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Granite State Pro Stock Series

Shaw Edges Sorel In GSPSS Claremont Thriller

The win is Shaw’s first touring victory of the season, in his first GSPSS start since 2022.

After a post-race review, D.J. Shaw celebrates a narrow victory in Friday night's GSPSS Fisher Auto Parts 125. (STS/Jeff Brown)

What was shaping up to be a landslide win for D.J. Shaw turned into a victory by inches. But a win is a win.

The multi-time champion driver and car builder prevailed in a door-to-door drag race against Jeremy Sorel, locking down his first touring victory of 2024 in Friday night’s Fisher Auto Parts 125, the third event on the Granite State Pro Stock Series calendar.

And on an evening where Claremont Motorsports Park was due to set off fireworks in conjunction with the track’s Independence Day Classic festivities, there were plenty of fireworks on and off the track, too.

Shaw was a last-minute entrant for Friday’s feature, quickly turning his car around from a sixth-place finish in Wednesday night’s Pro All Stars Series Celebration of America 300. The Center Conway, N.H. ace was one of a handful of ringers, including 2020 GSPSS champion Joey Polewarczyk and 2016 Oxford 250 winner Wayne Helliwell, Jr., who were late additions to the entry list.

Call leads Shaw early in the 125-lap race. (STS/Jeff Brown)

With the setup under the car relatively unchanged from two nights before, Shaw was quick in final practice, then led wire to wire to win the first qualifying heat. Points leader Casey Call won the second heat, gridding the two drivers on the front row of the sixteen-car field.

Call charged from the outside line to take the early lead as Shaw settled into second. In the first fifty laps, Call and Shaw gapped third place by nearly half a track, while fourth-place starter Cory Casagrande was engaged in an aggressive battle for fifth. Call and Shaw found themselves in heavy traffic as they lapped well into the top ten, with Call able to keep Shaw at bay.

But as Call worked over sixth-place Evan Beaulieu, he turned the Mainer in front of the field, stacking up the lead battle and bringing out the night’s first caution on lap 58. Call limped his damaged car around the track, stopping at Beaulieu’s stalled car to express his frustration before pulling into the pits.

Casey Call tags Evan Beaulieu on lap 58, ultimately costing him the race. The two-time feature winner was frustrated he hadn’t been given more room. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Shaw assumed the lead under yellow, with Polewarczyk taking over second. On the restart, Shaw got away from “Joey Pole” and Helliwell as Call tried to catch up from the back of the pack.

Under the long green flag run, though, Polewarczyk began to reel in Shaw ever slightly, as seventh-place starter Sorel made the pass for third. Fresh off a podium finish in May’s GSPSS tilt at Claremont, Sorel was looking for just a bit more.

Helliwell suddenly slowed on lap 106 while running fourth, forcing another caution and eliminating Shaw’s advantage. Polewarczyk lined up alongside Shaw for the restart with Sorel third and Ryan Green fourth.

Shaw immediately got ahead of Polewarczyk on the green, but a slight bobble through turn four stacked up the leaders, with Sorel getting Polewarczyk crossed up in traffic. Call, who restarted fifth, dove below the pack to steal second, while Sorel settled back into third. Polewarczyk gathered it up in fourth, setting off after Sorel to even the score.

Contact between Polewarczyk and Sorel left the two racers’ hopes hanging on the brink, but both recovered to secure their podium performances. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Call could not close the gap on Shaw as the laps wound down, and soon found himself hanging on for second. Sorel made the pass for second with two to go, and as the white flag waved, Polewarczyk threw his car into turn one, making a play for the podium himself.

But the yellow flag was in the air too, as rookie Morgan Call had spun off the nose of Alex Quarterley deep in the field. With the scoreboard frozen at lap 124, the field was re-racked for a green-white-checkered shootout. Sorel was scored in second before the caution flew and lined up alongside Shaw for the restart, with Polewarczyk and Call in their mirrors.

Shaw and Sorel were deadlocked at the line, with Shaw working the inside and Sorel clinging to hope on the outside. Shaw took the white flag, but coming off turn two, Sorel inched ahead down the backstretch, taking the lead into turn three. Shaw powered back on the inside, drawing even with Sorel on the frontstretch as they crossed the finish line in a dead heat.

