By Gary Dutton
Photos by Miss Em's Photography Adventures
CLAREMONT, N.H. – Ben Poland wrapped up his first career Late Model Sportsman championship Friday at Claremont Motorsports Park, securing the 2021 crown by rocketing to victory in the first of two NHSTRA Race For The Ring 35-lappers.
On an autumn-cold, sometimes slippery racing surface, Poland was red hot.
The Charlestown charger finished the second go-round in Jimmy Renfrew’s shadow, as he joined a long list of champions in the 70-year history of the fabled Thrasher Road speedplant. Often the bridesmaid during Aaron Fellows’ two recent storybook seasons, Poland now has a crown of his own.
And while there were no first-time winners on the 18th completed event of the summer, there were numerous highlight performances, none better than that of Pure Stocker Andrea St. Amour.
Mark McClay was in a class of his own Friday, blasting to victory in the Pure Stock 25-lapper to win his second victory lap of the season. St. Amour, who’d earlier won her heat race, led the first 11 laps, then outraced a virtual All Star cast including Dylan Zullo, Nick Houle and Nolan McClay to earn the runner-up hardware.
In the R.E.Hinkley Street Stocks, Cody Schoolcraft, not ready to concede the 2021 championship to points leader Dave Greenslit, took the lead from Jeremy Zullo on lap nine and then soared off to victory for the third time this summer.
Greenslit finished the event glued to Schoolcraft’s bumper, while Zullo finished his best run of the season a close third in the 19-car field, establishing himself as a top contender when the storming Streeters return to action on Championship Night in two weeks.
With Race For The Ring points leader Bryan Kruzek not in the house Friday, Poland and Renfrew dominated the LMS twinbill. Hayden Scott was strong in third in the first 35, just ahead of Ryan Bell, with the potent pair then trading positions in the nightcap. Frankie Eldridge, quiet Friday night, remained atop the series points parade.
If anyone still thought Brayden Morrie’s Mini Stock win back on August 20 was a fluke, they can put that thought to rest. Morrie blasted to victory again Friday, trophying for the fourth week in a row.
Ryan Carman led for 11 laps Friday before finishing second at Morrie’s bumper, while eleven-time winner Haydon Grenier will still be crowned champion on September 24 despite falling to mechanical woes Friday.
Sixteen and counting. Dustin Thibodeau kept the bounty hounds away again Friday, taking the lead from Robert Shaw on lap 13 of the caution-free Six Shooter feature and blasting off to victory. Shaw’s second-place finish was his first of two top-three outings Friday, later adding a strong run in the Red Neck 50-lapper.
Don’t bet against Drake Nelson! The second-generation whirling dervish stayed unbeaten on the year Friday, winning his fifth consecutive Red Neck Enduro 50-lapper in the show’s nightcap event. Mr. Enduro himself, Leon Keniston, was the runner-up in the 34-car field.
Claremont Motorsports Park will be silent next Friday, September 17, but returns to action with a blockbuster two-day weekend with its 2021 Championship Night event on September 24 and then the huge rescheduled Modified Racing Series 75, Richard Tetreault 73 on Saturday, September 25.
CLAREMONT MOTORSPORTS PARK SEPTEMBER 10 TOP TENS
LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN 1st 35-LAP FEATURE: Ben Poland, Jimmy Renfrew Jr., Hayden Scott, Ryan Bell, Cam Curtis, Justin Littlewood, Ricky Bly, Ryan Currier, Frankie Eldridge, Joe Bates.
LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN 2nd 35-LAP FEATURE: Jimmy Renfrew Jr., Ben Poland, Ryan Bell, Hayden Scott, Cam Curtis, Frankie Eldridge, Cole Littlewood, Justin Littlewood, Jack McClay, Joe Bates.
STREET STOCK: Cody Schoolcraft, Dave Greenslit, Jeremy Zullo, Briana Akusis, Scott Wade, Robert Hagar, Milton Duran, Erik Smith, Trevor Rocke, Mike Salois.
PURE STOCK: Mark McClay, Andrea St. Amour, Dylan Zullo, Nick Houle, Nolan McClay, Travis Sykes, JD Stockwell, Kyle Templeton, Jake Fowler, Carlos Grenier.
MINI STOCK: Brayden Morrie, Ryan Carman, Chris Judd, Nick Houle, Richard Stockwell, Joe Olmstread, Dave Thibodeau, Mason Prouty, Dan Young, David Pratt III.
SIX SHOOTER: Dustin Thibodeau, Robert Shaw, John Thibodeau, Lucas Bernatchy, Chooch Snide, Marc Laroche, Andy LeClair.
RED NECK ENDURO: Drake Nelson, Leon Keniston, Robert Shaw, Dennis Bren, Xander Stillwell.
