PHOTO: Bucko Branham nearly had a clean sweep of the Sportsman ‘4-20s’ at Airborne Speedway on Saturday. (Ricky St. Clair/VMM photo)

–by Ricky St. Clair

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — It’s difficult enough for a driver to grab the checkered flag.

Doing it three times in the same night is unprecedented.

Bucko Branham of Plattsburgh, N.Y., did just that on Saturday night at Airborne Speedway, winning segments two, three, and four to claim the best overall score in the second annual Sportsman “4-20s” event. The veteran accumulated a total of six points after finishing third in the first 20-lap sprint, and concluding his successful night with three straight victories.

“I didn’t expect three wins,” Branham said following the final segment. “The car was so awesome. The guys made all the right adjustments. We felt the car out in practice and we were good right from the get-go. Great adjustments all night.”

Branham collected two of his three segment wins in photo-finish fashion. The two-time champion defeated Robin Wood by 0.031 seconds in segment two and edged out Jamy Begor after battling for ten consecutive laps on the outside by a 0.131 second margin. The two came down to the line with Branham moving Begor to the bottom of the racetrack.

“When I was racing with Robin we never touched once,” Branham noted. “I think we went eight laps without touching. Jamy [Begor] and I probably went six laps and then he started roughing me up in the corner. Which is fine. He wanted to win the segment. But it was the last shot in turn three that made me do what I did when we crossed the finish line. I thought it was a great race until then. You can’t get any better than that when you have cars side-by-side for ten laps especially with me on the outside.”

After his three segment wins and claiming the overall best finish, Branham collected unofficially the highest payday in the history of the division by collecting $2,000.

“I’m not like a lot of these guys; I keep a separate account just for my racing,” Branham said. “We were down to 75 dollars. I mean, I’ve got great sponsors, but tonight is going to help finish out the year for me. Two thousand dollars goes along way when you need tires and gas.”

Begor crossed the finish line second in the final segment earning himself a total of eight points after four races. Wood finished his night third in the “overall” by achieving 12 points. Nick Heywood was fourth with 22 points and Vermont invader Joey Roberts rounded out the unofficial top five with 27 points.

Positions six through ten were completed by Bill Thwaits (27 points), Brandon Atkins (36), Dave Rabtoy (39), Casey St. Clair (41), and Fred LaGoy (42).

Seventeen-year-old Josh Terry of Morrisonville, N.Y., picked up his first career checkered flag in the 25-lap Renegade feature. The second-year competitor maneuvered around Joe Warren on lap 14 to take the lead and fended off multiple drivers to grab the checkers.

Joe Warren, Kevin Boutin, Robert Gordon, and Lance Rabtoy rounded out the top five finishers.

Rookie competitor Erick Sayles of Lake Placid, N.Y., grabbed his fifth checkered flag of 2011 by winning the 15-lap Mini-Modified feature. Josh LaPorte, Kris Clark, Speedy Bresette, and Kris Clark earned top five honors.

Curtis Lagrave Jr., picked up his fourth win of the season by defeating the field in the 15-lap Busch Bomber feature. Josh Durivage, J.M. Bresette, Tyler Bresette, and Travis Sherman completed the unofficial top five.

Weekly racing continues next Saturday night at Airborne with Bankers Orchards and Huntley Trucking sponsoring the racing card that will feature a 25-lap $250-to-win Bomber feature. All divisions will be in action. Post time is slated for 6:00pm.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Vermont Life Safety/Warren Tire/Huntley Trucking Night
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Saturday, August 13, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

J&S Steel Sportsman (4×20 laps — Segment/total points)
1. Bucko Branham, Plattsburgh, N.Y. – 3, 1, 1, 1 = 6
2. Jamy Begor, Mooers Forks, N.Y. – 1, 3, 2, 2 = 8
3. Robin Wood, Plattsburgh, N.Y. – 4, 2, 3, 3 = 12
4. Nick Heywood, Plattsburgh, N.Y. – 2, 8, 6, 6 = 22
5. Joey Roberts Georgia, Vt. – 14, 4, 4, 5 = 27
6. Bill Thwaits Clintonville, N.Y. – 6, 15, 10, 4 = 35
7. Brandon Atkins, Ausable Forks, N.Y. – 5, 9, 15, 7 = 36
8. # Dave Rabtoy, Swanton, Vt. – 7, 14, 9, 9 = 39
9. Casey St. Clair, Plattsburgh, N.Y. – 8, 10, 13, 10 = 41
10. Fred LaGoy, Morrisonville, N.Y. – 19, 7, 5, 11 = 42

Versatile Trailer Sales Renegade (25 laps)
1. Josh Terry, Morrisonville, N.Y.
2. Joe Warren, West Chazy, N.Y.
3. Kevin Boutin, Swanton, Vt.
4. Robert Gordon, Milton, Vt.
5. Lance Rabtoy, Fairfax, Vt.
6. Larry Underwood, Milton, Vt.
7. Curt Seymour, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
8. Don Franklin, Milton, Vt.
9. Jason McClatchie, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
10. Robbie Favreau, Peru, N.Y.

Keeseville NAPA Auto Parts Mini-Modified (15 laps)
1. # Erick Sayles, Saranac Lake, N.Y.
2. # Josh LaPorte, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Kris Clark, Keeseville, N.Y.
4. Speedy Bresette, Castleton, Vt.
5. Chris LaVair, Gabriels, N.Y.
6. Josh LeClaire, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
7. Eric Reyell, Morrisonville, N.Y.
8. Josh Lavarnway, Chazy, N.Y.
9. Jimmy Varno, Peru, N.Y.
10. Scott Richner, Rouses Point, N.Y.

Busch Beer Bomber (15 laps)
1. Curtis Lagrave, Jr., Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Josh Durivage, West Chazy, N.Y.
3. JohnMichael Bresette, Keeseville, N.Y.
4. Tyler Bresette, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
5. Travis Sherman, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
6. Jordan Lagrave, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
7. Jeff St. John, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
8. Rob Sines, Dannemora, N.Y.
9. Dale O’Neil, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
10. Nate Corcoran, Burlington, Vt.