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Doiron scores $40,000 bounty in inaugural PASS Celebration of America 300

Doiron played tire strategy and track position to his advantage to claim New England’s biggest jackpot of the year for Super Late Model racers.

Joey Doiron earned a $40,000 payday for his Petit Motorsports team with his win in Wednesday's All That's Metal Celebration of America 300. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Over the offseason, Joey Doiron told car owner Peter Petit that he wanted to win at least one of the Northeast’s marquee Super Late Model shows. So far, he’s two for two.

Doiron played pit strategy to perfection and survived a late bump from Derek Griffith to claim victory in the inaugural All That’s Metal Celebration of America 300 at Oxford Plains Speedway, the seventh race of the Pro All Stars Series North schedule.

And while the alternatives were easier to ponder with a $40,000 check in hand, Doiron had no ill feelings about the finish.

“If [Griffith] would have wrecked me, I probably wouldn’t have been mad,” he said. “It’s just what it is, hard racing. Luckily tonight, we came out on the good end of it.

“It’s been a hell of a year.”

Kyle Busch led a trio of ringers adding intrigue to an otherwise-regional PASS show. Racing a car owned by Jay Cushman, the NASCAR star ran fourth with thirty laps remaining, but a spin relegated him to 24th in the final rundown. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Doiron carried serious momentum into an event that checked off every major short track racing trope essential for a marquee event.

It was the first proper 300-lap PASS North race since 2017, with a winner’s base purse larger than the legendary (and presently PASS-sanctioned) Oxford 250.

An all-star entry list was bolstered by the attendance of NASCAR superstar Kyle Busch, Busch’s spotter and Maine native Derek Kneeland, and 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric.

And broadcast personality Dave Moody, whose career took shape at Vermont’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl, took the mic as a guest announcer for the evening’s main event.

Two weekdays of racing at the historic Maine oval kicked off Tuesday with 75-lap qualifying races for the Wednesday show. Trevor Sanborn and Canadian Kyle Reid walked away with the heat wins, setting the grid for the 300-lapper. But the heat races also cast the die for race strategy. Teams could choose to start Wednesday’s race on fresh tires, giving them a set of tires to change during the race.

Or they could carry their qualifying tires over, giving them two sets of tires to play with over the 300-lap feature, as long as they did not lose a lap in the opening stint.

Doiron, rolling off fourth, opted to start the race on old tires. While Sanborn and Joe Pastore charged to the front, with Corey Bubar in tow, Doiron settled in on the edge of the top five. Third-place starter Johnny Clark, another pre-race favorite with a PASS 300 victory in 2015, faded through the field.

Trevor Sanborn (#44) leads Johnny Clark early in the 300-lap race. Sanborn led over half the race, but struggled with traffic after his pit stop. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Trouble for Mike Scorzelli on lap 47 opened the strategy window, with Johnny and Cassius Clark, Mike Hopkins and Busch among those heading to the pits under caution. Reigning PASS champion Max Cookson found himself on the wrong side of the gamble, trapped a lap down not even fifty laps into the race.

Pastore turned up the heat on the restart as Sanborn continued to set the pace, with Griffith climbing to third. Busch was emboldened on fresh tires, carving through traffic with three-wide moves when necessary.

Tom Abele, Jr.’s lap-68 spin reopened the strategy window, with D.J. Shaw, Brandon Barker and others ducking into the pits. Doiron stayed on track, hoping for a later opportunity to pit. But when the field slowed for a multi-car incident on lap 71 that ended the day for Scott McDaniel and Troy Patterson, Doiron made the call to come in for tires after all, leaving him at a track position deficit.

After criticism in recent years of single-groove racing, Oxford was at its raciest Wednesday, with drivers making three- and four-wide moves through traffic. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Out front, it was still Sanborn and Pastore in charge, with Johnny Clark cracking the top five on the next green-flag run. Cookson earned his lap back under a lap-91 yellow, with Clark, Griffith and Ben Rowe rounding out the top five with two thirds of the race to go.

Clark moved to second on the restart, pressuring Sanborn on his fresher tires while those who pitted more recently began shuffling their way through the deck. With halfway approaching, Pastore clung to third and Griffith fourth, with Cassius Clark, Busch and Doiron battling for fifth.

Kyle Salemi’s spin on lap 144 stopped the race from making the halfway point under green. On the restart, Barker’s lapped car held up Griffith, with Doiron rocketing to third in traffic. Sanborn clung to the lead as Wiscasset Speedway alumnus Josh St. Clair cycled through to run fifth.

