By RUSSELL JONES
ORWELL — Middlebury driver Justin Comes, the “High Side Hustler,” was the fastest around the track on Sunday night at Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Comes won the Sportsman Modified feature to turn a bad run of luck around, highlighting an event that also saw Anthony Ryan, Chris Murray, David Sartwell-Cornell, and Evan Roberts make trips to the winners circle.
Comes was a bona fide championship contender before things fell apart in mid-July. In a string of three races to end the month, Comes crashed twice and blew an engine, getting dropped to ninth place in the standings.
After dropping in a new engine for Sunday’s 30-lap race, Comes lived up to his nickname and raced around the high groove all night. Jeff Washburn, of Benson, gave Comes a scare on a late restart, but the Middlebury driver was able to slip away with the lead and breathe a sigh of relief with his first win of the season. Mike Palmer of Salisbury finished in third, just ahead of point leader Kenny Tremont Jr. of West Sand Lake, N.Y.
Brandon’s Vince Quenneville crossed the finish line in ninth position and rookie driver Brent Warren, out of Salisbury, came in 18th. Brandon driver Joey Scarborough did not start.
Another Benson driver, Anthony Ryan, captured his first win in the Limited Sportsman division. In the longest event of the year for the second-tier division, Ryan strolled home by leading all 30 laps in a dominating performance; the race was only his 10th start in a race car.
Leicester’s Adam Piper took second in that race with Middlebury’s Austin Comes – the younger brother of the Sportsman winner – a career-best third. Brandon driver Dave Snow came home in 10th position while West Rutland’s Larry Gallipo won a heat, but finished in 14th place. Matt Bilodeau started in second, but finished 17th.
Fair Haven’s Chris Murray scored again in the Super Stock division, taking his third win of the season in the 25-lap feature. Point leader Scott FitzGerald, West Rutland, started near the back, but made his way up through the ranks for a fifth place finish. Two other West Rutland drivers also cracked the top-10 with Scott’s son, Andrew, crossing the line in seventh place and Roo Forrest placing ninth.
Rookie David Sartwell-Cornell inherited his first Mini Stock win following post-race inspection. Hailing from the Canadian border town of Highgate Springs, original runner-up Sartwell-Cornell was given the victory when apparent winner P.J. Bleau’s car was disqualified for an unapproved computer module.
Leicester rookie Scott Cowdrey came in third in the official rundown. Salisbury’s Joe Malzac was sixth and West Rutland’s Kevin Withington was 10th. Jake Barrows, Middlebury, came in 15th.
Rookie Evan Roberts, of Fletcher, continued his utter dominance of the Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint division. The 13-year-old’s win was his fourth consecutive victory and his sixth overall. Brandon driver Alyza McKeighan started 12th and finished 12th.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway is preparing for a big event on Sunday, Aug. 11, as the inaugural “Battle at the Bowl” Big Block/Small Block Modified Challenge gets underway with an early start time at 6 p.m. A $10,000 top prize is up for grabs in a unique, three-feature format.
The King of Dirt Racing Crate Modified Series will also be on hand for the Leon Gonyo Memorial race. For more information, visit www.DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com.