsman Modified feature, earning his third Devil’s Bowl win of the season. Championship rivals Justin Comes and Tim LaDuc gave the fans plenty to cheer for as they showed the way through most of the event, but it was Middlebury, Vt.’s Stone who sent the crowd into a roar.
Stone quietly worked from 10th starting position into contention, and after a lengthy fight for third place with Vince Quenneville, he quickly passed Comes for second and reached LaDuc to challenge for the lead. Stone and LaDuc put forth a highly entertaining race in the final five laps, with Stone completing the pass coming to the two-to-go signal at lap 38. LaDuc hung tough and made a bid on the last corner, but Stone beat him to the line by 0.306-seconds for the popular win.
Quenneville slid past Comes for third place on the last lap, and Tanner Siemons finished fifth behind Comes. Jimmy Ryan was sixth ahead of Marty Kelly III, Josh Masterson, Brian Whittemore, and Mike Ballestero. Comes, LaDuc, and early feature race leader Brian Calabrese won the qualifying heats, and Frank Hoard III took the consi. Comes leads LaDuc by 18 points, 943-925, entering the championship finale on Saturday, October 2.
Bridport, Vt.’s Troy Audet kept it in the family in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman division, following in the footsteps of his cousin, Justin Stone. Audet survived a rough start to the race and quickly hustled from 16th starting position into the lead by lap 12. Audet appeared to check out on the pack in the 30-lap race, but 15-year-old Evan Roberts tracked him down in the final corner.
Roberts and first-year driver Kyle Kerr had a scintillating battle for the runner-up spot for much of the race before Roberts broke free. On the final lap, Roberts reached Audet in Turn 3 and made big contact with Audet’s rear bumper while trying to make a run at the lead. Both cars got badly out of shape, but Audet was able to get back on the throttle and cross the finish line for his sixth victory – a Limited Sportsman single-season record. Kerr was able to squeeze by Roberts by less than a car-length for the runner-up showing – his first-ever finish inside the top 15.
Roberts took third ahead of Justin Lilly, Anthony Ryan, and Gary English. Wade Acker had the best drive of his rookie season from 21st to seventh, followed by John Gosselin, Randy Ryan, and A.J. Munger. The heats were won by Roberts, English, Bill Duprey, and Lilly. Alex Layn won the consi, and Brent Bouplon inherited the win in the last-chance B-Main after technical inspection. Audet has a large 51-point lead over Austin Comes – who crashed early and finished 16th – entering the finale, 933-882.
The Mini Stock division ran split 20-lap features and lived up to its wild reputation in both races. In the first feature, a pair of Orwell, Vt., drivers beat three Fair Haven, Vt., hometowners, as rookie Daryl Gebo and veteran Ronnie Alger went 1-2, followed by local runners Chase Allen, Chris Lussier, and Tom Severance.
The second Mini Stock feature was won by division point leader Chris Sumner of Ripton, Vt., as he celebrated his 37th birthday in style. Brian Blake made a last-lap run at the lead but settled for second ahead of Austin McKirryher, Michael Clark Jr., and Lynn Denton. Sumner’s 37-point lead over Gebo, 971-934, is a substantial one entering the last race of the season.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway closes its 2021 season on Saturday, October 2 at 4:00 p.m., with Championship Night for the Sportsman Modified, Limited Sportsman, and Mini Stock divisions. A special Super Stock event will be on tap as well as a 100-lap Enduro Series race paying $2,000 to win.
Grandstand general admission is $12 for adults and $5 for children aged 12 and under. Tickets are available online at https://buytickets.at/devilsbowlspeedway and at the speedway on race day. Infield drive-in parking is $20 for adults and free for children. Infield passes are sold only at the track on race day. Pit passes are $25 for members and $35 for non-members, available at the speedway or on the “Pit Pay” Mobile App; the minimum age in the pit area is 10 years old, with proof of age required for minors, per Vermont State Law. Entry for the Enduro 100 is $75 and includes the driver’s pit pass.
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 http://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.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – “Slate Valley 100”
Devil’s Bowl Speedway – West Haven, Vt.
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Big Block/Small Block Modified Feature (100 laps)
1. (4) Tim Fuller, Edwards, N.Y.
2. (5) Matt Sheppard, Waterloo, N.Y.
3. (11) Mat Williamson, St. Catherines, Ont.
4. (3) Adam Pierson, East Corinth, Vt.
5. (14) Erick Rudolph, Ransomville, N.Y.
6. (7) Marc Johnson, Guilderland, N.Y.
7. (16) Ronnie Johnson, Duanesburg, N.Y.
8. (12) Kenny Tremont Jr., West Sand Lake, N.Y.
9. (1) Mike Mahaney, King Ferry, N.Y.
10. (6) Rocky Warner, Gloversville, N.Y.
11. (10) Derrick McGrew Jr., Ballston Spa, N.Y.
12. (15) Neil Stratton, Bennington, Vt.
13. (2) Michael Maresca, Potsdam, N.Y.
14. (18) C.G. Morey, Rutland, Vt.
15. (20) Scott Huber, Cambridge, N.Y.
16. (21) Derek Bornt, Poestenkill, N.Y.
17. (9) Lance Willix II, Theresa, N.Y.
18. (13) Todd Stone, Middlebury, Vt.
19. (17) Jack Speshock, Malta, N.Y.
20. (8) Anthony Perrego, Montgomery, N.Y.
21. (19) Matt Depew, Argyle, N.Y.
22. (22) Todd Morey, Castleton, Vt.
23. (23) Olden Dwyer, Pownal, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Mike Mahaney, 1-22; Michael Maresca, 23; Mahaney, 24-28; Matt Sheppard, 29-56; Tim Fuller, 57-100. (4 lead changes among 4 drivers)
Cautions (4): Laps 28, 42, 54, 54.
Time Trial Fast Time: Mike Mahaney, 18.384 seconds
Heat Winners: Mike Mahaney, Anthony Perrego, Marc Johnson
Consi Winner: Ronnie Johnson
Sportsman Modified Feature (40 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (10) Justin Stone, Middlebury, Vt.
2. (6) Tim LaDuc, Orwell, Vt.
3. (5) Vince Quenneville, Brandon, Vt.
4. (2) Justin Comes, Middlebury, Vt.
5. (4) Tanner Siemons, Orford, N.H.
6. (17) Jimmy Ryan, Shoreham, Vt.
7. (8) Marty Kelly III, North Bennington, Vt.
8. (11) Josh Masterson, Bristol, Vt.
9. (7) Brian Whittemore, Pittsford, Vt.
10. (20) Mike Ballestero, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
11. (12) Mike Fisher, Castleton, Vt.
12. (13) Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Gansevoort, N.Y.
13. (3) # Anthony Warren, Shoreham, Vt.
14. (22) Billy Lussier, Fair Haven, Vt.