PHOTO: Craig Bushey celebrates his “I Am Vermont Strong 100” Vermont State Late Model Championship win at Devil’s Bowl Speedway. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

Holds off invaders to win Vermont State Late Model Championship 100

–by T.J. Ingerson

WEST HAVEN — Craig Bushey may have been an overlooked participating in Friday night’s “I Am Vermont Strong 100” at Devil’s Bowl Speedway.

After a one week delay, much of the talk had been about polesitter Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, outside polesitter Brent Dragon, eight-time American-Canadian Tour champion Brian Hoar, or Memorial Day Classic winner Nick Sweet. But Bushey’s name was overlooked.

The Fairfax native, however, put his name front and center after he won the “I Am Vermont Strong 100”.

“It doesn’t get any beter,” Bushey said. “The only thing better may be Milk Bowl or Oxford 250. But this our big race here. I had hopes of a top ten finish. I thought that would be a good end to our night. To run as well as we did, and not get anything for free, it was awesome.”

Bushey started in the fourth position and quickly moved into second, and rode behind Dragon over the first ten laps. Bushey, however, saw his opportunity and moved to the inside of Dragon on lap nine to take the lead.

Bushey then checked out and set a blistering pace and put all but five cars a lap down during a green flag run of 60 laps after a lap 34 caution flag.

“[This car] was awesome,” Bushey said. “I knew we had a good car, but honestly, I said I’d give it hell because it would probably only last 30 or 40 laps. And the laps just clicking off and I had no idea it was going to last to the end. It was awesome.”

A series of caution flags put Dragon to Bushey’s outside and Hoar on Bushey’s bumper with less than ten laps remaining, but Bushey was able to stay out front.

“I knew I had to protect the bottom and hit my marks,” Bushey explained. “The first restart I was a little antsy and got into turn one a little hot. That helped me on the second one and kept my head on and not overdrive. I knew if I didn’t overdrive into the corner I would have beat [Dragon] out of the corner.”

Hoar, of Williston, was able to grab the second position from Dragon on the final lap. Dragon, of Milton, settled for third. Albany Township, Maine’s Ricky Rolfe finished fourth while Montpelier’s Dave Pembroke completed the top five.

Joey Becker, Scott, Brooks Clark, Bryan Town, and Jamie Fisher were the sixth through tenth place finishers.

The third race of the Vermont State Late Model Championship will be Thursday, July 12, at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl for the Vermont State Lottery Commission Governor’s Cup 150.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — “I Am Vermont Strong 100”
Vermont State Late Model Championship — Devil’s Bowl Speedway, West Haven
Friday, June 16, 2012

Pos.-(Start)-Driver-Hometown
1. (4) Craig Bushey, Fairfax
2. (3) Brian Hoar, Williston
3. (2) Brent Dragon, Milton
4. (7) Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, Maine
5. (9) Dave Pembroke, Montpelier.
6. (8) Joey Becker, Jeffersonville
7. (1) Phil Scott, Berlin
8. (18) Brooks Clark, Fayston
9. (15) Bryan Town, Charlestown, N.H.
10. (6) Jamie Fisher, Shelburne
11. (11) Matt White, Northfield
12. (20) Jim Morris, Barre
13. (19) Joey M. Laquerre, East Montpelier
14. (21) Dave Whitecomb, Essex Junction
15. (16) # Dan Petronis, II, Mechanicville, N.Y.
16. (12) Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown
17. (10) Chris Wilk, Mendon
18. (23) Norm Andrews, Northfield
19. (5) Nick Sweet, Barre
20. (14) Chip Grenier, Graniteville
21. (17) Trampas Demers, South Burlington
22. (13) Scott Carpenter, Waterbury
23. (22) Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburg