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Blown engine? No sweat for teen race-car driver

Modified stock car driver Jessey Mueller of Olmstedville poses with a trophy he won following a recent race. Mueller, only 19, has racked up a string of wins this year at area race tracks. One of his most dramatic victories this year was when he came in first among over a dozen racers in a 67-lap race soon after his pit crew swapped an engine that had self-destructed in a qualifying heat.
Courtesy photo

Modified stock car driver Jessey Mueller of Olmstedville poses with a trophy he won following a recent race. Mueller, only 19, has racked up a string of wins this year at area race tracks. One of his most dramatic victories this year was when he came in first among over a dozen racers in a 67-lap race soon after his pit crew swapped an engine that had self-destructed in a qualifying heat. Courtesy photo

— Local teenaged stock-car racer Jessey Mueller accomplished a virtually unheard-of feat Aug. 1 at Devil’s Bowl Speedway by winning a modified stock car race soon after his car’s engine self-destructed in a qualifying heat — and his pit crew feverishly swapped his blown engine for a new one.

Mueller, 19, was assisted in the dramatic comeback win by his pit crew, which includes a number of people from the southern Adirondacks.

One of the mechanics, Rick Hull of Warrensburg, said the crowd in the grandstands witnessing the night’s feature race was astounded with how Mueller was able to pull off a victory with a brand new engine installed just minutes earlier.

“People couldn’t believe it — even the track personnel,” he said.

Tuesday, Mueller commented on the victory at Devil’s Bowl, a popular regional race track located in West Haven, Vt..

“I knew we had a good team and could get it done,” he said. “The way it all came together was phenomenal.”

Hull said that during the qualifying heat for the race, Mueller’s car was careening around the half-mile oval asphalt course when a huge cloud of smoke poured out from underneath the hood.

Coasting and being pushed into the pit, his mechanics determined Mueller’s engine, had blown a piston, Hull said.

“The engine was totally destroyed, “ he said. The pit crew heard that the owner of Devil’s Bowl had a car with a new engine sitting in a garage on the grounds of the track, and Mueller made a quick offer to buy it, Hull continued.

Mueller’s mechanics — assisted by the pit crew of well-known Plattsburgh racer Bucko Branham — then worked furiously to swap the motors. One of the pit crews dismantled the blown engine and removed it, while the other group extracted the new engine from the idle racer.

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