Story By: JUSTIN ST. LOUIS / SPRINT CARS OF NEW ENGLAND – WEST HAVEN, VT – Matt Tanner continued his frequent winning ways at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Sunday, September 3, but he worked harder than ever to win the McGee Automotive Family Sprint Cars of New England (SCoNE) race at the Fabian Earth Moving Vermont 200.
The Stephentown, N.Y., driver’s duel with former SCoNE champion Will Hull brought the race fans to their feet in the final laps.
Top rookie Jason Goff took the lead from the start of the 25-lap A-Main, but Hull blasted from his eighth-place starting spot to third place in just two laps before a spin by Floyd Billington brought out the caution flag. Hull – who has struggled in 2023 with a new chassis – was able to grab the point two circuits later before a second caution with six laps done, and then he battled with an equally fast Tanner, who started 11th.
Hull held Tanner off for a bit after the restart, but Tanner took command on the ninth lap and pulled away. At the same time, Piermont, N.H.’s Chris Donnelly, the SCoNE point leader, sliced through the field from 15th to reach third place. The red flag flew on lap 14 after Donnelly and the lapped car of Sam Comeau came together in heavy traffic on the frontstretch, briefly launching Donnelly’s car in the air and sending Comeau flipping into the inside wall; Comeau was uninjured, and Donnelly was able to continue.
At the final restart after Comeau’s flip, Tanner and Hull pulled away and once again began lapping cars as the laps clicked away. When traffic got thick in the final circuits, Donnelly and Chase Moran were able to catch the leaders and all four had a shot at the win. Moran passed Donnelly for third with five laps left, and Hull nosed ahead of Tanner in a breathtaking three-wide move in traffic as the white flag waved to begin the final lap.
Tanner nosed back ahead on the backstretch, though, and he beat Hull to the finish line by two car lengths for a $1,500 payday. Moran finished third with Donnelly fourth. Billington recovered masterfully from his early spin to restart 22nd and finish fifth. Jake Williams was sixth ahead of Cory Sparks, Mike Thompson, Joe Kata, and Goff.
Donnelly’s run was enough for him to mathematically clinch the 2023 SCoNE championship, extending his all-time record on the tour to eight titles.
- A season-high field of 23 cars attended the event. Six drivers – Cory Sparks, Mike Thompson, Joe Kata, Emily VanInwegen, Fred Proctor, and Matt Collins – each made their first SCoNE appearance of the season.
- Matt Tanner’s victory was the eighth of his SCoNE career, and his seventh at Devil’s Bowl Speedway.
- The three qualifying heat races were won by Jake Williams, Floyd Billington, and Matt Tanner with each grabbing a $50 bonus from CMD Logging of Barnstead, New Hampshire.
- Rockingham Boat of Hampstead, N.H., presented the Hard Charger Award, with a $50 bonus going to Chris Donnelly, who drove from the 15th starting position to finish fourth. Newtown, Pa., driver Mike Thompson also gained 11 positions, driving from 19th to eighth, but Donnelly was given the award based on his better finish.
- Sam Comeau was awarded the Panther Frameworx “Hard Luck” Award after his flip in the A-Main. Ironically, Comeau’s grandfather was late New England racing legend Harold “Hard Luck” Hanaford.
The McGee Automotive Family Sprint Cars of New England tour is off for the coming week before returning to action at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, September 16, for the final SCoNE championship point race of 2023.
Sprint Cars of New England Feature
1. 90 Matt Tanner 2. 61 Will Hull 3. 4P Chase Moran 4. 17 Chris Donnelly 5. 88 Floyd Billington 6. 73 Jake Williams 7. 1 Cory Sparks 8. 11 Mike Thompson 9. 10 Joe Kata 10. 19J Jason Goff 11. 12 Kadyn Berry 12. 89 Troy Comeau 13. 29 Dylan Menditto 14. 03 Nick Comeau 15. 19EM Emily VanInwegen 16. 33 Lacey Hanson 17. 68 Caleb Lamson 18. 54 Fred Proctor 19. 23NH Caiden Herbert 20. 72 Matt Collins 21. 77 Ron Davis Jr. 22. 30 Sam Comeau 23. 37 J.P. Vaillancourt
Lap Leaders (5 lead changes among 4 drivers): Dylan Menditto, grid; Jason Goff, 1-3; Will Hull, 4-9; Matt Tanner, 10-23; Hull, 24; Tanner, 25.
Cautions (3): Laps 2, 6, 14 [red].
Contingency Award Winners:
- CMD Logging Heat Winners: Jake Williams, Floyd Billington, Matt Tanner
- Rockingham Boat “Hard Charger” Award: Chris Donnelly (+11 positions)
- Panther Frameworx “Hard Luck” Award: Sam Comeau
- 802 Print Award: Chase Moran (3rd)
- VT Fire Award: Chris Donnelly (4th)
- Hull Motorsports Award: Floyd Billington (5th)
- Bill McGaffin Photos/Showstopper Photos Award: Jake Williams (6th)
- Waddell Communications & Repairs Award: Cory Sparks (7th)
- 87Speed Award: Mike Thompson (8th)
- Uncommon Deeds Podcast Award: Joe Kata (9th)
- Saturday, September 16 – Bear Ridge Speedway – Bradford, Vt. (Championship Finale)
- Friday, September 29 – Unity Raceway – Unity, Maine (Non-Points Event)