STAFFORD – On May 11, Mark St. Hilaire left Stafford Motor Speedway with his racecar bent and in pieces after a hard wreck in the Late Model feature.
St. Hilaire said the goal in returning to the track this week was to leave with a car in one piece. He accomplished that feat and got ultimate redemption in the process, winning his first career Late Model feature at Stafford.
St. Hilaire held off a charging Corey Hutchings on the final lap to win the 30-lap Late Model feature Friday at Stafford. Hutchings, of Salem, held on for second and Tom Fearn of East Longmeadow, Mass. was third.
In victory lane following the event St. Hilaire struggled put words together, his voice cracking with emotion.
“Unbelievable,” St. Hilaire said, then immediately stopping to gather himself and hold back the emotion from taking over. “I wrecked this car bad. Last week was the worst wreck we ever had in 20 something years and my dad [John] put it together.”
After the wreck St. Hilaire wasn’t even sure his team would return to the track this week.
“This car was wrecked so bad it as just ridiculous,” said St. Hilaire, a former Late Model division champion at the Waterford Speedbowl. “It took us a day to even determine if we were going to come back this week or build a new car. Really after about 12 or 14 hours working on the car we thought we could patch it together.”
St. Hilaire held the lead early, but on a lap eight restart, Hutching went motoring by to take over the top spot. Hutchings seemed to be driving away from St. Hilaire over the next eight laps, but then St. Hilaire came back to life.
On lap 20 St. Hilaire went back by Hutching to take over the lead again, a spot he wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way, despite Hutchings best efforts to fight back.
On the final lap Hutchings gave St. Hilaire a nudge from behind in turn two and then a harder hit into turn three, but
“Corey and I have raced together for a long time and it was a pleasure racing against him,” St. Hilaire said. “I slowed up that last lap just to make sure I stayed right down on the bottom and I knew there was no way he was going on the high side.”
Said Hutchings: “I congratulate Mark. He was just a little bit better than us.”
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