WEST HAVEN, Vt. – Cody Sargen usually has a way with words. On Friday at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, though, the congenial 20 year-old was left speechless in victory lane.
The Greenfield Center, N.Y., driver from won perhaps the most competitive NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race of the season for his first-ever victory, but was just part of a memorable night at the track. Seventeen-year-old Emily Packard was perfect on the night in winning a Triple Crown in the late model division, while Robert Gordon, Jake Noble, Jeff Murray, and Kaitlyn Baker were also winners.
Sargen fought for the win from the opening circuit of the 30-lap Bond Auto Parts Modified feature race. He led the first lap from the outside pole position, but surrendered it to Billy Lussier on a restart just one lap in. Sargen fought back on the outside to lead lap six, then waged a thrilling battle with fellow youngster Jamie LaFountain. The pair officially traded the lead six times at the start/finish line between laps seven and 21, and many more times through the corners.
Leon Gonyo crept into the mix from the beginning of that battle and eventually took second away from LaFountain on lap 22. A final restart on lap 24 didn’t help Gonyo, though, and Sargen pulled away for the win. Point leader Todd Stone recovered from a spin through the infield at lap 12 to charge up to third place. Ron Proctor and Jessey Mueller came from the back of the field to round out the top five finishers.
Stone carries a 45-point lead on Gonyo (729-684) with five feature races remaining on the schedule. Joey Roberts, who finished 13th in the event after crashing, is third overall, 65 points behind Stone.
“I’ve always known that Cody can drive a racecar, but I haven’t always given him the best car,” Matt Sargen, the winner’s father and crew chief, told the cheering crowd. The team completely disassembled and rebuilt their No. 55 Engineered Solutions-sponsored Bicknell chassis during the week. “We worked harder than we ever have to get the car right, and tonight he was perfect behind the wheel.”
Once he caught his breath, Cody Sargen was in awe of his accomplishment.