WEST HAVEN, Vt. – Tim LaDuc needed a perfect storm to brew over Devil’s Bowl Speedway to have a chance at the 2021 Sportsman Modified track championship, and the clouds showed up at exactly the right time. At the misfortune of Justin Comes, LaDuc pulled off one of the most improbable title runs in the Vermont track’s history on Saturday, October 2, to earn his first crown in 21 years.
Troy Audet and Chris Sumner also celebrated championships at the event, and a busy season-finale slate of eight feature races was won by Justin Stone, Austin Comes, A.J. Munger, Josh Bussino, Adam Mahoney, Damian Olden, Gage Provencher, and Brian Denis.
The championship drama for the headline Sportsman Modified division began in qualifying. Tim LaDuc finished fourth in his heat to earn two bonus points but point leader Justin Comes – who entered the event with what was thought to be a fairly-comfortable 18-point cushion on LaDuc – struggled from the outset in his qualifier. Comes’ engine began overheating and he gradually fell further off the pace to finish fifth and earn just one point, leaving the gap at 17 points entering the feature – a difference of nine on-track positions.
Middlebury, Vt.’s Justin Stone was untouchable in the 30-lap feature. After starting on the outside lane of the front row, he rocketed into the lead and was never challenged. The race ran caution-free, and Stone’s quick pace left him more than a quarter-track ahead of the field. Mike Fisher took his second runner-up finish in the final three weeks of the season, equaling the best mark of his career. Josh Masterson had a strong drive from ninth at the start to take third place ahead of Frank Hoard III and Adam Piper.
Comes started 13th and LaDuc started 15th, and it was clear immediately that Comes’ car was still not up to par. Still, though, LaDuc needed a minor miracle – and he got one. As Comes dropped back, LaDuc went forward, making his way up to sixth place as Comes’ hurting powerplant left him languishing in 15th place, a lap down.
The unlikely difference of exactly nine positions – 18 points at two points per position – gave LaDuc enough of a tally to leapfrog Comes and land on his feet as the champion by just a single point, 967-966. The title was his first at Devil’s Bowl since capturing the crown in the former 358-Modified division as a rookie in 2000; Comes was eight years old at the time.
Tanner Siemons, Vince Quenneville, Brent Warren, and Marty Kelly III completed the top 10 in the race finish behind LaDuc. Hoard, Stone, and Masterson won the qualifying heats. Shoreham, Vt.’s Anthony Warren was named Rookie of the Year.
The Comes family got a bit of redemption a few minutes later, though, as Austin Comes – Justin’s younger brother – won the 25-lap finale for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman division. The Middlebury, Vt., driver ran through the field from the 14th starting position to trail leader Katrina Bean at the final restart with three circuits remaining. Bean appeared to be on her way to her second victory of the season as she led the race from the start but Comes mounted a serious bid and took command just before the final lap began.
Comes drove away and grabbed his fifth victory of the year, followed by Bean, Randy Ryan, Bubba McPhee, and Steve Pope. Craig Wholey finished sixth ahead of Troy Audet, Cody O’Brien, Evan Roberts, and Anthony Ryan. Gary English, Bean, and Mike McGinn won the heats, Jason Quenneville won the consolation round, and Brent Bouplon took the last-chance B-Main.
Bridport, Vt.’s Troy Audet was crowned the champion over Austin Comes by forty-one points, 974-933, after a stellar first season aboard a full-size Modified car. Audet’s only prior experience was just a single season in the 500cc Mini Sprint division in 2020; he won six races in the Limited Sportsman class in 2021, five of which came in the last eight weeks of the season.
The Limited Sportsman division also had a special, 20-lap “Non-Winners Shootout” race for drivers who had not won a feature event in 2021. First-year racer A.J. Munger of Benson Landing, Vt., had great battles up front with elder statesmen Bob Kilburn and Mike McGinn before taking over at the halfway mark and running away; his father, Gene, was previously a top Modified driver at Devil’s Bowl.
McGinn finished a career-best second. Randy Ryan and Bubba McPhee repeated their 3-4 performance from the first feature, with Kilburn finishing fifth.
