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Brent Dragon proved himself as one of the greats in the most dramatic race of the year at the Vermont State Championship Series finale at Devil's Bowl Speedway on Sunday, September 16. Chip Grenier finished in second and Fayston's Brooks Clark stole third in the closing laps.
Grenier shot to the lead in the early going, working around polesitter Clark to gain the lead on the third lap of the event, but third-place point man Dragon stole it away from him on the 11th circuit. Dragon's lead was short lived when seven-time American Canadian Tour Champion Jean Paul Cyr worked to the front, where the pair survived seven of the first nine cautions on the front row together. While Dragon fought for the lead, tied point leaders Sweet and Pembroke struggled.
As the laps ticked on by, Pembroke began to fall away from the top four that now ran nose to tail. Grenier and Dragon at the front and rookie sensation Emily Packard tried to hold off the eight-time American Canadian Tour Champion Brian Hoar, who had started 27th on the starting grid after being disqualified out of his heat.
With three laps to go, desperation set in for the line of four as they raced for valuable championship points, and another champion made a rare mistake. Hoar locked up his brakes accidentally going into turn one and Craig Bushey, with no room to stop, hit Hoar and sent him headlong into Packard. It was the end of a brilliant day for Packard, and Bushey and Hoar would have to start from the rear.
The restart brought Dragon and Grenier together on the front row for a three-lap shootout, Grenier choosing to start from the outside lane. The pair battled door to door, the Devil’s Bowl crowd on their feet, as Grenier inched to the lead on the outside. Dragon dove beneath him one last time on the final corner and pulled beside him coming to the line. Grenier was unofficially declared the winner by 13 one-hundredths of a second and took his victory lap.
But it was not meant to be, as Grenier had his trophy in victory lane, Devil's Bowl officials looked at video replay. The crowd erupted after a short delay, when officials reversed the call and deemed Dragon the winner. Pembroke, with his fourth-place finish, unofficially claimed the Vermont State Championship by one point over Dragon. Matt White finished fifth and Trampas Demers, Nick Sweet, Eric Chase, Brian Hoar and young Joey M. Laquerre completed the top 10. The race was completed in 1 hour, 1 minute, and 26 seconds.
Invited ACT championship cars will now head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH, this Saturday, September 22, for the Bond Auto ACT Invitational. Then, ACT Late Models from around the region will head to the biggest race in Vermont history at the 50th People’s United Bank Milk Bowl for a purse worth over $120,000.