By Gary Dutton
Photos by Miss Em's Photography Adventures
CLAREMONT, N.H. – Craig Smith won the Late Model Sportsman feature Friday at Claremont Motorsports Park, making a bold last-lap move and then cashing in when an errant lapper snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for race leader Ryan Bell, who was picked off by a backmarker that had no business wallowing along the middle of the track.
Smith was one of five first-of-season winners on the Thrasher Road speedplant’s Non-Winner’s Night, the first of three scheduled events on its huge Fall Challenge weekend.
Robbie Streeter won his first-career Street Stock victory Friday, ditto for Pure Stocker Andrea St. Amour, while Greg Millette smoked the field in the night’s Mini Stock 25-lapper, and Bucky Thibodeau topped the Six Shooter feature, joining his brother Dustin, the two-time divisional champion, and father John as 2021 feature winners.
Bell, from row one, led the first 24 go-rounds in the Route 103 Auto LMS main, holding a comfortable half-dozen length lead for most of the race until Smith reeled him in as the lead trio entered the east end of the oval on the final lap. Smith dove low into turn three, pulling almost alongside Bell, who then encountered a roadblock as they raced side-by-side.
With Smith holding strong to score the victory, LMS first-timer Cody Schoolcraft impressed in second, and Kevin Vaudrien, solid and clean all night, came home third.
The king of the R.E. Hinkley Oil Company Streeters Friday was the aptly named Robbie Streeter, who led all the way en route to the first victory of his career. But it was second-generation shoe Andrew Brousseau who had the crowd on its feet with a thrilling, last-turn charge to finish third.
Rupert Thompson and Briana Akusis were locked in a duel for third when they brought out the second of five cautions on lap 15, with teen charger Clark Brooks then holding the deuce. Caution number four, though, waved for Brooks. That moved Streeter’s team mate Joe Tetreault up to second, where he would finish the race.
Greg Millette, sporting a new ride, wired the In City Sugar Shack Mini Stock 25-lapper, firing from row one and then blasting off into a different time zone than the rest of the 17-car field. Monadnock regular Tim LeBlanc was a distant second, with hometracker Chris Judd earning the bronze medal.
The LaValley Building Suppy Pure Stock main was a classic. Bruce Jaycox led the first six laps and, while he then gave up the lead, he never gave up the hunt. Seth Melcher was holding Andrea St. Amour in his shadow until his ride gave out on a lap-17 restart and, with St. Amour then at the point, she never looked back.
Brandon Pickell was strong in second, with Jaycox rock-solid in third. St. Amour, who’d topped a “B” feature earlier this summer and also had a runner-up finish, led the final eight laps to win the first feature race of her young career.
Bucky Thibodeau led all the way in the Avery Insurance Six Shooter 20-lapper Friday. Scott Vien was second, and Thibodeau team mate Steve Miller third, Vien and Miller each making first-time appearances in trophy row,
CLAREMONT MOTORSPORTS PARK OCTOBER 15 TOP TENS
LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN: Craig Smith, Cody Schoolcraft, Kevin Vaudrien, Mark Hudson, Steve Bly, Dylan Bodreau, Ryan Bell, Greg Belisle, Dustin Leoutsakos, Rocky Smith.
STREET STOCK: Robbie Streeter, Joe Tetreault, Andrew Brousseau, Haydon Grenier, Mike Williams, Phil Hayes, Briana Akusis, Scott Wade, Kayleigh Eastman, Clark Brooks.
MINI STOCK: Greg Millette, Tim LeBlanc, Chris Judd, Sean Lantas, Ryan Carman, Dylan Zullo, David Thibodeau, Dana Shepard, Kodi Sabins, Craig Chaffee.
PURE STOCK: Andrea St. Amour, Brandon Picknell, Bruce Jaycox, Jacob Fowler, Doug Nelson, Drake Nelson, Mark Reed, Jim Rhodes, Chris Carver, Steve Morris.
SIZ SHOOTER: Bucky Thiobdeau, Scott Vien, Steve Miller, Chooch Snide, Eric Prescott, Taelor MacDonald, Andy LeClair.