WATERFORD – Defense of the 2015 New London-Waterford Speedbowl Limited Sportsman championship began in perfect fashion Sunday for Al Stone III.
Stone, of Durham, led every lap on the way to a runaway victory in the 25-lap Limited Sportsman feature at the Bud Blastoff 2016 at the Speedbowl.
It was the 44th career Limited Sportsman victory at Waterford for Stone, who is looking for his third championship in the division. He also won the division’s title at the track in 2010.
“It’s huge,” Stone said. “It’s sets the precedent for the season altogether. Even last year we didn’t come out very strong. We ran well but not great with a new car. But it’s running a lot better and it showed all weekend.”
Monte Gibbs of Killingworth was second and Ed Gertsch Jr. of East Haven third.
Stone started second and went by Chris Meyer for the lead on the first lap. From there he never trailed again, though Gibbs gave him some interesting restarts during the mid-stretch of the event.
Twice Gibbs seemed to beat Stone on restarts but twice officials deemed Gibbs jumped the starts.
“Those guys were a little jumpy on the restarts, nothing to be concerned about,” Stone said. “The car was great all weekend. We put in 110 percent all winter. I’ve just got to thank my crew.”
After Stone checked out in the late stages, Gibbs and Gertsch put on a spirited battle for second place.
“The car was great in practice every day, except today of course,” Gibbs said. “The one day where I was too tight. I couldn’t get it to rotate through the center [of the corners]. I cannot beat [Stone]. I tried jumping him but they wouldn’t let me do that. I had to try, it was the only chance I had.”