Joey Doiron is known for letting the race and the track come to him. But Friday night at Claremont Motorsports Park, the young veteran showed that he can go and take one when he needs to.
The 2019 Granite State Pro Stock Series champion all but sealed up his second series crown with a dominant performance in the Key Chevrolet Buick GMC of Newport 100, the seventh event of the GSPSS schedule.
But as strong as Doiron was all night, DJ Shaw’s presence in his mirror kept the Berwick, Me. native on his toes on the final restart.
“We just couldn’t fire off very good, and I was afraid that he was going to be able to get in front of me, and then I knew it was going to be awful hard to get back by him,” Doiron said.
“But luckily we had enough on those last couple.”
Doiron, Shaw and reigning GSPSS champion Gabe Brown celebrated a banner evening for the Dale Shaw Race Cars camp, leading the whole race and sweeping the podium. But it was Doiron, the GSPSS full-timer, who brought home the $7,500 winner’s purse in the season’s second-richest event.
Doiron was fastest in time trials, but Shaw and Casey Call led the field to the green flag courtesy of a pre-race invert. Gridded sixth for the start, Doiron went to work early, climbing to fourth when the first yellow flew on lap eight.
While Shaw and Brown swapped the early lead, Doiron found a way around Luke Hinkley for third. Clear of the local favorite, Doiron turned his focus to Shaw and Brown, running down the duo and powering past them into the lead. Hinkley made a move under Brown for third, sending Brown backwards in the high line as Joey Polewarczyk and outside polesitter Call slipped past for fourth and fifth.
As Brown settled into sixth, Doiron showed the way around the unique third-mile oval, keeping enough breathing room between himself and second-place Shaw. Shaw, with a pair of 2022 GSPSS wins at Monadnock Speedway and Riverside Speedway, found himself facing pressure from Hinkley as the race approached halfway.
Clean racing through the field kept the laps ticking past, until a single-car spin for rookie Dylan Estrella brought out a caution flag with 77 laps complete. Shaw lined up alongside Doiron for the restart, but officials waved off the first attempt quickly. Doiron edged out Shaw on the next try, but as Bryan Kruczek spun into the frontstretch grass, the yellow flew again.
The next restart proved costly for Hinkley, as the Claremont racer became the victim of a physical battle with Brown for third. Hinkley pulled high out of the pack, eventually coasting to a stop against the backstretch wall. After scoring podium finishes in his last three Claremont starts, Hinkley was done for the night with sixteen laps to go.
Polewarczyk took over third, but outside the top five, positions were still up for grabs. Jeremy Sorel was running sixth when he got crossed up on the restart, stacking up the field and collecting Josh King. A few laps later, points race runner-up Nick Cusack was battling Call for sixth when the two made hard contact off turn four. Cusack spun across the frontstretch, with Isaac Bevin caught up in the calamity. Call, who won the last GSPSS race at Lee USA Speedway in July, limped to the pits while Bevin required a tow behind the wall.
Doiron brought the field to the green flag one last time with eleven laps left, and he left no opportunity for Shaw to make a bid for victory, cruising to his own second GSPSS win of 2022.
Always hands-on with his equipment, Doiron said he and his team had gone back to the drawing board to prepare his mount for a track where he last won in 2019.
“The [third] time we came here, we started last and won,” he said. “And then from there on out, it was like third to fifth, no matter what we did. So we kind of went back to the basics. We kept trying things that Gabe was running here, but I just couldn’t make it work in the race. I could go fast in practice, could go fast in time trials.
“But we kind of got back to what we always ran … and it definitely paid off tonight.”
Shaw, the all-time GSPSS win leader, has three series wins at Claremont. His bid for a fourth came up a few car-lengths short. “Restarts were good,” he said. “I needed more of them. But as the race went on there, he was clearly the best car.”
Brown nipped Polewarczyk for third on the last lap, ending his own streak of three consecutive wins at Claremont dating back to his first series win last July. “We got to the lead, and it felt pretty good the first few laps,” Brown said. “But then we had that first restart, and the car just went away.”
Brown was contrite for the late-race contact that ended Hinkley’s evening early. “I have a lot of respect for Luke,” he said. “I got into it with him, and I really…I thought I was pretty far in there, but I hate to get into it with him. Me and him are pretty good friends.”
Polewarczyk held on for fourth, with Kruczek rebounding from his spin to finish fifth.
Sorel benefited from the lap-89 fracas to finish sixth, with Ryan Green coming home seventh. Brian Whalley finished eighth ahead of Ray Christian III, who made his first GSPSS start since the 2020 season finale. Dylan Estrella rounded out the top ten after a challenging day.
Cusack, whose constant improvement through the season was derailed by an eleventh-place result at Lee, limped home to a 15th-place finish. Coupled with Doiron’s win, Cusack now spots the points leader by 76 markers, a nearly insurmountable margin. With Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. working on Brown’s car but not racing, Estrella and Sorel moved to third and fourth in points, still a considerable distance back.
Doiron’s season has been one of impressive consistency. In seven starts, Doiron has finished no worse than fourth. In addition to his two GSPSS wins, Doiron has another win with the Pro All Stars Series, picking up a checkered flag at Oxford Plains Speedway in June.
As Doiron balances his own racing with his stepdaughter’s racing ambitions and the duties of the family machine shop, the GSPSS’ nine-race itinerary fits well into his busy life.
The new focus, of course, is the Oxford 250 looming in two short weeks. Doiron’s Oxford 250 ride, as with most of his PASS starts in the last couple years, is for car owner Greg Curtis. But as with his own equipment, Doiron will be directly involved in making the car fast for 250 green-flag laps.
When the checkered flag falls after the Oxford 250, though, only two races stand between Doiron and another GSPSS championship.
Unofficial Results, GSPSS Key Chevrolet Buick GMC of Newport 100 at Claremont Motorsports Park:
1. (73) Joey Doiron
2. (60) DJ Shaw
3. (61) Gabe Brown
4. (4NH) Joey Polewarczyk
5. (19) Bryan Kruczek
6. (77) Jeremy Sorel
7. (93) Ryan Green
8. (02) Brian Whalley
9. (55) Ray Christian III
10. (46) Dylan Estrella
11. (N40) Dan McKeage, Jr.
12. (20X) Richie Brown, Jr.
13. (01) Sammy Gooden
14. (21) Josh King
15. (2) Nick Cusack
16. (05F) Bobby Frappier
17. (90NH) Casey Call
18. (7B) Isaac Bevin
19. (31NH) Luke Hinkley