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October 16. 2013 10:55PM

Tom Herzig's Trackside: Ford Fall Brawl has plenty of big names

The second annual North Country Ford Fall Brawl, a $10,000-to-win Late Model 200, goes Saturday at Riverside Speedway in Groveton.

The field will include last year’s winner Derrick O’Donnell of North Haverhill. O’Donnell went on to become the 2013 Thunder Road Late Model champion and the Rookie of the Year. He will be joined by 2013 Riverside track champion Bryan Mason, 2013 ACT champion Wayne Helliwell Jr., 2013 Thunder Road Milk Bowl winner Nick Sweet, Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Randy Potter, Corey Mason, Quinny Welch — you get the idea.

The Fall Brawl card includes a Limited Late Model/Tiger Open, a Street Stock Open, Pure Stocks and the Northeast Mini Stock Tour finale. Emerson Cayer of Contoocook enters Saturday’s event with a 40-point lead in the NMST standings over Toby Wells of Dublin.

It’s World Series weekend at Thompson Speedway where 15 divisions including the Valenti Modifieds, ISMA Supermodifieds, NEMA Midgets and the Granite State Pro Stock Series will gather for the final short track racing event before construction of Thompson’s road racing course begins.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will crown its 2013 champion at day’s end and it will most likely be Ryan Preece. The 22-year-old from Berlin, Conn. leads defending champion Doug Coby of Milford, Conn. by 26 points. Preece clinches with a 22nd-or-better finish.
Coby won his first championship at the World Series last year.Mike O’Sullivan is the Granite State Pro Stock Series point leader. He’s six points up on Jeremy Davis of Tamworth. O’Sullivan is a past Thompson champion. He finished second in the Series opener there in April. Lee USA had a good turnout at the front gate for its Haffner’s Oktoberfest event, which drew well over 300 race teams. Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon, Pa., locked up the Valenti Modified Series championship with a ninth-place finish. Tommy Barrett Jr. won the Laticrete 100 after swapping right side tires midway through the race during the first caution.

Matt Mead drew out to a long early lead before Steve Masse reeled him in and then took over on the restart with Richard Savary, Jeff Rocco and Pennink soon to follow. Meanwhile, a little further back, Barrett was on the move. With Les Hinckley in tow, he rose to third on a lap-76 restart. He shot under Masse for the lead on lap 91. Jon McKennedy came on late for second.

Pennink praised his car owners Gary and Kim Casella and called his win at Oxford Plains on 250 Weekend a highlight. “I’d never done well there before,” he said. “That was a big one.”

Casella, who hails from Saugus, Mass., was a driver during the Modified Series’ inaugural season. He began some Pro-4 Modified racing after going out to Colorado, working at a Goodyear plant and being taken to Colorado International Speedway. “I had no idea that sort of thing was going on,” he said.

Casella agreed to a Pennink tryout after some lobbying from his friend. Brian Crowley, who had worked on some Whelen Modified crews and had spotted for Pennink’s Whelen Tour team.

Star Speedway Modified champion Jacob Dore qualified through the consi, started 21st and got up to sixth before pitting on lap 75. Dore, 24, began racing karts in 1998.
“I blew up the first week at Star and fell behind right off, so to win the heat, the feature and the championship (his second) at the last Star race was special,” he said. Dore has plans to compete weekly at Beech Ridge next year in a Super Late Model. “It will be my first time with fenders,” he said.

Tommy Tombarello carried the Small Block Supermodified checkers at Oktoberfest. Randy Cabral won the Northeastern Midget Association 25-lap feature. It’s down to Cabral and John Zych Jr. for the NEMA title at Thompson Sunday.

The last race ever on the dirt at Canaan Fairgrounds, the Octoberfast event featuring the Sprint Cars of New England, is set for Saturday.

Championships in several divisions are on the line at Hudson’s “Pumpkinfest” Sunday.

Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at

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