Rookie drivers continued to dominate the Mini Stock division in the season finale, winning both the 20-lap “A” Main and the 10-lap “B” Main. Rutland, Vt.’s Adam Mahoney was unstoppable in the “A” feature, leading all but the first two laps and scoring his third victory of the season. Former champion Mike Clark came from 23rd starting position to post the runner-up finish ahead of Brian Blake, Derrick Counter, and Ronnie Alger. Daryl Gebo was sixth, followed by Jake Barrows, Chris Lussier, Chase Allen, and Scott Chandler.
Ripton, Vt.’s Chris Sumner finished only 12th, but wrapped up his first championship over Gebo, who won Rookie of the Year honors. Sumner’s seven-win season was enough to outpoint Gebo’s six-win campaign by twenty-two markers, 1,000-978. Jarrod Colburn, Clark, and Chandler won the qualifying heats.
In the “B” race, Poultney, Vt.’s Damian Olden led every step of the way, but never by much as Clemmy Bell and Griff Mahoney kept him honest. Mahoney – Adam’s older brother – nipped Bell at the finish for second place, and they were followed across the line by Jake Mallory and Cody Dion.
The Super Stock and 500cc Mini Sprint divisions, having already crowned their champions on September 18, each held special “Open Competition” races. Fair Haven, Vt.’s Josh Bussino won the 20-lap Super Stock Open for the second-straight year, but only after a bit of mid-race dramatics.
With any body configuration permitted under the open-comp rules, champion Chris Murray removed his car’s roof and mounted a large, aerodynamic, billboard-style sail panel on the left side of his car. It appeared to be working, as Murray sliced from ninth into the lead just four laps into the race, but the sail panel partially collapsed, slowing Murray’s progress, and allowing Bussino and early leader Matt Mosher to catch up.
Murray held on until the halfway point when Bussino moved ahead at lap 10. Murray ran a close second until a flat tire did him in four laps later. Bussino then held off a determined challenge from Mosher for the win. Andrew FitzGerald finished third ahead of Mike Stender and Dave Striebel Jr.; Dave Striebel Sr. was uninjured after a flip on the opening lap. Mosher won the lone qualifying heat.
Twelve-year-old rookie Gage Provencher became the second-youngest feature winner in Devil’s Bowl Speedway history when he led all 12 circuits of the Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint race. The Bridport, Vt., youth was never challenged for the lead in the caution-free race and beat Kamden Duffy, Kaidin White, Austin Chaves, and Kevin Smith for the popular win.
The Enduro Series closed out the 2021 season with a wild-and-crazy 100-lap race paying $2,000 to the winner. The race drew 74 nearly-bone-stock entries for a “survival of the fittest” test that saw 13 red flags including two for rollovers; no drivers were injured in any of the accidents.
The “623” crew from Whiting, Vt., was once again well-represented, and the race came down to teammates Brian Denis and Eric Leno duking it out for the win. Leno had built a large lead in the second half of the race, but Denis caught him by surprise with two laps left, and the pair traded the lead three times in the final circuits. Denis made the winning pass in the final 200 feet of the race for the big payday.
Only 16 drivers were running at the finish, with only third-place Eric Friend and fourth-place George Wanner in the same lap as the leaders. Trevor Mears was fifth, one lap behind, followed by Levi Jackson and Sportsman Modified champion Tim LaDuc, who were each two laps down. Robert Tessier, Cody Greene, and Norman Morrill completed the top 10 in order.
The 2021 Devil’s Bowl Speedway season is now complete, and information regarding possible off-season meetings and an awards banquet will be released in the coming weeks.
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 www.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Championship Night
Devil’s Bowl Speedway – West Haven, Vt.
Saturday, October 2, 2021
Sportsman Modified Feature (30 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (2) Justin Stone, Middlebury, Vt.
2. (3) Mike Fisher, Castleton, Vt.
3. (9) Josh Masterson, Bristol, Vt.
4. (7) Frank Hoard III, Manchester Center, Vt.
5. (5) Adam Piper, Leicester, Vt.
6. (15) Tim LaDuc, Orwell, Vt.
7. (10) Tanner Siemons, Orford, N.H.
8. (14) Vince Quenneville, Brandon, Vt.
9. (6) Brent Warren, Salisbury, Vt.
10. (11) Marty Kelly III, North Bennington, Vt.
11. (8) # Anthony Warren, Shoreham, Vt.
12. (12) Jimmy Ryan, Shoreham, Vt.
