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New England Notebook: Shaw makes it 2 straight in Rocky Ridge 150, Ashline earns historic Boss Hogg 150 win

GSPSS Field 2019
The Granite State Pro Stock Series took center stage at Claremont (N.H.) Motorsports Park last weekend, with a visiting DJ Shaw taking the spoils in the second annual Rocky Ridge 150. (Jeff Brown file photo)

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.

ACT TOUR: LABOR DAY CLASSIC POSTPONED AFTER HEAT-RACE CRASH

The penultimate event of the ACT Tour schedule was well under way this past Sunday when a qualifying crash for one of the support divisions forced officials to bring an end to the day’s racing.

A car cleared the turn-one wall during heat races for a support class during the Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic at Thunder Road International Speedbowl. The driver involved was uninjured, but two officials were injured in the crash, with both sent to area hospitals for evaluation of leg injuries. After the incident, officials elected to call off the remainder of the afternoon’s activities.

At that point, qualifying heats for the Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic 200 were complete, with Tyler Cahoon, Dylan Payea and Ryan Kuhn taking heat wins.

The remainder of the Labor Day Classic program has been moved to Saturday, September 14, in conjunction with an end-of-year celebration honoring Thunder Road’s 60th anniversary. It appears the heat race wins will stand, with consis taking place based on Sunday’s preliminary results.

GSPSS: SHAW INVADES, WINS SECOND ANNUAL ROCKY RIDGE 150

The Granite State Pro Stock Series returned to the site of its season opener, the newly-named Claremont (N.H.) Motorsports Park, for its biggest race of the year. While others, like the cancelled-for-rain JBH 150 at Monadnock Speedway and the DAV 100 at Seekonk Speedway, have special significance in their own way, the GSPSS hopes to build the Rocky Ridge 150 into the series’ signature event.

The Rocky Ridge 150 was also the first GSPSS event since mid-July after an unexpected summer break. Construction delays at New London-Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl had forced the cancellation of an early-August bout, with no tracks available on short notice for a makeup race. The JBH 150 at Monadnock Speedway was scheduled for August 17, but the track cancelled the event in advance of heavy rains inbound for New Hampshire that weekend. A scheduled off-weekend to accommodate the Oxford 250 gave the GSPSS teams a lengthy break to rebound from any early-summer calamities.

Last year’s Rocky Ridge 150 was won by DJ Shaw, who made an off-weekend visit to the GSPSS and came away with the big prize. Fresh off a podium finish in the Oxford 250, the three-time PASS champion and 2016 GSPSS runner-up would try to defend his victory. To win a second straight Rocky Ridge 150, though, Shaw had to fight through a stout field of 20 other entries.

Shaw was not the only invader from the PASS circle, with teammate Gabe Brown and fellow chassis builder Jeremy Davis both looking to redeem themselves of Oxford 250 disappointments. Cory Casagrande from Connecticut made the long drive to Claremont, while Ricky Bly and Luke Hinkley relished a chance to race at their home track. Joe Squeglia, always a force at the southern New Hampshire tracks, trekked to the Upper Valley to chase the $5,000 winner’s prize. Mike O’Sullivan, Kevin Casper, and Matt Frahm were among the other part-time GSPSS racers who made it a point to run for the big purse.

Joey Doiron set fast time in qualifying to little surprise, but Doiron’s car builder Shaw won the first heat of the afternoon, with Angelo Belsito picking up a win in the second heat. Doiron took back the top spot in the redraw, with Mike Mitchell lining up alongside him.

Doiron showed the way early, looking for a third win on the season to build his points lead over defending champion Devin O’Connell. Where Doiron seemed unable to dodge bad luck in 2018, his second season on the GSPSS circuit was more representative of the success he had enjoyed in PASS competition for several years. Doiron’s consistency had netted him an unbroken top-ten streak entering Claremont, plus two feature wins to boot.

Luke Hinkley was at the front of the field, too. But both Hinkley and Doiron still had to fend off Shaw and two-time GSPSS champion Mike O’Sullivan. Shaw and O’Sullivan had dueled earlier in the season at Monadnock Speedway, where O’Sullivan came out on top after Shaw suffered a flat tire and had to come back from a deficit late in the race.

