Two-track season at Devil’s Bowl Speedway proved to be a challenge
WEST HAVEN, Vt. – Vince Quenneville Jr. is celebrating this week as he is officially named the Vermont State Champion of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The Brandon, Vt., driver has won the title for a second consecutive year, but his road to the championship was much more challenging in 2016.
Over 60 tracks across North America operate with NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) sanction, with competing for state, provincial, and national championships under a common point system title. Each driver’s 18 best results from January 1 through September 18 count toward the titles, which allows drivers to replace bad finishes in favor of better finishes once they’ve reached their 18-race maximum.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway, Quenneville’s home track in West Haven, Vt., ran both its half-mile Asphalt Track and its 3/10-mile Dirt Track under NWAAS sanction for the first time in 2016, with Sportsman Modifieds as the designated “Division I” class on both surfaces. Quenneville has competed full-time on both surfaces, running 28 races prior to last Sunday’s cutoff date, with four victories on asphalt and another on dirt. Bobby Hackel, from Rensselaer, N.Y., was four races short of the maximum before September 18 but was successful enough – with six wins on dirt – that he had a mathematical shot at passing Quenneville on the final night of the NASCAR points run.
Mother Nature had other plans, though, as heavy rains on Saturday night and Sunday morning left the dirt track oversaturated, forcing the event to be cancelled. Quenneville breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday afternoon as the news broke that the race was cancelled and he would be the champion again; that relief was extra sweet as he had just missed the Asphalt Track championship in a tiebreaker one week earlier.
“A lot of people told me before the season started that they thought I would end up as the state champion again,” Quenneville said. “We had a good start, but things started going wrong in the middle of the year. The engine in the dirt car gave us trouble, I flipped over one night, we had a couple of bad runs on the asphalt, and then Bobby [Hackel] started winning a lot of races. It got a little nerve-wracking toward the end.”
Quenneville’s John Danyow-owned No. 78 Black Diamond Builders/Champlain Construction cars hit their stride again in August and finished the NASCAR points season strong. He says he felt good heading into the September 18 event.
“Bobby’s only chance to beat me was to win that race and have me finish outside the top five, but my dirt car has been running well lately and I was confident that we could hold on and get the championship without a problem,” Quenneville said. “It was a lot of hard work and dedication from my team all year, and it paid off.”
Jackie Brown Jr. of Hurley, N.Y., will be recognized as the 2016 Vermont State Rookie of the Year. As a first-time NWAAS Division I license holder in 2016, Brown was considered a rookie in the NASCAR program. Like Quenneville, he has raced in all 28 events to date; he finished in the top five in half of those races and scored third place in the state championship points behind Quenneville and Hackel.
Hometown driver Billy Lussier of Fair Haven, Vt., finished fourth in the state standings with Asphalt Track champion Jason Durgan of Morrisonville, N.Y., fifth. They were followed by Kenny Tremont Jr., rookie Tim LaDuc, Ron Proctor, rookie Justin Comes, and Travis Bruno.
Quenneville will celebrate his championship at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards in December, held at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. He will be joined by Brown, Durgan, and the winner of the Dirt Track championship, which will be decided on Saturday, October 1.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway has two events remaining on its 2016 schedule to determine the Dirt Track champions. The second annual Fabian Earthmoving “Green Mountain Sprint Car Nationals” event is on Sunday, September 25 at 5:00 p.m. and includes the Sprint Cars of New England, the Central Vermont Motorcycles Sportsman Modifieds, the Rosen & Berger Auto Recyclers Renegades, and the Portland Glass Mini Stocks.
The season wraps up on Saturday, October 1 at 5:00 p.m. with the “King of the Clay” Sportsman Modified 100 presented by The Stove Depot, with Renegades, Mini Stocks, and an Enduro Series race.
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.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series – Vermont State Championship
Unofficial Final 2016 Point Standings
(Official Standings Located at www.hometracks.nascar.com)
# – denotes rookie
1. Vince Quenneville Jr., Brandon, Vt. – 479
2. Bobby Hackel, Rensselaer, N.Y. – 442
3. # Jackie Brown Jr., Hurley, N.Y. – 436
4. Billy Lussier, Fair Haven, Vt. – 374
5. Jason Durgan, Morrisonville, N.Y. – 359
6. Kenny Tremont Jr., West Sand Lake, N.Y. – 334
7. # Tim LaDuc, Orwell, Vt. – 312
8. Ron Proctor, Charlton, N.Y. – 297
9. # Justin Comes, Middlebury, Vt. – 281
10. Travis Bruno, Morrisonville, N.Y. – 267
11. # Justin Severance, Pittsford, Vt. – 254
12. Joey Roberts, Fletcher, Vt. – 239
13. Jimmy Ryan, Whiting, Vt. – 193
14. Derrick McGrew, Ballston Spa, N.Y. – 184
15. # Chad Miller, White River Junction, Vt. – 179
16. Wayne Stearns, Bradford, Vt. – 161
17. Codie Aubin, Plattsburgh, N.Y. – 150
18. Allan Hammond, Canaan, N.H. – 136
19. # Chuck Bradford, Addison, Vt. – 136
20. Alex Bell, Cambridge, N.Y. – 125