PHOTO: Clay Dow snapped a two-year winless streak after taking the first round of the SCoNE Triple Crown Weekend. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

CANAAN, N.H. — Clay Dow is back on the top step in victory lane. After being absent from the winner’s circle for over two years, Dow dominated the opening race for the Sprint Cars of New England Triple Crown Weekend at the Canaan Dirt Speedway. The Barnstead, N.H. driver’s last victory came August 8, 2009 at the Bear Ridge Speedway, but has finished in the top five in his three starts this season.

“It feels awesome,” smiled Dow after his victory. “The car was awesome. During the heat race, the car wasn’t hooking up. We changed some tires, made a few other adjustments, and it was a whole different animal come feature time.”

Dow started on the pole and jumped out to an early lead over Tilton, N.H. rookie racer Jim Lowery, Jr., and survived the first restart over Lowery, Jr. after getting a great jump. Perhaps that was just the practice Dow needed, as two following caution periods, on lap 19 and 21, put SCoNE front runner Kevin Chaffee on his bumper. Dow pulled away from Chaffee twice after getting great restarts, and ran to victory.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment. We have a cone for restarts known as the power cone. No one has taken advantage of it this year,” explained Dow. “Once I got there restart, I took advantage of it and gave me the jump to get back into turn one before anyone else got there.”

Chaffee, of Fairlee, finished second. Defending Triple Crown Champion Dan Douville, of Bridgewater, N.H., was able to get a position on each of the race’s final two restarts to take third. Jim Lowery, Jr. settled for fourth while fellow rookie Tyler Rich, of Pike, N.H., finished fifth.

SCoNE point leader Chris Donnelly took sixth, while Mark Cole, Will Hull, Jake Williams, and Lacey Hanson completed the unofficial top ten.

The Sprint Cars of New England are back in action for race number two of their Triple Crown Weekend Saturday night at the Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vt., joining Bear Ridge’s competitive weekly field. Also on the card is the “Asphalt Invitational,” featuring American-Canadian Tour drivers Brian Hoar, Nick Sweet, Wayne Helliwell, Jr., and more. SCoNE’s Triple Crown Weekend will end at the Legion Speedway in Rumney, N.H. on Sunday.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — ScoNE Triple Crown Weekend Race 1 (30 laps)
Sprint Cars of New England — Canaan Dirt Speedway
Friday, September 02, 2011

(# – denotes Rookie)

1. (1) Clay Dow, Barnstead, N.H.
2. (5) Kevin Chaffee, Fairlee, Vt.
3. (4) Dan Douville, Bridgewater, N.H.
4. (2) # Jim Lowery, Jr., Tilton, N.H.
5. (9) # Tyler Rich, Pike, N.H.
6. (6) Chris Donnelly, Piermont, N.H.
7. (12) Mark Cole, Lebanon, N.H.
8. (3) # Will Hull, East Montpelier, Vt.
9. (14) # Jake Williams, Center Tuftonboro, N.H.
10. (10) Lacey Hanson, Orwell, Vt.
11. (8) Bruce Kimball, Lebanon, N.H.
12. (7) Shawn Berry, Center Ossipee, N.H.
13. (13) # Matt Robie, Hill, N.H.
14. (15) Bob Giulliani, Middletown, N.H.
15. (11) Robby Bodwell, Sanford, Me.
16. (16) # Brandon Valley, Center Ossipee, N.H.