Cassius Clark reports for tires and fuel. Differing tire strategies created a constant sense of movement through the field, with all drivers hoping to catch the right window for a final tire change. (STS/Jeff Brown)

But when the field slowed on lap 174 for a collision between Pastore and Travis Stearns, Sanborn finally took the opportunity to change tires. Doiron inherited the lead, lining up for the restart with Johnny Clark, Griffith, St. Clair and Cassius Clark on his tail.

Stearns lined up among the leaders as well, racing Griffith hard as Doiron and Clark got away. Following another quick restart, Stearns was relentless, charging to Doiron’s bumper and racing the leader to earn one of his laps back. In Doiron’s mirror, Shaw worked past Griffith as the latest round of pit stops began to bear fruit. When the yellow wove once again on lap 219, former Oxford track champion Dave Farrington, Jr. and a repaired Pastore had slipped by a fading Griffith.

Doiron ducked down pit road from the lead, while Griffith came pitside for his first stop of the day. Johnny Clark, Hopkins and Busch made stops as well, while Shaw assumed the lead over Farrington, Pastore, Bubar and Kneeland.

While Shaw pulled away from the second-place battle, Busch masterfully carved his way through traffic on fresh tires. Doiron and Griffith followed Busch’s path along the curb, slipping past the former Oxford 250 winner once they had cleared the bulk of the pack. With just over 50 circuits remaining, Garrett Hall—who started 36th after sustaining damage in his heat race Tuesday—ran second to Shaw, with Doiron closing fast from third.

Kyle Busch carves a path through traffic on fresh tires, working under spotter Derek Kneeland (#90) with Doiron in pursuit. (STS/Jeff Brown)

But Shaw’s advantage was ebbing in traffic, too. Hall closed the gap, making his move for the lead on lap 255. Three laps later, Doiron got by Shaw and set his sights on the leader. Hall kept Doiron at bay until a spinning Gabe Brown brought out the yellow flag on lap 264.

Doiron pounced on the restart, taking the lead as Hall’s car bobbled in traffic, shuffling him through the top five. Only a few laps later, Mike Rowe went for a ride off the turn-three banking, emerging from the darkness as the yellow flew once again. Cassius Clark lined up alongside Doiron for the start, with Griffith and Busch in the next row.

The Las Vegas interloper’s top-five glory lasted barely a lap, however, as Busch spun off Hall’s nose trying to get to the bottom. Relegated to a starting position deep in the field with only 29 laps remaining, Busch instead parked his borrowed ride for the night.

That set up a rematch between Doiron and Griffith, who put on a show in the closing laps of May’s North American Pro Stock Nationals at Lee USA Speedway.

Doiron fends off a challenge from Griffith in the final third of the race. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Doiron cleared Griffith on the start, taking a defensive line to hold off Griffith’s advances. With 20 laps remaining, Doiron bounced off the curb and drifted high, leaving Griffith the tiniest of openings. Griffith poked his nose under Doiron’s left rear, but as Doiron closed the door, the two made contact, Doiron’s car turning sideways off the corner. Doiron gathered it up, hanging onto the lead as Griffith fell into line.

That was as close as Griffith could get.

Doiron set sail after the contact, building a nearly two-second advantage by the time he crossed under the checkered flags for one of the biggest wins of his career.

Doiron crosses under the checkered flag first to earn the biggest payday so far of the PASS Super Late Model season. (STS/Jeff Brown)

“I thought for sure that we could have gone to the end, but I was a little nervous that we were going to run out of fuel,” Doiron said of his late pit stop. “We were behind Kyle [Busch], and he was rifling them off the bottom pretty good for us. So we let him make the hole, and then once we got clear track, we just drove by him. We used his bumper for my bumper. It worked out good.”

Doiron was all too aware how close he came to ending the evening on a sour note. “I felt like it was ours to throw away, and I damn near did,” he said. “Couldn’t stop hitting the curb with Derek behind me, and he got aside me, and I looked at the video after. He was half over the curb, under me, and he let me go coming out of two.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Derek. Just two guys going for it.”

Griffith, one of the first to congratulate Doiron in victory lane, had the same sentiment.

“He bounced the curb and washed up a lane,” Griffith said. “So I tried to fill it, but he closed it just enough for us to make contact. And then I stayed in it because I thought he’d wash up, but somehow he ended up in front of me, rather than beside me. So I had no chance. I was gonna wreck with him if I drove into him and kept it going. And Joey’s always run me really, really clean. So I had no…I mean, it’s for $40,000, so I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do, but it wasn’t anything I would have ever done to spin him out or anything like that.

“He bounced a curb and I watched him spark, and I’m like now, this is my time to do it.”

The contact also left Griffith with an unwanted souvenir. “I think he knocked the toe in,” he added. “And after that, I was holding on for dear life.”

