CLAREMONT, N.H. – Mike Willis Jr. earned another big payday Friday, June 14, at Claremont Motorsports Park. The 27-year-old Grantham hot shoe led 27 laps of the Valenti Modified Racing Series 100-lap feature – including the final 19 rapid-fire circuits around the fast third-mile – to easily outdistance Woody Pitkat in the night’s main event.
It was Willis’ career-first MRS victory, but hardly his first at the Thrasher Road oval. A former weekly competitor at Claremont, Willis also won a Tri-Track Open Modified 100-lapper there a summer ago.
Also earning checkered flag laps Friday were Aaron Fellows, R.E. Hinkley Late Model Sportsmen; Brian Robie, Pepsi Sportsman Modifieds; Tim St. John, Pure Stocks; and Jeremy Blood, Six-Shooters. The Pure Stock finish was unofficial, pending final tech findings, at press time.
Both Fellows and Blood stayed perfect on the young season with six feature wins in as many completed events, while Robie moved to the top of the Sportsman Modified point parade by posting his third consecutive victory.
Willis and Kirk Alexander led the MRS ground-pounders to the green, with Willis quickly taking charge. Hometown star Jeff Murray – firing from row three – was quickly in the hunt too.
When Willis wobbled, ever so little, on lap 17, Alexander was quick to pounce on the lead. But if the Swanzey speedster was fast, the man glued to his bumper – hometown hot shoe Jeff Murray - was even faster.
Murray, in his first outing of the summer, flew past Alexander on lap nine and rapidly drove away. Setting a blistering pace over the next 73 laps, Murray seemingly had all bases covered. Tire wear, though, would prove his undoing.
Sailing high along the frontchute on lap 83, Willis reclaimed the lead. Woody Pitkat got up for second the next time around but, on this night, would have to settle for second. Matt Swanson, aboard the Gary Casella 25, came home third.
Ben Poland led the first seven go-rounds of the LMS feature, then watching Aaron Fellows charge to the front and speed off to his sixth win of the year. Poland, strong all night, claimed the deuce spot, with Windsor’s Robert Hagar solid in third.
Dylan Bodreau set a fast pace over the first four laps of the Sportsman Modified main, holding Brian Robie in check until the Sunapee star inched ahead as lap six went in the books. Robie, with both Todd Patnode and Dana Smith absent for the night, had plenty to shoot for, and his aim was perfect.
Robie’s third win in as many weeks moved him to the top of his division’s point standings. Kyle Welch, in the first Sportsman Modified outing of his career, dazzled in second, with Bodreau earning the third-place hardware.
Erin Aiken passed two-time feature winner Seth Melcher on lap 17 of the Pure Stock main and darted off to become the division’s apparent fourth different winner this season. With the finish unofficial at night’s end, Melcher was second under the flags, with Newport’s Sean Lantas earning the three-spot. After post-race inspection, the top 3 were disqualified giving the win to Tim St. John. Kyle Templeton was second with Chris Carver posting his first podium of the year in third.
In New England Antique Racer feature races, Jim Allen topped a spirited Modified 15-lapper, taking the checkers just ahead of Bob Donahue and Jamie Ferland. Bear Ridge Speedway owner and former dirt Modified and Coupe champion Butch Elms scored a runaway victory in the NEAR Sportsmen.
Next Friday, June 21, Claremont Motorsports Park will host a full night of oval track racing with the Casella Street Stock, Pepsi Modified, Pure Stock and Six-Shooter weekly racing series divisions all in action, along with the season’s second Redneck Enduro event and the visiting Northeast Classic Lites.
JUNE 14 FINISHES: VALENTI MOD 100: Mike Willis Jr., Woody Pitkat, Matt Swanson, Brian Robie, Kirk Alexander, Jeff Murray, Mike Douglas, CJ Bolton, Donnie Lashua, Dylan Rock, Cam Sontag. LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN: Aaron Fellows, Ben Poland, Robert Hagar, Ryan Bell, Tyler Lescord, Mark Blair, Eric Martell. SPORTSMAN MODIFIED: Brian Robie, Kyle Welch, Dylan Bodreau, Alyssa Rivera, Mike Smith. PURE STOCK: Tim St. John, Kyle Templeton, Chris Carver, Bruce Adams, Richard Streeter, Tom Englehart, Jim Carley, (DQ -Erin Aiken, Seth Melcher, Sean Lantas) SIX-SHOOTERS: Jeremy Blood, Paul Colburn. NEAR WINNERS: Jim Allen, Modified; CV Elms III, Sportsman.