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Granite State Pro Stock Series

Lanpher wins Pro Stock/SLM Nationals, weekly racing takes a break: Northeast Late Model Update

Each week, Short Track Scene looks back at results and news from northern New England’s Late Model and Super Late Model competition, from the region’s premier tours — the American-Canadian Tour, the Granite State Pro Stock Series, and the Pro All Stars Series — to the tracks and drivers that support them. Thanks to the local journalists and fans who report in from the track each week to keep their fellow fans informed.

U.S. PRO STOCK/SLM NATIONALS: LANPHER KEEPS ROLLING WITH $10,000 WIN AT SEEKONK

For the third year in a row, Seekonk Speedway welcomed top-flight fendered racers to southern Massachusetts for the Wednesday-night U.S. Pro Stock/Super Late Model Nationals. The non-points, $10,000-to-win event has a necessarily cumbersome name; Seekonk still favors the name “Pro Stock” for its top fendered class while many tracks and tours in the area have adopted “Super Late Model” instead.

By any name, twenty-eight cars were in attendance to take a shot at the big prize. Four drivers had already earned guaranteed berths in the field thanks to wins earlier in the season: Seekonk regular Dylan Estrella, GSPSS winners Joe Squeglia, Jr. and Reid Lanpher, and Beech Ridge Pro Series 125 winner Garrett Hall had already punched their ticket. (A fifth driver, Wiscasset Speedway regular Nick Hinkley, was eligible but did not make the trip.)

Among those who had to qualify in were GSPSS regulars like Nick Lascuola and Devin O’Connell, Seekonk veteran David Darling, Maine visitors Dave Farrington, Jr. and Wyatt Alexander, and PASS winners Derek Griffith and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. Travis Benjamin was at the wheel of Matt Frahm’s #14, and ARCA rookie Joe Graf, Jr. made an appearance as well.

Benjamin topped the field in time trials, then won the first qualifying heat to lock himself into the feature, with Lanpher and Darling following suit. A ten-car consi set the rest of the 24-car field, with Devin O’Connell racing in ahead of locals Ryan Vanasse, Craig Weinstein and Kevin Folan. Cole Littlewood, Bobby Pelland, Bob Hussey and New York racer Brandon Turbush were left on the outside looking in. Todd Annarummo had bowed out before qualifying, unable to take the green flag for time trials.

David Darling brought the field to the green flag for the first 100-lap segment of the race, though Reid Lanpher jumped into the early lead. The Seekonk champion battled back to the top spot twenty laps in, beating the field on restarts and building a lead under green-flag racing. On lap 66, though, Darling’s run went up in literal smoke, with the veteran driver spinning in his own oil after drivetrain failure.

Lanpher, among others, spun in the aftermath, but as there was no contact between the leaders, Reid was allowed to restart from the lead. Travis Benjamin and then Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. gave Lanpher a fight for the top spot, but Lanpher held onto the lead through the end of the first segment, taking the checkers ahead of Polewarczyk, Benjamin, Joe Squeglia, Jr. and local racer Jake Johnson. A fan vote resulted in an inversion of the top five for the start of the second segment, so Johnson would lead the field back to green.

The fifteen-year-old Seekonk regular was unable to replicate Darling’s restart mastery, but held off challenges from Travis Benjamin and then Joe Squeglia. Lanpher and Polewarczyk worked through traffic and back into the second and third positions, alternately pressuring Johnson for the race lead. Lanpher was committed to the high line, and his commitment ultimately allowed Polewarczyk to get through for second.

With 31 laps remaining, Johnson was in a three-way battle for the lead, with Lanpher working high and Pole working low. Pole and Johnson made contact on the backstretch as Johnson tried to defend his position. A lap later, Johnson threw a block, Pole held his ground on the inside, and Johnson went for a spin in turn two. Officials pointed the finger at Polewarczyk, sending him to the rear of the field for contact. Pole instead pulled his car into the pits, his evening over.

That left Lanpher at the head of the field in front of Joe Squeglia and Derek Ramstrom, who had quietly ascended through the field to third place. Lanpher and Squeglia pulled out to a significant advantage in the closing laps while Ramstrom, Garrett Hall and Dave Farrington, Jr. put on a battle for third place. Squeglia was able to run with Lanpher, but he was unable to challenge the driver for the top spot.

After a green-flag run to close out the final 30 laps, Reid Lanpher took the checkers for his first U.S. Pro Stock/Super Late Model Nationals win. The win was Lanpher’s third straight victory, with wins at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in PASS and the GSPSS victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Joe Squeglia, Jr. held on for the runner-up spot, with Derek Ramstrom winning the battle for third place. Dave Farrington, Jr. and Garrett Hall rounded out the top five. Wyatt Alexander, who has received some setup assistance from Farrington this summer, finished sixth, with Mike Mitchell seventh. Craig Weinstein was eighth ahead of Jake Johnson, who could only climb back to ninth. GSPSS regular Cory Casagrande, minus a fender, managed to finish tenth, with Ryan Kuhn the only other driver on the lead lap.

