PHOTO: Kevin Chaffee carries the checkered flag after his first career USAC Dirt Midget Association win at Bear Ridge Speedway on Saturday. (Alan Ward photo)

BRADFORD — Kevin Chaffee topped a list of first-time winners at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford on Saturday night. Chaffee, of Fairlee, carried his first checkered flag in the USAC Dirt Midget Association. He was joined by new victors Justin Comes, Jeremy Stygles, and Luke Greenwood.

A regular competitor in the headline DIRTcar Sportsman Modified division at Bear Ridge, Chaffee has been outstanding in a fill-in role for regular driver and New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Denny Zimmerman in the USAC Midgets this season; Chaffee had finished second in all three of prior starts in the Skip Matczak-owned No. 3 Seals-It car.

Chaffee quickly came from his ninth starting position into the lead on lap 5, running on the inside lane.

“[The car] was supposed to go good on the top but I never got a chance to try it. It was so good on the bottom coming off the corners and through the middle,” Chaffee said.

Between his starts in Midgets, Modifieds, and the Sprint Cars of New England series at Bear Ridge this season, Chaffee had six runner-up finishes. The USAC victory was his second overall of the season; he won a Modified event on June 18.

“[This is] a lot better than coming up here and finishing second. I don’t like coming up here and behind called a bridesmaid all the time,” Chaffee laughed. “This is great. Racing with these guys is a lot of fun.”

Previous USAC Dirt Midget Association winner Scott Holcomb of Granby, Conn., finished second, with Hudson, Mass., driver Jeff Horn third. Ray Miller was fourth and Tim Gallant took fifth.

Point leader Joe Krawiec of Bristol, Conn., was uninjured after a scary fire under the hood of his car on lap 15. Rookie Tyler Rivard also walked away after two-time snap roll on lap 4.

Nineteen year-old Justin Comes of Middlebury earned his first career Sportsman Modified victory in dominant fashion in that division’s 35-lap feature race. Comes’ No. 51 Green Mountain Shoe & Apparel/Toons Home Improvement car took the lead at lap 6 and cruised through lapped traffic in a caution-free event grab the win.

“We threw a bunch of [setup] stuff at the car a few weeks ago and it seemed to really help. It’s hard, I’m running a 2001 car out here so I’ve got a big [disadvantage] on all the other guys with their newer cars, but I think we’ve got it figured out,” said Comes, who earned his first top-five finish of the year with a runner-up showing two weeks ago. “It feels awesome. I have to thank Terry Ryan and the whole Ryan family, they’ve been a huge help, and most of all, my dad for helping me in the pits every week.”

Jason Gray of East Thetford drove from his 12th-place starting position to nip point leader Adam Pierson of Fairlee in heavy traffic at the finish for the runner-up position. Pierson, Wayne Stearns and rookie Josh Sunn completed the unofficial top five.

Hometown driver Jeremy Stygles grabbed his first career Sportsman Coupe win after several seasons in the division. The Coupe division threw off an entertaining 25-lap race with two- and three-wide racing the norm throughout. Bob Shepard of West Topsham was second with point leader Josh Harrington third. Terry Williams and Gene Pierson, Jr., were next in line.

Another hometown racer, Richie Simmons, ended a summer’s worth of frustration with his first win of the year in the Limited Late Model feature. Simmons led from the outset. Ray Johnson of Campton, N.H., backed up last week’s win with a runner-up finish. Robert Tucker won a drag race to the finish line for third place over Tyler Stygles after Jordan Fornwalt spun out of the spot in the final corner. Jeremy Hodge was fifth behind Stygles.

Danny Doyle of Barre took his division-leading fourth win in the Fast Fours. Doyle defended a race-long charge from Graniteville’s Travis Hull and Steve Bell of St. Johnsbury for the win. Andy Johnson and Kevin Harran completed the top five.

Tom Placey of Bradford took his second Hornet victory of the season in a special two-segment “Madness” event. Placey finished second in the first 20-lap race and won the final leg for a total of three points. Eric Lang of Groton won the first round and finished second in the second segment for three points; Placey’s better final-segment finish gave him the tie-breaker. Mike Stender was third overall with seven points, followed by Don Reynolds and Carl Sweet.

