PHOTO: Jim Lowrey (#3), a stock car racing veteran of more than thirty years but a Sprint Cars of New England rookie, raises his arm in victory after narrowly beating Shawn Lawler (#18L) at Canaan on Friday. (Don MacIntosh photo)

(From series press release)

CANAAN, N.H. — Jim Lowrey earned his first Sprint Car win in style Friday night, leading only the last 200 feet to beat Shawn Lawler to the finish line in the Sprint Cars of New England 25-lapper at Canaan Dirt Speedway. A former champion on pavement in Big Block Supermodifieds, Lowrey started 10th and used the bottom to pull ahead of rim-riding former SCoNE champ Lawler in the fourth turn of the final lap. Lawler powered back and nearly regained the lead, but Lowrey was first to the checkered flag by less than five feet, in a finish that had the crowd on its feet and cheering.

“That was unbelievable,” a beaming Lowrey said. “I was committed to the bottom and Shawn was on the top and he was drifting higher and higher. I had to keep talking to myself saying, ‘Easy in, so you can come out hard.’ Every time I overdrove the corner, I’d lose a little ground. It was just a matter of patience getting in, that was the key to it all.”

Lawler, who came from fourth in only his third start of the year, had no complaints and no excuses. “I really enjoyed myself,” he said. “From start to finish, the race went well for me. I worked that cushion until there was nothing left of it. Jim did a great job. I saw him come underneath me and I thought, ‘Aw, here we go.’ That’s the way it goes sometimes. I have no complaints and nobody to blame but myself for it.”

Pole sitter Robby Bodwell led the first 11 laps until Lawler powered by him on the outside. Only a single caution flag slowed the 17-car field. On lap 16, Lowrey, Bodwell and Tyler Rich were three-wide battling for second when they got together in turn two. Rich fared poorly and ended up facing in the wrong direction.

Third place finisher Dan Douville started 14th and enjoyed both his finish and his view. “I was mired in the back for a while and when I finally got close to the front it was great to watch the battle for the lead,’ Douville said. ‘Shawn is a great guy and I’m glad he’s back racing with us, so I really wanted him to win. Jim is getting faster every week and I wanted him to get his first win, and, of course, I wanted to win it myself. Sometimes you don’t know if it’s a good race for the fans, but I could see that this one was great.”

Defending champ Chris Donnelly came from 15th to finish fourth and Bodwell was fifth. Nick Berry, rookie Brandon Valley, Shawn Berry, Kevin Chaffee, and rookie Will Hull completed the unofficial top ten.

In other Canaan action, T.C. Forward earned his first career Modified win, Robbie Williams was the Super Street winner, and Bill McKee took the Bandit checkers.

The Sprint Cars of New England return to battle on Sunday, July 24 at Legion Speedway in Rumney, N.H., for the Open Cockpit Super Sunday Series. They’ll be accompanied by the East Coast Mini Sprints, the Granite State Mini Sprints and the North East Mini Sprints. Hot laps are at 2:00pm and the first qualifier is scheduled for 3:00pm.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Beard Sewer & Drain 25
Sprint Cars of New England — Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H.
Friday, July 15, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

1. # Jim Lowrey, Tilton, N.H.
2. Shawn Lawler, Mason, N.H.
3. Dan Douville, Bridgewater, N.H.
4. Chris Donnelly, Piermont, N.H.
5. Robby Bodwell, Sanford, Me.
6. Nick Berry, Center Ossipee, N.H.
7. # Brandon Valley, Center Ossipee, N.H.
8. Shawn Berry, Center Ossipee, N.H.
9. Kevin Chaffee, Fairlee, Vt.
10. # Will Hull, East Montpelier, Vt.
11. # Andy Seuss, Hampstead, N.H.
12. Bruce Kimball, Lebanon, N.H.
13. # Tyler Rich, Lyme, N.H.
14. Mark Cole, Lebanon, N.H.
15. Tunk Berry, Center Ossipee, N.H.
16. # Jake Williams, Center Tufftonboro, N.H.
17. Lacey Hanson, Orwell, Vt.

Heat winners: Bodwell and Rich.

NOTES… Robby Bodwell had a new engine in his car that wasn’t fired until it arrived at the track. After he won his heat, a broken rocker arm was found, but Bodwell was without a spare. Si Allen scoured the pits, found one that Chris Donnelly was willing to lend, and delivered it to Bodwell in time to make the feature… Mark Cole had a scary moment in hot laps when a suspension piece failed, sending him into the turn four wall. Crew chief Mike Hammond had the W-link replaced in time for Cole’s heat… NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour veteran and SCoNE rookie Andy Seuss came home one spot behind a top-ten finish. Earlier in the day, he qualified 20th for the Whelen Modified Tour event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, turning a lap of 125.724 mph. During intermission at Canaan, Seuss did an insightful interview with track announcer Andy Hall… SCoNE’s Anti-World of Outlaws policy of starting the fastest runners in the back is continuing to pay dividends for fans who enjoy watching Sprint Cars pass each other at high speeds in close quarters. Back-to-front runs are a weekly occurrence.