PHOTO: Ron Proctor (#27) negotiates traffic during qualifying behind Frank Hoard, III (#13), Don Miller (#11), and Hunter Bates. Proctor would pass all three in the 30-lap NASCAR Modified feature to win at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Sunday night. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

WEST HAVEN — Ron Proctor might be a 30-year veteran of stock car racing, but he’s driving like a kid who’s about to set the world on fire.

Proctor, in fact, beat a handful of kids each about a third of his age on Sunday at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven to take his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified win of the season at the half-mile track and his second win overall in the last three weeks with the Champlain Valley Racing Association. In four starts at Devil’s Bowl this year, Proctor has strung together finishes of second, fourth, third, and first.

After starting sixth on the 18-car grid, the Charlton, N.Y., racer put on a traffic driving clinic early in the 30-lap Ace Carting Night feature. On lap 8, he moved around sixteen year-old Bobby Hackel, IV, to take fifth place, then dispatched of Don Miller, Hunter Bates, and Jessey Mueller — Bates was racing on his 16th birthday, while Mueller reached the milestone in January — in one breathtaking move on the frontstretch to move into second one lap later.

On lap 13, Proctor completed a slick crossover move from the outside lane to the bottom groove to take the lead from Frank Hoard, III. Proctor survived a restart on lap 18, then drove out of a slide after an overenthusiastic shove from Hackel in Turn 3 with two laps remaining. The near-capacity crowd cheered loudly as Proctor held on and took the checkered flag.

Proctor, who said his car’s handling went away over the final laps, wasn’t impressed with Hackel’s bump.

“I didn’t know who it was that hit me [at the time], but I thought it was a cheap shot,” Proctor said. “I’m on the bottom, you go around me. I went around you, you know? That’s how I’ve always raced. I didn’t hit him in the past. If I hit him, then he owed me, but he didn’t owe me, he just ran into me.”

Proctor understood that Hackel, hungry for his first victory, was overdriving. He plans on speaking with Hackel about the incident down the road.

“I haven’t talked to him,” Proctor said in the post-race inspection area. “He’s a young kid, he’s learning. I’ll have to say something to him eventually, but sometimes right after a race the adrenalin is following and they don’t listen well.”

Hackel knew he made a mistake, almost echoing Proctor’s thoughts.

“I didn’t mean to [hit him] there. I ran him down so hard, and everything was used up,” said the East Greenbush, N.Y., driver. “[It was] adrenalin in the moment, I was trying to run him down. We got mid-corner and he was braking a little earlier so I tried to brake when he did and shoot in, and he locked up the brakes right there and I just didn’t react in time. I got into him and right then I lifted because I didn’t want to take him out, and basically at that point I just let him walk away. I didn’t want to do it that way. We’ll take it. We’re learning.”

Despite the frustration with Hackel, Proctor — whose first win came at Albany-Saratoga (N.Y.) Speedway on June 10 — was happy with his night.

“That’s good if it was exciting for the fans, it keeps ‘em coming back,” he said. “It was a good night. It’s been a good year.”

Bates, of Pittsford, finished third, with Manchester veteran Hoard a season-best fourth. Mueller was fifth, Miller sixth, and Kevin Wright seventh. The lap 18 caution flag flew for Mike Bruno, who suffered a flat tire while running in fifth place. After pitting to change the tire, Bruno recovered to finish eighth. Seven-time CVRA winner Joe Williams, who wrecked in pre-race practice, drove Jon Miller’s car to a ninth-place finish. Paul Braymer completed the unofficial top ten.

Castleton driver Bruno turned his luck around in the 20-lap Pro Late Model feature with a victory. Bruno, who along with Bates pulls weekly double-duty in the Modified and Pro Late Model divisions, battled side-by-side with Bates for four laps on the outside lane before taking the lead at lap 8 and driving to his second win of the season. Bates capped a successful night with the runner-up finish.

Fourteen year-old Joey Laquerre of East Montpelier, a fourth-generation Vermont driver, finished third in his Late Model debut. Kevin Elliott finished fourth, with David Emigh fifth.

Josh Coonradt of Milton, N.Y., earned the 20-lap Renegade feature win in his first-ever start at Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Coonradt has three Renegade victories at Albany-Saratoga Speedway this season. Bill Duprey of Hydeville was the runner-up, with rookie Matt Livingston third.

Kevin Brown of Middlebury won the 12-lap Bomber Warrior feature, becoming the fifth different winner in as many races in the division. Jake Noble of Benson and Bristol’s Ray Germain completed the podium.

Josh Masterson of Bristol won a 103-lap Enduro to close out the night’s racing before an impressive fireworks display produced by CVRA promoter Bruce Richards.

Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s next event is Sunday, July 10, as spectator racing returns along with full NASCAR Whelen All-American Series card. Racing begins at 6:00pm.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Ace Carting Co. Night
Devil’s Bowl Speedway, West Haven, Vt.
Sunday, July 3, 2011


NASCAR Modified (30 laps)
1. Ron Proctor, Charlton, N.Y.
2. Bobby Hackel, IV, East Greenbush, N.Y.
3. Hunter Bates, Pittsford
4. Frank Hoard, III, Manchester
5. Jessey Mueller, Olmstedville, N.Y.
6. Don Miller, Wells
7. Kevin Wright, Queensbury, N.Y.
8. Mike Bruno, Castleton
9. Joe Williams, Schenectady, N.Y.
10. Paul Braymer, Granville, N.Y.

Pro Late Model (20 laps)
1. Mike Bruno, Castleton
2. Hunter Bates, Pittsford
3. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier
4. Kevin Elliott, Rutland
5. David Emigh, Ballston Spa, N.Y.

Renegade (20 laps)
1. Josh Cooradt, Milton, N.Y.
2. Bill Duprey, Hydeville
3. Matt Livingston, Ganford, N.Y.
4. Frank Monroe, Granville, N.Y.
5. Jonathan Hayes, Queensbury, N.Y.

Bomber Warrior (12 laps)
1. Kevin Brown, Middlebury
2. Jake Noble, Benson
3. Ray Germain, Bristol

Enduro (103 laps)
1. Josh Masterson, Bristol