Misty Bell of St. Johnsbury took her first Hornet Queen win of the season in a close battle. Melissa King was second and Amanda Habel recovered from a first-lap spin to finish third.

Hudson, N.H., teenager Luke Greenwood posted his first Bear Ridge win in the Granite State Mini Sprint 600cc feature. Greenwood passed four-time winner Rich Crooker of Nashua, N.H., on the final lap for the win. Jake Williams, Matt Robie, and Kevin Heath were third through fifth.

Lacey Hanson of Orwell posted her third Bear Ridge win of the year in the GSMS 500cc race. Chris Lussier of Fair Haven was second, followed by Patrick Smith, Dylan Rock, and Stephen Hutchinson.

Bear Ridge Speedway is back in action on Saturday, August 13 as Walker Motor Sales presents the John Poor Memorial, featuring a full card of regular weekly divisions and the Sprint Cars of New England. Racing action begins at 6:00pm.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Interstate Batteries of New-Mont/JTB Towing & Recovery Night
Bear Ridge Speedway — Bradford, VT
Saturday, August 6, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

USAC Dirt Midget Association (20 laps)
1. Kevin Chaffee, Fairlee
2. Scott Holcomb, Granby, Conn.
3. Jeff Horn, Hudson, Mass.
4. Ray Miller, East Granby, Conn.
5. Tim Gallant, Wales, Mass.
6. Scott Viets, East Granby, Conn.
7. Adam Whitney, Warren
8. Joe Krawiec, Bristol, Conn.
9. Tony Montessi, Roxbury, Conn.
10. Dean Christenson, Granby, Conn.

Bond Auto DIRTcar Sportsman Modified (35 laps)
1. Justin Comes, Middlebury
2. Jason Gray, East Thetford
3. Adam Pierson, Fairlee
4. Wayne Stearns, Bradford
5. # Josh Sunn, White River Junction
6. Jim Morgan, Woodstock
7. Dan Eastman, Thetford Center
8. Kevin Chaffee, Fairlee
9. Bryan King, Corinth
10. Louie Cadwell, Vershire

Wells River Chevrolet Sportsman Coupe (25 laps)
1. Jeremy Stygles, Bradford
2. Bob Shepard, West Topsham
3. Josh Harrington, Topsham
4. Terry Williams, Wells River
5. Gene Pierson, Jr., East Corinth
6. # Teddy Salomaa, Bradford
7. # Jason Colbeth, Newbury
8. Jeremy Beckley, Woodsville, N.H.
9. Louie Cadwell, Vershire
10. Shane Race, South Strafford

A Notch Above Automotive Limited Late Model (20 laps)
1. Richie Simmons, Bradford
2. Ray Johnson, Campton, N.H.
3. Robert Tucker, East Corinth
4. Tyler Stygles, Bradford
5. Jeremy Hodge, Newbury

Weglarz Property Service Fast Four (20 laps)
1. Danny Doyle, Barre
2. Travis Hull, Graniteville
3. Steve Bell, St. Johnsbury
4. Andy Johnson, Wilder
5. Kevin Harran, St. Johnsbury

KDD NAPA Auto Parts Hornet (2×20 laps)
1. Tom Placey, Bradford (3 pts.)
2. Eric Lang, Groton (3 pts.)
3. Mike Stender, South Strafford (7 pts.)
4. Don Reynolds, Springfield (9 pts.)
5. Carl Sweet, Waits River (10 pts.)

Hornet Queen (10 laps)
1. Misty Bell, St. Johnsbury
2. Melissa King, Corinth
3. Amanda Habel, Roxbury
4. Julie Stender, South Strafford
5. Dawn Woodward, St. Johnsbury

Granite State Mini Sprint 600cc (20 laps)
1. Luke Greenwood, Hudson, N.H.
2. Rich Crooker, Nashua, N.H.
3. Jake Williams, Center Tuftonboro, N.H.
4. Matt Robie, Hill, N.H.
5. Kevin Heath

Granite State Mini Sprint 500cc (20 laps)
1. Lacey Hanson, Orwell
2. Chris Lussier, Fair Haven
3. Patrick Smith, East Andover, N.H.
4. Dylan Rock, Enfield, N.H.
5. Stephen Hutchinson, Manchester, N.H.