PHOTO: Danny Sullivan posted his first career Sportsman victory in the regular season finale at Airborne Speedway on Sunday. (Ricky St. Clair/VMM photo)

–by Ricky St. Clair

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — After coming up short of pulling out a victory numerous times during the 2011 campaign, Danny Sullivan had to wait until the final race of the season to pick up career victory number one in the 25-lap J&S Steel Sportsman feature on Sunday afternoon at Airborne Speedway.

The Morrisonville, N.Y., native started third in the 20-car field and grabbed the lead from Sportsman rookie Keith Pelkey on the sixth circuit of the feature event. The 20 year-old hotshoe took advantage of a caution-free race by distancing himself from second- and third-place finishers Bucko Branham and Jamy Begor.

“It’s the first time we went caution-free all year,” Sullivan said. “It seems like every time I had a good run going, I would get collected in a wreck on the restart and get the worst of it. Phil [Perry, crew chief] has given me a car to win at least three times this year.”

Sullivan recognized the hard work his entire crew and family put into No. 3 LaWare Blacktopping Pontiac over the course of the summer. The third-year competitor finished fifth in the final Sportsman point standings.

“With how competitive we are, it was just a matter of time,” Sullivan said. “Phil always said to me he’s given me a car that could pull off a win. Starting third, there wasn’t any reason I couldn’t pull it off.”

Branham and Begor finished second and third, respectively. Robin Wood and Nick Heywood completed the unofficial top five. Positions six through ten were earned by Shawn Duquette, Howard Stoner, Pelkey, Casey St. Clair, and Lance Rabtoy.

Wood, of Plattsburgh, N.Y., was crowned the 2011 Airborne Sportsman track champion. It is the second consecutive title for the driver of the No. 61.

Sixteen-year-old Jessey Mueller of Olmstedville, N.Y., was the victor in a 25-lap Sportsman Modified exhibition race at Airborne on Sunday. The driver of the No. 19 Mueller & Sons Towing entry was the winner of the first Sportsman Modified event at Airborne Speedway since the track had a dirt surface in the 1980s.

Hunter Bates, Ron Proctor, Travis Bruno, and Dave Manny completed the top five. There were a total of twelve teams that competed in the event.

Like Sullivan, Joe Warren of West Chazy, N.Y., had to wait the entire season to pick up his first checkered flag of 2011. The veteran driver of the No. 13 Freihofer’s/Bud Light Chevrolet started fourth in the 21-car field and used a lap 6 caution to get around Don Franklin to solidify himself in the top spot.

With the remainder of the event going caution-free, Warren would become the ninth different Renegade winner on the season. Franklin, Robert Gordon, Lonnie Rivers, and Kevin Boutin completed the top five.

Boutin, of Swanton, Vt., clinched the Renegade championship simply by taking the green flag. He was credited with three wins and 13 top-five finishes en route to his second-straight title.

Josh LeClaire was the winner of Saturday’s 25-lap Mini-Modified championship feature. Speedy Bresette of Castleton, Vt., won the four-cylinder division’s championship.

Bill Joyal Sr., of AuSable Forks, N.Y., was the victor in the entry-level Bomber feature Saturday. Rookie Johnmichael Bresette was named the 2011 track champ.

Airborne Speedway has two events remaining on the schedule. A six-hour endurance race will be held on a special road course layout on Sunday, Sept. 18 from 12:00 noon to 6:00pm.

The American-Canadian Tour Late Models and Bond Auto/WIX Tiger Tour, along with the Airborne Renegades, will close out the season on Saturday, Oct. 8. The ACT Late Models will have a 200-lap event while the Tiger Tour will run a 100-lap feature.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Championship Weekend
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Saturday/Sunday, September 10/11, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

J&S Steel Sportsman (25 laps)
1. Danny Sullivan, Morrisonville, N.Y.
2. Bucko Branham, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Jamy Begor, Mooers, N.Y.
4. Robin Wood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
5. Nick Heywood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
6. Shawn Duquette, Morrisonville, N.Y.
7. Howard Stoner, Altona, N.Y.
8. Keith Pelkey, Clintonville, N.Y.
9. Casey St. Clair, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
10. # Dave Rabtoy, Swanton, Vt.

Sportsman Modified (25 laps)
1. Jessey Mueller, Olmstedville, N.Y.
2. Hunter Bates, Pittsford, Vt.
3. Ron Proctor, Charlton, N.Y.
4. Travis Bruno, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
5. Dave Manny, Queensbury, N.Y.
6. Brandon Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
7. Joe Williams, Schuylerville, N.Y.
8. Fred Proctor, Clifton Park, N.Y.
9. Jimmy Introne, Jr., Glens Falls, N.Y.
10. Thunder Anderson, Akwesasne, Que.

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

Keeseville NAPA Mini-Modified (25 laps)
1. Josh LeClaire, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. # Erick Sayles, Lake Placid, N.Y
3. Speedy Bresette, Peru, N.Y.
4. Kris Clark, Keeseville, N.Y.
5. Larry Archer, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Busch Beer Bomber (25 laps)
1. Bill Joyal Sr., AuSable Forks, N.Y.
2. # Tyler Bresette, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. # J.M. Bresette, Keeseville, N.Y.
4. Ray Germain, Bristol, Vt.
5. Bernie Guynup, Plattsburgh, N.Y.