By Gary Dutton
Photos By Miss Em's Photography Adventures
CLAREMONT, N.H.- Matt Sonnhalter won the 50-lap main event Friday at Claremont Motorsports Park, while both Ben Poland and rookie Dylan Zullo moved closer to clinching their first career championships at the storied asphalt oval.
Sonnhalter topped the 50-lap NHSTRA Mini Stock Battle For The Belt feature Friday. Former track champ Kyle Templeton earned his first victory lap of the summer, becoming the eighth different Pure Stock winner of the 2021 campaign, and Robert Hagar powered to his second victory of the season in the highly competitive Streets Stocks.
Poland’s eighth Late Model Sportsman feature win helped the Charlestown charger close in on his first track title, while 2020 Six Shooter champ Dustin Thibodeau blasted off to another time zone Friday, winning for the 15th time in 17 completed events.
Mini Stock Belt series kingpin Emerson Cayer looked unstoppable in the night’s main event, taking the lead from Brayden Morrie on lap four and then quickly checking out on the field. But an oil leak would sideline the Contoocook ace on lap 24, moving Morrie back to the point, with Sonnhalter nipping at his heels.
Hometrack strongman Haydon Grenier was a quick DNF in this one, falling to mechanical failure on lap two, and with Cayer and Berlin’s Cody Leblanc behind the pit wall and Monadnock blaster Gordon Farnum at the back after pitting for fresh rubber, a 26-lap shootout between Sonnhalter and Morrie was on.
The Green Mountain powerhouse held strong to notch his first CMP victory lap of the year, with Morrie – victorious here two weeks earlier – strong in second. Outside invader Jonathan Fultz quietly stayed in the hunt all night to claim third, and Farnum came back through the field for fourth
Back at mid-season, Robert Hagar and Jack McClay traded both cars and divisions, with Hagar moving from the LMS class to Street Stocks. There’s little doubt as to who got the best of that deal.
Friday, Hagar set a new track R.E. Hinkley Oil Company Street Stock record in time trials, and then wired the 25-lap feature for his second win in a row.
The best battle in this one was between Kenny Thompson and Dave Greenslit for second, with Thompson earning runner-up honors just inches ahead of the division points leader. Cody Schoolcraft was a close fourth, with Bryan Town wheeling the Greenslit back-up ride to fifth.
Nolan McClay and Kyle Templeton were both dominant in winning their Pure Stock heat races Friday, and both carried that edge into the feature race. Templeton took the lead from McClay on lap seven of the 25-lap main event and never looked back en route to his first win of the summer.
Rookie sensation Dylan Zullo, firing from row six, got up for second on lap 22 and took the runner-up checkers just ahead of McClay to hike his divisional points lead to 106 markers ahead of Nick Zullo, fifth Friday behind last week’s winner JD Stockwell.
Run caution-free, the Route 103 Auto LMS feature went quickly into the books, with no one quicker than Ben Poland, who wired the event for his eighth victory of the summer. Ryan Bell was strong all the way for second, with former track champ Ricky Bly third on the night.
A few weeks back, CMP promoter Mike Parks put a bounty up for grabs to anyone who could derail Six Shooter Dustin Thibodeau’s fantastic winning streak. You’d think Thibodeau was protecting his own money!
Friday, he took the lead from his father, John, on lap ten and drove away. The elder Thibodeau held strong in second, with Robert Shaw powering to third, just ahead of the winner’s brother, Bucky, in a reversal of last week’s three-four finish.
After completing its busy two-race Labor Day weekend schedule, CMP returns to action next Friday, September 10, with an NHSTRA Late Model Sportsman Race For The Ring event atop a five-division weekly racing series card of competition plus a Red Neck Enduro 50-lapper.
CLAREMONT MOTORSPORTS PARK SEPTEMBER 3 TOP TENS
MINI STOCK, 50-lap Battle For The Belt Race: Matt Sonnhalter, Brayden Morrie, Jonathan Fultz, Gordon Farnum, Ricky Fisette, Ray King, Joe Olmstead, Ryan Carman, Pat Houle, David Pratt III.
STREET STOCK: Robert Hagar, Kenny Thompson, Dave Greenslit, Cody Schoolcraft, Bryan Town, Joe Tetreault, Briana Akusis, Jeremy Zullo, Robbie Streeter, Trevor Rocke.
LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN: Ben Poland, Ryan Bell, Ricky Bly, Hayden Scott, Jack McClay, Matt Winter, Steve Bly, Zach Jewett, Tyler Lescord.
PURE STOCK: Kyle Templeton, Dylan Zullo, Nolan McClay, JD Stockwell, Nick Houle, Travis Sykes, Zach Richardson, Drake Nelson, Doug Nelson, Amy Jaycox.
SIX SHOOTER: Dustin Thibodeau, John Thibodeau, Robert Shaw, Bucky Thibodeau, Marc Laroche, Lucas Bernatchy, Chooch Snide, Xander Stillwell.