This time, there was no flat tire, and Shaw and O’Sullivan were able to battle head-to-head to the finish. Waging a hard but clean battle on the track, Shaw and O’Sullivan stayed close through several late-race restarts. Ultimately, Shaw got the better of the GSPSS veteran, hanging on from the final restart to take his seventh career GSPSS victory in only 19 starts.

Mike O’Sullivan finished second, with Luke Hinkley rounding out the podium at his home track. Joey Doiron finished a solid fourth, best among championship contenders. Devin O’Connell finished fifth to minimize Doiron’s gains in the points chase.

Mike Mitchell was sixth, with Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. seventh. Ray Christian III was eighth, ahead of Ricky Bly and Cory Casagrande. Matt Frahm, Josh King, Kevin Casper, Bobby Pelland and Angelo Belsito rounded out the top fifteen.

Gabe Brown’s drive for redemption ended in a 16th-place finish, ahead of Joe Squeglia. Rookie Jake Matheson, who wrecked hard at Lee USA Speedway and missed the Hudson event a week later, was left with another damaged car. Barry Gray, Austin Blais and Jeremy Davis, who lost a clutch, rounded out the field.

The points race still belongs to Joey Doiron, with Devin O’Connell and Ray Christian III a distant second and third. Jimmy Renfrew, Jr., after finding himself in a hole a couple races into the year, has come back to fourth over Josh King. Only the top five have entered every race, with Mike O’Sullivan and Matt Frahm best among the part-timers in sixth and seventh.

The following event on the GSPSS circuit was Friday evening at Star Speedway, where the series headlined “Fender Friday” in the track’s first year of running the Star Classic as a two-day program. A recap will be part of next week’s New England Notebook.

WISCASSET SPEEDWAY: ASHLINE SWEEPS TRACK’S BIG EVENTS WITH BOSS HOGG 150 WIN

Wiscasset Speedway is not a stop on the fendered touring schedules, but the coastal Maine bullring has two big events of its own to hang its hat on. The first half of the season is marked by the Coastal 200 for Late Models and Late Model Sportsmen. Pro Stocks and Super Late Models are the featured division late in the year for the Boss Hogg 150, named for former track owner Dave St. Clair.

While some PASS regulars were entered in the GSPSS event across New England, others took advantage of the off-weekend to race closer to home in search of local glory. Coastal 200 winner Ben Ashline, fresh off a top-ten run in the Oxford 250, had prepared Ajay Picard’s #99 for a run at the 150. Mike Hopkins set aside his #15 mount for a ride in the #41 car. Garrett Hall, Brandon Barker, Dave Farrington, Jr., Jacob Dore and Scott Chubbuck were also in the running.

Ashline started from the pole, but Dave Farrington showed the way for the opening laps. Ashline, who won the Coastal 200 earlier this year, took the lead back 32 laps in and drove off from the field, leaving Farrington, Chubbuck and Garrett Hall to fight for second.

A lap-121 restart opened the door for Hall to take the lead from Ashline. Hall was flagged the winner of the 2017 Boss Hogg 150, but a technicality in the tire rules forced officials to disqualify the former Beech Ridge Motor Speedway regular for swapping a flat tire with a practice tire that was not registered for the race. Hall fought off Ashline for the top spot over the next couple restarts, looking for redemption and a Boss Hogg win of his own.

With ten laps to go, Hall and Ashline made contact racing for the lead, with Hall skating into the outside wall. Hall’s race was over; Ashline was sent to the rear of the field for his part in the fracas. Dave Farrington, who had some damage of his own from the wreck, inherited the lead.

Race rules require all lapped traffic to the tail of the field in the final ten laps of the event, though, so Ashline lined up fifth on the grid. On the restart, he picked off traffic quickly, taking the lead from Brandon Barker with six laps to go. In the final laps, Ashline pulled away from the field, building a lead of nearly 2.4 seconds as he took the checkered flag. Ashline’s win this year, his second victory in a handful of starts, made him the first driver to win both Wiscasset’s Coastal 200 and Boss Hogg 150.

