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.
GSPSS: RAIN PUSHES JBH 100 TO SEPTEMBER, SAVES CASAGRANDE’S LEAD
For the third time in 2018 and the second straight weekend, the Granite State Pro Stock Series was forced to call an event off on account of inclement weather. Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH was slated to host the JBH 100, its only GSPSS event of the year. The JBH 100 is an annual race dedicated to the memory of John Hoyt, a close friend of GSPSS president Mike Parks.
Officials wasted no time in calling off the race before teams had to make the trip to western New Hampshire. And almost immediately, they were able to follow up with a new date. The event will now be held on September 15, capping off three consecutive weeks of racing for the GSPSS teams. Interestingly, the September date was one the series initially earmarked for an event that never came to fruition.
While a rainout is never ideal, one driver who was surely pleased with the outcome is Cory Casagrande. The Connecticut competitor and points leader announced via social media last week that he would miss the JBH 100 in order to celebrate his brother’s bachelor party. The bachelor party complete, Casagrande will lead the GSPSS teams into their next race, the once-rescheduled 100-lap feature at White Mountain Motorsports Park this coming Saturday.
PASS NORTH: SHAW TAKES SECOND WIN OF THE YEAR AT SPEEDWAY 51
The Pro All Stars Series made its second long-awaited return trip of the season Saturday with a voyage to Speedway 51 in Groveton, NH. The quarter-mile oval on the banks of the Connecticut River had not been featured on the PASS schedule since 2010, when it was appropriately named Riverside Speedway. Since then, the track had been purchased by Vermont racing veteran Joey Laquerre and renamed for his grandson, Joey M. Laquerre, who lost his life in an ATV accident.
Trevor Sanborn won the last PASS North outing to the track, but the Beech Ridge weekly regular was not in attendance for a repeat. With the Oxford 250 closing in, many of the PASS part-timers had shifted their focus to Oxford’s weekly racing to gain additional practice laps for the 250. As such, only thirteen Super Late Models made the trip north. Joining the points contenders were part-timer Derek Ramstrom, chassis builder Jeremy Davis and Vermont’s Bobby Therrien. Sammy Gooden from nearby Whitefield was in line for his first start since the season opener at Thompson (CT) Speedway. Several other Granite Staters rounded out the field, including Guy Caron, ACT/GSPSS racer Kyle Welch, and Nick Patnode.
Ben Rowe and Derek Griffith won the two heats to set the field. With PASS rules requiring season winners to start outside the top ten, though, Griffith could roll off no better than eleventh, moving Derek Ramstrom to second and “Bad Boy” Bobby Therrien to third. Travis Benjamin and DJ Shaw, the only other two 2018 winners in the lineup, started twelfth and thirteenth to round out the field.
That left Ben Rowe at the front of the field, and the four-time PASS North champion asserted himself at the point. It was a welcome change of fortunes for an experienced driver in the middle of a long dry spell. Rowe had not won since April 2016, prevailing in a three-wide thriller at Oxford Plains Speedway. After a winless 2017, Rowe and his Richard Moody Racing team paired with veteran crew chief Seth Holbrook, hoping Holbrook’s performance with Glen Luce would translate to the #4 car. Instead, Rowe had struggled to be competitive, with bad luck hampering the team when they were finally able to find some speed.
On this night, on this quarter-mile, Rowe was fast, holding the point well past halfway. Bobby Therrien, the reigning Thunder Road track champion, began reeling in Rowe, taking the lead just before a caution flew for a spinning Jeremy Davis. Therrien was credited with the race lead, but after two attempted restarts, PASS officials sent Therrien to the rear for jumping the start, handing the race lead back to Rowe.