Transponder scoring showed Sorel with the advantage at the line, but eyewitnesses corroborated that Shaw was barely ahead. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Both cars stopped on the start-finish line, Shaw to the outside and Sorel to the inside, as officials reviewed the finish. Transponders gave the edge to Sorel by .013 seconds, but upon review, the checkered flag was handed off to Shaw, who exited the car in celebration.

Shaw’s win is his eleventh GSPSS feature win and his fourth at Claremont, though his first at the track since 2019. Despite never having contested a full GSPSS season, Shaw remains the series’ winningest driver.

And despite coming mere inches short of the victory, Sorel was pleased with the outcome. With guests from a new team sponsor in attendance, Sorel earned his best career GSPSS finish in thrilling fashion.

“The green-white-checkered was fun,” he said. “We fired off well. I’m a little surprised that we were able to hang with [Shaw], because he was so good throughout the day. Just on the outside, we had a really good run, and yeah, it was close, for sure. I really wanted the first win with the Granite State, though.”

Sorel’s pass on Casey Call with two laps remaining set him up for a shot at the victory in a rare two-lap shootout. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Third place went to Polewarczyk, who Sorel sought out once they emerged from their cars.

“I apologized right off, as soon as I saw him,” Sorel said. “I thought we were gonna wreck on entry, because [Polewarczyk] just came right down in. Which, there was a hole, he just filled it. But on entry we got into it a little bit, we both kind of straightened it up, and then we got on throttle, and then…I guess D.J. must have checked up a little bit or something. As soon as I got him, I was right off, trying not to spin him. I was completely happy with third at that point. I didn’t want to move him or spin him or wreck him, to where he could get back to us and take us completely out, because nobody wins there.”

Despite the late-race contact and a narrow defeat, all three drivers were smiling in victory lane. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Not that that communication could be swiftly delivered before the checkered flag flew. “That’s kinda why I was really pushing the issue with the two cars in front of me,” Sorel laughed.

Would Polewarczyk have retaliated, given the chance? His father Joe shrugged it off after the race: “We don’t race like that,” he said.

Casey Call rebounded from his mid-race dust-up to finish fourth, a letdown given his early-race dominance. Call confronted Beaulieu after the race, upset that he had not been given more room.

Fifth place went to Green, who borrowed a car from close friend Joey Doiron to make the race. With his own car damaged in a grinding crash at Lee USA Speedway two weeks ago, Doiron offered up his own backup car. Green’s laps were the first for the car in over two years.

Beaulieu made up his lap to finish sixth, ahead of Casagrande. Dan Winter was two laps back in eighth, with Jamie Wright and Quarterley rounding out the top ten.

Shaw may not have led the first 58 laps of the feature, but he was dominant all day in a car that had just turned 375 racing laps on Tuesday and Wednesday. (STS/Jeff Brown)

With the region’s other touring series idle for the holiday weekend, plenty of drivers were on hand lending support. Gabe Brown was working with mentor Shaw, while Doiron, fresh off a $40,000 payday Wednesday night, was setting up Green’s car. Sorel and teammate Quarterley had assistance in the pits from Quarterley’s father Dale, the former motorcycle and NASCAR Busch North Series racer.

And with cars built by Dale Shaw Race Cars finishing first, second and fifth, the Shaw camp had plenty to be proud of.

For D.J. Shaw personally, Friday’s win represents momentum to build on. The veteran driver has had a consistent season thus far, sitting atop the PASS North standings and running fifth in the American-Canadian Tour points after two straight championships there. However, Shaw remains winless in both series. While Shaw tends to be stronger in the second half of the season, victories are never a guarantee.

But one win usually gets the ball rolling.

Unofficial Results
Granite State Pro Stock Series Fisher Auto Parts 125
Claremont Motorsports Park
1. (60) D.J. Shaw
2. (77MA) Jeremy Sorel
3. (97) Joey Polewarczyk
4. (90NH) Casey Call
5. (73) Ryan Green
6. (56) Evan Beaulieu
7. (7CT) Cory Casagrande
8. (81) Dan Winter
9. (84) Jamie Wright
10. (32Q) Alex Quarterley
11. (95) Morgan Call
12. (27NH) Wayne Helliwell, Jr.
13. (75) Gary Smith
14. (50) Andy Shaw
15. (23) Brandon Sprague
16. (5VT) Pat Corbett

Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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