For most of his Super Late Model career, Joey Doiron has been identified by the number 73 on the doors of his own race cars. Over the past year, though, Doiron has been picking up wins in cars with differing numerals.
Maybe the more relevant number for Doiron is number one.
Doiron relied on his veteran sensibilities to come out on top in Sunday’s Pro All Stars Series North feature at Lee USA Speedway, part of the New Hampshire oval’s “May Madness” opening weekend.
Fans without a roster could be forgiven for not recognizing Doiron’s unfamiliar ride. The Berwick, Me. veteran and 2015 PASS National Champion was at the wheel of a black Chevrolet bearing a simple retro-inspired stripe job, the number 20 and a Dale Shaw Race Cars decal on the hood.
But at the wheel of his newest ride, Doiron looked at ease. Doiron started on the pole, courtesy of a heat race win, but settled into an early rhythm, shadowing a surprising early leader.
Fresh off her own heat race heroics, series sophomore Kate Re started third and charged to the point in the opening laps. Re built a respectable lead over Doiron over a long green-flag stretch. But as the teen began working through traffic, Doiron was able to cut time from her advantage.
“We were saving tires at the beginning,” Doiron said in victory lane. “The 10 was really, really good. She went a lot harder in the beginning than I wanted to go.”
Doiron caught Re with sixty laps complete. After shadowing her for fifteen laps, Doiron slipped past to take the lead back at halfway.
“About halfway, it was getting really tight,” Doiron explained. “I knew that the 12G was gonna be coming, so I figured it was time to at least get the lead, and make him pass me for the lead.”
Just behind the leaders, fifth-place Johnny Clark was looking for a path past a lapped-traffic stalemate. On lap 84, his apparent path was choked off, forcing Clark hard into the turn one wall and drawing the second caution of the evening. Clark’s damaged car glanced off the turn three concrete before the six-time champion guided his car back to the pits.
The caution was a break for Derek Griffith, who had climbed from a midpack starting berth all the way to third. Griffith made quick work of Re on the restart, but while he could keep pace with Doiron, he was unable to close in to make a move. Re, meanwhile, was left to hold off a charge from veteran Derek Ramstrom.
A lap-107 spin for rookie Jake Matheson gave Ramstrom his chance to get around Re, moving the multi-time PASS winner to third behind Griffith and Doiron. Another long green-flag run allowed Doiron to hold his ground, with Griffith just out of reach.
With ten laps remaining, though, Griffith lost an engine. As Griffith spun to a stop in turn three, Ramstrom caught the oil and skidded into the turn-three wall. Doiron’s strongest competition had been instantly eliminated.
That moved Ryan Green, who had run quietly on the edge of the top five all afternoon, into the runner-up spot in only his second-ever PASS start. Green, who had been eliminated in similar fashion to Ramstrom while leading a Granite State Pro Stock Series feature at Lee in 2019, was quick enough in the closing laps to stay in Doiron’s mirror.
But he was not fast enough to get around Doiron, who held on for his tenth career PASS North win.
Green was emotional in his post-race interview, finishing second for his best touring effort ever. Even more important to Green was that it came behind Doiron, one of his hometown friends.
“Joey Doiron’s my good buddy,” he said. “I appreciate him so much. He came over and worked on this thing this week.”
Kate Re also celebrated a career best, finishing third for her first-ever podium appearance in a PASS Super Late Model feature. Lee was not entirely new for the young racer; Re finished fifth in a PASS Modifieds feature at Lee in 2018. But her third-place finish might not even have happened at all after an early-season practice crash had the racer rethinking her plans.
“The tires faded pretty quick after the halfway mark,” Re admitted. “But I can’t thank my guys enough for all the hard work they put in. After totaling a car at Thompson in practice, I didn’t know whether I should put this on hold. But these guys just helped me push through.”
Ben Rowe rebounded from a first-lap incident to finish fourth, with DJ Shaw finishing fifth. Garrett Hall crossed the line sixth. Scott McDaniel was seventh, his second top-ten finish in 2021. Rookie Jake Matheson finished eighth despite the lap-107 spin. Granite State Pro Stock Series regular Kevin Folan was ninth in only his second PASS start. Rounding out the top ten was Lee veteran Bobby Baillargeon.
Sunday’s race was the first PASS North event at Lee since August 2017, when former Oxford 250 winner Glen Luce drove to his most recent PASS win. Only seven of the drivers in that event were in the nineteen-car field.
Doiron, like his companions on the podium, was not one of the seven. Doiron ran a partial PASS North schedule in 2017, driving his own car to victory at Oxford Plains Speedway and earning six top tens in eleven starts. The next year, Doiron focused his attention on the Granite State Pro Stock Series, winning once and finishing second in the points standings to Devin O’Connell.
Doiron won two more GSPSS races in 2019 and clinched the series championship, his second touring title after 2015’s PASS National Championship honors. For 2020, unsure of another title run, Doiron went race-by-race with his own equipment while fielding offers to drive for other owners. Car owner Greg Curtis offered a new ride for events at Oxford, while veteran car owner Wright Pearson asked Doiron to take the wheel of a car previously driven by Doiron’s longtime friend Brandon Barker.
And in the role of hired gun, Doiron’s aim was sharp. Doiron picked up a PASS win in his second outing in Wright Pearson’s potent #16, his first series win since 2017. In his GT Motorsports ride in Maine, Doiron earned a weekly feature win at Oxford and scored five top-ten finishes in six PASS starts in the #21, including a third-place finish in the Oxford 250.
Not that Doiron has forsaken his own operation. He ran his own entry in a weekly feature at his home track, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, once this year already.
But whatever number goes on the door, Doiron is consistently looking toward number one on the track.
Unfficial Results, PASS May Madness 150 at Lee USA Speedway:
1. (20X) Joey Doiron
2. (93) Ryan Green
3. (10) Kate Re
4. (4) Ben Rowe
5. (60) DJ Shaw
6. (94) Garrett Hall
7. (14) Scott McDaniel
8. (52) Jake Matheson
9. (17) Kevin Folan
10. (82) Bobby Baillargeon
11. (81) Dan Winter
12. (56) Evan Beaulieu
13. (14ME) Anthony Constantino
14. (12G) Derek Griffith
15. (35) Derek Ramstrom
16. (54) Johnny Clark
17. (15MA) Jake Johnson
18. (09) Jeremy Davis
19. (20) JR Robinson