Rowe held on until lap 100, when Garrett Hall moved to the top spot. Hall was looking to break into the winner’s circle for the first time since September, when a grinding photo finish with Rowe required a tow truck to drag Hall’s car to the celebration. As Hall distanced himself from Rowe, DJ Shaw moved into the runner-up spot, chasing down Hall for the race lead. Shaw and Hall battled briefly, banging fenders before Shaw claimed the top spot. Hall gave chase, but DJ Shaw drove away in the closing laps to win his second PASS North feature of 2018.
Travis Benjamin, from twelfth on the grid, battled to second in the closing laps, with Garrett Hall holding onto third place for his best run of 2018. Derek Ramstrom finished fourth with Derek Griffith rounding out the top five. Bobby Therrien recovered from his penalty to finish sixth, with Jeremy Davis hanging on for seventh with an ill-handling car. Ben Rowe, despite leading most of the race, spun late in the going and limped to an eighth-place finish. Kyle Welch was the last car on the lead lap in ninth, with Sammy Gooden rounding out the top ten four laps back. Nick Patnode, in 11th, was six laps back; Guy Caron and Nick Jenkins were unable to make the finish.
Shaw’s drive from last place to the win marked his first multiple-win PASS North season since 2014, and helped him extend a thin points margin over defending champion Travis Benjamin. Derek Griffith sits a strong third in points, still in need of some better runs to top the two two-time champions ahead of him. Garrett Hall and Ben Rowe are within range if something goes awry for the leaders, but more likely than not, the two are locked into their positions with sixth-place Reid Lanpher over 600 points in arrears to Rowe. The standings behind Rowe are a crapshoot, with the drivers from sixth on back in a pick-and-choose mentality for the remainder of the season. Derek Ramstrom, who moved to tenth in points ahead of veteran Johnny Clark, was the only part-time competitor in the top fifteen in points to compete at Speedway 51. Many drivers in that bracket instead opted for practice laps at Oxford for the impending 250. It will be interesting to see how starting fields look after the 250 (and as weekly schedules wind down for 2018).
The PASS North teams get a week off from touring action before the Oxford 250 on August 26th. With Oxford’s weekly racing still on schedule for Saturday night, though, a number of teams are likely to squeeze in one final shakedown for the big race weekend.
OXFORD 250: POLLARD SECURES HIS PATH TO THE 250 GRID WITH SOUTH BOSTON WIN, ENTRY LIST HITS 60
When Bubba Pollard formalized his plans to head north for the Oxford 250 for the first time in his career, he did so with a first stop in South Boston, VA for a PASS South race. The 150-lap tilt at South Boston Speedway was the last event in the “Roads to Oxford and Richmond” program, with the top five finishers earning a provisional for either the Oxford 250 or the Commonwealth Classic at Richmond Raceway. Pollard made the most of his provisional opportunity, surviving a spin during the rough-and-tumble feature to post his second career PASS victory and earn a guaranteed berth in the 250.
The latest entry list for PASS’ premier event boasts sixty cars thus far. In addition to Pollard, Austin Theriault has filed an entry for the 250 in his own #57. Theriault was running well in his last 250 appearance in 2016 before a wreck sidelined him halfway through the race. Prior to that incident, Theriault had never finished worse than fifth. Jeff Taylor has also filed an entry, as the multi-time Oxford track champion still seeks his first 250 win. Taylor failed to make the show last year. More entries are likely to trickle in over the coming weeks as weekly teams finalize their plans and budgets.
NORTH OF THE BORDER: CLARK TAKES BIG WIN IN CAT 250, GOULET WINS CSCC ROAD COURSE DEBUT
Cassius Clark found redemption in Nova Scotia Saturday evening with a win in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour’s Toromont CAT 250 at Scotia Speedworld. The Maine native bested Dylan Blenkhorn for his fourth CAT 250 victory, the Scott Fraser Memorial Cup and $14,000 in winnings. The win brings redemption for Clark, who was disqualified from July’s IWK 250 after an inspection discrepancy, as well as momentum for the upcoming Oxford 250.
