CLAREMONT, N.H. – Mike Willis Jr., the youthful star of open-wheel racing from just up the road in Grantham, scored the biggest victory of his young career Saturday at Claremont Speedway.
The 26-year-old Modified pilot earned the $6,000 winner’s check by topping a talent-laden field to win the Ron Bouchard’s Auto Stores 100 Tri-Track Open Modified Series main event at the Thrasher Road oval. It was Willis’ first-ever Tri-Track victory.
In the night’s Street Stock feature, 65-year-young Lenny Silver took his first victory lap in many moons, sweeping both his qualifying race and the 25-lap feature to move atop his division’s points race.
Wildcat points leader and defending track champion Zach Lyn won his first feature race of the summer, while the Super Street feature was suspended when light rain arrived during lap 19 of the scheduled 40-lapper. The race will be resumed at that point Friday night, June 1, with Ben Poland leading the field to the green.
Les Hinkley sat on the front row outside of Willis at the start of the night’s main event and, while Willis would lead the first three go-rounds, it was Hinkley who opened up mammoth leads over the next 50-plus laps.
Willis, with a fresh right rear, began his march back through the 27-car field on lap 42, taking second 40 laps later and then rushing past Ronnie Silk out of turn four to take command on lap 96.
With Silk’s spent rubber going away from him, much as Hinkley’s had earlier, Ryan Preece’s end-of-race charge netted him the runner-up finish. Matt Hirschman’s strong night’s work was good for third, Tommy Barrett came all the way from 27th to earn the four-spot, and Silk sailed home in fifth.
The win was the first for Willis at his former home track in more than three years.
Briana Akusis and Robbie Streeter led the Street Stocks to the green, with Dave Greenslit and fast-flying Bryan Town quickly closing in while further back – rushing forward from row seven – Lenny Silver was on the charge.
Greenslit led on lap four, giving way to Town after two more trips around the third-mile oval. Joe Tetreault then motored past Greenslit for second but his night would end with a hard meeting with the turn-three wall on lap 19.
A lap-22 brush-up between Town and Chris Riendeau would be all Silver needed, as the Newport veteran took command on the ensuing restart and never looked back, speeding off to his first win in more than a decade. Kenny Thompson earned the deuce spot, Chris Colburn came home third, Streeter was fourth, and Akusis rounded out the top five.
Rookie Kyle Templeton started up front and led the first 19 go-rounds in the Wildcat feature, then giving way to Zach Lyn, who would lead Templeton under the checkers six laps later.
One of four rookies in the night’s starting field, Templeton’s runner-up finish was a career-best. Kyle Currier moved up to second in the points parade with his third-place finish, Kyle Buck was fourth on the night, and veteran Chris Davis came home fifth.
Next Friday, June 1, Claremont Speedway will host its annual Little League Night event. The night’s action will begin with the 21-lap conclusion of the May 26 Super Street feature, and include a full three-division card of racing, with the Street Stocks set to battle in a 50-lap main event.