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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Claremont Speedway roaring into season

May 02. 2018 9:42PM

On Track This Weekend
Claremont: Friday, 7 p.m.

Legion Speedway: Friday, 7 p.m.

New London/Waterford (Conn.): Saturday, 2 p.m.

Star Speedway: Saturday, 5 p.m.

Bear Ridge (Vt.): Saturday, 6 p.m.

Monadnock: Saturday, 6 p.m.

New London/Waterford (Conn.): Sunday, 1 p.m.

Thunder Road (Vt.): Sunday, 1:30 p.m.

Claremont Speedway, which first opened as a dirt track in 1947, plans to get its season underway Friday with a Granite State Pro Stock Series (GSPSS) 100-lapper sponsored by Springfield (Vt.) Buick GMC as the headline event.

Track management has been doing a good job of restoring Claremont as a viable race place after some lean years in spite of quite a few rainy Fridays the past two seasons. As a safeguard, the 2018 opener has a Saturday rain date in place.

GSPSS President Mike Parks was enthused after a recent practice session at Claremont that went well and included some locals such as Guy Caron, Luke Hinkley and Kyle Welch. Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, Mass., is the defending Series champion.

Last year, the R. E. Hinkley Super Streets delivered the mail with full fields and competitive racing. Claremont will host the Tri-Track Open Modified Series Ron Bouchard Auto Stores 100 sponsored by SPAFCO Race Chassis and Parts Friday, May 26.

Bear Ridge Speedway opens Saturday for the 51st consecutive season. The Bradford, Vt., dirt track a throwback venue with a pit full of cars every week and lots of passing amidst the jousting and grinding inherent on a small quarter-mile dirt track. The ticket prices are very affordable.

Legion Speedway in Wentworth opens Friday at 6 p.m. O’Reilly’s Auto Parts of Plymouth sponsors the weekly Twi-Light Racing Series. Peanuts Auto of Canaan and Enfield sponsors the lead Modified class. Jason Sanville of Grafton is the defending Modified track champion.

The Pro All-Star Series (PASS) Super Late Model Tour is at Star Speedway Saturday for the Support 50 Legs 150. Curtis Gerry of Waterboro, Maine, has been tearing it up lately on the PASS circuit, including a win last weekend at Beech Ridge. Gerry is a weekly racing loyalist at Beech Ridge, which also races on Saturday nights. He won’t likely be at Star, but there’s sure to be a competitive field on hand. DJ Shaw of Center Conway is the current points leader.

Star’s Autism Awareness 350 Supermodifieds will be making their first appearance of the season. The Woody’s Auto Strictlys, Six-Shooters and Roadrunners are also scheduled.

The Valenti Modified Series races Saturday at the New London/Waterford Speedbowl as a part of the Connecticut oval’s Saturday/Sunday weekend doubleheader. The NEMA Midgets and the NEMA Lites are on Saturday’s card as well.

Ryan Preece won the 47th NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford Motor Speedway for car owner Eddie Partridge (No. 6) after his strategy of waiting longer than anyone else to pit for tires panned out. Preece had looked the part as a threat to win earlier in the race, but he wound up chasing leader Patrick Emerling around on old tires a long while before catching a yellow on lap 152.

One benefit of holding out until late in a race to come in for tires is that by then, the field has usually been thinned by attrition as was the case Sunday. When that happens, re-entering at the rear of the cars on the lead lap doesn’t leave you all that far away from the front.

“I told my father sometimes overpreparing is a bad thing,” Preece said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to come up with a basic plan and it constantly changes. I thought I was going to pull a Riverhead 300, lead most of the race and give it away. Fortunately, everything worked out and we got a caution and took three tires.”

Twenty-year-old Chase Dowling of Roxbury, Conn., was the Sizzler runner-up. He set a track record during time trialing - 17.721 seconds (101.574) mph. Rowan Pennink, Emerling and Craig Lutz finished third-fourth-fifth.

The Sizzler went off quite smoothly with plenty of action on the track and on pit road, unlike the preceding SK Modified and Late Model features. Both divisions were plagued by repeated cautions. Between the two, it took well over two hours to complete 60 green flag laps.

At Monadnock, Brian Robie of Groton, Mass.. was the Sportsman Modified winner. Leon Keniston of Alton came out on top in the Lightning Stock division, ending a 10-year drought. Mike Stebbins of Winchester was a repeat winner in the Mini Stock class. Tyler Leary of Hatfield, Mass., prevailed in Super Stock action.

Monadnock is offering a “Cinco de Mayo” Special ticket deal this week. After buying one adult ticket for the regular price of $15, a second adult ticket can be purchased for $5.

The American Canadian Tour’s first race of 2018 is at Thunder Road on Sunday. The following Saturday, May 12, the Late Model tour is at Lee USA Speedway for the Governor’s Cup 150.

The EKeys4Cars Northeast Mini Stock Tour held its opening event at Beech Ridge last weekend. Emerson Cayer of Contoocook won after starting 14th on the grid. Cody Leblanc of Waterville, Maine, finished second ahead of Jarrod Soucy of Marlborough, Mass., in third place.

White Mountain in North Woodstock, which just announced the Bank of New Hampshire as the sponsor of its Dwarf Car division, will open its gates on Saturday, May 12.

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