Branham scores win in first Sportsman Modified feature

–by Ricky St. Clair (@Ricky_StClair)
VMM Correspondent

(As seen in the Sunday, May 22 edition of the Press-Republican)

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Nick Heywood had an opportunity to turn around his misfortune Saturday.

Nearly two hours after damaging his Ernie’s Discount Tools Sportsman Modified in the first of two 25-lap features, Heywood rebounded to win the second race.

The result supplied the four-time and defending track champion with his second victory of the season at Airborne Park Speedway.

The destruction to Heywood’s Sportsman Modified occurred in turns three and four on the first lap of the division’s first feature event.

The Plattsburgh native limped his machine to an eighth-place result — his first finish outside the top five.

Heywood estimated the damage at about $1,000.

“We basically reassembled the whole front end,” Heywood said. “It was pretty bent up. We were lucky to limp it to the finish of the first feature.”

Bucko Branham claimed the checkered flag in the first 25-lap feature, holding off Jim Morgan and hard-charging Jamy Begor. Chris Cayea, substituting for Danny Sullivan, and Jamie Lafountain completed the unofficial top five.

What looked like a promising night for Branham came to a screeching halt when the Plattsburgh veteran was involved in a crash during the second Sportsman Modified feature.

Branham, trying to avoid a spin in front of the field, ran out of real estate entering the first turn. He made contact with Rico Hernandez, sending the two machines skating up the embankment toward the turn-one wall.

Both drivers were OK, and the red flag was displayed to clean up the carnage.

Heywood scored the win, with Morgan, Begor, Roger Labreche and Cayea rounding out the unofficial top-five finishers.

Robert Gordon became the first multi-time winner in the Jeffords Steel Renegade division.

Gordon, who started ninth on the 16-car grid, made his race-winning pass on Josh Terry before the two drivers crossed the start-finish line to complete lap 24 of 25.

Gordon took advantage of the race’s lone caution period on lap 15, and he restarted behind Terry and early-race leader Michael Wright.

Gordon maneuvered around Wright before working to Terry’s inside during the closing stages of the event.

After leading 20 laps, Terry earned his second top-five finish of the season with runnerup honors.

No one passed more cars than Richie Turner. The defending track champion started last in the field, and he garnered a third-place result.Wright and Dylan Rabtoy completed the unofficial top five.

As a result of his win in the second of two 10-lap segments for the Busch Beer Mini Modifieds, Josh LaPorte won the overall with three points.

LaPorte and Dale O’Neil grabbed first and second-place finishes to accumulate three points, but LaPorte’s better finish in the final segment broke the tie.

O’Neil was the runner-up, while Tim LaFountain completed the podium with seven points.

Racing returns with Autograph Night at 6 p.m. Saturday, and the DIRTcar 358 Modifieds make their highly-anticipated return at 6 p.m. May 29.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Bailey’s Ford Little League Night
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series – Airborne Park Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Saturday, May 21, 2016


Ernie’s Discount Tools Sportsman Modifieds Feature #1 (25 laps)
1. Bucko Branham, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Jim Morgan, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Jamy Begor, Mooers, N.Y.
4. Chris Cayea, Mooers, N.Y.
5. Jamie Lafountain, Keeseville, N.Y.

Ernie’s Discount Tools Sportsman Modifieds Feature #2 (25 laps)
1. Nick Heywood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Jim Morgan, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Jamy Begor, Mooers, N.Y.
4. Roger Labreche, St-Remi, Que.
5. Chris Cayea, Mooers, N.Y.

Jeffords Steel Renegades (25 laps)
1. Robert Gordon, Milton, Vt.
2. Josh Terry, Essex, N.Y.
3. Richie Turner, Fairfax, Vt.
4. Michael Wright, Alburg, Vt.
5. Dylan Raboy, Swanton, Vt.

Busch Beer Mini Modifieds (2 x 10 laps)
1. Josh LaPorte, Peru, N.Y. — 3 pts
2. Dale O’Neil, Mooers, N.Y. — 3 pts
3. Tim LaFountain, Keeseville, N.Y. — 7 pts

PHOTO: Nick Heywood, seen here earlier this season, bounced back from an incident in the first feature to win the second Ernie’s Discount Tools Sportsman Modified feature on Saturday night at Airborne Park Speedway. (Dave Brown photo)