By Gary Dutton
Photo by Miss Em's Photography Adventures
CLAREMONT, N.H. – Imagine, if you will, making a hard left turn at 108 miles per hour. With Claremont’s finest radaring on the backchute, Bay State rocketman Jon McKennedy did it Friday on Claremont Motorsports Park’s tricky one-third mile oval.
The ISMA SuperModified pilot turned a practice lap of 11.812 seconds Friday at CMP, shattering the 74-year-old speedway’s all time lap speed record by two seconds - that set in a Tour Type Modified - then almost eclipsed it later with an 11.827 lap in heavy traffic in the 75-lap main event.
But, while McKennedy had the large crowd in awe, he wasn’t Friday’s only top achiever. Robert Hagar won his first of the summer in the Street Stocks, and Braden Morrie earned his first career checkered flag lap in the Mini Stocks.
Rookie Pure Stock sensation Dylan Zullo boosted his points lead with his fourth 2021 victory romp. Dustin Thibodeau outran the bounty hunters to win his 13th Six Shooter feature, and both Andrea St Amour and Nathan LeClair trophied for the first time, although St. Amour had previously topped a “B”feature.
Front-row starter Chris Perley led the first 24 go-rounds of the ISMA 75-lapper, but the dominant McKennedy was just biding his time. The Chelmsford, Mass. superstar led twice, including the final 43 laps, to win easily.
Empire Stater Otto Sitterly guided the chief pursuit car for much of the second half of the night’s main event, but Anthony Nocella – who, like McKennedy, brought valuable Modified lap time at Claremont to the event – came home second. Ben Seitz was third, with Sitterly and polesitter Dan Bowes rounding out the top five.
Rupert Thompson led early in the Street Stock main, with Hagar taking the top spot on lap nine and never looking back. CMP’s reigning King of The Streets, Dave Greenslit made a furious last-lap charge to nip Cody Schoolcraft for second. In earlier time trials, Schoolcraft had set a new Street Stock lap time record.
Bruce Jaycox, having his best run of the summer in the Pure Stocks, led early in the night’s 25-lap feature but Zullo, strong and steady but winless since June 25, was on a mission. Roaring from row six, he blasted into third on lap five, second two laps later, and then took charge on lap ten, quickly driving off to win by a country mile.
Three-time winner Nick Houle, second in the points parade, flexed some late-race muscle to earn the runner-up hardware, while St. Amour outdistanced some stout competition to take the checkers in third.
Braden Morrie took the lead from Ryan Carman on lap three in the Minis and never looked back. Haydon Grenier did his best to extend his months-long winning streak but, on this night, settled for a close second. Carman, strong all night, came home third.
With a $100 bounty on Dustin Thibodeau’s head in the Six Shooter feature there were some hungry warriors who went to battle Friday night, nobody more focused on the prize than frequent number two man Robert Shaw. Shaw got to the point on lap two but a patient Thibodeau said “not tonight fellas,” taking charge on lap ten and then simply driving off to a different time zone ahead of Shaw and Nathan LeClair
Hagar and Morrie were the 24th and 25th feature winners in 2021 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series events through fifteen completed full events at CMP. The Street Stock and Pure Stock divisions have each produced six unique winners, while defending 2020 Six Shooter champ Dustin Thibodeau is tops with 13 victories this summer.
Claremont Motorsports Park continues its march toward the 2021 championships next Friday, August 27, when the Thrasher Road speedplant hosts twin 35-lap NHSTRA Modified features, along with a full card of Late Model Sportsman, Mini Stock, Pure Stock, and Six Shooter racing. Post time is 7 p.m.
CLAREMONT MOTORSPORTS PARK AUGUST 20 TOP TENS
STREET STOCK: Robert Hagar, Dave Greenslit, Cody Schoolcraft, Chris Riendeau, Briana Akusis, Brian Robie, Kenny Thompson, Joe Tetreault, Jeremy Zullo, Trevor Rocke.
PURE STOCK: Dylan Zullo, Nick Houle, Andrea St. Amour, Zach Richardson, Travis Sykes, Jacob Fowler, Mark Snide, Bruce Jaycox, Carlos Grenier, Jim Rhodes.
MINI STOCK: Braden Morrie, Haydon Grenier, Ryan Carman, Joe Olmstead, Pat Houle, Mason Prouty, Sean Lantas, David Thibodeau, Dan Young, David Pratt III.
SIX SHOOTER: Dustin Thibodeau, Robert Shaw, Nathan LeClair, Bucky Thibodeau, John Thibodeau, Lucas Bernatchy, Steve Miller, Marc Laroche, Andy LaClair.
ISMA SUPERMODIFIED: Jon McKennedy, Anthony Nocella, Ben Seitz, Otto Sitterly, Dan Bowes, Russ Wood, Ryan Lock, Moe Lilje, Chris Perley, Dave Helliwell, Kenny White Jr.