All it took for Gabe Brown to win often was for him to win once.
Brown came on strong in the second half of Sunday night’s Granite State Pro Stock Series feature, the headline event of the third day of Russ Conway’s Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway.
And in winning the penultimate event of the GSPSS schedule, Brown clinched the series championship as well.
It’s quite a turnaround for a driver who entered the season just looking to win.
Brown made his second start of the year for new car owner Dale Drew. In his debut for Drew at Star Speedway two weeks ago, Brown dominated before a suspension failure led to a cut tire only a few laps from the finish.
This time, Brown emerged later in the race. This time, everything held together. And once he was out front, just like at Star, Brown was untouchable.
Brown’s second win of the year also locked up the GSPSS championship battle with one race remaining. Arriving at Lee with a 58-point lead over Josh King, Brown only needed a respectable finish to assure himself of the championship. The win left no doubt.
Finishing second was Wyatt Alexander, who capped off a productive year with his best GSPSS result of the season. The Beech Ridge Motor Speedway regular and 2020 GSPSS race winner picked up two weekly feature wins en route to rookie-of-the-year honors, along with top-ten finishes in both GSPSS events at Beech Ridge. Alexander added a third victory last week, taking an emotional win in what may be the last race sanctioned at the Scarborough, Me. speedway.
Evan Beaulieu, another Beech Ridge graduate, was third at the line. A part-time competitor, Beaulieu’s performance has picked up this year with an increased touring schedule.
August Beech Ridge feature winner Corey Bubar was fourth at the finish, with Mike Mitchell finishing a solid fifth. Title hopefuls Devin O’Connell and King were sixth and seventh. Cody LeBlanc, returning to GSPSS competition in one of Gabe Brown’s own cars, was eighth in his first start of the year. Bobby Baillargeon and Star Speedway winner Joey Doiron rounded out the top ten.
Casey Call earned the pole through the pre-race redraw and led the opening stages of the race, but the hard-luck sophomore fell to 14th at the finish.
Sunday’s race was part of Lee’s season-ending three-day Oktoberfest program, now named in honor of late motorsports journalist and promoter Russ Conway. Racing action on the third day of Oktoberfest was threatened by rain, with storms interrupting practice early in the day. Officials elected to rework the schedule, returning to practice once the rain had stopped, but eliminating qualifying in favor of running feature races only. Practice times set the 24-car GSPSS grid, with the top nine drivers redrawing for position.
And despite a calamitous outing at Star, the GSPSS drivers were on far better behavior Sunday, with most of the field finishing on the same lap as Brown.
Brown shifted focus to the GSPSS in 2021 after two full seasons with the Pro All Stars Series. Winless since his first stock car start in 2017, the young racer hoped to capture the checkered flag that had eluded him thus far. Brown opened the year with promise, even claiming a Late Model feature win in the summer. But on the GSPSS side, he remained winless entering the biggest race of the season in July.
In a field boasting reigning champion Joey Polewarczyk, defending race winner Derek Griffith and regional star Eddie MacDonald, Brown fought power steering issues to win his first Super Late Model race in a $10,000-to-win, 150-lap contest.
Since then, Brown has been on fire. Known for his aggression and impatience at the wheel, the nineteen-year-old has channeled that energy into intensity. Brown has earned a few more Late Model wins, while turning in strong runs in his GSPSS rides. And under the watchful tutelage of mentors Dale and DJ Shaw, Brown continues to prepare and maintain his own cars.
Team sponsor Dale Drew stepped up in a big way over the summer, purchasing a Shaw chassis and asking Brown to take the wheel. After a strong debut at Star Speedway, Brown has a win in the new car as well. Brown joins Joey Doiron with the rare feat of multiple Super Late Model wins in different cars this year. Like Doiron, a fellow Shaw associate, Brown has had a hand in making them go fast.
And like Doiron was two years ago, Brown will officially be rewarded with GSPSS championship hardware in the offseason.
While many of Brown’s full-season competitors have fallen by the wayside, Brown’s wins and performance against GSPSS regulars and ringers alike are plenty to justify the honors.
One race remains, though, to finalize and formalize the end results of the ten-race GSPSS schedule. Claremont Motorsports Park, the New Hampshire track where Brown broke through in July, hosts the season-ending tilt as part of its own year-ending Fall Challenge weekend.
Without a doubt, Brown is looking forward to going back.
Unofficial Results, GSPSS Oktoberfest 100 at Lee USA Speedway:
1. (50) Gabe Brown
2. (96) Wyatt Alexander
3. (56) Evan Beaulieu
4. (12B) Corey Bubar
5. (40) Mike Mitchell
6. (43) Devin O’Connell
7. (21) Josh King
8. (47) Cody LeBlanc
9. (82) Bobby Baillargeon
10. (73) Joey Doiron
11. (77H) Bill Helliwell
12. (9) Alan Tardiff
13. (51NH) Jeremy Harclerode
14. (90NH) Casey Call
15. (19) Bryan Kruczek
16. (77) Jeremy Sorel
17. (66C) Bobby Cabral
18. (90) Rusty Poland
19. (99) Charlie Buxton
20. (93) Ryan Green
21. (01) Sammy Gooden
22. (00) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
23. (27NH) Wayne Helliwell, Jr.
24. (32) Tyler Tomassi