DRAGON DOMINATES SEEKONK FOR FIRST ACT WIN OF 2005 by Justin St. Louis
One Race Makes All The Difference for Vermont Racer
What a difference one race made for Milton, VT's Brent Dragon.
The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) veteran shrugged off a tough outing at Maine's Oxford Plains Speedway two weeks ago to leave the field in his wake in the Bay State 100 at Seekonk (MA) Speedway Saturday night. Dragon earned a "+4" handicap rating by charging from 10th place to 6th, stealing the final transfer position in his heat race.
second caution on lap 35, he had opened up to a full straightaway advantage in the Furniture World of Vermont/Kinney Drugs Dodge. The remainder of the event was relatively easy for Dragon, as he successfully survived seven restarts from the point.
Rich Lowrey looked poised to finish in the runner-up position before lap 84 contact with youngster B.J. Piekarski sent him spinning to the infield in Turn 2. Lowrey ran in the #2 spot for over 50 laps before the spin. One lap earlier, rookie Scott Payea was punted out of third place by Brown. Both drivers were sent to the rear for the restart and were never a factor again. Defending ACT Champion and Oxford winner Cyr drove all the way through the pack to pass Piekarski and challenge Dragon during the closing laps of the race, but was unable to make a move for the lead.
"The 03 [Botticello] ran us pretty hard to begin with, at least for the start of a race," said Dragon. "He was pushing like a dump truck, but he ran us clean and he did what he had to do, he's a good racer. Rich ran with us for a long time, and Jean-Paul and B.J. were there too."
Dragon knew that as Cyr crept closer to his rear bumper during the final circuits, he would have to hold Cyr off, but was confident he had the better car.
"I just slowed up. I knew he couldn't go around me, and June (Dragon's wife and spotter) was saying every time
Brent Dragon displays the checkered flag that he earned.
"The car was awesome," Dragon said after winning the main event. "We knew it in the second practice, we went out and we were running as fast a lot of guys on their new tires with our old ones from Oxford. We put our new tires on and picked up three tenths, and I knew that if we got a good draw and got in the back of our heat race and got by four or five cars we were in good shape."
Dragon was ahead of trouble on the second lap as top-five starters Jean-Paul Cyr and Dave Whitcomb made contact in Turn 1, scattering cars across the track. Dave Pembroke, Eric Chase, Mark Durgin, and Denny Stampfl were also collected as the yellow flag flew. All six drivers were able to continue and restarted at the rear of the field.
Dragon passed outside polesitter Roger Brown before the incident took place, and after a quick duel with polesitter Dennis Botticello, was all alone at the front. By the
up off the corner time I'd pull him a little bit, so I thought if I just slow up in the corner he can't go under me. Our lap times show it I guess, we slowed up a lot, but I wanted to protect the bottom because he wasn't going around me."
Piekarski had the best showing of his brief ACT career, driving from 16th at the start of the race on the outside groove before ultimately finishing third in Cyr's rear-view mirror. Warwick, RI driver Ryan Vanasse, a 6-time feature winner at Seekonk Speedway in 2004, also turned in his best ACT finish in fourth place. Phil Scott recovered from a lap 35 spin to finish fifth. A.J. Begin of Merrimac, MA won a hard-fought battle with Botticello for sixth place, while Dave Pembroke, Dave Whitcomb, and Berwick, ME's Lew Fortin rounded out the Top 10. We'll have more on Speed51.com this week.
Brent Dragon (C) is joined by Jean Paul Cyr (R) and B.J. Piekarski (L) in victory lane. (Justin St. Louis / 51 Photos)