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.