PHOTO: Joey “Fireball” Roberts was a Bond Auto Parts Modified feature winner in his rookie season. (Alan Ward photo)
Bryant, Cummings, Masterson also take freshman honors
WEST HAVEN, VT – The future of Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s stock car racing protégés is proving to be rather bright. A talented crop of rookie drivers joined the track’s weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions in 2012 and left a significant mark on the record books.
Joey “Fireball” Roberts of Georgia, VT ran to the Rookie of the Year title in Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s headline Bond Auto Parts Modified class. After a decade in full-fender racecars, the third-generation racer made his open-wheel Modified debut at the 101.5 “The Fox” Spring Green on May 5 in the No. 50x Vermont Life Safety/Mansfield Heliflight-sponsored Bicknell. Roberts won his qualifying heat and finished fifth in the main event, the first of an overachieving 11 top-five finishes in 19 feature starts. Roberts took his first feature win on August 3 and finished fifth in overall championship standings.
Roberts didn’t have it easy, however, with constant challenges from Wells, VT driver Jeff Haskins and “Slammin’ Andy” Smith of Glens Falls, NY. As a true rookie with just five races under his belt prior to 2012, Haskins posted a dozen top-ten finishes, was the top-finishing rookie on four occasions, and won the Modified “Shootout” during September’s Vermont 200 Weekend. Smith, formerly a top runner in the Renegade and Duke Stock classes, had a productive year with top-ten finishes in more than half of the 19 races. Haskins ended the year in 10th place overall with Smith close behind in 11th.
Robert Bryant, Jr., a Mount Holly, VT native now living in Brooklyn, CT, topped a large freshman class in the J&S Steel Late Model division, winning Rookie of the Year honors ahead of six others. The former World Karting Association national champion made his first year in a full-size stock car a good one, pushing his No. 3RB LaValley Building Supply Chevrolet to the win on Sugar & Spice Night on August 24 and finishing sixth in overall standings.
Three other Late Model rookies cracked the top-ten, with Rutland, VT’s Jesse Carris eighth overall, 18 year-old Johnny Chesnut of Elizabethtown, NY ninth, and 15 year-old fourth-generation racer Joey Laquerre of East Montpelier, VT in 10th. Danny Sullivan of Morrisonville, NY, Tom Eriksen, Jr. of West Ferrisburgh, VT, and Emily Packard of East Montpelier, VT also took part in the rookie program.
Three drivers ran limited freshman campaigns in the Renegade division, with Robin Cummings of Milton, VT coming out on top for the Rookie of the Year title. Cummings finished fifth in three consecutive events in May with his No. 9 Cummings Plumbing & Heating/Champlain Transmission Chevrolet but was sidelined by a crash in the middle of the season. Still, his early results were enough to hold off Bob Monroe of Granville, NY and 14 year-old Stephen Donahue of Graniteville, VT. Third-generation racer Donahue was a podium finisher in just his second start.
Josh Masterson of Bristol, VT came out of the box flying in the Bomber division, winning back-to-back in the first two starts of his career in May. Masterson, 21, picked up five more feature wins and earned the nickname “Kid Rocket” en route to winning not only the Rookie of the Year title but also the overall division championship with his No. 11x Masterson Excavation/Avery Smith Construction Nissan.
Gerald LaFlam’s rookie campaign was also solid, as the Hinesburg, VT driver earned a top-ten finish in all but one of his 17 starts and finished fifth in championship standings. LaFlam’s top finish was third on Green Mountain Water Environment Association/Sunoco Race Fuels Night on August 31. Kyle Watrous of Bomoseen, VT, Bruce Schwab, Jr., of Whitehall, NY, Anthony Alger of Warrensburg, NY, and Shane Doran of Benson, VT also made their Bomber debuts during the year.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway will honor its top rookie performers during the Banquet of Champions, scheduled for Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Holiday Inn Rutland-Killington in Rutland, VT. More details regarding the festivities will made available soon. Rule books governing each division for the 2013 racing season will also be made available in the near future.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, VT, four miles north of Exit 2 on US Route 4. For more information, call (802) 265-3112 or click www.devilsbowlspeedwayvt.com. Devil’s Bowl Speedway is on Facebook at facebook.com/devilsbowlspeedway and Twitter at @DevilsBowlSpeed.
PHOTO: Robert Bryant, Jr. roasts his tires during a celebratory burnout following his first career J&S Steel Late Model victory. (MemorEvents photo)
PHOTO: Robin Cummings (#9) had a strong first half and secured top rookie honors in the Renegade division. (MemorEvents photo)
PHOTO: Josh Masterson ran away with the Rookie of the Year and Track Championship titles in the Bomber division. (MemorEvents photo)