Contributed by: ACT Staff
As interesting as that fact was, it was the performance of runner-up, Robin Wood of Plattsburgh that had the fence sitters talking. The second generation racer sat fourth in the season-long standings entering the finale. When the dust had settled, he was the 2005 champion by 10 points.
Wood, winner of the Series' opening race at Airborne Speedway led the standings early by virtue of his victory. A strong performance in the second round, a 100 lapper at Canaan Fair Speedway (Canaan, NH), coupled with a respectable effort at Thunder Road (Barre, VT) in another 100 lapper, kept him among the front runners.
The Series' July stop at Canaan looked like it would be Wood's Achilles heel. He grenaded an engine early in the race, wound up last in the field and slipped to 6th in the points. Montpelier, Vermont's Shawn Fleury was atop the points, with Doug Murphy form Barre, VT close behind. The pair reversed positions after the Series' August visit to the Canaan speedplant.
The seventh stop, at White Mountain Motorsports Park (N. Woodstock, NH) for a 100-lap race tightened things up. After the 100-lap race, the standings showed a spread of six points among four drivers as former Thunder Road Sportsman champion Chuck Beede joined the fracas. Lee USA Speedway's 3/8ths mile oval was the perfect venue for the last race as no driver had a home field advantage.
Wood and Sweet served notice early that they were among those to beat with wins in their qualifying heats. Point leader Murphy earned no points in qualifying, which erased his entire advantage. Contenders Beede and Fleury earned the same amount which kept them in the hunt behind Wood. The title wouldn't be decided until the end of the 50 laps.
Fleury led the first three laps to earn five valuable bonus points. Scott Coburn took over, but Beede nosed ahead on the eighth circuit to also claim bonus points and keep pace with Fleury. But Beede's hopes at the title went away when he cut a tire on the 10th circuit. Wood, who started 8th on the grid, took over third place on the restart for Beede's cut tire. Fighting an ill handling race car, Murphy was never able to challenge.
Wood powered took the lead from Coburn on the 17th lap, but eventual winner Sweet was on his rear bumper. Sweet gained the advantage on lap 30 and was able to hold off the eventual champion for the victory. Finishing behind the top two was Fleury in third and Joe Steffen from Essex Jct, VT. Williamstown, Vermont's Beede, fought his way back to a fifth place finish.
Rounding out the top ten were Joe Tetreault, Chris Gendreau, Jamy Begor, Murphy and Marc Curtis.
Wood's margin of victory in the Sportsman Series was ten points over Shawn Fleury (602-592). Chuck Beede, who came out of retirement to participate in the Series was third (590), Murphy would up fourth (574) and freshman runner, Sweet competed the top five (563).
James Shorey of Lisbon, ME won the Lee USA Hobby stock portion of the RE/MAX Alliance 50. Bill Fiske was second.