Pictured, left to right, are Mike Watts Jr., Modified winner Patrick Dupree, Jane Watts and Andy Watts.
Patrick Dupree rebounded from a hard crash last week and drove the Saranac Country Store No. 24 to his fourth win in the Mike Watts Memorial 50 for DIRTcar Modifieds Saturday at Airborne Speedway. Runner-up Kris Vernold, Craig Reyell and George Foley went wheel to wheel for second for the final 15 laps.
Several car-lengths back, at speed, but taking no chances, Martin Roy of Napierville, Que., brought the Gamache Trucking No. 90 home in seventh place to secure the 2011 Ernie’s Discount Tools Modified championship. Roy, the 2009 champion, is the first Canadian racer ever to win two Airborne lead division championships.
Foley, Roy’s only threat in the last point race of the season, was nearly taken out on the fourth lap when Dan Brown spun around in front of him as he entered the third turn, but Foley swerved in time. When the green came back out, Vernold was the leader with Dupree fifth, Roy sixth and Foley seventh. Dupree got to Vernold on lap 11 and passed him for the lead on lap 17.
Vernold and Reyell diced for second the rest of the way. Foley joined in for the final 10 laps, but came up a few feet shy of third. Pierre Berthiaume finished 5th, a car-length behind Foley. Positions 6-10 went to Aaron Bartemy, Roy, Vince Quenneville, Adam Bartemy and Richard Tisseur.
Dupree’s win was his fourth of the season. He was driving a new car which he hopes to run at the front with later in the month at Syracuse. Dupree finished third in the final 2011 standings - one spot behind Foley. Quenneville moved one spot past Andy Heywood to finish the regular season fourth in the standings.
“I felt I was in a good place in the race,” Roy said. “I was trying to save the car, save the tires, and check on the 34 car (Foley). This is a very, very good race track. I am very happy to be the champion here. The night I flew by helicopter after a CASCAR race to get here and we won, my team said maybe we can win the championship.”
Vernold’s second-place effort was his best finish of the year. Dupree, Vernold and Matt Woodruff won the Modified heats.
The J&S Steel Sportsman went 50 laps as eight teams from Autodrome St-Eustache joined in. The Quebec teams ran a wider tire and several Airborne drivers did the same, foregoing a chance to earn regular season championship points. That was a winning strategy for Plattsburgh’s Bucko Branham, who opened up a sizeable lead in the middle of the race and then held off all comers during several late race restarts. The top Airborne regular across the line on Airborne legal tires was Shawn Duquette, followed by Robin Wood, who clinched his second straight Sportsman title.
Maxime Pelletier of Mascouche, Que., placed second. Jocelyn Gagnon of Ste-Anne-des-Plaines was third, two car-lengths ahead of Brandon Atkins of Ausable Forks, who also ran the wider tire.
Josh LeClaire of Plattsburgh won the NAPA Mini Modified feature in the Mt. Valley Integrated Systems No. 7. Kris Clark, who pressed LeClaire much of the way, Speedy Bresette, Matt Brousseau and Erick Sayles completed the top five.
Lonnie Rivers of Cadyville took the Renegade checkers after holding off Robbie Favreau and Robert Gordon. Rookie Jason McClatchie was 4th. Josh Terry was 5th.
Johnmichael Bresette of Keeseville won the Busch Bomber feature to remain in contention for the division crown, which will be decided this Saturday, Sept. 10.
Modifieds: 1. Patrick Dupree, 2. Kris Vernold, 3. Craig Reyell, 4. George Foley, 5. Pierre Berthiaume, 6. Aaron Bartemy, 7. Martin Roy, 8. Vince Quenneville, 9. Adam Bartemy, 10. Richard Tisseur, 11. Pat McGrail, 12. Matt Woodruff, 13. Maxime Viens, 14. Mike Phinney, 15. Roger Labreche, 16. Chris Cayea, 17. Cam Grady, 18. Leon Gonyo, 19. Mike Reyell, 20. Mikael Labreche, 21. Jimmy Ryan, 22. Jim McComb, 23. Karl Fredrickson, 24. Dan Brown, 25. Mike Wells, 26. Andy Heywood, 27. Greg Atkins, 28. Brandon Atkins.