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

(As seen in the Sunday, June 26 edition of the Press-Republican)

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Nick Heywood has had a difficult time solving Airborne Park Speedway’s racing surface on hot nights.

You wouldn’t have been able to tell Saturday.

Heywood flexed his muscles, winning by a comfortable margin, to capture his fourth Ernie’s Discount Tools Sportsman Modified victory of the season.

“Usually, on hot nights, we struggle,” Heywood said. “We went out (for) hot laps, and it really wasn’t that great, so I was kind of nervous. We threw a couple small changes at it to hopefully get it to go.

“And it worked.”

Heywood followed Chris Cayea’s tire tracks in the early stages of the feature before carrying out his race-winning pass in turn three on lap 12.

“Normally, I like to pass on the outside,” Heywood said. “But he was washing up a little bit when he was on the bottom, so I took that to my advantage and went to the bottom side.”

After completing three circuits as the race leader, Heywood saw the yellow flag displayed when Jim Morgan spun in turn two.

Heywood, the division’s four-time and defending track champion, was forced to fend off the likes of Cayea, Bucko Branham, Jamie Lafountain and Roger Labreche on a mid-race restart.

“Yeah, I didn’t want to see that (yellow) at all,” Heywood said. “I was fortunate, and I knew that our car was going to be all right.”

Heywood created separation and went on to collect the checkered flag, while Branham and Labreche completed the podium. Lafountain and Mike Wells rounded out the unofficial top five.

Zack Daniels survived a green-white-checkered restart to take home first-place honors in the 25-lap feature for the Jeffords Steel Renegades.

Daniels, who got sideways in turn two on the final circuit, kept a hard-charging Richie Turner in his rear-view mirror.

“We got a little loose toward the end there,” Daniels said. “Me and Richie had a good race at the end. I knew he was back there.”

Daniels returned to victory lane after some recent misfortunes.

“A couple weeks ago, we blew a rear end and transmission,” Daniels said. “I thought it was going to knock us out of the game. But we ended up coming back.

“I’ve got to thank my whole crew, everybody who’s been putting all the endless hours in this car to make it go.”
Turner grabbed a runner-up result, while Brent Jarvis, Jason McClatchie and Robert Gordon drag raced to the start-finish line three wide behind him. The trio finished third, fourth and fifth, unofficially, respectively.

Dale O’Neil scored a race-low 3 points to win the Busch Beer Mini Modified overall.

O’Neil got off to a fast start by winning the first of two 10-lap segments for the entry-level class.
“I’m just able to come off turn two a lot lower than those guys,” O’Neil said. “It just gives me a lot better run while they’re scrubbing speed sliding up the track. That’s why it’s so good off two.”

O’Neil finished second behind Tim LaFountain in the final segment.

“He had a great car in this segment,” O’Neil said. “I don’t know what happened to mine. It was a lot tighter, and it was a lot looser in.

“I’m not sure what happened, so we’ll have to check that out.”

LaFountain and Pete Blaney each finished with 5 points, but LaFountain was scored second by virtue of his better finish in the final segment.

Blaney, Josh LaPorte (7) and Jamie Whitney (12) rounded out the unofficial top-five finishers.

Racing continues when Airborne hosts its Independence Day celebration at 6 p.m. Saturday. Post time is 6 p.m.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Whelen Engineering Night
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series – Airborne Park Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Saturday, June 25, 2016


Ernie’s Discount Tools Sportsman Modifieds (30 laps)
1. Nick Heywood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Bucko Branham, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
3. Roger Labreche, St-Remi, Que.
4. Jamie LaFountain, Keeseville, N.Y.
5. Mike Wells, West Chazy, N.Y.
6. Jamy Begor, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
7. Chris Cayea, Mooers, N.Y.
8. Chris Sousie, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
9. Timex Morgan, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
10. Brian McGinley, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Jeffords Steel Renegades (25 laps)
1. Zach Daniels, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Richie Turner, Fairfax, Vt.
3. Brent Jarvis, Peru, N.Y.
4. Jason McClatchie, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
5. Robert Gordon, Milton, Vt.
6. Josh Terry, Essex, N.Y.
7. Zach Rabtoy, Fairfax, Vt.
8. Dylan Rabtoy, Swanton, Vt.
9. Mark Caron, Peru, N.Y.
10. Shawn Duquette, Morrisonville, N.Y.

Busch Beer Mini-Modifieds (2 x 10 laps)
1. Dale O’Neil, Mooers, N.Y. – 3 pts
2. Tim LaFountain, Keeseville, N.Y. — 5 pts
3. Pete Blaney, Jay, N.Y. — 5 pts
4. Josh LaPorte, Peru, N.Y. – 7 pts
5. Jamie Whitney — 12 pts

PHOTO: Nick Heywood (#29) races with Chris Sousie (#24) on Saturday night at Airborne Park Speedway. Heywood would go onto win the night’s Sprotsman Modified feature. (Dave Brown photo)