BRADFORD, VT – Tyler Rich, the 2011 Sprint Cars of New England Rookie of the Year, won his second SCoNE feature of the season with a hard fought drive from near mid-pack at Bear Ridge Speedway Saturday.
Starting eighth in the 18 car field, Rich had to both maneuver through traffic and simply survive in an unusually physical 25 lap race that saw three yellow flags and one red. His side-by-side battle with his car owner Chis Donnelly had the fans cheering in the closing laps.
“There were some cautions, rollovers and crashes, but we fought through it to get to the front,” Rich said. “Chis Donnelly and Dan Douville came through quick; they were running the bottom and I was on the top. They both stuck their noses under me and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but I did. I feel good about that, because those guys are hard runners and it takes a lot to beat them.”
Yellow flags came on laps one, seven and 13 and the red was displayed on lap 14 for a flip onto the infield by Shawn Berry. It’s been a feast or famine season for Berry, who won his career first Sprint Car feature, but also got upside down on two separate occasions.
Donnelly, the 2010 SCoNE champ, entered the night’s events with a 14 point lead over Dan Douville and had a near perfect night to clinch the 2012 crown.
After winning his heat, he started 15th in the feature and worked his way through traffic like the graduate mechanical engineer that he is. He passed Douville, who had started 11th, to claim second place and then set out after Rich.
At least three times, he was able to show Rich a front tire but on each occasion a lapped car figured into the scenario and he trailed Rich to the checkers by a fraction of a second. Douville was third, “The Fairlee Flier” Kevin Chaffee flew from 14th to finish fourth and former SCoNE champ Shawn Lawler was fifth.
The unofficial final points tally shows Donnelly with 638 and Douville with 617.
Vermont Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott made his dirt track and Sprint Car debut in the rough and tumble event. A former champion at the Thunder Road Speedbowl and with the American Canadian Tour, Scott turned in a solid, workmanlike performance in his heat race.
Trouble found him early in the feature as he was involved in a multi-car skirmish at the start, suffering front end damage that forced him to retire several laps later.
“I really had a great time, this is a great bunch of folks to race with, I just wish I hadn’t wrecked the car,” Scott said, shouldering more than his share of the blame.