–by Ricky St. Clair (@Ricky_StClair)
VMM Correspondent
(As seen in the Sunday, May 8 edition of the Press-Republican)
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Nick Heywood picked up right where he left off Saturday at Airborne Park Speedway.
The four-time and defending Ernie’s Discount Tools Sportsman Modified track champion led all but four laps to win the Can/Am Challenge Series 75.
Heywood, who started fourth in the 14-car field, maneuvered around Greg Atkins on lap five and never looked back.
“Oh, it’s great,” Heywood said. “It makes all the hard work over the winter worth it. All the long hours in the garage and just busting our butts.
“It was hooked up. Top, bottom (or) wherever I wanted to go. It was there, and it was fast.”
A single-car spin for Roger Labreche on lap 65 halted the race for a fourth time, forcing Heywood to fend off four other lead-lap cars, including Danny Sullivan, Bucko Branham, Jamie Lafountain and Mike Wells.
“I definitely started making sure I was hitting every mark,” Heywood said. “Made sure if they were going to pass me, they were doing it on the outside.”
Branham and Wells executed a daring three-wide move to finish on the podium. Lafountain and Sullivan rounded out the unofficial top-five finishers.
Robert Gordon survived a lap-25 restart to win the 30-lap feature for the Jeffords Steel Renegades.
Gordon, of Milton, Vt., elected to restart on the inside line after Jared Blake dropped fluid down on the racing surface, causing the second caution of the race.
Gordon cleared Tylor Terry and kept him in his rear-view mirror for the remainder of the event.
“I’m pretty sure my buddy Jared put that transmission fluid down on the outside; I didn’t want anything to do with it on the restart,” Gordon said. “It looks like I took the right choice.”
Terry, who led the first eight circuits, settled for a runner-up finish. Shawn Duquette, Richie Turner and Brent Jarvis completed the unofficial top five.
After surrendering the lead to Josh Laporte on lap three, Dale O’Neil took the lead for keeps on the ensuing circuit to win the 15-lap race for the Busch Mini Modifieds.
O’Neil never faltered on a lap-eight restart for debris on the frontstretch, and he extended his lead to a comfortable margin.
Laporte raced his way to a second-place finish, while Eddie Bresette’s late-race surge resulted in a visit to the podium. Tim LaFountain and Zach Wood were unofficially fourth and fifth, respectively.
Racing returns when the American-Canadian Tour makes its lone visit to the half-mile track for the Spring Green 116 Saturday. Post time is 5 p.m.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Garrand’s Motorsports CAN/AM Challenge 75
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series — Airborne Park Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Ernie’s Discount Tools Sportsman Modifieds (75 laps)
1. Nick Heywood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Bucko Branham, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Mike Wells, West Chazy, N.Y.
4. Jamie LaFountain, Keeseville, N.Y.
5. Danny Sullivan, Morrisonville, N.Y.
Jeffords Steel Renegades (30 laps)
1. Robert Gordon, Milton, Vt.
2. Tylor Terry, Beekmantown, N.Y.
3. Shawn Duquette, Morrisonville, N.Y.
4. Richie Turner, Fairfax, Vt.
5. Brent Jarvis, Rouses Point, N.Y.
Busch Beer Mini Modifieds (15 laps)
1. Dale O’Neil, Mooers, N.Y.
2. Josh Laporte, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Eddie Bresette, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
4. Tim LaFountain, Keeseville, N.Y.
5. Zach Wood, Georgia Center, Vt.
PHOTO: Nick Heywood celebrates his first victory of the season after capturing a win in the Can/Am Challenge Series 75 Saturday at Airborne Park Speedway. (Dave Brown photo)