13. (4) Billy Lussier, Fair Haven, Vt.
14. (16) Brian Whittemore, Pittsford, Vt.
15. (13) Justin Comes, Middlebury, Vt.
16. (1) # Shawn McPhee, Rutland, Vt.
17. (17) Bentley Grey, Hogansburg, N.Y.
Did Not Start (1 driver): Jimmy Davis, Amsterdam, N.Y.
Lap Leaders: Shawn McPhee, pole; Justin Stone, 1-30. (1 lead change among 2 drivers)
Heat Winners: Frank Hoard III, Justin Stone, Josh Masterson
TRACK CHAMPION: Tim LaDuc
O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman Feature (25 laps)
1. (14) Austin Comes, Middlebury, Vt.
2. (2) Katrina Bean, Benson, Vt.
3. (10) Randy Ryan, Orwell, Vt.
4. (3) John McPhee Jr., Rutland, Vt.
5. (15) Steve Pope, Shoreham, Vt.
6. (4) Craig Wholey, Bolton Landing, N.Y.
7. (17) Troy Audet, Bridport, Vt.
8. (9) Cody O’Brien, Springfield, Vt.
9. (16) Evan Roberts, Fletcher, Vt.
10. (11) Anthony Ryan, Benson, Vt.
11. (13) John Gosselin, Shoreham, Vt.
12. (1) Mike McGinn, Elizabethtown, N.Y.
13. (8) Scott FitzGerald, West Rutland, Vt.
14. (20) A.J. Munger, Benson Landing, Vt.
15. (23) Greg Snyder, Moira, N.Y.
16. (12) Alex Layn, New Haven, Vt.
17. (5) William Lussier Jr., Fair Haven, Vt.
18. (24) Brent Bouplon, Eagle Bridge, N.Y.
19. (7) Justin Lilly, Castleton, Vt.
20. (21) Gus Kamburelis, Whitehall, N.Y.
21. (22) Wesley Sutliff, South Glens Falls, N.Y.
22. (29) James McIntosh, Fort Edward, N.Y.
23. (28) Josh Nelson, Bristol, Vt.
24. (18) Bob Kilburn, Fair Haven, Vt.
25. (19) Jason Quenneville, Quechee, Vt.
26. (26) Hunter Ordway, Albany, N.Y.
27. (6) Gary English, Salisbury, Vt.
28. (25) Matt Jordan, Cambridge, N.Y.
29. (27) Terry Lamica, Moira, N.Y.
Did Not Start (1 driver): Russ Farr, Granville, N.Y.
Lap Leaders: Mike McGinn, pole; Katrina Bean, 1-23; Austin Comes, 24-25. (2 lead changes among 3 drivers)
Cautions (4): Laps 17, 17, 18, 22.
Heat Winners: Gary English, Katrina Bean, Mike McGinn
Consi Winner: Jason Quenneville
B-Main Winner: Brent Bouplon
TRACK CHAMPION: Troy Audet
O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman “Non-Winners Shootout” (20 laps)
1. (3) A.J. Munger, Benson Landing, Vt.
2. (4) Mike McGinn, Elizabethtown, N.Y.
3. (13) Randy Ryan, Orwell, Vt.
4. (8) John McPhee Jr., Rutland, Vt.
5. (1) Bob Kilburn, Fair Haven, Vt.
6. (9) Gary English, Salisbury, Vt.
7. (11) Scott FitzGerald, West Rutland, Vt.
8. (2) Gus Kamburelis, Whitehall, N.Y.
9. (10) Alex Layn, New Haven, Vt.
10. (5) Matt Jordan, Cambridge, N.Y.
11. (7) James McIntosh, Fort Edward, N.Y.
12. (12) Jason Quenneville, Quechee, Vt.
13. (6) William Lussier Jr., Fair Haven, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Bob Kilburn, 1-4; A.J. Munger, 5-7; Mike McGinn, 8-9; Munger, 10-20. (3 lead changes among 3 drivers)
Cautions (5): Laps 4, 6, 7, 13, 15.
Super Stock “Open Competition” Feature (20 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (6) Josh Bussino, Fair Haven, Vt.
2. (2) Matt Mosher, Queensbury, N.Y.
3. (8) Andrew FitzGerald, West Rutland, Vt.