Cassius Clark, who only runs a few races a year for the potent King Racing team from Nova Scotia, held on for third, his first top-five finish since his 2021 Oxford 250 win.

Johnny Clark soldiered home in fourth, while Cookson came back from a lap down to post a fifth-place finish, his best performance in a limited schedule this year.

D.J. Shaw led laps in the second half of the race, but came home sixth at the finish. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Shaw was sixth at the finish, with late leader Hall fading to seventh at the end. Farrington held on for an eighth-place finish, while early frontrunners Pastore and Sanborn rounded out the top ten.

Sixteen cars finished on the lead lap. Hemric, two laps down in 21st, was best in class among the ringers.

The wrinkle of tire strategy was appreciated by both Doiron and Griffith, even though both drivers took different paths that intersected at a crucial lap-219 pit stop.

“We started on the 75-lap tires from last night,” Doiron said, “so I knew in the beginning, I knew I was going backwards, it’s just a matter of how far you’re going backwards. And we seemed pretty steady for quite a while. My plan was to pit around 75 to 115 for the first set of tires, and again at like 230 for the second set. D.J. and all them, they were on the same strategy as I was, starting the race on those tires. They all pitted and I stayed out, and we ended up going like 5 or 6 laps, and then the yellow came out. I had fallen back, I think I was going to be 11th on the restart, and it was like, I’m really teetering on the edge of dropping like an anchor. And if it stays green for a while, I’m gonna go a lap down. And I knew I had a good enough car to win the race.”

Griffith, by contrast, raced his way from 21st on the grid to run in the top five, nursing a single set of tires for nearly 220 laps.

“I knew we were gonna stay out for a long run, so I really didn’t want to hurt the tires,” he said. “We just ran to 220 laps on one set. The thing had pretty much no falloff, it had falloff but it flattened out. So we knew we’d be really, really good on a set. Me, Joey, Cassius sliced the field up there at the end. That was fun. I had a blast doing it.”

Doiron’s team, a blend of Peter Petit’s operation and Doiron’s local family and followers, celebrates their biggest win of the season and their fourth in the last two months. (STS/Jeff Brown)

It was a departure from the usual routine of August’s Oxford 250.

“The 250 has its own set strategy,” said Doiron. “You either two-stop it or you one-stop it. You pit at [lap] 180 and go to the end, or you pit at 100, pit again at 180 and go to the end. This was a lot different, because you could have had two sets of tires in the pits like we had. But you get a chance of wrecking, getting wrecked coming through twice.”

Since mid-May, Doiron has won the $30,000 North American Pro Stock Nationals at Lee USA Speedway, a $5,000 Granite State Pro Stock Series feature at Claremont Motorsports Park, captured his first PASS win in almost two years at Oxford, and recorded runner-up finishes in another two events. Wednesday’s victory is another box checked in a prosperous season for the young veteran from Berwick, Me.

But one big box remains: the Oxford 250, the major event that has eluded Doiron thus far. In twelve attempts, Doiron has finished second twice, in 2013 and last year.

It seems that Doiron and his team are putting all the pieces in place.

Unofficial Results
Pro All Stars Series North All That’s Metal Celebration of America 300
Oxford Plains Speedway

1. (73D) Joey Doiron
2. (444) Derek Griffith
3. (13) Cassius Clark
4. (54) Johnny Clark
5. (39) Max Cookson
6. (60) D.J. Shaw
7. (94) Garrett Hall
8. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
9. (20) Joe Pastore
10. (44) Trevor Sanborn
11. (12X) Corey Bubar
12. (42) Kyle Reid
13. (32) Brandon Barker
14. (5M) Dillon Moltz
15. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
16. (14S) Josh St. Clair
17. (72X) Ryan Kuhn
18. (1V) Brandon Varney
19. (47) Gabe Brown
20. (09) Sylas Ripley
21. (31) Daniel Hemric
22. (24) Mike Rowe
23. (25) Shawn Knight
24. (51) Kyle Busch
25. (153) Travis Stearns
26. (15) Mike Hopkins
27. (90) Derek Kneeland
28. (12S) Dennis Spencer, Jr.
29. (32CT) Tom Abele, Jr.
30. (5R) Ben Rowe
31. (19) Rusty Poland
32. (63) Kyle Salemi
33. (18) Michael Scorzelli
34. (61) T.J. Brackett
35. (14) Scott McDaniel
36. (5P) Troy Patterson
37. (29) Austin Teras
38. (60B) Tim Brackett

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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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Marc

    July 6, 2024 at 11:45 am

    Great article! I was at the race. One of the best super late model races I’ve ever seen. The track was very racey and allowed for 4 wide racing at times. A great event. I hope it continues into the future. If it does that purse and the mid-week date will draw big names.

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