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Helliwell takes top award at Lee USA Speedway banquet

November 22. 2017 1:18AM

Lee USA Speedway celebrated the top drivers and teams from the 2017 racing season at the annual “Banquet of Champions” on Saturday night, with a packed house honoring the top 10 drivers and special award winners at “New Hampshire’s Center of Speed.”

Pelham’s Dave Helliwell collected the big hardware in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Supermodifieds, making it back-to-back championships aboard the Ed and Bob Witkum-owned machine. Helliwell and the Witkum Brothers Racing crew also collected Best Team Performance for the second straight year.

Leslie Keyser picked up second-place honors, and was also recognized as Most Improved Driver in the Supers. John Burke was the third-place finisher on the year, with Mike Keddy and Moe Lattime collecting fourth- and fifth-place hardware in the Supermodifieds.

Mike Spurling picked up every driver’s least favorite award, Hard Luck, along with his sixth-place trophy after an uncharacteristically winless 2017 campaign. Patrick “P.J.” Murphy finished seventh on the season in addition to Rookie of the Year honors, with Sportsmanship winner Jim Barker, Mike Murphy and Mike Netishen the rest of the top 10.

Frankie Eldredge picked up his first career championship trophy in the Late Model Sportsman ranks, and his crew earned Best Team Performance. Runner-up Kris Miller scored Most Improved Driver, with Bryan Kruczek earning third-place honors in the Brian House-owned entry.

Former champions Jay Sands and Jimmy Russell were fourth and fifth for the year, with Russell also the recipient of the Hard Luck award. Veterans Nate Leavitt, George Helliwell, and Bobby Melvin filled positions six through eight, with Rookie of the Year Max Dolliver ninth and Sportsmanship winner Robby Douglas 10th. Dolliver also picked up the prestigious UNOH Youth Achievement award.

Longtime Lee competitor Boe Green was honored for his 2017 Hobby Stock championship, and the Best Team Performance hardware also made its way to Boe’s table. Paul Palen ended the year in the runner-up slot once again, and collected the Sportsmanship award as well.

Ryan Green, son of the champ and a former LMS titleist himself, collected third-place hardware and the Hard Luck award, which he basically earned before the season even started. It was his final practice on opening night when the power plant in his Jeff and Nancy Trask-owned mount let loose, putting a fiery end to his night.

Former two-time champion Patrick Tanguay picked up fourth place, with Most Improved Driver Torrey Kovalesky finishing fifth. Rookie of the Year Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. wound up the season in sixth, with Dave Langlais, Jake Michaud, Chris Harding and Brian Destefano rounding out the top 10.

In the Ironman ranks, Christin Destefano became only the second female driver in Lee USA history to collect championship hardware, with her Midnight Motorsports crew awarded Best Team Performance. Former champ Travis Hollins collected the runner-up trophy, with Sportsmanship winner Adam Knowles finishing third for the season.

Fourth went to Jamie Holland, with James Witkum fifth and Most Improved Driver Austin Elliott picking up sixth-place honors. Rookie of the Year Gary Grenier ended the year seventh, Hard Luck winner David “Rowdy” Smart was eighth, with Brandon Washburn ninth, and Shane Horvath 10th.

Tyler Mailhot celebrated back-to-back championship titles and Best Team Performance in the Pure Stocks, with Hard Luck winner Anthony Nadeau taking runner-up. Most Improved Driver John Boomhower ended the season third, with Rookie of the Year Jaden Curtis fourth, and Sportsmanship winner Jessica Michaud fifth.

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