Canaan Fair Speedway
Friday, May 18, 2012
Donnelly Breaks Dow’s Heart to Win SCoNE Opener
by Mark McKeon
CANAAN, N.H. -- Former Sprint Cars of New England Champion Chris Donnelly of Piermont, NH used a late race pass in lapped traffic to snatch the lead from Clay Dow and win the 25 lap SCoNE feature at Canaan Dirt Speedway Friday night. Donnelly did not lack for either competition or companionship as a deep and wide field of 24 cars signed in for the season opener.
After strutting his stuff in hot laps and dominating his heat race, Dow drove determinedly to an early lead in the feature. Surviving two early race restarts, he led until the 22nd circuit, when he took the high road around a lapped car while Donnelly darted down low to grab the lead in a bold but calculated move that momentarily had the cars three wide.
“It’s always easier to be running second in lapped traffic,” Donnelly explained. “I took my time and was patient. Clay is a very good driver and a tough guy to run down, he likes to run the bottom like I do and I know I would have tried the same move he did. He didn’t miss his entry by much; it was just half a car width. I knew once he got into the black he’d be a sitting duck so I went for it, hoping that the lapped car would be fast enough so that we could both get by him and it worked out.”
“Now that I’ve had time to think about it, looking back on it, I really wish I hadn’t tried to go high,” a stoic Dow chuckled in victory lane.
Defending SCoNE champ Dan Douville came from seventh to race his way into third, former asphalt Supermodified and Midget champ Jim Lowrey finished fourth and 2011 SCoNE Rookie of the Year Tyler Rich came home fifth.
Just two yellow flags slowed the event. Matt Robie spun on lap two and collected Tunk Berry. Robie was able to return to the fray, but Berry was sidelined for the night. A more serious wreck on lap four saw four cars leave the track at the business end of a tow truck. Shawn Lawler appeared to get sideways in turn two and in the process, collected Bruce Kimball, Brandon Valley and Kevin Chaffee. There were no injuries other than financial.
The SCoNE squad of traveling Winged Warriors heads for Bear Ridge Speedway on Saturday May 26 for a Memorial Day weekend show before returning to Canaan Dirt Speedway on Friday June 8.
Race Notes: There were three rookies among the 24 entrants. Butch Valley, Jr. is a veteran of the Supermodified ranks at LeeUSA Speedway and Star Speedway; he fought an ill handling car all night. Eldon Townes II didn’t make the A Main but showed much promise with excellent car control and smooth throttle manipulation. Chris Downs may have had the most eventful maiden voyage of all. The former Mini Sprint pilot arrived at the track late and fought a high idle condition all night long. “It was idling at about 5,000 RPM with my foot off the throttle,” Downs said, explaining how he was able to execute four 360 degree spins during the course of the heat and the B-Main without stalling. “Damn,” he said succinctly… Bob Giuliani suffered a stripped gear in the car’s steering arm during hot laps. Car owner Harvey Kage, with help from competing car owner Dave Bowser, was able to get it fixed in time for the heat race. Giuliani earned a top ten finish in the feature… Bowser’s car is a brand new one; his driver Randy Wimert totaled the last one in a bone jarring flip late last season… Curt Bradshaw made the 360 mile round trip from Schenectady, NY worthwhile. He made the big dance via the last transfer spot in the B-Main… Lacey Hanson had a long lead in the B-Main when a torsion bar stop failed, her steering locked and she spun out of contention. Far from disappointed, she said “We were leading, so that proves that the car goes fast.”… Kevin Chaffee was retired by a wreck on lap four, but earlier he led from flag-to-flag to win the 20 lap non-points Modified feature. He also has wins this season in both a Modified and a USAC DMA Midget at Bear Ridge Speedway…Although SCoNE takes pride in differentiating itself from other Sprint Car series- the World of Outlaws for example- by handicapping it’s most successful drivers to the rear of the starting grid, it uses a heads-up start based on heat race finishes for the first three events of the season…Media members on hand to cover the SCoNE opener included Kevin Rice of the Lowell Sun and Area Auto Racing News and T.J. Ingerson of Vermont Motorsports Magazine… SCoNE Race Director Arthur Pinkham was missed. He’s currently in physical therapy following a significant medical issue. Looking forward to your return, Arty.
SCoNE Feature (25 laps) 1. (3) Chris Donnelly, Piermont, NH; 2. (2) Clay Dow, Barnstead, NH; 3. (7) Dan Douville, Bridgewater, NH; 4. (4) Jim Lowery, Jr., Tilton, NH; 5. (5) Tyler Rich, Lyme, NH; 6. (1)Anthony Cain, Fairfax, VT; 7. (8) Shawn Berry, Center Ossipee, NH; 8. (12) Andy Seuss, Hampstead, NH; 9. (10) Jake Williams, Center Tuftonboro, NH; 10. (15) Bob Giuliani, Middleton, NH; 11. (6) Matt Robie, Hill, NH, 12. (17) Curt Bradshaw, Schenectady, NY; 13. (14) Shawn Lawler, Mason, NH; 14. (16) Brandon Valley, Center Ossipee, NH; 15. (9) Bruce Kimball, Lebanon, NH; 16. (18) Kevin Chaffee, Fairlee, VT; 17. (13) Mark Cole, Lebanon, NH; 18. (11) Tunk Berry, Center Ossipee, N.H. Did Not Qualify: Randy Wimert, Falmouth, ME; Chris Downs, Meredith, NH-R; Butch Valley, Jr., Hollis, NH-R; Lacey Hanson, Orwell, VT.; Eldon Townes II, Weare, NH-R; Will Hull, East Montpelier, VT.
Heats (5 Qualify)
Heat 1: 1. Jim Lowrey; 2. Anthony Cain; 3. Kevin Chaffee; 4. Bruce Kimball; 5. Andy Seuss; 6. Lacey Hanson; 8. Randy Wimert.
Heat 2: 1. Chris Donnelly; 2. Tyler Rice; 3. Dan Douville; 4. Jake Williams; 5. Mark Cole; 6. Eldon Townes; 7. Bob Giuliani; 8. Brandon Valley.
Heat 3. 1. Clay Dow; 2. Matt Robie; 3. Shawn Berry; 4. Tunk Berry; 5. Shawn Lawler; 6. Will Hull; 7. Curt Bradshaw; 8. Chris Downs.
B- Main (3 Transfer)
1. Brandon Valley; 2. Bob Giuliani; 3. Curt Bradshaw; 4. Will Hull; 5. Eldon Townes; 6. Butch Valley, Jr.; 7 Lacey Hanson; 8. Randy Wimert.
Next Race: Bear Ridge Speedway Bradford, VT- Saturday May 26.