PLATTSBURGH - Todd Stone became the 2012 Airborne DIRTcar Modified champion by finishing third in the Mike Watts Memorial 50-lap main, one spot behind title contender Pat McGrail.
Patrick Dupree of Saranac Lake, Airborne's all-time Modified win leader (27), thwarted McGrail's best chance at the crown, which was to win himself and have Stone place fourth or lower.
Dupree took command on a lap 9 restart after early contender Matt Woodruff shot off the top of turn three. McGrail started 10th and finally made it to within a car-length of the leader on lap 40.
Patrick Dupree of Saranac Lake waves the checkered flag after winning the 50-lap Mike Watts Memorial on Saturday at Airborne Speedway.
(Photo — Dave Brown)
One lap earlier, after a lengthy battle, Stone, driving the G. Stone Motors 1X, got underneath Pierre Berthiaume for third - a pass that sealed the deal no matter what happened at the front.
On a final restart with five laps to go, Dupree quickly pulled away in the Fournier Farm Equipment/Saranac Country Store No. 24 for the win.
"This time I kept the right rear on it," Dupree said, referring to a tough loss to McGrail on the final lap a week ago. "It's been a pretty good year after all."
Berthiaume hung on for fourth ahead of Leon Gonyo. The second half of the top 10 was Aaron Bartemy, Roger Labreche, Kris Vernold, Adam Bartemy and Richard Tisseur.
It was the first Airborne crown for the Middlebury, Vt. driver who completed every lap of every event while winning four times - just as McGrail did.
"All week I was thinking that if I couldn't win it, it wouldn't be bad to lose it to Pat," Stone said. "He's a class act and an excellent driver. I did the best I could; the right rear was all used up at the end."
McGrail started 10th, worked hard to pass Chris Cayea for fourth on lap 13, and then stayed on the throttle to battle Gonyo for three laps to move into third behind Berthiaume.
Joe Warren of West Chazy carried the Renegade checkers on his sponsor's (Freihofer's) night. It was his third win of the year and it kept him mathematically alive in the championship battle, which will be decided next Sunday.
Lance Rabtoy rallied late to claim the runner-up spot. Point leader Kevin Boutin of Fairfax, Vt. got up for third. Jason McClatchie and Mark Caron rounded out the top five. Caron, trying for his first podium finish of the season, spent 20 laps in the top three.
Rob Clark of Keeseville chased down Rob Sines, took the lead with two laps left and went on to win the Mini Modified feature, which earned him a recliner from race sponsor Choice Furniture. Sines finished a season's best second, ahead of Josh LaPorte, Erick Sayles and Jim Collins.
Joe Daniels of Saranac, a few weeks removed from a vicious hit into the frontstretch wall, was a first-time winner in the 20-lap Sportsman Modified feature in the Westside Auto No. 46. Jamie LaFountain drove to his ninth top-five finish of the season as the runner-up. Nick Heywood was third, followed by Travis Bruno and Eric Lauziere.