Nick Lascuola finished a lap down in twelfth after an adventurous evening of his own (and after the removal of some sheet metal). Lascuola’s night was better than many of the big names deeper in the field, though. Joey Polewarczyk was 15th after parking his car. Travis Benjamin pitted on lap 163 and never returned to the race, finishing 17th. Joe Graf, in his one-off SLM start, was 19th. Consi winner Devin O’Connell went out in the race’s first segment, finishing 22nd. Derek Griffith, the defending race winner, was the first car out and the last car to finish, calling it quits before 60 laps were complete.

Midweek races always carry an element of risk, particularly given that some weekend races have struggled to draw upwards of 20 cars this season. Last year’s Nationals, albeit hampered by a one-day rain delay, had only 21 entries on race day; this year’s turnout was the best in three years of the event. Last year’s race also featured Eddie MacDonald and Toyota development driver Raphael Lessard, neither of whom were in the lineup this year. With luck, next year’s Nationals can continue a positive trend.

NORTH OF THE BORDER: BUTCHER WINS AGAIN AT PETTY, DERY WINS THIRD STRAIGHT AT MONTMAGNY

Cole Butcher won his third Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour feature Saturday night at Petty International Raceway in River Glade, New Brunswick. The Nova Scotia native survived a late-race incident to claim the win over Dylan Gosbee and Craig Slaunwhite. Darren MacKinnon finished a discouraging sixth after battling Butcher most of the way. Butcher won the PASS North event at Petty in June, securing him a provisional berth in the Oxford 250.

The CSCC LMS Tour ran its fifth race Saturday as well, with Jean-François Déry taking his third straight CSCC victory in the 200-lap feature at Autodrome Montmagny. Martin Goulet, Jr. and Jonathan Bouvrette rounded out the podium. Fourth-place finisher Dany Trépanier still leads the points, with Déry sixth after missing the season opener.

EXTRACURRICULAR EVENTS: LANPHER REPRESENTS NEW ENGLAND IN K&N EAST AT LOUDON

Fresh off his win in the U.S. Pro Stock/Super Late Model Nationals, Reid Lanpher switched gears and headed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway to compete in Saturday’s United Site Services 70 for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Lanpher’s final start of a three-race deal with Jefferson Pitts Racing was Lanpher’s first attempt in a K&N car at the Magic Mile.

Despite starting last in a race that ran green from start to finish, Lanpher was able to climb to 15th at the checkered flag. Surprisingly, Lanpher was the only New England driver in the field in a series that once considered NHMS a home track. K&N veteran Eddie MacDonald and his familiar Grimm Racing #71 have not made an attempt this year, with MacDonald’s only 2018 start coming for Calabrese Motorsports earlier this year.

WEEKLY RACING: DRAGON WINS GOVERNOR’S CUP, ROOKIE DOLLIVER SHINES AT STAR

Thunder Road International Speedbowl’s normal Thursday-night program was upgraded for the week to feature the annual Vermont Governor’s Cup 150-lap Late Model feature. 2016 Thunder Road champion Scott Dragon took an early lead and held off a few challengers to score his second Governor’s Cup win in three years. Jason Corliss fended off Cody Blake for second, with Trampas Demers finishing fourth. Vermont Governor and former Thunder Road champion Phil Scott finished fifth, presenting the trophy to Dragon following the race. Blake and Demers sit tied atop the points standings following the long-distance feature.

On an off-weekend for both Oxford Plains and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Wiscasset Speedway was the only area track in action Saturday night. Ryan St. Clair won the 40-lap Late Model Sportsman feature, with Chris Thorne and Andrew McLaughlin rounding out the podium.

After seeing veterans in victory lane for a few weeks at Star Speedway, the weekly Late Models were conquered by a rookie driver last weekend. Max Dolliver topped ACT veteran Aaron Fellows for his first Late Model win. The teen, yet another driver bestowed with the “Mad Max” moniker, was driving the #0NH of Sullivan Family Racing, who won a few weeks back with ACT Tour driver Miles Chipman at the wheel.

Stacy Cahoon set a personal milestone Saturday night at White Mountain Motorsports Park. Cahoon won over Quinny Welch and Stephen Donahue to earn his second straight feature win in the track’s Late Model division. Cahoon estimates that, in his 31-year racing career, it marks the first time he has ever won back-to-back features.

With the NASCAR road show in Loudon last weekend, many local tracks opted not to compete, assuming their fans and teams would be in New Hampshire anyway. Weekly racing should be back in full trot for this weekend.

NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE

Saturday night, the Granite State Pro Stock Series will race at White Mountain Motorsports Park for their only visit of the year to the quarter-mile. The Pro All Stars Series North teams are in action Sunday afternoon with a home game at Oxford Plains Speedway. The 150-lap feature is the last opportunity for North teams to earn a guaranteed berth in August’s Oxford 250.

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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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