Sometimes, on the rarest of occasions, two feature victories can count as one. For Angelo Belsito, Sunday’s Granite State Pro Stock Series tilt at Monadnock Speedway was one of those occasions.
Belsito scored two first-place finishes and a third to capture the overall win in the second race of the GSPSS season, a race reformatted to accommodate a shortened field on a busy weekend.
Sunday’s main event, part of the New Hampshire quarter-mile’s two-day Spring Dash opening weekend, was originally slated for 100 laps. But with only nine cars ready to take time in qualifying, and rain threatening the schedule as well, GSPSS officials reorganized the event. Heat races and the 100-lap feature were condensed into a triplet of 20-lap sprints, with the best average finish in the three determining the winner.
Belsito set the tone quickly. The Auburn, Mass. driver backed up his practice times in the first feature, holding off Gabe Brown and Mike Mitchell to take the first twenty-lap event. In the second sprint, Belsito backed up his win with a second triumph despite a full-field invert. Former GSPSS champion Devin O’Connell improved from fourth to second, with Brown following in third.
O’Connell, a GSPSS Monadnock winner in 2018, improved again in the final sprint, taking the win over Mitchell. With his early performance paving the way, Belsito was free to coast home in third.
The command performance resulted in Belsito’s fourth career GSPSS win and his first trip to victory lane since last July at Claremont (N.H.) Motorsports Park.
O’Connell’s third-segment win and top-five results in the first two segments earned him the runner-up spot in the final rundown, his best finish since back-to-back second-place finishes in 2019.
Brown, who made a last-minute shock change prior to the first feature, was credited with third place in his first ever visit to the track known to its fans as “Mad Dog.” Brown’s podium, yet another in a string of strong performances for the Center Conway, N.H. racer, was a welcome rebound from opening-weekend issues at Stafford Motor Speedway, where he finished eighth.
Mitchell and Adam Gray rounded out the top five.
The three-segment format was used previously by GSPSS in a 2018 race at New London-Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl. Three 35-lap segments were run, with Joey Doiron beating O’Connell for the overall victory.
The Waterford event, however, was planned as a three-segment feature. Sunday’s race was reorganized on the fly, likely to provide entertainment value for the fans in light of a short field. A week after drawing 24 cars for the first Pro Stock race at Stafford since 2012, the series drew its shortest car count since last July.
Competing events at Vermont’s Thunder Road and Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts, and a hard wreck for two-time GSPSS champion Mike O’Sullivan at Stafford, explained some of the absences. Others, like that of reigning series champ Joey Polewarczyk, were less clear.
With Polewarczyk bowing out of the points race, a first-time GSPSS champion could be in play. But for now, with twelve races left to go and plenty of unknowns ahead, race victories matter most.
And Angelo Belsito, who finished first twice on Sunday, has one big victory to build on.
Official Results, GSPSS Spring Dash 100 at Monadnock Speedway:
1. (8) Angelo Belsito
2. (43) Devin O’Connell
3. (61) Gabe Brown
4. (40) Mike Mitchell
5. (29) Adam Gray
6. (87) Alexander Pearl
7. (76RI) Tyler Tomassi
8. (90NH) Casey Call
9. (21) Josh King