By Gary Dutton
Photos By Miss Em's Photography Adventures
CLAREMONT, N.H. – What a night, Friday, July 9, at Claremont Motorsports Park!
When Mike Parks woke up to another gloom-and-doom rainy Friday, he resisted the logical urge to pull an early plug on another rainy Friday night at the Thrasher Road speedplant. And, eventually, his hesitation paid off. Big time!
Not only did the sunshine return but, with it, came the largest crowd in years to the local speedway. And the biggest fireworks show the city of Claremont had seen in many moons. And, very improbably, on the ninth completed night of 2021 racing, two first-of-season feature winners.
Both Brian Robie and Mark McClay have taken many victory laps at Claremont Motorsports Park over the years. Neither, though, had graced the winner’s circle here this season before Friday.
There were over 100 racers in the pits Friday at CMP. Modified hot shoe Matt Kimball had set fast time earlier in qualifying, but nobody was faster in completing 35 laps than Sunapee’s Robie, the reigning Modified champion.
Robie took the top spot from Kimball after the third early caution of the night’s main event and then rocketed off to his first win here this summer. Geoff Rollins was strong in second, and Walt Hammond quick in third.
Southern state super teen Jimmy Renfrew Jr. returned from a couple month’s absence and picked right up where he’d left off after winning the first two Street Stock features this season.
Andrew Brousseau led the first six go-rounds of this one, then yielding the point to Rupert Thompson. Renfrew, charging forward from row four, took charge on lap 12 and never looked back. Joe Tetreault was strong in second, leading Dave Greenslit under the checkers, with Cody Schoolcraft and Briana Akusis close behind in the caution-free 30-lapper.
Ben Poland started up front in the Late Model Sportsman feature and simply drove away, leaving Ricky Bly and Ryan Bell far behind him to argue over second. Bly won that close one, earning the night’s runner-up hardware a half length ahead of Bell.
As with Poland, the handicapping system placed Pure Stocker Mark McClay on the front row of the 23-car starting lineup. And, like Poland, he led all the way.
Former winner Nick Houle took second from Amy Jaycox on lap six but that was as far as he would get. Top points man Dylan Zullo got up for third on lap 18 but without a caution to close the huge gap between himself and Houle, had to settle for Friday’s bronze medal finish. Andrea St. Amour was impressive in fourth, and Kyle Templeton came from row seven to finish fifth.
Dustin Thibodeau hasn’t been beaten on the track this season in the Six Shooters. Friday, he passed his father, John, on lap 18, to win the caution-free 20-lapper. It was a trophy row sweep for the racing Thibodeau family, with Dustin scoring his eighth 2021 win just ahead of his father, John, and brother Bucky.
The New England Antique Racers were in town Friday, making their first run of the season at CMP.
Hometracker Jamie Ferland scored a popular victory in the NEAR Modifieds, winning with a replica of a car once campaigned here by his dad, Danny Ferland. Bob Donahue was second, and Jimmy Allen third. The NEAR Sportsman checkers went to John Adams, aboard a one-time Bobby Dragon ride.
In the nightcap 50-lap Enduro, it was Drake Nelson taking over when then-leader Robert Shaw was roughed up on lap 21. From there, Nelson sailed off to his second Enduro victory of the summer. Chris Colburn was the runner-up, and Richie Turner third.
While speedway announcer DJ Girard finished out of the money in the Enduro 50-lapper, his efforts earned nearly $4,000 for David’s House, a victory in itself.
Claremont Motorsports Park will be silent next Friday, July 16, as the storied third-miler takes its annual mid-summer break. Action will resume at CMP on July 23.
CLAREMONT MOTORSPORTS PARK JULY 9 TOP TENS:
MODIFIED: Brian Robie, Geoff Rollins, Walt Hammond, Matt Kimball, Craig Smith, Brad Zahensky, Art Heino, Mike Smith, Andrew Martell, Cory Plummer.
STREET STOCK: Jimmy Renfrew Jr, Joe Tetreault, Dave Greenslit, Cody Schoolcraft, Briana Akusis, Jack McClay, Jeremy Zullo, Trevor Rocke, Scott Wade, Chris Emerson.
PURE STOCK: Mark McClay, Nick Houle, Dylan Zullo, Andrea St. Amour, Kyle Templeton, Nolan McClay, Raven Streeter, Amy Jaycox, Drake Nelson, Travis Sykes.
LATE MODEL: Ben Poland, Ricky Bly, Ryan Bell, Chris Jackman, Craig Smith.
SIX SHOOTER: Dustin Thibodeau, John Thibodeau, Bucky Thibodeau, Travis Hollins, Robert Shaw, Mike Yeaton, Chooch Snide, Lucas Bernatchy, Mark LaRoche, Andy LeClair.
50-LAP ENDURO: Drake Nelson, Chris Colburn, Richie Turner, Robert Shaw, Eric Sinclair.