WALPOLE, N.H. – As the Granite State Pro Stock Series season closes in on the finish line, Claremont Motorsports Park is primed to host one final home bout for the season for the fast fendered cars.
Friday night’s Key Chevrolet Buick GMC of Newport 100 is part of a big double-feature card headlined by the GSPSS and an open-competition Tour-type Modified feature, with over $20,000 on the line for the evening’s winners.
Trips to Claremont have been a high-stakes game for the GSPSS faithful in recent years, ever since the series began calling the tricky third-mile oval its home track. Claremont has hosted some of the biggest races in series history, with DJ Shaw, Derek Griffith and Gabe Brown taking home big-dollar paydays over the last few years.
A cool $7,500 awaits the winner of Friday’s feature on a hot August night, and with the extra money in the prize fund, at least twenty cars will angle for a piece of that purse, from series stalwarts to part-time trophy hunters. But only three races remain to settle the season championship, so those series stalwarts will have to temper their winning ambition with patience.
The GSPSS points race is down to three key contenders, with Joey Doiron of Berwick, Me. leading the way. The 2019 champion has one win this year but has been impressively consistent in his title pursuit. Another win would all but seal the deal for Doiron.
Rookie Nick Cusack found misfortune for the first time this year at Lee USA Speedway, finishing just outside the top ten after a late spin. But Cusack has been earning his place at the head table all year, and it is only a matter of time before he breaks through with that first series win. Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. was absent at Lee, costing him valuable ground in the points race. More than ever, Renfrew needs a win to salvage a shot at second place.
Fellow full-timers Dylan Estrella and Jeremy Sorel were caught up in calamity at Lee, ending their respective nights earlier than anticipated. For them, Claremont is an opportunity to correct course and end the season on a strong note.
Casey Call, on the other hand, is not so ready to move on. The third-year challenger picked up his first series win and a $10,000 check at “New Hampshire’s Center of Speed,” edging out visiting star Tyler Reddick in a nail-biter. Call hopes for the momentum from Lee can carry him back to the winner’s circle in a hurry.
To win big back-to-back, though, Call will have to beat the last $10,000 winner in GSPSS competition. Reigning GSPSS champ Gabe Brown returns to a track where he has three straight wins, including last July’s Key Chevrolet Buick GMC 150. Brown has been quick in a variety of cars this year, and Friday night should be no exception.
Brown’s mentor, veteran chassis builder DJ Shaw, a two-time winner of the Claremont 150-lapper, has filed an entry as well. Shaw has raced and won under multiple touring banners in 2022, but he is perfect in two GSPSS starts so far, winning at Monadnock Speedway and Riverside Speedway
Before Brown’s Claremont three-peat, Ray Christian III managed the same feat in 2019 and 2020. The Nutmeg State native stepped away from touring racing after the 2020 season, but “RC III” returns at Claremont in a car from the shop of Star Speedway racer Randy Cole.
Christian came up short in the 2020 title race to Joey Polewarczyk, who plans to make his second GSPSS start of the season this Friday. “Joey Pole” has had a busy schedule this year, teaming up with Maine car owner Richard Moody. Fresh off a podium finish at the Motor Mountain Masters at Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania, Polewarczyk is eager to improve on his sixth-place finish at Lee.
Star Speedway winner Bryan Kruczek challenged for the win at Lee before faltering late in the race. Claremont is not a typical haunt for the New Hampshire racer, but he and the Bobby Webber Racing team are always up for a challenge. Ryan Green, another Seacoast regular, will try to parlay his laps around Lee into a solid finish.
Local favorite Luke Hinkley may be a strong dark horse pick, even in a stacked field. While the Claremont native has yet to win with the GSPSS, he has nine podium finishes at the track, including three straight dating back to last summer.
Cory Casagrande has thrown his hat into the ring, too, trying to find a bright spot in a challenging season. Wrecks and mechanical gremlins have kept Casagrande and his crew busy all year, making Claremont an opportunity to cast the misfortune aside.
Brian Whalley made his GSPSS debut with a top-five run at Claremont last fall, and the powersports ace will try to back up his beginner’s luck Friday. Dan McKeage, Jr. and Richie Brown, Jr. have top-ten runs in their first visits to Claremont as well, and Friday is a chance for them to build on their success.
Vermont’s Josh King, rookie Bobby Frappier and North Country racer Sammy Gooden will also be looking for an outside shot at making headlines in the seventh race of the season.
Friday’s Key Chevrolet Buick GMC of Newport 100 is a fitting rematch for July’s Keen Parts 150, with the spotlight firmly on the region’s top Pro Stock racers as they battle for a piece of the purse. And while veteran wiles seem likely to prevail, Gabe Brown’s impressive drive last July proved that past experience is not the only path to victory in New Hampshire’s Upper Valley.
Claremont Motorsports Park proudly welcomes the Granite State Pro Stock Series as part of a thrilling Friday night double feature, anchored by the GSPSS Key Chevrolet Buick GMC of Newport 100 and the Racers Honoring Racers 100 Tour-type Modified Open presented by The Racing Guys. Racing action kicks off at 6:30pm with time trials, with Claremont’s own Avery Insurance Six Shooters, LaValley Building Products Pure Stocks, In City Sugar Shack Mini Stocks and 103 Auto/Heads Up Motorsports Late Model Sportsman rounding out the evening. Tickets are available at the gate.
For more information on the Granite State Pro Stock Series, visit www.gspss.net or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
-Story by: Jeff Brown/Granite State Pro Stock Series
-Photo credit: Rob Branning/Granite State Pro Stock Series