Lee, NH – The Lee USA Speedway Prime Storage and Warehouse Late Model Sportsmen took center stage on Friday night for the running of the annual Firecracker 100, an extra-distance, extra-payoff race, with a mandatory pit stop getting crews involved in determining the final outcome.
Two-time 2013 feature winner Geoff Rollins took advantage of a front row start and jumped out to the lead early, and he stayed there over the first half of the race, with former champion Ryan Green holding down the second spot as the field reached the crossed flags.
With a competition caution scheduled for lap 75 if the race went that long without a yellow, the field ran caution-free for the first 67 laps, until defending champion J.R. Baril got involved in an incident that sent him into the third turn wall to slow the pace and send everybody down pit road.
Michele Fushpanski took advantage of a great stop by her L & W Racing team to lead the way back out onto the track for the restart, but she got tangled up with Rollins coming to the green and both drivers had to restart at the rear after another quick caution period.
2011 champ Ryan Green picked up the lead from there, but on lap 71, Nick Maniatis made his move, taking the Rick Solt entry to the head of the field. Veteran Ricky Porter was on the move as the laps wore on, knocking Green back a spot on lap 75, and setting his sights on leader Maniatis.
Porter was closing on the leader inside the 20-to-go mark when he slipped up off turn four and made contact with the retaining wall, bringing the field under caution once again on lap 83 when he couldn’t make it back to the pits.
Maniatis picked up the lead when racing resumed, but his time up front ended on lap 85, when both Grant Aither and the hard-charging Rollins both slipped past to move to the head of the field. Rollins gave it his best shot, but came up short as Aither led the rest of the way to score the win.
Rollins settled for second at the checkers, with Maniatis, Green, Bobby Melvin, Jimmy Russell, Alby Ovitt, Ray Dinsmore, Fushpanski, and Larry Moloney rounding out the top ten finishers.
Mike Netishen had a strong run in the Benson Lumber and Hardware-sponsored NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature event for the Small Block Supermodifieds, leading flag to flag to take down the victory and become the first two-time winner of the season in the track‘s headline division in his Arma Coatings of New Hampshire machine.
Ryan Gath was best of the rest to collect runner-up honors, with defending champion Tommy Tombarello, Jr. coming back from a couple of early-race issues to finish third in the Witkum Brothers Racing entry.
Fourth spot went to Jake Stergios, followed by Leslie Keyser, Mike Spurling, Tombarello’s teammate Eddie Witkum, Jr. in the second Witkum Bros. machine, Moe Lattime, Tony Carroll, Jim Barker, Ricky Wolf, Jr., Sparky MacIver, Justin Belfiore, Dave Papuga, Rich Eaton, and Mike Murphy.
The David’s Race Cars and Components Hobby Stocks put on another hard-fought battle in their 25-lap feature event, with Paul Palen taking down his second main event win of the 2013 campaign over a fast-closing Jim Piaseczny.
Veteran Patrick Tanguay led the race most of the way, but Palen got past on lap 17 to take over the top spot, and Piaseczny slipped by with two laps remaining to put in his bid for the win with the laps winding down. Palen held on to checker the win, with Piaseczny, and Tanguay filling out the podium in second and third.
Wade Worster brought the Jeff and Nancy Trask machine home with fourth place honors, Brian DeStefano, Kyle Sawyer, Troy Washburn, David MacDonald, Chris Jacobson, and Billy Clement, Jr. closing out the top ten.
Travis Hollins became the first three-time winner of the season in the American Used Auto Parts Ironman main, holding off tough challenges from Tyler Mitchell and Shane Horvath in the late laps to post the win.
Both Mitchell and Horvath were within a car-length of Hollins late in the race, but Travis held on to score feature win number three on the season. Mitchell, Horvath, Zach Washburn, and Danielle Simoneau rounded out the top five.
Next up at Lee USA on Friday, July 12th, Lee will be hosting the NEMA Midgets & NEMA Lites along with Small Block Supermodified, Hobby Stocks, and Ironman division in action plus “The NH SPCA – Dogs for Dogs” night. Don’t forget to bring something for the SPCA and get a free hot dog.
Preparation continues in the Benson Lumber and Hardware Super Modified Division for the “Money Bags” race coming up on the 19th of July.