Shawn Turple finished third, with Cole Butcher storming through the field from last to fourth. Butcher, a Kulwicki Driver Development Program participant, eschewed his usual red livery for a paint scheme honoring the late Alan Kulwicki. Kent Vincent rounded out the top five.
While the Canadian Maritimes’ premier Super Late Models were up to their usual antics, the Quebec-based CSCC LMS Tour added right turns to its repertoire with its first road course appearance. The Late Model touring series raced in support of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières (GP3R) circuit halfway between Montréal and Québec City. Martin Goulet, Jr. scored his first touring Late Model win since 2015 when the race was ended five laps early per a one-hour time limit. Sophomore driver Mathieu Kingsbury finished second with Rémi Perreault third. Points leader Dany Trépanier finished fifth. Toyota development driver Raphael Lessard finished one lap back in sixth in a car prepared by veteran Claude Leclerc. Lessard was on hand competing in the Pinty’s Series race earlier in the day to gain road-course experience.
WEEKLY RACING: MORGAN WINS THIRD OF YEAR AT THOMPSON, NEW WINNERS SURFACE AT T-ROAD AND OXFORD
Thompson (CT) Speedway kicked off the weekly festivities Wednesday evening, with the fifth event of the season running in support of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Ryan Morgan scored his third Late Model win of the season, edging out Tom Carey III and Woody Pitkat for the victory. Despite Morgan’s three wins, Nicholas Johnson leads the track standings with two events remaining, with top fives in all five races thus far. Morgan sits tied for fifth with Rhode Island’s Mark Jenison, only 24 points off the lead.
Marcel J. Gravel enjoyed a career first Thursday evening, earning a victory in Thunder Road International Speedbowl’s weekly Late Models. Gravel held off Tyler Cahoon and Stephen Donahue to secure his first win in the division. Trampas Demers finished seventh, but still holds a slim lead over Scott Dragon and Jason Corliss with two races to go in the season championship.
For the third straight week, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway was forced to cancel the evening’s racing due to incoming rain. With the weather not making it to Oxford Plains Speedway, a few Beech Ridge regulars headed north, joining a 28-car-strong starting lineup for the weekly Super Late Model feature. Brandon Barker made his trip worthwhile, taking the checkers for his first win at Oxford. Barker is the seventh first-time feature winner in Oxford’s competitive Super Late Models in 2018. Barker led a Beech Ridge top-five sweep, with Reid Lanpher and Curtis Gerry rounding out the podium, veteran Mike Rowe finishing fourth and Gary Smith fifth. Points leaders TJ Brackett (21st) and Gabe Brown (24th) finished deep in the field, with Brown still holding the edge in what has become a two-man battle for the track title.
Ray Christian III made the trip to Oxford after a GSPSS rainout, finishing 12th. Other notables in the field included former PASS regular David Oliver (19th), Johnny Clark (23rd), Brad Babb (25th) and Tracy Gordon (28th).
Other tracks affected by the weather bug included nearby Wiscasset Speedway, where rain interrupted the evening after some weekly features were complete, Seekonk (MA) Speedway, and Star Speedway in New Hampshire. White Mountain Motorsports Park, survivor of six rainouts or postponements this year, dodged this weekend’s storm systems, with Oren Remick winning the weekly Late Model feature over Quinny Welch and Stephen Donahue. Max Dolliver and the Sullivan Family Racing team raced at WMMP thanks to the rainout at Star, with Dolliver finishing sixth. ACT rookies Reilly and Peyton Lanphear were also in the race, finishing 11th and 12th.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE
The American-Canadian Tour heads north of the border for its only scheduled Canadian visit of 2018. Saturday’s Bacon Bowl 200 at Autodrome Chaudière does not count toward the points championship, but money is on the line for full-time Tour participants as the race marks the third leg of the ACT Triple Crown.
The Granite State Pro Stock Series will take a second crack at White Mountain Motorsports Park Saturday as well, with a makeup date for their 100-lap feature from July.