By Gary Dutton
Photos By Miss Em's Photography Adventures
CLAREMONT, N.H. – Todd Patnode has had an abundance of big nights in three decades of racing, most of those battles waged against the best competition in New England. Friday, Patnode added to that long list of major scores, sweeping an NHSTRA Modified Quest For The Cup twinbill at Claremont Motorsports Park.
But if Patnode’s was a night to remember, no one left the track happier than JD Stockwell. The ultra-likeable Bay State 14-year-old outraced a 26-car field to score his career-first CMP feature win in the night’s Pure Stock 25-lapper.
Ben Poland made a huge jump toward his first-ever Late Model Sportsman championship. His seventh LMS win of the summer, and second in a row, coupled with Ricky Bly’s absence, placed the Charlestown charger comfortably atop of the 2021 title race.
In a best-of-Claremont versus best-of-Monadnock duel, Haydon Grenier edged Gordon Farnum to score his tenth 2021 Mini Stock victory at the Thrasher Road speedplant, while promoter Mike Parks got to keep his posted $100 bounty money for another week when Six Shooter wizard Dustin Thibodeau rocketed to victory number 14.
Patnode, who also set fast time in qualifying, led all the way in the opening Modified 35-lapper and then patiently worked his way from the back of the pack to lead the final 15 go-rounds of the nightcap. His twinbill sweep, his second in a row at Claremont, moved him to the top of the leaderboard in the NHSTRA Cup points chase, ten markers ahead of Matt Kimball, a crash victim in round two.
Geoff Rollins was second in round one, one spot better than Kimball, while George Helliwell pitted out of second for fresh rubber on lap 29 of the nightcap, moving Walt Hammond up to the deuce spot. Andrew Martell, who struggled mightily in round one, quietly claimed third in round two, and Kimball dropped out of the series’ points lead after finishing tenth.
Seth Melcher, dominant in winning his earlier heat race, led the first 13 laps of the Pure Stock feature. But when his car then loosened abruptly, Stockwell was quick to pounce.
Leading the rest of the way, he took the checkers just ahead of fellow teen Dylan Zullo – the divisional points leader - and Zach Richardson, who rocketed out of the final turn to swipe third from Kyle Templeton. Nick Houle’s forgettable night netted him eighth.
Poland took first from Ryan Bell on lap five of LMS feature and the two then staged an epic battle, racing door-to-door and bumper-to-bumper the rest of the way in a great match up. Hayden Scott, an infrequent runner this summer at CMP, was strong in third.
Joe Olmstead led the first 18 laps of the Mini Stock main. Grenier then took charge, bringing Farnum with him, and held the Monadnock star in his shadow the rest of the way. Brayden Morrie, a first-time feature winner a week earlier, was impressive in third Friday.
And Dustin Thibodeau, what can you say? The defending track Six Shooter champion took the lead from his father, John, on lap eight and then drove away. With Dustin’s father John second, and brother Bucky third on the night, Friday’s top-three marked the third 2021 sweep of podium finishes by the family Thibodeau.
Like the Mini Stocks, the Six Shooters raced caution-free Friday, quickly putting their event-16 20-lapper to rest.
Claremont Motorsports Park will return to action next Friday, September 3, when the legendary oval hosts the first of two big Labor Day weekend events. An NHSTRA Mini Stock Battle For The Belt race is on tap Friday, along with a full card of Late Model Sportsman, Street Stock, Pure Stock, and Six Shooter events.
CLAREMONT MOTORSPORTS PARK AUGUST 27 TOP TENS
MODIFIED, Feature 1: Todd Patnode, Geoff Rollins, Matt Kimball, Cory Plummer, George Helliwell, Walt Hammond, Tyler Leary, Brad Zahensky, Cole Littlewood, Mike Smith.
MODIFIED, Feature 2: Todd Patnode, Walt Hammond, Andrew Martell, Geoff Rollins, Brad Zahensky, Tyler Leary, George Helliwell, Cole Littlewood, Craig Smith, Matt Kimball.
LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN: Ben Poland, Ryan Bell, Hayden Scott, Ryan Currier, Alyssa Rivera, Steve Bly, Matt Winter, Jesse Emerson, Cory Bly, Jack McClay.
MINI STOCK: Haydon Grenier, Gordon Farnum, Brayden Morrie, Joe Olmstead, Ryan Carman, Louie Maher, Chris Judd, Pat Houle, Dave Thibodeau, Sean Lantas.
PURE STOCK: JD Stockwell, Dylan Zullo, Zach Richardson, Kyle Templeton, Nolan McClay, Mark McClay, Amy Jaycox, Nick Houle, Justin Cousino, Andrea St. Amour.
SIX SHOOTER: Dustin Thibodeau, John Thibodeau, Bucky Thibodeau, Robert Shaw, Marc Laroche, Lucas Bernatchy, Chooch Snide, Jeremy Blood, Andy LaClair, Xander Stillwell.