Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.’s first Granite State Pro Stock Series win came in a hurry. But a follow-up was a long time in the making.
The young racer put all the pieces together Sunday afternoon at Hudson Speedway, driving away from Joey Doiron to win the Governor’s 100, the penultimate race of the 2022 GSPSS season.
And while Renfrew celebrated the long-overdue victory, Doiron’s runner-up finish was enough to earn a celebration of his own, as the 2019 GSPSS champion locked up his second series crown one race early.
“I knew if I let Joey go, I’d probably never see him again,” Renfrew said in victory lane. “I tried to keep the pressure on there and got by him.”
The humble New Hampshire bullring’s annual GSPSS event was shifted from July to Labor Day weekend this year, but brought every bit of the mid-summer heat. Under the beating sun, Doiron clocked in fastest in time trials to win yet another pole award.
Renfrew lined up third behind Doiron and Casey Call, but hustled on the start to slip into second as Call fell to third. The Candia, N.H. driver followed Doiron until Mike Mitchell’s backstretch spin slowed the race on lap 10.
Doiron opted for the outside on the restart, beating Renfrew through turns one and two and emerging with the lead. Renfrew stayed planted on Doiron’s bumper, waiting for an opportunity to pounce. At last, Renfrew found a way under Doiron on lap 26, getting to the inside before Doiron could move down.
Unwilling to cause mayhem so early in the proceedings, Doiron let Renfrew slip past and into the lead.
Renfrew and Doiron distanced themselves from third-place Call, setting a quick pace as the field stretched out behind them. Slower traffic proved to be only a momentary hurdle for the leaders as they picked their way through, leaving only five cars on the lead lap with twenty laps remaining.
A pair of dueling lapped cars with ten circuits to go looked likely to give Doiron time to catch up, but Renfrew broke up the battle on his way by, maintaining his advantage over Doiron in the closing laps.
With no traffic ahead, Renfrew coasted to the win by more than two seconds over Doiron.
Renfrew, who won last June’s American-Canadian Tour race at Hudson, was pleased to add to his win total at a track where he had plenty of success in weekly racing.
“I’ve been trying to get one in a Pro Stock here for a while,” he said. “I won in the ACT Tour here. I haven’t won a [Pro All Stars Series] race, so hopefully they can come back here and we’ll try for one of those.”
Doiron, who Renfrew credited for his help on and off the track, seemed happy to make it to the finish at all.
“We lost the front brakes about 50 laps into the race, and it was kind of a struggle there,” Doiron said. “It was gonna be hard to run Jimmy down, as tight as we get, and slow down enough on entry.”
Doiron’s second-place finish, though, was more than enough to clinch the GSPSS championship with one race left on the calendar. Two fourth-place finishes are Doiron’s worst results of the season, giving the Berwick, Me. native an average finish of 2.375 so far.
“I think our average finish is, like, 2.3 or something,” he said. “We’ve had a good year. We keep taking it, don’t stop trying things. And hopefully we can keep it rolling.”
Casey Call, second to Joey Polewarczyk in last year’s Gate City Classic at Hudson, was never threatened en route to a third-place finish. The Lee USA Speedway winner felt he might have had something for both Renfrew and Doiron later in the race. “Our lap times were faster,” he said. “But the lapped cars kind of hung me up, and at that point, they just got away.”
Nick Cusack, whose early-season fortunes hit the skids at Lee and Claremont Motorsports Park in back-to-back events, finished fourth to correct course. Bryan Kruczek was fifth, the final car on the lead lap.
Cory Casagrande won the battle for sixth over Dylan Estrella. Maine’s Kate Re, who had help from former GSPSS champ Derek Griffith and his team in the pits, drove to an eighth-place finish. Jeremy Sorel and last-minute arrival Bill Helliwell put on a battle for ninth, with Sorel coming out on top just before Renfrew slipped past to break up the party.
Renfrew was just fourteen years old when he made his GSPSS debut at Star Speedway in 2017, finishing eighth at his home track. One year later at Star, Renfrew recovered from an early spin and a tow from the backstretch woods to take the lead late in the race, hanging on for his first career win.
The Renfrew team, an established force in Street Stock racing at Star and Hudson, ran the full GSPSS schedule in 2019. Young Jimmy was fast, finishing second at Lee and third at Star with two more fourth-place finishes, but he was unable to win another race that year.
A championship effort in 2020 was undone five laps into the season at Claremont, where Renfrew’s car was destroyed in a wreck. The Renfrew team doubled down on their Street Stock efforts at Lee and Star, with Renfrew and driver Alby Ovitt winning everything in sight. In 2021, Renfrew added ACT Late Models to his regular itinerary, running most of the ACT Tour schedule and winning at Hudson as well as racing weekly at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
For 2022, Renfrew and his family team committed to GSPSS for their first full season since 2019. Renfrew started the season strong, sitting second in points to Doiron after five races. But a change of summer plans took Renfrew off the road for big-money GSPSS features at Lee and Claremont. Not that the racer was idle by any stretch; he made two PASS starts, including a seventh-place finish at Oxford Plains Speedway in preparation for an Oxford 250 bid. Renfrew came up just short in the last-chance qualifier, joining Travis Benjamin, Nick Sweet, and other top names on the sidelines of New England’s biggest Super Late Model race.
A week later, Renfrew and his team are back on top.
And with the GSPSS’ season finale at Star Speedway only a couple weeks away, Renfrew has tapped into some momentum at just the right time.
Unofficial Results, GSPSS Governor’s 100 at Hudson Speedway:
1. (00) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
2. (73) Joey Doiron
3. (90NH) Casey Call
4. (2) Nick Cusack
5. (19) Bryan Kruczek
6. (7CT) Cory Casagrande
7. (46) Dylan Estrella
8. (10) Kate Re
9. (77) Jeremy Sorel
10. (77H) Bill Helliwell
11. (05F) Bobby Frappier
12. (01) Sammy Gooden
13. (82J) Jason Ryan
14. (40) Mike Mitchell