Mike Hopkins came back to finish second, with Wiscasset regular Kevin Douglass third, Barker fourth and Farrington fading to fifth in the closing laps. Jacob Dore was a lap down in sixth. Early runner-up Scott Chubbuck was tenth; Hall ended up eleventh in the 19-car field. Josh St. Clair, grandson of Dave “Boss Hogg” St. Clair, finished 14th.

Oxford 250 last-chance qualifier winner Austin Teras was not in his full-sized car at the Boss Hogg 150, but he did win the afternoon’s 25-lap NELCAR Legends feature.

NORTH OF THE BORDER: POLLARD, TUCKER TAKE BIG-DOLLAR LONG-DISTANCE WINS

After finishing near the bottom of the Oxford 250 field, Bubba Pollard rebounded in a big way on Monday at the rain-delayed Canadian Short Track Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway in Hagersville, Ontario, not far from the northern coast of Lake Erie. Pollard won the $75,000-to-win feature for the second straight season, making his trip to the North at least halfway successful.

READ MORE: Bubba Pollard goes back-to-back in Canadian Short Track Nationals

Eddie MacDonald finished second, but a miscommunication with tough tech inspector Ricky Brooks resulted in the team running the wrong ignition box in the car. MacDonald was disqualified, moving Canadian Matt Pritiko to second. Other notables in the field included Massachusetts’ Derek Ramstrom (6th), Quebec ACT legend Patrick Laperle (7th), Maritime Pro Stock Tour racer Nicholas Naugle (14th), multi-time PASS champion Johnny Clark (20th), Série ACT champion and NASCAR Pinty’s Series racer Donald Theetge (31st), and PASS racer Derek Griffith (32nd).

Sunday night, Cassius Clark came one position away from sweeping the Canadian Maritimes’ three 250-lap events in a single season. Ashton Tucker, who also competed in the Oxford 250, took the lead from Clark just after halfway to win the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 at Speedway 660 in Geary, New Brunswick. Clark was able to come back to second place by the race’s end. Tucker’s win was worth $21,000 and change, marking one of the biggest wins of the young racer’s career thus far.

WEEKLY RACING: PITKAT WINS THOMPSON DOUBLEHEADER, TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS TAKE FORM

Corey Bubar scored his second feature win of 2019 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday, outracing recent winner Travis Buzzell and points leader Trevor Sanborn for the win. Average nights for Dave Farrington, Jr. and David Oliver helped Bubar slide into second in points as the season winds down to a close.

The second-to-last event of White Mountain Motorsports Park’s season was Saturday night, with the weekly Late Models battling for 100 laps to set the stage for the upcoming Championship Night. Oren Remick took an early lead and cruised to his second feature win of the season. Quinny Welch finished second and locked up his fifth-straight WMMP Late Model title. Mike Bailey was third, with Tour rookie Stephen Donahue taken out in an early wreck and finishing deep in the field.

At Star Speedway, defending champ Jay Sands took his first feature win of the season over Joshua Hedges and Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. Hedges remains in the points lead over Charlie Rose with only a couple weeks remaining in the year.

Modified star Woody Pitkat scored a doubleheader win in unusual fashion at Thompson (CT) Speedway Motorsports Park on Sunday. Pitkat, who won the day’s Sunoco Modified feature, finished second to Ryan Morgan in the Late Model event. However, Morgan refused technical inspection after the race, disqualifying him and handing the win to Pitkat. Matthew Lowinski-Loh finished second with William Wall third. Seekonk regular Mark Jenison, with the week off from the Cement Palace, was eighth, with Jason Larivee 11th. Wall, with one win, leads three-time feature winner Pitkat for the track points standings.

NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE

The Granite State Pro Stock Series raced Friday night at Star Speedway in Epping, N.H., as part of the track’s 54th annual Star Classic. A full recap of the race will be featured in next week’s Notebook. The American-Canadian Tour and Pro All Stars Series are off this weekend.

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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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