CHR: Stearns Caps Season With Thunder Road Win
BARRE, Vt. – Travis Stearns put the finishing touches on a breakout 2012 season last weekend at Thunder Road International Speedbowl, steering the latest Crazy Horse Racing chassis into Victory Lane on the notoriously tricky quarter-mile.
Stearns, of Auburn, Maine, finished second in both 50-lap segments of the Reserve Milk Bowl on Sunday to earn $3,000 by taking the checkered flag in the inaugural event.
“The whole thing is, that wasn’t the race that I set out to try and win but I got put in bad situation (in qualifying),” Stearns said of the 18-car Reserve Milk Bowl for non-qualifiers in the main event. “So I saw the opportunity for what it was, and I said, ‘Let’s go try and win it.’ We had a really good day, and it was one of better cars I’ve ever had there.”
Stearns was close to qualifying for the 50th annual Milk Bowl back on September 27, but a broken suspension part on his qualifying lap sent him to the back for his qualifying heat. He missed making the Milk Bowl by one position – something he turned into a starting spot on the outside pole for the Reserve event.
He battled Thunder Road veteran Joey Laquerre for an entire 50 laps en route to the runner-up finish in the first segment, and after the field was inverted to start the second segment, Stearns got all the way back to second again in the No. 85 Crazy Horse Racing Chevrolet.
He was one of only two drivers in the field to finish in the Top-5 in both segments and the only driver to finish on the podium in each.
“We made a couple of small changes, and everything just fell into my favor,” Stearns said. “In practice, we were horrible. When we unloaded, we were in the Top-10 in speeds on old tires, but the more we went out, the worse and worse we got in practice. We figured we were good when we first unloaded, so we went back to that and the car was really good.”
The victory was the third of the season for Stearns, including two Late Model wins at Oxford Plains Speedway, in a 2012 Crazy Horse Racing chassis that was built in the offseason.
“That thing was awesome all year,” Stearns said. “Anything that went bad was out of our control. There was really only one night that we thought we really missed it – and that was when we didn’t have a shot to win. It wasn’t like we were awful.
“We changed everything on it this year. Everything on it is different than it was a year ago. Part of it’s that I have a lot more time with the car, but these new cars – everything (Crazy Horse Racing owners Mitch and Judy Green) are doing over there is awesome.”