–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H. — Four laps changed everything for Stephen Donahue on Saturday night.
The Graniteville, Vt. youngster used a lap 146 restart to reclaim the lead in the Foley Oil Late Model 150 at White Mountain Motorsports Park and earn his first career Late Model win.
“This feels like a dream come true,” Donahue said.
Donahue started the 150-lap event in the eighth position and, following a lap 73 restart, would take the lead for the first time from Stacy Cahoon. He would lead the field until a lap 106 restart that saw Cahoon regained the lead.
The two drivers would run one-two, with defending Late Model champion Quinny Welch third and White Mountain Late Model newcomer Jesse Switser fourth. They would run nose-to-tail and appeared to be set to finish in those positions until a caution flew with just four laps remaining.
On the restart, Donahue would power around Cahoon from the preferred outside lane and claim his first career Late Model win.
“It was more of a nerve rack (than a smile)” Donahue said of the late caution flag. “I knew that every time, so far, that I’ve gotten there and another yellow has come out and go against us.
“But this one was more of that when I got the lead, just go as fast as I could to get the white flag. Once I got that, it was all over.”
Donahue reflected back to watching his Saturday night fellow podium finishers — Cahoon and Welch — as well as his father, multi-time ACT Late Model Tour race winner John Donahue, and joining them at Late Model race winners.
“I’ve been coming here since I was little and watching Quinny Welch and Stacy Cahoon really dominate,” Donahue said. “To be able to run with for half of the race as we were all up there and be able to beat them, it really is a dream come true.
“I watched my dad growing up at Thunder Road (and) become fifth on the all-time wins list. To just be able to win one — obviously I want to win more — but to win one, it’s like a monkey off my back. It’s a dream come true.”
The win netted Donahue’s Norm Andrews-owned team a payday of $2,360.
Cahoon, of St. Johnsbury, Vt., led the most laps in the 150-lap event, but knew he was in trouble when the late caution flag flew.
“I can only say the bottom dropped out of it,” Cahoon said. “Shen the flagman gave us five (laps) to go, I looked in my mirror and saw Stephen (Donahue) a bit back and said to myself ‘if I can keep this pace, I got this in the bag.’
“I really wanted it, but I knew when the caution came out, he was going to be in the preferred lane and I was just going to have to make the best of it and hope for second if I couldn’t win.
Lancaster, N.H. driver Welch, a winner of four Late Model races this season, ran his way from a 14th place starting spot to finish third. Switser, of Lyndonville, Vt., also was came from deep in the field, as he moved from a 19th place starting position to finish fourth. Thunder Road Speedbowl regular Cody Blake started in the fourth spot, but headed pit side early for an adjustment and was able to run his way back through the field for a fifth place finish.
Mike Kenison controlled the top spot early in the event and settled for a sixth place finish while Ricky Bly ran inside the top-ten for nearly the entire distance and finished seventh. Jonathan Lemay and Scott Corey stayed out of trouble through the race’s six caution flags and were credited with a eighth and ninth place finish while Jonathan Bouvrette battled back from an early race incident to complete the top-ten finishers.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Foley Oil Late Model 150
White Mountain Motorsports Park, North Woodstock, N.H.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
1. (8) Stephen Donahue, Graniteville, Vt.
2. (6) Stacy Cahoon, St. Johnsbury, Vt.
3. (14) Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H.
4. (19) Jesse Switser, Lyndonville, Vt.
5. (4) Cody Blake, Barre, Vt.
6. (2) Mike Kenison, Groveton, N.H.
7. (7) Ricky Bly, Sunapee, N.H.
8. (18) Jonathan Lemay, Weare, N.H.
9. (10) Scott Corey, Danville, Vt.
10. (16) Jonathan Bouvrette, Blainville, Que.
11. (13) Jeff Marshall, Lunenburg, Vt.
12. (22) Allison Menard, White River Junction, Vt.
13. (17) Jeremy Welch, Lebanon, Maine
14. (23) Matt Anderson, Andover, N.H.
15. (24) Doug Laleme, Bethlehem, N.H.
16. (5) Richie Brown, Wentworth, N.H.
17. (21) Mathieu Kingsbury, Blainville, Que.
18. (25) Dave Labrecque, Woodstock, N.H.
19. (1) Claude Leclerc, Lanoarie, Que.
20. (9) Rich Dubeau, Plainfield, N.H.
21. (3) Bryan Mason, Stark, N.H.
22. (20) James Capps, Penacook, N.H.
23. (15) Corey Mason, Groveton, N.H.
24. (12) Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
25. (11) Jeremy Davis, Tamworth, N.H.
1 – Stephen Donahue celebrates his first career Late Model win on Saturday night at White Mountain Motorsports Park in the Foley Oil 150. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)
2 – Stephen Donahue earned a payday of $2,360 in the Foley Oil Late Model 150 on Saturday night at White Mountain Motorsports Park. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)