Gabe Brown had quite the week in his rear-view mirror. But in the span of about twenty-four hours, he got it turned around nicely.
Barely a day after finishing third in a Pro All Stars Series race at Stafford Motor Speedway, the New Hampshire native drove to a convincing win in Sunday afternoon’s Granite State Pro Stock Series lidlifter at Claremont Motorsports Park.
Brown held off home-track favorite Luke Hinkley in the closing laps of the Key Chevrolet Buick GMC of Newport Twin 100 to pick up his third straight win at the tricky third-mile.
Apparently, he got the car fixed right.
Brown led all but three laps in a command performance, lapping all but six cars en route to his fourth career GSPSS victory. After breaking into victory lane in last July’s $10,000-to-win 150-lap feature, Brown won again in October to seal his series championship, adding a third win in between at Lee USA Speedway’s Oktoberfest.
The win ties Brown with DJ Shaw and Ray Christian III for the most GSPSS trophies at the track. Christian’s three wins also came in sequence in 2019 and 2020.
Hinkley, a Claremont resident whose shop is only a few miles from the speedway gates, had one last shot at Brown in the closing laps. Instead, the American-Canadian Tour and GSPSS veteran settled for his fifth runner-up result at his home track.
Joey Doiron, the 2019 GSPSS champion, made his first start of the year with the series, finishing third at a track where he won in his championship season.
Jimmy Renfrew, Jr., who confirmed last week that he would return to GSPSS competition full-time this year, finished fourth, best among the drivers likely to challenge for the championship. Another of the full-time challengers, third-year racer Casey Call, rounded out the top five.
Sixth went to Dylan Estrella, a Seekonk Speedway graduate making the move to GSPSS full-time in 2022. Estrella has yet to finish outside the top ten in a GSPSS feature. Rookie Ryan Ripley was seventh, ahead of Vermont veteran Josh King. Nick Cusack, driving Brown’s winning car from last year, finished ninth, with rookie Dan McKeage, Jr. finishing tenth.
Brown’s appearance at Claremont was a bit of a surprise. The Center Conway, N.H. star and reigning GSPSS champion shifted his focus in the offseason to a full PASS North schedule after a year away from the Maine-based touring circuit.
But given the events of a week before, his presence anywhere this weekend was impressive.
Brown’s strong start to the season hit a wall last Sunday when he was wrecked on a heat-race restart before the PASS Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Brown limped his crumpled car to the infield, but the damage was terminal, keeping him from making the start of the show.
Undeterred, Brown led the charge to rebuild his car, spending long nights at the shop with his team. Repairs were complete in time for Brown to load the car up and head south to Stafford Motor Speedway for Saturday’s PASS prelude to the Spring Sizzler.
With his new white livery mostly replaced by black after the crash, Brown clicked off a third-place finish at Stafford, inspiring the team to give Claremont a shot the next day.
Brown has matured over the last year, embracing the reckless reputation he earned as a teenager while shedding some of those aggressive impulses along the way. While still unafraid to swap paint, he has found consistency at the front of the pack. In four starts with PASS this year, excluding the NHMS debacle, Brown’s worst finish is eighth.
Another win on Claremont’s unique layout certainly can’t hurt that confidence.
Unofficial Results, GSPSS Key Chevrolet Buick of Newport presents the Twin 100s at Claremont Motorsports Park:
1. (50) Gabe Brown
2. (31NH) Luke Hinkley
3. (73) Joey Doiron
4. (00) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
5. (90NH) Casey Call
6. (46) Dylan Estrella
7. (09) Ryan Ripley
8. (21) Josh King
9. (2) Nick Cusack
10. (N40) Dan McKeage, Jr.
11. (01) Sammy Gooden
12. (77) Jeremy Sorel