PHOTO: Michel Viens (#46) walked away from a wild barrel-roll in qualifying after contact with Pierre Berthiaume (#1) at Airborne Speedway on Saturday. (Dave Brown photo)

-by Ricky St. Clair

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — It didn’t take long for Patrick Dupree to pick up right where he left off at Airborne Speedway. The 2010 Ernie’s Discount Tools Modified track champion opened his title defense with a victory in Saturday’s Della Auto Group “Fast 50” main event.

The Saranac Lake, N.Y., driver took advantage of six caution periods during the first 30 circuits of the 50-lap feature and cautiously worked his way up from his 15th starting position. Dupree managed to get through all the incidents unscathed and break into the top three by the race’s sixth caution on lap 30.

“I was just being a little cautious at first because we knew all the cautions were going to be there,” Dupree said. “I wasn’t really saving it, but the car started getting a little better as the race went on and everyone started fading away.”

Dupree made a spectacular move to go from third to first on the outside to pass Martin Roy and Greg Atkins in turns one and two to grab the top spot on lap 39.

“I wasn’t so sure it was going to work,” Dupree remarked. “They [Roy and Atkins] were both loose and I figured it was worth a shot. Our car was really hooked up on the top and I was able to drive around them both. There was not a lot of room between the cars, but when you’re confident in your machinery and your equipment you can do it.”

Dupree’s win guarantees an automatic starting spot in the Small Block 150 at the Syracuse Fairgrounds for Super Dirt Week in October.

“It’s nice knowing we got that Syracuse qualifier,” an ecstatic Dupree said. “It’s awesome. We had a heck of car tonight.”

Atkins, of AuSable Forks, N.Y., held on to finish second. Brandon, Vt., drivers Vince Quenneville, Jr., and Don Scarborough finished third and fourth, respectively, and Middlebury, Vt.’s Todd Stone, who rebounded from a mishap on lap one, rounded out the top five.

Roy faded to finish sixth ahead of Kris Vernold, Mike Reyell, Mike Phinney, and Andy Lindeman. Michel Viens of Ste-Cesaire, Que., walked away from a violent flip during qualifying earlier in the evening.

Plattsburgh’s Robin Wood used a late race caution to pick off Jamy Begor on the outside and claim the win in the 25-lap J&S Steel Sportsman feature.

Begor, who started sixth in the 20-car field, grabbed the lead on lap two and led until a the caution was displayed on lap 21 for a four-car accident on the frontstretch.

Wood used the restart to get by Begor to earn the first victory of his 2011 title defense campaign. Mooers Forks, N.Y., racer Begor finished in second, while Sportsman rookie Codey Benoit of Milton, Vt., Billy Thwaits of Clintonville, N.Y., and Shawn Duquette of Morrisonville, N.Y., rounded out the top five.

Milton driver Rob Gordon earned the Renegade checkers in what was arguably the best race of the night; Gordon ended up nabbing the victory by just 0.095 seconds over second-place finisher Joe Daniels.

Defending Versatile Trailer Sales Renegade track champion Kevin Boutin finished in third, while Josh Terry and Robbie Favreau completed the top five.

Chris LaVair of Gabriels, N.Y., earned the Keeseville NAPA Mini-Modified feature victory. Josh LeClaire, Kris Clark, Scott Richner, and Speedy Bresette earned top five honors.

West Chazy, N.Y. driver Josh Durivage was victorious in the Busch Beer Bomber main event.

Racing continues next Saturday night at Airborne Speedway as Haley Lumber Company and Loremans Screen Printing and Embroidery will sponsor the racing card. Post time is scheduled for 5pm.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Della Auto Group Night
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Saturday, May 7, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

Ernie’s Discount Tools Modified “Fast 50”
1. Patrick Dupree, Saranac Lake, N.Y.
2. Greg Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
3. Vince Quenneville, Jr., Brandon, Vt.
4. Don Scarborough, Brandon, Vt.
5. Todd Stone, Middlebury, Vt.
6. Martin Roy, Napierville, Que.
7. Kris Vernold, Kingsbury, N.Y.
8. Mike Reyell, West Chazy, N.Y.
9. Mike Phinney, Keeseville, N.Y.
10. Andy Lindeman, Poestenkill, N.Y.

J&S Steel Sportsman
1. Robin Wood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Jamy Begor, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
3. # Codey Benoit, Milton, Vt.
4. Billy Thwaits, Clintonville, N.Y.
5. Shawn Duquette, Morrisonville, N.Y.
6. Nick Heywood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
7. Danny Sullivan, Morrisonville, N.Y.
8. # Brandon Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
9. # Dave Rabtoy, Swanton, Vt.
10. Jamie Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.

Versatile Trailer Sales Renegades
1. Robert Gordon, Milton, Vt.
2. Joe Daniels, Morrisonville, N.Y.
3. Josh Terry, Morrisonville, N.Y.
4. Robbie Favreau, Peru, N.Y.
5. Lance Rabtoy, Fairfax, Vt.
6. Joe Warren, West Chazy, N.Y.
7. Don Franklin, Milton, Vt.
8. Dave Drake, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
9. Mark Caron, Peru, N.Y.
10. # Rick Doner, AuSable Forks, N.Y.

Keeseville NAPA Mini-Modifieds
1. Chris LaVair, Gabriels, N.Y.
2. Josh LeClaire, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Kris Clark, Keeseville, N.Y.
4. Scott Richner, Rouses Point, N.Y.
5. Speedy Bresette, Castleton, Vt.

Busch Beer Bombers
1. Josh Durviage, West Chazy, N.Y.
2. Rob Sines
3. Curtis LaGrave, Jr., Plattsburgh, N.Y.
4. Johnmichael Bresette, Keeseville, N.Y.
5. Bill Joyal, Sr., AuSable Forks, N.Y.