Ryan dominates for first Devil’s Bowl title
WEST HAVEN, Vt. – This is the ninth 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.
Mini Stocks – Dirt Track – NASCAR Whelen All-American Series “Division IV”
Division Sponsor: Portland Glass
Champion: Mike Ryan – Chelsea, Vt.
Rookie of the Year: Cameron Kennedy – Rochester, Vt.
The Portland Glass Mini Stock division was an ever-changing scene at The Dirt Track at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in 2016, except for one reliable constant: Mike Ryan was a force to be reckoned with. The Chelsea, Vt., racer made Devil’s Bowl one of his two full-time home tracks during the summer, and along with Bear Ridge Speedway, the 26 year-old swept both track championships.
Ryan’s crosstown neighbor, Wayland Childs, opened things up with a victory on Sunday, June 12, at the Brown’s Quarried Slate/Brown’s Orchard & Farm Stand event. Childs and Ryan battled for the lead early before Ryan cut a tire. Childs ran away from the field after Ryan made a pit stop to earn his first Devil’s Bowl win. Albany-Saratoga Speedway regular Josh Wood finished second with Legion Speedway driver mike Lique third. Ryan, with a new tire, rebounded for fourth with Chris Conroy fifth.
Newport, N.H., racer Conroy landed in the winner’s circle at the next Mini Stock event, the WhistlePig Whiskey Firecracker on July 3, for his first Devil’s Bowl win. Conroy passed early leader Jason Porter and ran away. Porter, Ryan, and Childs were next in line with Robert Garney fifth.
Double features were next up on August 7, and it was Ryan’s time to shine. He drove through traffic in both races to visit victory lane – the first two Devil’s Bowl wins of his career. Childs and Conroy were strong, and each finished second once and third once. Porter, Derrick Counter, 2015 Asphalt Track champion C.J. LaVair, and rookie Chris Charbonneau – on his first night of racing at Devil’s Bowl – each scored top-five finishes during the event.
The Whelen Engineering Mid-Season Championships on Wednesday, August 10 brought Conroy back to victory lane with a double-points score; he also took the lead in the point standings. Garney took second with Glen Ridge Motorsports Park regular P.J. Bleau third in his only Devil’s Bowl start of the season. Childs finished fourth with former Asphalt Track winner Kyle Watrous fifth in his first start on dirt.
Ryan grabbed his third win on Liberty Street Discount Beverage & Deli Night on August 14. Childs finished second and took the point lead from Conroy. Leicester, Vt., racer Counter finished a career-best third ahead of Albany-Saratoga regular Ben Grant and Charbonneau. After a rainout on August 21, Ryan went back-to-back on August 28 with Childs second. Bear Ridge driver Jim Durkee finished third in his only Devil’s Bowl start, followed by Counter and rookie Eric Castiglioni. Ryan made it three-straight and five-for-six on Labor Day weekend, winning again on September 4. Legion Speedway racers Robert Willey and Sean Lantas landed on the podium with Bear Ridge’s Buddy Welch fourth. Ryan’s win streak vaulted him into the point lead.
Interstate All Battery Center Night on September 11 brought a long-awaited payoff for Jason Porter, who made a 520-mile round trip from his home in Freeport, Maine, to race at Devil’s Bowl every week. Porter drove his popular, pint-sized “pregnant rollerskate” Honda Civic to a convincing winner over Childs, who reclaimed the point lead when Ryan crashed out. Counter, Lantas, and Asphalt regular Andrew FitzGerald completed the top five.
Ryan came back in a big way with a win on Fabian Earthmoving Night on September 25, when he regained the point lead for good. Porter finished second, Asphalt racer Zach Wood was third, Legion champion Matt Boucher was fourth, and FitzGerald took fifth again.
Another Legion driver, Aaron Bunker of Newport, N.H., swept in for the season finale on October 1, taking down the $500-to-win Portland Glass Mini Stock special at the Stove Depot “King of the Clay” event. Garney finished a strong second, while Ryan overcame two wrecks and two trips to pit road to finish third and seal up the championship. Childs and Castiglioni rounded out the top five.
Ryan topped Childs by 23 points for the title. Conroy finished third with Counter fourth. Chris Cardarelli of Milton, Vt., scored nine top-10 finishes to finish fifth overall. Cameron Kennedy of Rochester, Vt., passed Charbonneau at the final event to take the Rookie of the Year crown; he earned a qualifying heat win and seven top-10s, beating out Charbonneau, Castiglioni, Watrous, and Josh Swahn for the freshman title.
The “Devil’s Bowl Speedway 50th Season in Review” series wraps up with Part 10, which will recap the Enduro Series division.
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
Portland Glass Mini Stocks
Devil’s Bowl Speedway Dirt Track
1. Mike Ryan, Chelsea, Vt. – 569
2. Wayland Childs, Chelsea, Vt. – 546
3. Chris Conroy, Newport, N.H. – 499
4. Derrick Counter, Leicester, Vt. – 476
5. Chris Cardarelli, Milton, Vt. – 421
6. Jason Porter, Freeport, Maine – 403
7. Cameron Kennedy, Rochester, Vt. – 351
8. Chris Charbonneau, Rutland, Vt. – 344
9. Robert Garney, Fort Edward, N.Y. – 312
10. Eric Castiglioni, Newbury, N.H. – 267
Feature Winners: Mike Ryan (6), Chris Conroy (2), Aaron Bunker (1), Wayland Childs (1), Jason Porter (1).
Qualifying Heat Winners: Mike Ryan (5), Jason Porter (3), Wayland Childs (2), Chris Conroy (2), Derrick Counter (1), Jim Durkee (1), Robert Garney (1), Cameron Kennedy (1), Kyle Watrous (1), Robert Willey (1).
Photos by Andrew Cassidy and Heather Aube for Devil’s Bowl Speedway