Lee, NH – The final month of racing toward the goal of the 2014 season championships began at Lee USA Speedway on Friday night, with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Supermodifieds, Late Model Sportsmen, Hobby Stocks, and Ironmen joined by the touring Northeast Classic Lites for an entertaining night of racing action at “New Hampshire’s Center of Speed”.
Leslie Keyser of Northfield was the man of the hour in the EKeys 4cars 30-lap main event for the Supermodifieds. Keyser jumped out to the early lead with Topsfield, MA’s Bobby Webber in tow for the first four laps of the fast-paced feature race, which ran caution-free from green to checker in just over seven minutes.
Rookie Kyle Sawyer of Kingston moved past Webber to take over second on lap five, but Keyser was already pulling away from the field by then. Lapped traffic in the late going helped Sawyer close the gap, but Keyser was in charge all the way, flashing under Byron Callen’s checkered flag to take the win by .317 seconds over Sawyer.
Freshman Lance Barthelemy of nearby Fremont turned the race’s fastest lap on his way to a third place finish with a blistering 13.985 trip around the fast 3/8th‘s mile oval, and he nipped current points leader Jake Stergios of Candia at the line by a mere .008 second margin to take the final spot on the podium.
Sandown’s Sparky MacIver took home fifth place honors, followed by defending and three-time Super champ Tommy Tombarello, Jr. of Haverhill, MA. 2004 Lee USA Speedway Late Model and NASCAR Regional champion Ricky Wolf of Northwood made his first start of the season and scored seventh, with Webber, Rochester’s Mike Spurling, and Moe Lattime of Kingston finishing up the top ten.
Pittsfield’s Jesse Bousquet moved to the point early in the Prime Storage and Warehouse Late Model Sportsman 30-lap main event, setting the pace for most of the first half of the race. Just five laps in, a scary incident brought red flag conditions on the speedway and knocked several contenders out of action.
Kyle Roy of Barrington got pushed up out of the groove in turn four and slid down across the track just as Brentwood’s Jimmy Russell tried to slip past, sending both drivers head-on into the wall on the front straightaway. Bobby Melvin of Groton, MA had no place to go and piled in as well, ending all three drivers’ nights on the business end of a wrecker.
All three drivers were uninjured, and things settled down a bit after racing resumed. Ricky Porter of Epping moved past Bousquet to take over the point on lap 15, and he immediately began to open up a lead. Further back in the pack however, Bryan Kruczek was picking his way to the front after starting 14th on the grid, and he was coming fast.
Kruczek was fourth when Porter got to the lead, and just three laps later, was past Geoff Rollins and Bousquet to run second. Kruczek eventually got past Porter to take over the lead at the five to go mark, but with the popsicle sticks in the air signaling two laps remaining, Porter re-assumed the lead and went on to post the win.
Newmarket’s Kruczek collected a solid runner-up finish in his 2014 debut aboard the new Joe Delisle entry, with Rollins, Mark Parenteau of Groveland, MA, Bousquet, Niko Maniatis of Hooksett, Frankie Eldridge, Barrington’s Tom Harton, Goffstown’s David “Doc” Piper, and George Rego the rest of the top ten.
The David’s Race Cars and Components Hobby Stocks had a 50-lapper on the schedule for the night, with R&R Public Wholesalers sweetening the purse for the extra-distance event. Multi-feature winner Jim Piaseczny of Merrimack was sidelined for the night after a hard crash in practice, ending any chances he had of salvaging his 2014 season.
Among the more impressive performances of the night was that of rookie contender Zac Fraser of Nottingham, who ran in the runner-up slot behind early-race leader Billy Clement, Jr. of Manchester for the first 19 laps of the race before sliding back a few positions and eventually spinning out of contention on lap 22.
Clement finally lost the lead to Geoff Rollins with five laps remaining, and after the race, lost his apparent third place finishing position to another technical infraction. Rollins went on to post the win in his first start of the 2014 campaign, with Nashua’s Dennis Dumas and points leader Pat Tanguay credited with second and third.
Fourth spot went to Tewksbury, MA driver Dave MacDonald, followed by Berwick, ME’s Jay Avery, Tewksbury’s Brian DeStefano, Chris Harding of Lebanon, ME, Fraser, Pelham’s Paul Palen, and Torrey Kovalesky of Kingston.
Tewksbury, MA racer Christin DeStefano quickly jumped out to the lead in the Benson Lumber and Hardware Ironman main, and she set the pace for the first 11 trips around “New Hampshire’s Center of Speed”. Points leader Wayne Osborne of Raymond moved past to grab the lead the next time by, and it was all but over from there.
Osborne led the rest of the race to increase his points lead with another impressive feature win, with defending champ Travis Hollins of Milford up in the late laps to checker second ahead of Seabrook’s Adam Knowles and Epping‘s Jeff Bennett.
Tyler Mitchell of Dracut, MA rounded out the top five, with Hannah Shaw of Chester, DeStefano, Lindy Lambert, Shane Horvath of Nottingham, and Jeff Nadeau of Epping sixth through tenth. Jesse Tellier of Dracut, MA once again claimed top honors in the 4-cylinder portion of the Ironman main.
Another strong field of EKeys 4cars Northeast Classic Lites assembled for their feature event, with Sam Gilman first out to set the pace. Gilman led the field to the halfway mark, but a restart shortly after the crossed flags turned out to be his undoing, sending him pitside and out of contention with a flat tire.
Doug Dawkins picked up the lead for the next few laps, but in the end, second-generation racer George Helliwell continued his stranglehold on Lee’s victory lane, making a bold move late in the race to come away with the win. C.J. McLaughlin and Eddie Gilman rounded out the podium finishers.