Masterson makes history as first repeat champion
WEST HAVEN, Vt. – This is the fourth installment of the “Devil’s Bowl Speedway 50th Season in Review” series. This series takes a retrospective look at an action-packed year of stock car racing in 2016 on the half-mile Asphalt Track and the 3/10-mile Dirt Track at Devils Bowl Speedway, division by division.
Late Models – Asphalt Track – NASCAR Whelen All-American Series “Division II”
Division Sponsor: Central Vermont Motorcycles
Champion: Josh Masterson – Bristol, Vt.
Josh Masterson seems to have a knack for making history at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, and he made it again in 2016. The Bristol, Vt., native – known by fans as “Kid Rocket” – became the first driver in the seven-year history of the half-mile Asphalt Track at Devil’s Bowl to repeat as the champion of the Central Vermont Motorcycles Late Model division. Along the way he also clinched his third consecutive Crazy Horse Racing “Winners Circle Challenge” title with a division-high five feature victories.
Masterson wasted no time in defending his 2015 championship, winning the first two events of the season. On opening night on Saturday, May 21, Masterson drew the outside pole starting position and dominated the race. Jamie Aube finished second and Robert Bryant Jr. took third after a great battle with Steve Miller.
It wasn’t as easy for Masterson the next week as he was part of a full-contact, multi-car battle throughout the race on Yorkmont Auto Auctions Night. Still, he got the job done, beating Bryant and Bobby Therrien.
The weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models had the night off on June 4 as the American-Canadian Tour rolled into town for the People’s United Bank “John Bruno Memorial” 100. Nick Sweet of Barre, Vt., posted his first Devil’s Bowl ACT win and the fourth of his overall career at the track after a late fight with Wayne Helliwell Jr. Dillon Moltz, Rich Dubeau, and Luke Hinkley were next in line; Masterson was one of four Devil’s Bowl regulars in the field and posted the top finish among them in ninth place. Masterson and Bryant also each won preliminary qualifying races.
After an off-week, racing returned on June 18, and Masterson was once again in victory lane after a two-segment, scored race. He bobbled a bit in the next two weeks, though, with two sixth-place finishes. During that time, veteran racer Aube of North Ferrisburgh, Vt., posted a victory at the annual Rutland Regional Medical Center “Hometown Heroes” Night on June 25, and Mendon, Vt.’s Seth Bridge scored the first feature win of his career at the Coca-Cola Firecracker on July 2. Chad White, Bill Donahue, and Jesse Carris each scored season-best finishes in the top-five at the Firecracker 44 event.
A rainout and the annual summer break meant two weeks off, but Bryant returned with a double-points victory at the Friend Construction Mid-Season Championship on July 23 and even nosed ahead of Masterson into the point lead by a single marker. Masterson was back on top at the Community College of Vermont event on July 30, though, and his fourth win of the year put him in the point lead for the rest of the season.
Bryant poured it on, though, and the Brooklyn, Conn., racer scored additional wins on Carrara Masonry & Concrete Night on August 6 and in the first of two features on Sugar & Spice “Double Stack” Night on August 27. Former track champion Chris Bergeron of Claremont, N.H., running a limited schedule in 2016, returned to the winner’s circle on Brown’s Quarried Slate/Brown’s Orchard & Farm Stand Night on August 20, and Steve Miller of Vergennes, Vt., posted a hugely popular win in the Sugar & Spice nightcap – his first victory in 23 years.
Masterson added win number five at the Rutland Herald/“Go Rutland” Mobile App event on September 3 and held a 20-point lead on Bryant entering the 100-lap finale during Vermont 200 Weekend on Sunday, September 11. Bryant swung for the fences and held the race lead at lap 41, but a broken rear axle ended his season 59 laps early. Hinesburg, Vt., racer Therrien returned at the event and battled Masterson to the end, winning the race as Masterson celebrated the championship with a runner-up finish.
Bryant ended the season in a mathematical tie with Miller for the championship runner-up position, but took the overall spot with the tiebreaker being number of victories (3-1). Bridge finished a career-best fourth in the standings with Aube rounding out the top five.
As the “Devil’s Bowl Speedway 50th Season in Review” series continues soon, Part 5 will look back at the Sprint Cars of New England division on the Dirt Track.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, Vt., four miles north of Exit 2 off of U.S. Route 4 and just 20 minutes from Rutland, Vt. For more information, visit www.DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com or call (802) 265-3112. Devil’s Bowl Speedway is on Facebook at facebook.com/DevilsBowlSpeedway and on Twitter and Instagram at @DevilsBowlSpeed; follow the action using the #DevilsBowl hashtag.
FINAL 2016 POINT STANDINGS
Central Vermont Motorcycles Late Models
Devil’s Bowl Speedway Asphalt Track
1. Josh Masterson, Bristol, Vt. – 703
2. Robert Bryant Jr., Brooklyn, Conn. – 657
3. Steve Miller, Vergennes, Vt. – 657
4. Seth Bridge, Mendon, Vt. – 633
5. Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburgh, Vt. – 510
6. Jesse Carris, Rutland, Vt. – 499
7. Mark Norris, Benson, Vt. – 338
8. Chris Bergeron, Claremont, N.H. – 281
9. Chad White, Fort Ann, N.Y. – 214
10. Dallas Trombley, Randolph, Vt. – 212
Feature Winners: Josh Masterson (5), Robert Bryant Jr. (3), Jamie Aube (1), Chris Bergeron (1), Seth Bridge (1), Steve Miller (1), Nick Sweet (1), Bobby Therrien (1).
Qualifying Race & Segment Winners: Josh Masterson (10), Robert Bryant Jr. (3), Jamie Aube (2), Seth Bridge (2), Steve Miller (2), Chris Bergeron (1), Brent Dragon (1), Aaron Fellows (1), Dallas Trombley (1), Chad White (1), Matt White (1), Mike Ziter (1).
Photos by Derak Covey/Images by DC; Dave Dalesandro/RacersGuide.com; T.J. Ingerson/vtmotormag.com; Andrew Cassidy/Devil’s Bowl Speedway; Nicole Laffond/Devil’s Bowl Speedway