After not making it to the green flag of May’s season-opening tilt for the Granite State Pro Stock Series, Casey Call showed up to Star Speedway on Saturday looking for revenge.
Perhaps “revenge” is the wrong word. Domination, on the other hand, was quite appropriate.
Call started from the pole and led every lap en route to victory in Saturday night’s Key Auto Group 100, the third race of the 2023 season.
And unlike the nail-biting finale of his first series win nearly a year ago, Saturday’s showdown ended with a much more comfortable margin.
Not that comfort has come readily to Call, who graduated from Legends cars to the GSPSS for the 2020 season. The Pembroke, N.H. racer’s stock car career has been about feast and famine, with promising performances offset by mechanical gremlins and the occasional crash. At the Hedges Excavating 100 in May, Call encountered both extremes within minutes; after returning to the pits following a strong heat race, his team found a broken spindle that they could not repair in time for the feature.
This time around, there were no pre-race gremlins to chase. Call qualified on the pole, then secured his pole position in a pre-race redraw. Pre-race favorite Travis Benjamin, who was gunning for his third straight GSPSS win to open the season, qualified a discouraging tenth, putting his three-for-three bid on watch.
With Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. alongside him for the start, Call brought the field to green, then left his challengers to settle second place among themselves. Two-time and reigning GSPSS champion Joey Doiron made moves early, driving from third to second and putting pressure on Call before settling into a conservative rhythm. Renfrew slipped to fourth, but began marching forward at halfway, taking second from Doiron with 43 laps to go.
Doiron, a long-game strategist, dropped through the field as the laps wore on, with Cory Casagrande moving to third. Benjamin, Doiron’s teammate, was trending in the opposite direction, slipping by Doiron and setting off after Casagrande.
Without caution flags, though, Call and Renfrew were secure at the front of the field. And while Renfrew chipped away at Call’s advantage, it was not enough to pose a threat without some help.
That help never emerged, and Call drove unchallenged to his second GSPSS win and his first since edging out Tyler Reddick in last July’s Keen Parts 150 at Lee USA Speedway.
Renfrew, whose own first GSPSS win came at Star in 2018, finished second in his first series start of the year. A winner last season at Hudson Speedway, Renfrew picked up his second career American-Canadian Tour win last week at Autodrome Chaudière in Quebec.
Benjamin came up short in his run for three straight wins, but the three-time Oxford 250 winner ended the evening third, best among those still in the GSPSS points race.
Casagrande finished fourth, his best effort of the season, while Brandon Barker was fifth in the final rundown.
David Oliver was sixth, his best run of the year, while Doiron faded to seventh at the finish. Trevor Sanborn took advantage of a Pro All Stars Series cancellation to run eighth, with Josh King and Rusty Poland rounding out the top ten. Only Jeremy Sorel, a podium finisher in May, failed to finish the event.
Benjamin now leads the series standings by 20 markers over Barker, with Oliver the only other driver to enter all three races thus far.
On a night where the GSPSS shared track presence with a $10,000-to-win Tour-type Modified feature, a short field was a bit of a surprise. A few of GSPSS’ usual southern New Hampshire suspects may have been banking on Sunday’s scheduled Pro Stock racing at Lee, a program that was called off for rain while teams were preparing for the feature event at Star.
But New England holiday weekends are rare opportunities for family gatherings, weddings and the like. And as has seemed apparent in other regional series recently, racing’s greatest competition can often come from sources far removed from the sport.
Looming large on GSPSS’ calendar is a new race date announced this week for the series’ debut at Speedway 95 in Hermon, Me., a race that was postponed by rain last Saturday. Falling in place alongside an off-weekend for Wiscasset Speedway’s Pro Stock class, the July 22nd event marks the GSPSS’ return to the Pine Tree State for the first time since 2021.
A Maine-centric entry list showed promise for a stout field in June. Off-weekends for the other regional series should help that field stay strong for the new date.
And with a freshened spring in his step, perhaps Casey Call can justify a road trip to a track that was not too kind in his Legends career.
After all, the extra motivation served him well at Star.
Granite State Pro Stock Series Key Auto Group 100
1. (90NH) Casey Call
2. (00NH) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
3. (7) Travis Benjamin
4. (7CT) Cory Casagrande
5. (32) Brandon Barker
6. (21ME) David Oliver
7. (73D) Joey Doiron
8. (44) Trevor Sanborn
9. (21) Josh King
10. (44P) Rusty Poland
11. (77) Jeremy Sorel