4. (7) Mike Stender, Sharon, Vt.
5. (5) David A. Striebel, Hinsdale, Mass.
6. (4) Dawn Rumrill, Charlestown, N.H.
7. (9) Chris Murray, Fair Haven, Vt.
8. (1) Katarina Foster, Canaan, Conn.
9. (3) Dave M. Striebel, Hinsdale, Mass.
Did Not Start (1 driver): Jim McKiernan, Moriah Center, N.Y.
Lap Leaders: Katarina Foster, pole; Matt Mosher, 1-3; Chris Murray, 4-9; Josh Bussino, 10-20. (3 lead changes among 4 drivers)
Cautions (2): Laps 1, 14.
Heat Winner: Matt Mosher
Mini Stock “A” Feature (20 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (6) # Adam Mahoney, Rutland, Vt.
2. (23) Michael Clark Jr., Salisbury, Vt.
3. (18) Brian Blake, Cornwall, Vt.
4. (11) Derrick Counter, Leicester, Vt.
5. (9) Ron Alger, Orwell, Vt.
6. (19) # Daryl Gebo, Orwell, Vt.
7. (10) Jake Barrows, Middlebury, Vt.
8. (16) Chris Lussier, Fair Haven, Vt.
9. (13) # Chase Allen, Fair Haven, Vt.
10. (7) # Scott Chandler, Pittsford, Vt.
11. (8) # Austin McKirryher, Proctor, Vt.
12. (20) Chris Sumner, Ripton, Vt.
13. (15) Craig Kirby, St. Albans, Vt.
14. (14) Tom Severance, Fair Haven, Vt.
15. (24) Josh Ostertag, Deering, N.H.
16. (17) # Mark Mahoney, Brandon, Vt.
17. (22) John Sullivan, Greenwich, N.Y.
18. (12) Lynn Denton, Milton, Vt.
19. (3) Freddy Burch, Middle Granville, N.Y.
20. (2) # Jakobee Alger, Orwell, Vt.
21. (1) # Donald Olden, Poultney, Vt.
22. (21) Jake Fountain, Dannemora, N.Y.
23. (5) Willie Rice, Poultney, Vt.
24. (4) Jarrod Colburn, Rutland, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Donald Olden, pole; Jarrod Colburn, 1-2; Adam Mahoney, 3-20. (2 lead changes among 3 drivers)
Cautions (2): Laps 0, 8.
Heat Winners: Jarrod Colburn, Michael Clark Jr., Scott Chandler
Mini Stock “B” Feature (10 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (2) # Damian Olden, Poultney, Vt.
2. (3) Griff Mahoney, Bristol, Vt.
3. (1) Clemmy Bell, Peru, N.Y.
4. (5) # Jake Mallory, Granville, N.Y.
5. (4) # Cody Dion, Rutland, Vt.
6. (6) # Chris Hewitt, Pittsford, Vt.
7. (7) # Jason Kerr, Shoreham, Vt.
Did Not Start (1 driver): Carol Moss, Fair Haven, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Clemmy Bell, pole; Damian Olden, 1-10. (1 lead change among 2 drivers)
Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint “Open Competition” Feature (12 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (1) # Gage Provencher, Bridport, Vt.
2. (4) Kamden Duffy, Richmond, N.H.
3. (2) Kaidin White, Monkton, Vt.
4. (3) Austin Chaves, Chester, Vt.
5. (8) Kevin Smith, Brandon, Vt.
6. (7) # Tommy Kasuba, Castleton, Vt.
7. (5) # Kris Severance, Fair Haven, Vt.
8. (9) Arnie Kasuba, Castleton, Vt.
9. (6) Logan Blacklock, Addison, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Gage Provencher, 1-12. (0 lead changes among 1 drivers)
Enduro Series Feature (100 laps)
Pos.-(Car No.)-Driver-Laps Completed
# – denotes rookie
1. (623B) Brian Denis – 100
2. (623E) Eric Leno – 100
3. (50X) Eric Friend – 100
4. (331) George Wanner – 100
5. (30) Trevor Mears – 99
6. (186) Levi Jackson – 98
7. (919) Tim LaDuc – 98
8. (34) Robert Tessier – 97
9. (017) Cody Greene – 96
10. (91) Norman Morrill – 96
: Justin St. Louis, Media Director