First there was the home-track breakthrough. Then there was the seemingly-inevitable followup.
Friday’s win was about redemption.
Angelo Belsito topped a short field of Granite State Pro Stock Series regulars in yet another dominant performance, taking his third career GSPSS win and his second straight series victory in the Claremont 100 at Claremont Motorsports Park.
In two previous visits to the third-mile New Hampshire speedway, the Auburn, Mass. ace had spent plenty of time at the front of the field, only to come up short in the closing laps. In the season opener, Belsito dominated before Ray Christian III muscled his way to the lead with only a few laps to go. In the second race of the year, Belsito made a bold move on hometown hero Luke Hinkley for the lead, but Hinkley’s payback and an emergent oil leak ended Belsito’s evening early.
This time, Belsito took the lead early, drove away from the field and never looked back.
Heat winner Hinkley, still searching for his first career GSPSS win, charged to second in the closing laps. But without the help of a caution flag, he could only watch Belsito coast unchallenged to the win.
Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. was awarded the pole by virtue of the evening’s post-heat redraw. “Joey Pole” was in command for the opening laps, but slipped back once Belsito made his move for the lead. Pole finished a solid third, keeping him second in the points standings but leaving the Hudson, N.H. native hungry for his first win of the season.
Ray Christian III battled for the lead early but faded to fourth at the finish, his worst result of the year thus far. Sophomore Jake Matheson started up front alongside Pole, finishing a career-best fifth.
Rookie Cody Leblanc finished a career-best sixth after a race-ending wreck at Hudson (N.H.) Speedway two weeks ago. Josh King finished seventh in the electrician’s second start of the season. Ryan Lineham, who was in his own car after a mid-week ride change, finished eighth for his best run of 2020. John Lowinski-Loh and Fred Astle, Lineham’s replacement in the Lindblad Racing entry, rounded out the field.
The season’s third Friday-night tilt proved to be a scheduling challenge for many drivers, ending a streak of impressive car counts for the GSPSS. One surprising absence was that of defending champion Joey Doiron. Doiron had made a deal earlier in the week to run for veteran car owner Wright Pearson, who won races in 2018 and 2019 with Doiron’s friend and former teammate Brandon Barker at the wheel. But hauler trouble en route to the track kept the Pearson #16 from making it to Claremont, ending Doiron’s title defense prematurely.
Among the other series regulars, rookie Casey Call was absent due to a family obligation, while Mike Mitchell cited work commitments that kept him away from the track.
Ray Christian III started the evening atop the speed charts after time trials, but his time was disallowed, handing the pole award to Angelo Belsito. With the short field, only one heat race was run to set the starting lineup.
Christian holds onto the points lead over Joey Polewarczyk, with “RC III” and Belsito splitting this year’s races so far with two wins each. Despite a number of different winners over the last year, Joey Doiron is the last series regular besides Christian and Belsito to take a checkered flag in that span, winning last July’s Firecracker 100 at Lee (N.H.) USA Speedway.
The Granite State Pro Stock Series will race next at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., the annual home of the JBH Memorial in honor of series co-founder John Hoyt. Last year’s JBH Memorial was rained out, while the series will hope to get this year’s event in under clear skies.
Official Results, GSPSS Claremont 100 at Claremont Motorsports Park:
1. (8) Angelo Belsito
2. (31NH) Luke Hinkley
3. (97) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.
4. (93CT) Ray Christian III
5. (52NH) Jake Matheson
6. (55) Cody Leblanc
7. (21) Josh King
8. (10) Ryan Lineham
9. (18) John Lowinski-Loh
10. (48) Fred Astle