PHOTO: Kris Vernold claimed his first career DIRTcar Modified win at Airborne Speedway after holding off a hard-charging Patrice McGrail in the 30-lap feature. (Ricky St. Clair/VMM photo)

–by Ricky St. Clair

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Kris Vernold needed a win at Airborne Speedway, if for nothing else, to turn his luck around.

The Kingsbury, N.Y., native lost a rear end and an entire transmission one week ago, leaving the crew of the Alternative Custom Homes No. 97 minimal time to get the car back together. Saturday night, though, Vernold held off a hard-charging Patrice McGrail in the closing stages of Airborne’s 30-lap DIRTcar Modified feature for his first career victory.

Vernold capitalized on a front row starting spot in the 22-car field and drove out to a backstretch lead in the first half of the event. Vernold was then forced to hold off second-place point man McGrail, who charged from twelfth-place, following a lap 20 caution period for a one-car incident

“I know I was using up track, but when you’re in the lead, I guess you can get away with it a little bit,” Vernold said. “I’ve had nothing but bad luck all year long. We spent all week putting it back together and didn’t really have enough time to work on setup. I drove my heart out tonight.”

The 2011 Airborne Modified Rookie of the Year looks to use the win as positive momentum heading down the final stretch of races at the Plattsburgh half-mile.

“It helps to end the season like this because it’s been a struggle,” Vernold said. “I think we got lucky last year as good as we ran. This year, we tried to improve stuff, and it immediately worked early on (in the year). There’s no doubt I’d like to be up here again.”

McGrail finished one car-length behind Vernold at the start-finish line to take the runner-up position. Adam Bartemy, Aaron Bartemy, and Todd Stone rounded out the unofficial top-five. Positions six through ten were credited to George Foley, Greg Atkins, Andy Heywood, Todd Ormsby, and Patrick Dupree.

Lonnie Rivers garnered his third victory of the season in the 20-lap Sportsman Modified feature. The Cadyville, N.Y., driver successfully cut into Nick Heywood’s 25-point lead in the standings entering the racing card. Travis Bruno continued his string of consecutive podium finishes with second and Heywood, Joe Daniels, and Jessey Mueller collectively earned top-five honors.

Bucko Branham nabbed his 35th career checkered flag in a Limited Late Model-type car at Airborne since 2000 after he passed Shawn Duquette for the race lead on a lap 22 restart. After he maneuvered his way from a tenth-place starting position primarily using the second and third lane, Branham overtook Duquette on the outside to solidly himself in the lead.

Duquette of Morrisonville, N.Y., finished second after leading five-laps and Danny Sullivan of Morrisonville, N.Y., returned from his Late Model endeavor at Devil’s Bowl Speedway to complete the podium. Second-place point man Robin Wood and Dave Rabtoy completed the top-five.

Josh Terry of Essex, N.Y., picked up yet another victory following last week’s 100-lap $1,000-to-win prize by edging out older brother Tylor Terry in the 25-lap Renegade feature. Josh Terry wrestled the race lead from Tylor Terry on lap 15 before two caution periods occurring on lap 19 bunched up the field for a six-lap shootout. The Terry brothers exchanged the lead multiple times and Josh Terry did for keeps on lap 21 to go on for his third win of 2012.

Tylor Terry finished second with Joe Warren and Lance Rabtoy beating and banging across the line to finish two-three, respectively. Jason McClatchie escaped two early incidents to grab fifth-place in the 20-car field.

Erick Sayles of Lake Clear, N.Y., his fifth win and unprecedented 13th top-five finish of the summer in the 15-lap Mini-Modified feature. Rob Clark of Keeseville, N.Y., and Jayson Criss of Plattsburgh, N.Y., also reached the podium.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – ETS Staffing/Gordon’s Oil-MX Propane/20 Main Tavern of AuSable Forks Night
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pos.-Driver-Hometown

DIRTcar Modifieds (30 laps)
1. Kris Vernold, Kingsbury, N.Y.
2. Patrice McGrail, Candiac, Que.
3. Adam Bartemy, Sheldon, Vt.
4. Aaron Bartemy, Champlain, N.Y.
5. Todd Stone, Middlebury, Vt.
6. George Foley, Vermontville, N.Y..
7. Greg Atkins, Clintonville, N.Y
8. Andy Heywood, Morrisonville, N.Y.
9. Todd Ormsby, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
10. Patrick Dupree, Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Sportsman Modifieds (20 laps)
1. Lonnie Rivers, Cadyville, N.Y.
2. Travis Bruno, Morrisonville, N.Y.
3. Nick Heywood, Morrisonville, N.Y.
4. Joe Daniels, Saranac, N.Y.
5. Jessey Mueller, Olmstedville, N.Y.

Limited Late Models (25 laps)
1. Bucko Branham, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Shawn Duquette, Morrisonville, N.Y.
3 Danny Sullivan, Morrisonville, N.Y..
4. Robin Wood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
5. Dave Rabtoy, Fairfax, Vt.
6. Jamy Begor, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
7. Jimmy Bushey, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
8. Steven Bresette, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
9. Brandon Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
10. Brian McGinley, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Renegades (25 laps)
1. Josh Terry, Essex, N.Y.
2. Tylor Terry, Morrisonville, N.Y.
3. Joe Warren, West Chazy, N.Y.
4. Lance Rabtoy, Fairfax, Vt.
5. Jason McClatchie, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
6. Larry Underwood, Milton, Vt.
7. Kevin Boutin, Fairfax, Vt.
8. Ryan Boutin, Fairfax, Vt.
9. Robbie Favreau, Peru, N.Y.
10. Brian Criss, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Mini-Modifieds (15 laps)
1. Erick Sayles, Lake Clear, N.Y.
2. Rob Clark, Keeseville, N.Y.
3. Jayson Criss, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
4. Tyson Drown, Morrisonville, N.Y.
5. Josh LaPorte, Peru, N.Y.