SOUTH PLATTSBURGH — Bucko Branham won the USA/Canada Limited Late Model Masters Series “4-20’s” event in convincing fashion Saturday at Airborne Speedway.
The Plattsburgh ace posted two wins, a fourth place and a second in the four 20-lap sprints that cumulatively decided the overall winner. That gave him an overall total score of 8 points, 5 points better than unofficial runner-up Steve Cote of Ile Bizard, Quebec, the current Series point leader. Robin Wood of Plattsburgh placed third (6+2+4+3=15) over Maxime Pelletier by virtue of the tie-breaker rule of having the better fourth-segment finish.
Cote won the final segment, but Branham breezed by the rest to make Cote’s final effort insufficient. Branham won a caution-filled, full-body contact opening segment with Cote second and Martin Goulet third.
Jamy Begor won the second segment in a photo finish over Wood, but in the third segment, he narrowly survived a bout with an infield light pole that swayed when he hit. Branham swooped Jean-Francois Bouvrette late in the third segment for second 20-lap win.
Robbie Favreau of Peru won for the first time this season in the Renegade 25-lap main event. Favreau chose to stay up on the high side while Kevin Boutin and Tylor terry raced a dozen laps side by side for second. Boutin eventually prevailed with Terry 3rd, Lance Rabtoy 4th and Don Franklin 5th.
Pat McGrail of Candiac, Quebec struck for win No. 3 by overtaking Kris Vernold on lap 23 of the 30-lap Ernie’s Discount Tools Modified feature.
Vernold held up under pressure from point-leader Todd Stone to claim runner-up honors. Greg Atkins and Roger Labreche were a close fourth and fifth, respectively.
McGrail appeared to have the race finally in hand when the second yellow of the race came out as the final lap was about to start. A single-file restart followed, and McGrail got home free while Vernold was being swarmed by Stone.
McGrail’s win unofficially trimmed Stone’s point lead to 14 points. “It was a hard, tough race,” McGrail said. “I knew I was going to have to pass the No. 97 on the outside if I was going to win.”
Positions 6-10 went to George Foley, Aaron Bartemy, Vince Quenneville, Chris Cayea and Andy Lindeman.
Vernold and Labreche were much the best in the early going with Atkins and McGrail in a tussle for third. But by the halfway mark, Stone and Foley had entered the picture.
It was the second straight podium finish for Vernold, a Kingsbury driver, who had suffered through several weeks of tough luck and poor finishes.
Jamie LaFountain of Keeseville pulled away from the field after taking the lead from Johnmichael Bresette on lap 13 of the 20-lap Sportsman Modified feature. Behind him Lonnie Rivers moved into second-place for keeps on lap 16. Jessey Mueller, saved by another caution after flying off the top of turn two early in the race, finished third. Nick Heywood and Bresette were next in line.
Jayson Criss of Plattsburgh won the mini Modified feature.