Story By: JUSTIN ST. LOUIS / SPRINT CARS OF NEW ENGLAND – UNITY, ME – Jake Williams saved his best for last, and it sure was worth the wait. The longtime McGee Automotive Family Sprint Cars of New England (SCoNE) driver held on until the final race of the 2023 season to earn a victory – his first in three years – and he did so in front of a packed house at the tour’s first visit to Maine and Unity Raceway.
The Center Tuftonboro, N.H., driver was on top of his game on Friday, September 29, and from the get-go in hot laps, he appeared to be the driver to beat in the special, post-season exhibition race. The one-third mile oval offered up a tricky – but racy and very fast – surface and Williams blistered the field in his qualifying heat, fending off 2023 SCoNE champion Chris Donnelly.
The 20-lap Kondrat Kustoms A-Main saw 16-year-old Caiden Herbert on the pole; Herbert earlier posted his first SCoNE checkered flag in his qualifying heat. He showed the way for the first five laps, while Williams began his march forward from sixth. Williams caught Herbert on lap 4 and needed just two more circuits to get the lead.
Williams nearly had a disaster on lap 9 when J.P. Vaillancourt’s engine blew up directly in front of him, but he narrowly avoided a collision as the yellow flag waved. One more restart on lap 14 proved to be no challenge, and Williams sailed off for the ninth win of his SCoNE career and his first since 2020.
Donnelly got past Herbert after the lap 9 restart for second place, but Herbert nosed back ahead of him after the second restart. After a brief battle, Donnelly was able to regain the runner-up position, where he finished. Herbert held off a fast-closing Kadyn Berry in the final laps for his first-ever podium finish in only his fourth start in a full-size Sprint Car. Berry equaled the best finish of his young career in fourth place, with Nick Comeau crossing the line fifth. Troy Comeau, Ron Davis Jr., Mike Kondrat, Sam Comeau, and Will Hull completed the official top 10.
Upon exiting his car in victory lane, the usually reserved Williams whooped it up for the fans and celebrated his landmark win, much to the delight of an appreciative crowd.
· A field of 11 cars attended the special event. Freedom, N.H.’s Mike Kondrat – a founding member of the SCoNE organization in 2004, and the Unity race’s main sponsor through Kondrat Kustoms – made his first appearance of the season and finished a competitive eighth in the A-Main.
· Unity Raceway held a bicycle giveaway and an on-track driver autograph session prior to the racing, and fans were engaged and enthusiastic throughout. Several children requested to have their foreheads and arms signed by SCoNE drivers, who gladly obliged.
· Jake Williams’ victory was the ninth of his SCoNE career, which places him in a tie for fifth place with Kevin Chaffee on the tour’s all-time win list.
· The two qualifying heat races were won by Jake Williams and newcomer Caiden Herbert, with each grabbing a $50 bonus from CMD Logging of Barnstead, New Hampshire.
· Rockingham Boat and Dave Bowser Motorsports each presented the Hard Charger Award, with a total $150 bonus going to Chris Donnelly, who drove from the eighth starting position to finish first.
· J.P. Vaillancourt was again awarded the Panther Frameworx “Hard Luck” Award after blowing an engine – which was borrowed from Doug McPhail.
The Unity Raceway event officially closed out the 20th season of racing for the McGee Automotive Family Sprint Cars of New England tour. Details for the upcoming awards banquet will be announced in the coming weeks.
OFFICIAL RESULTS – McGee Automotive Family Sprint Cars of New England
Unity Raceway – Unity, Maine
Presented by Kondrat Kustoms
Friday, September 29, 2023
A-Main Feature (20 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (6) Jake Williams, Center Tuftonboro, N.H.
2. (8) Chris Donnelly, Piermont, N.H.
3. (1) # Caiden Herbert, New Hampton, N.H.
4. (4) Kadyn Berry, Goffstown, N.H.
5. (3) Nick Comeau, Hebron, N.H.
6. (5) Troy Comeau, Wentworth, N.H.
7. (2) # Ron Davis Jr., Moultonborough, N.H.
8. (10) Mike Kondrat, Freedom, N.H.
9. (9) # Sam Comeau, Hebron, N.H.
10. (7) Will Hull, Plainfield, Vt.
11. (11) # J.P. Vaillancourt, Campton, N.H.
Lap Leaders (1 lead change among 2 drivers): Caiden Herbert, 1-5; Jake Williams, 6-20.
Cautions (2): Laps 9, 14.
Contingency Award Winners:
· CMD Logging Heat Winners: Jake Williams, Caiden Herbert
· Rockingham Boat/Dave Bowser Motorsports “Hard Charger” Award: Chris Donnelly (+6 positions)
· Panther Frameworx “Hard Luck” Award: J.P. Vaillancourt
· 802 Print Award: Trophy: Caiden Herbert (3rd)
· VT Fire Award: Kadyn Berry (4th)
· Hull Motorsports Award: Nick Comeau (5th)
· Waddell Communications & Repairs Award: Ron Davis Jr. (7th)
· 87Speed Award: Mike Kondrat (8th)
· Uncommon Deeds Podcast Award: Sam Comeau (9th)