Magicians like to say, “Now you see it, now you don't” when performing their tricks.
In Mike Bruno's case recently, it was “Now you see him, now you see him again.”
Bruno finally pulled off the Devil's Bowl double Sunday, winning both the NASCAR modified and pro late model features at the Champlain Valley Racing Association's Vermont track. The modified victory was his second of the year, and he's now recorded five wins in the pro late model class.
There was a lot of mystery in the 30-lap NASCAR Modified feature, as many of the cars were either pulling into the pits or being sent in by track officials for deflating rear tires in the closing laps of the race.
Hunter Bates, one of the talented teens at the Bowl, was on the move early and despite starting sixth, had the lead and a five-car advantage when the first caution came out on lap 10 for Wayne Jelley, the first driver to suffer a flat tire.
With the field regrouped, it only took Jessey Mueller, coming off his first career victory, a handful of laps to get around Bates for the lead. But Bruno and Ron Proctor were also positioning themselves for a run at the leaders.
Things really got weird with three to go. First, Joey Trudeau went off the backstretch with a flat tire. Then, Cody Sargen and Paul Dunham Jr. pulled in. With the field still under yellow, Mueller, Proctor and Bates all came in for a new tire, giving the lead to Bruno. At that point, 11 of the 15 cars in the feature had been to the pits for at least one new tire (Sargen actually suffered three flats).
Once the race went back to green, Bruno pulled away for the victory, with Paul Braymer second, a career-best for him. John Proctor broke into the top three for the first time this season, and he was followed by Mueller and Ron Proctor. The top three cars had been able to avoid tire damage.
In discussing the tire issue later, officials think gravel may have been thrown onto the racing surface when Trudeau went off the backstretch. Although the sweeper was brought out to clean the track, the cars may have picked up some gravel prior to the grooming of the racing surface, and the gravel wreaked havoc on the hot tires when the field was under caution.
Bruno came back to win the pro late model feature to cap his Heritage Family Credit Union Night domination, outrunning Jacob McGrath and Chris Wilk, and Bill Dupree picked up his second straight win and fifth of the year in the Renegade feature.
Eddie Bruno made his way to victory lane in the Bomber Warriors division, driving to his third win of the season.
All divisions will be in action when racing resumes at Devil's Bowl on Sunday, Aug. 7. The enduro that had been scheduled for that night has been moved to Aug. 14.
NASCAR MODIFIEDS: MIKE BRUNO, Paul Braymer, John Proctor, Jessey Mueller, Ron Proctor, Hunter Bates, Fred Proctor, Paul Dunham Jr., Cody Sargen, Joey Trudeau, Matt Atwood, Jeff Haskins, Michael Bush, Dave Snow, Wayne Jelley.
PRO LATE MODELS: MIKE BRUNO, Jacob McGrath, Chris Wilk, Hunter Bates, Joey LaQuerre, Kayla Bryant, Kevin Elliot.
RENEGADES: BILL DUPREE, Josh Coonradt, Jeremy Jones, Frank Monroe, Jonathan Hayes, Cassidy Wilson, Rowdy Burch.
BOMBER WARRIORS: EDDIE BRUNO, Nate Corcoran, Jake Noble, Matt Monaghan, Justin Lilly.