CLAREMONT, N.H.- Claremont Speedway opened its doors to the 2018 season on a chilly May 4 night with Aaron Fellows, Super Street,; Chris Riendeau, Street Stock; and Josh Rondeau, Wildcat, each earning a stop in Daddy’s Pizza Victory Lane.
While none of the trio would hoist a championship trophy 21 weeks later, all three would be back in the winner’s circle again, Ascutney’s Riendeau scoring an astonishing 11 feature wins before all was said and done. Fellows, despite running only an abbreviated schedule for the Richardson Racing team, would lead his division with five feature victories.
The third-mile oval staged an improbable table-running season of 21 completed events in 21 weeks, twice using its new next-day rain date policy and once running double R.E. Hinkley Super Street features when late-show showers forced the night’s final feature to be postponed. After losing seven events to rain a season earlier, the 21/21 campaign was refreshing.
Pepsi Street Stocker Bryan Town, the division’s king a decade earlier won on week two, as did Mark McClay in the Super Streets and Rondeau, again, in the Wild Cats. The speedbowl’s defending 2017 champs had yet to get untracked.
Zach Lyn, the defending Wildcat king, scored his first victory of the summer on week four. Ricky Bly, who’d earned his career-first Super Street championship in 2017 had yet to tame his new ride, while it’s notable that Dylan Bodreau – wheeling Bly’s champ car from the previous summer – would take his first of three victory laps on week seven.
Bly finally put it all together on week 11, topping the Mike Richardson Memorial segment race and, although it was a non-points event, the Sunapee speedster showed all on hand that the king was back. At the half-season mark, Town and Riendeau were firmly locked in a battle for the crown vacated by Tyler Janovsky last September. It was an epic back-and-forth that would continue until the final lap of the season.
When the 20th event of the season was completed on September 21, Lyn – with six feature wins under his belt – had already clinched his second consecutive T-Bird Mini Mart Wildcat championship. Bly and Town held slim leads in their respective points chases, with both Bodreau and Riendeau hoping for big things in the season’s 21st and final night of racing.
Both would score feature wins in the finale, but Bly and Town each earned runner-up trophies to end their hard-fought campaigns as track champions.
Bly earned his second title by a slim, 911-904, margin when 21 weeks of racing had been completed. Town’s 2018 championship summer was even more of a nail biter, as the hometown pilot edged Riendeau by only two markers, 1,015-1,013. Had he dropped a single position in any of the season’s 21 feature races, he and Riendeau would have ended the summer tied.
Bly, Town, and Lyn will each celebrate their championship season when the third-mile speedplant holds its annual awards banquet. Feted as Rookies of The Year will be Matt Sonnhalter, Super Street; Robbie Streeter, Street Stock; and Kyle Templeton, Wild Cat. Templeton, a four-time 2018 feature winner, finished second to Lyn in the points parade.
Other significant feature winners during the 2018 speedway season included Grantham’s Mike Willis Jr., who won a 100-lap Tri-Track Modified Series event in late May, Nutmeg State open-wheel star Ronnie Silk, the winner of two extra distance, big money Modified shows, Maniac Jacob Dore, victorious in the Granite State Pro Stock Series biggie, and Emerson Cayer, who pocketed more than $3,000 for his win in the NEMST Four-Cylinder Nationals race in September.
Another notable September achievement was the presentation of $2,000 to the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center from the Claremont Speedway family, an annual endeavor of the third-mile oval’s management, competitors, and fans.
2018 CLAREMONT SPEEDWAY FEATURE WINNERS: SUPER STREET: Aaron Fellows (5), Ricky Bly (4), Dylan Bodreau (3), Mark McClay (3), Ben Poland (2), Hayden Scott, Joe Brown, Craig Smith, Ryan Bell. STREET STOCK: Chris Riendeau (11), Bryan Town (6), Dave Greenslit (2), Lenny Silver, Kenny Thompson Jr. WILDCAT: Zach Lyn (7), *Kyle Templeton (4), Josh Rondeau (3), Kodi Sabins (2), Kyle Buck, *Victor Branch, *Jon Alden, *Cody Schoolcraft. * Denotes rookie driver. 2018 FINAL TOP TENS: SUPER STREET: Ricky Bly, Dylan Bodreau, Ben Poland, Craig Smith, Mark McClay, Alex Poisson, Tyler Lescord, Ken Fowler, Tyler Searles, Joe Brown. STREET STOCK: Bryan Town, Chris Riendeau, Lenny Silver, Dave Greenslit, Robbie Streeter, Briana Akusis, Kenny Thompson Jr., Chris Colburn, Nick Little, Mike Salois. WILDCAT: Zach Lyn, Kyle Templeton, Kyle Currier, Raven Streeter, Chris Carver, Jim Carley, Victor Branch, Jon Alden, Haydon Grenier, Seth Melcher.