Father-son McKiernan team sweeps championship and rookie titles
WEST HAVEN, Vt. – This is the sixth 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.
Renegades – Asphalt Track – NASCAR Whelen All-American Series “Division III”
Division Sponsor: Rosen & Berger Auto Recyclers
Champion: Jim McKiernan – Moriah Center, N.Y.
Rookie of the Year: Austin McKiernan – Moriah Center, N.Y.
The McKiernan family had a dream season at the Asphalt Track at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, and made history as the first father-son team to win a Track Championship and Rookie of the Year title in the same division in the same year. Dad Jim, 41, and son Austin, 20, made their hometown of Moriah Center, N.Y., proud with the rare accomplishment in the Rosen & Berger Auto Recyclers Renegade division, which utilizes a competitive mix of V8-powered Street Stock-type cars and Tiger Sportsman-type machines.
Jim McKiernan battled for the championship with Scott FitzGerald from the first green flag to final checkered, and the pair nearly mirrored each other’s performances all season. They finished first and second in each of the first three weeks of the season; FitzGerald won on opening night on May 21, while McKiernan was on top on May 28 and June 4.
In the next three races, West Rutland, Vt., racer FitzGerald won twice and finished fourth once, while Jim McKiernan won once and finished fourth twice. During that stretch, Matt Monaghan, R.J. Germain, and Tony Salerno each set their high-water marks for the season; Monaghan earned his first of five runner-up finishes on June 18, Germain matched him the next week, and Salerno was third at the Coca-Cola Firecracker on July 2.
FitzGerald held a narrow six-point lead in the title chase at the summer break, but there was a different face in victory lane when action resumed on July 23 at the Friend Construction Mid-Season Championships when former Devil’s Bowl champion Richie Turner popped in to win in his lone appearance of the season. McKiernan capitalized as FitzGerald struggled and took over the point lead by 10 markers.
FitzGerald rebounded with a win on July 30 at the Community College of Vermont event, but the next week it was time for rookie Austin McKiernan to shine. The youngster ran uncontested on August 6 to score his first career win on Carrara Masonry & Concrete Night, beating Monaghan and Germain. FitzGerald had a hard crash that ended in a big fire but returned to win the next two races – victories five and six on the year.
Jim McKiernan ended a two-month winless spell in the second half of the Sugar & Spice Restaurant double-feature event on August 27. A week later, the McKiernans finished 1-2 at the Rutland Herald Labor Day weekend event on September 3; Austin won for the second time as Dad was the runner-up.
Jim McKiernan held a tiny two-point lead on FitzGerald entering the Vermont 200 Weekend season finale on September 10-11. FitzGerald created a dead heat in qualifying on Saturday, but as former Thunder Road champion Jason Woodard of Waterbury, Vt., won in his first career Devil’s Bowl start on Sunday, Jim McKiernan was able to finish second – one spot better than FitzGerald – to clinch the championship by just two points. Another rookie, 14 year-old Alexis Aiken of Claremont, N.H., notched her best run of the season in fourth place with Monaghan fifth. Germain won the 10-lap Non-Winner Shootout on Saturday.
With 11 podium finishes in 14 starts, Colchester, Vt.’s Monaghan finished third in point standings behind Jim McKiernan and FitzGerald. Austin McKiernan took fourth overall as Germain and Salerno tied for fifth place. Austin McKiernan topped Bill Burlingame and Aiken for the rookie title.
As the “Devil’s Bowl Speedway 50th Season in Review” series continues, Part 7 will look back at the Rosen & Berger Auto Recyclers Renegade 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
Rosen & Berger Auto Recyclers Renegades
Devil’s Bowl Speedway Asphalt Track
1. Jim McKiernan, Moriah Center, N.Y. – 752
2. Scott FitzGerald, West Rutland, Vt. – 750
3. Matt Monaghan, Colchester, Vt. – 714
4. Austin McKiernan, Moriah Center, N.Y. – 679
5. R.J. Germain, Bristol, Vt. – 636
TIE Tony Salerno, Mineville, N.Y. – 636
7. Bill Burlingame, Gansevoort, N.Y. – 580
8. Alexis Aiken, Claremont, N.H. – 273
9. Jimmy Bushey, Mooers Forks, N.Y. – 189
10. Richie Turner, Fairfax, Vt. – 108
Feature Winners: Scott FitzGerald (6), Jim McKiernan (4), Austin McKiernan (2), Richie Turner (1), Jason Woodard (1).
Qualifying Race & Segment Winners: Jim McKiernan (5), Scott FitzGerald (3), Austin McKiernan (3), Tony Salerno (2), Jimmy Bushey (1), Matt Monaghan (1).
Photos by Andrew Cassidy/Devil’s Bowl Speedway; Nicole Laffond/Devil’s Bowl Speedway; Justin St. Louis/Devil’s Bowl Speedway; T.J. Ingerson/vtmotormag.com