PHOTO: Bobby Hackel earned his first career NASCAR Modified victory at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Sunday. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

WEST HAVEN — Bobby Hackel wanted to win his first race, but he wanted to do it the right way. He only had to wait a week.

On July 3, the 16 year-old from East Greenbush, N.Y., was challenging leader Ron Proctor in the final stages of the 30-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified feature at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, but inadvertently bumped Proctor and nearly cost both racers a top finish.

Proctor was less than impressed, and Hackel vowed not to make the same mistake twice. On Sunday, he made good on his word.

Hackel tried three times to make a clean inside-lane pass on early leader Frank Hoard, III, during the first dozen laps of Sunday’s race, but lifted off the throttle each time when he ran out of room, so as not to run into Hoard’s car.

Hackel’s patience paid off when caught a break on lap 12 as the caution flag flew for Proctor, who drove his car off the backstretch. With the field restarting double-file, Hackel’s No. 97 Albany Aqua Ducks-sponsored machine got the jump on Hoard and took the lead, and Hackel cruised to the first asphalt victory of his young career.

Hackel said he learned his lesson and made sure to race Hoard cleanly up front.

“I changed my driving style so much to make it work,” Hackel said following the win. “[Hoard] and I battled over and over, and I wanted to do it right and finally found the right groove and we got it done. It’s awesome.”

Hackel represents the fourth generation of his family to race stock cars. He  began racing karts at four years old and moved to full-size Modifieds last year. He earned a win on the dirt at Lebanon Valley (N.Y.) Speedway last summer, but decided to move to asphalt for this season.

“We’ve worked so hard for this. It’s a big learning curve, and that makes it even better. We’ve come so far,” Hackel beamed. “It’s redemption [from last week], all in a good way, not in a bad way. The first of many, hopefully.”

Proctor, of Charlton, N.Y., quickly regrouped from his off-track excursion to charge from 13th at the restart to fifth place in just four laps, then picked off Joe Williams, Hoard, and Jessey Mueller — all on the outside lane — to take the runner-up position.

Olmstedville, N.Y., rookie Mueller, also 16 years old, finished third, while Hoard faded to fourth. Two-time winner Joe Williams finished fifth. The balance of the unofficial top ten was completed by Hunter Bates, Mike Bruno, Alex Bell, Paul Braymer, and Mike Bush.

Castleton driver Bruno won his third Pro Late Model feature after a close duel with Chris Wilk. Wilk, of Mendon, dogged Bruno’s back bumper for most of the 20-lap distance, but was unable to capitalize after two late restarts.

Bates finished third with Kevin Elliott, Randy Miller, Joey Laquerre, David Emigh, and Scott Atwood in tow.

Josh Coonradt of Milton, N.Y., extended his perfect Devil’s Bowl record to 2-0 in the Renegade division. Coonradt dominated in his first-ever start at the track last week, but was forced to come from behind and battle with Leicester’s Jeremy Jones in the final circuits of the 20-lap feature.

Coonradt nosed ahead on the inside lane to lead lap 18. Jones rode a strong run off Turn 4 the next lap, but pushed into the outside wall, flipping his car at the start-finish line as the white flag waved signaling the last lap. He suffered only a minor scrape on his left elbow in the crash.

Defending champion Frank Monroe of Granville, N.Y., finished second with rookie Matt Livingston of Ganford, N.Y., third. Jones was scored fourth due to a high attrition rate in the event, the first car one lap behind the leaders. Jonathan Hayes — still running at the checkered flag — was fifth.

Eddie Bruno of Fair Haven became the sixth driver in as many races to win in the Bomber Warrior division, one week after a hard crash. Bristol’s Ray Germain and Mark Lindblade of Hadley, N.Y., completed the podium finishers.

Tyler Davis of Mt. Holly won the spectator drags in a 2006 Audi he purchased one week ago.

Devil’s Bowl Speedway returns to action on Sunday at 6:00pm with a full card of racing and the Red Knights Motorcycle Ride to benefit Rutland Regional Medical Center.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
Devil’s Bowl Speedway, West Haven, Vt.
Sunday, July 10, 2011


NASCAR Modified (30 laps)
1. Bobby Hackel, East Greenbush, N.Y.
2. Ron Proctor, Charlton, N.Y.
3. Jessey Mueller, Olmstedville, N.Y.
4. Frank Hoard, III, Manchester
5. Joe Williams, Schenectady, N.Y.
6. Hunter Bates, Pittsford
7. Mike Bruno, Castleton
8. Alex Bell, Cambridge, N.Y.
9. Paul Braymer, Granville, N.Y.
10. Mike Bush, Hudson Falls, N.Y.

Pro Late Model (20 laps)
1. Mike Bruno, Castleton
2. Chris Wilk, Mendon
3. Hunter Bates, Pittsford
4. Kevin Elliott, Rutland
5. Randy Miller, Ballston Spa, N.Y.

Renegade (20 laps)
1. Josh Coonradt, Milton, N.Y.
2. Frank Monroe, Granville, N.Y.
3. Matt Livingston, Ganford, N.Y.
4. Jeremy Jones, Leicester
5. Jonathan Hayes, Queensbury, N.Y.

Bomber Warrior (12 laps)
1. Eddie Bruno, Fair Haven
2. Ray Germain, Bristol
3. Mark Lindblade, Hadley, N.Y.
4. Kevin Brown, Middlebury
5. Jake Noble, Benson

Spectator Drags
1. Tyler Davis, Mt. Holly