WINNING RACES is pretty special no matter what the circumstances, but three local racers had especially satisfying wins last weekend. In chronological order, Grant Aither of Kingston drove the Seacoast Wholesale/James R. St. Jean No. 7oz. to victory in the Lance Davis Memorial 50-lap Late Model Sportsman feature Friday at Lee USA.
Aither took the lead from Nick Maniatis with 15 laps remaining. Maniatis picked up the bonus money from David's Race Cars and Components for his strong run to the runner-up slot, with Jimmy Russell home in third. Fourth went to first-time LMS competitor Joey Doiron, followed by veteran Boe Green, Bobby Melvin, Ryan Green, Patrick Stewart, Geoff Rollins and Ray Dinsmore. The top 10 finishers received commemorative trophies from the Davis family.
In Benson Lumber and Hardware Small Block Supermodified action, Mike Spurling of Rochester became the division's eighth different winner this season.
Saturday at Monadnock, Todd Patnode won his first-ever Valenti Modified Series race after coming on late in the Victor Johnson Memorial 100. Johnson was a friend and fellow competitor of Patnode. Johnson died in a house fire two years ago. “He was a great guy and a great competitor,” Patnode said. “None of us will ever forget Victor.”
Patnode, who hails from Swanzey, has turned many a lap at Monadnock. His company, Swanzey Oil, sponsored the race.
“I rode around in 10th or 11th for the first half of the race — that was the plan,” he said. “I only went out once in practice and the car wasn't going that well, but the track was a little slimy from somebody's leak and I wasn't too concerned. We have a baseline set-up for Monadnock that usually works pretty well.”
Patnode got under Dwight Jarvis for the lead on lap 74, only to have the yellow fly, which put him on the outside of the front row. He took the lead on lap 84 and held off Jon McKennedy (second), Jarvis, Max Zachem and point leader Rowan Pennink.
Two nights earlier, Richard Savary of Canton, Mass., drove to his first Valenti Modified Series win at Thompson. Savary overtook Pennink for the lead. McKennedy closed late to finish third.
“I have to thank all my guys for the work they did to get this car done, my sponsors, Bob Bruneau's motor, the fans of Thompson Speedway, my home track for awhile,” Savary said. “I always wanted to win a race here in a Modified. We did that tonight and I'm happy for that.”
On its web site, the Valenti Modified Series expressed its thanks to the 14 teams that raced twice in three nights. “It's that dedication that makes our series a blessing to be a part of,” management posted. Next up for the Valenti Mods — Stafford this Friday.
There was a large crowd at Hudson Sunday for the Granite State Pro Stock Series Hudson Hugger 100. Bobby Baillargeon of Kingston landed on the front row in the redraw and led all but one lap to record his second "Hugger" win in a row. Things went pretty smoothly for Baillargeon until it took three tries to complete lap 79. At that point, Baillargeon was under attack from Matt Frahm and Hudson's Derek Griffith — the eventual runner-up. "I know Matt wasn't thrilled with me, but I had the lead and did what I needed to do to protect it. Starting up front helps out a lot."
Baillargeon is a part-time racer, who works at a Chevrolet dealership and runs a parts shop (Performance Unlimited) on the side. He's helped by crew chief Nick Janvrin.
"This is good series and it's a good fit for Hudson," Baillargeon said. "We blew a motor here earlier this year. It's about a $600-700 deal to get to a race, but tires, gas etc. That puts it within reach for low-budget teams. We're thinking seriously about getting to the Riverside race (Saturday, Sept. 7).
"I think everybody came away from Hudson pleased," GSPSS founder Mike Parks said. "Bob (Webber) did a good job. The place was packed. There's not a lot of racing room there, but there's two lanes and it's a good show."
Parks placed fourth, followed by Jay Sands, Mike O'Sullivan, Tom O'Sullivan, Keith Caruso, Larry Gelinas and Barry Gray.
It's Triple Crown weekend for the Sprint Cars of New England (SCoNE) — Canaan/Friday, Bear Ridge/Saturday, Legion Speedway/Sunday.Will Avery of Campton was a triple crown Late Model winner at White Mountain Motorsports Park. It was Avery's first-career win.
Nick Sweet, the defending Thunder Road Late Model champion, broke into the 2013 win column with a decisive win from deep in the pack in the Aubuchon 100. Sweet will contest the ACT Labor Day 200 at the "Nation's Site of Excitement" Sunday.
Tom Herzig's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.