WATERFORD, Conn. — The 2017 Granite State Pro Stock Series season saw one driver capture his second championship. Mike O’Sullivan, a former champion at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, wasn’t able to visit Victory Lane in the 12-race schedule. But that didn’t matter.
O’Sullivan was consistent enough to roll into the season-finale at New London-Waterford Speedbowl with a four point lead over Scott MacMichael. While his challengers had trouble, O’Sullivan was calm, cool and collective and finished seventh in the 100 lap feature. He avoided a few crashes and settled in late, knowing he just needed to finish well to become a two-time Granite State Series champion.
“Those guys in front of me, you can’t take anything away from them, they were definitely good tonight,” O’Sullivan said of the race. “I was just trying to be smart. My car was great. It didn’t really go away. It was difficult to be smart there and just do what I needed to do. I was really confident on the restarts, even though I started on the top.”
Saturday’s race wasn’t exactly what O’Sullivan was looking for from his competitors either. The early stages of the race were filled with cautions, a lot of them for multi-car crashes all around the track. Luckily, he was able to escape without damage. But it still wasn’t the way he wanted to end the season.
“You want to get in a rhythm and run. Everyone will tell you when they strap in the race car they are nervous. But as soon as they throw the green, you get hot and things get going,” O’Sullivan said. “I’d rather see 25, 30 laps runs and get us in a rhythm. But that’s just what happens.”
One major turning point in the championship chase took place in just the first few laps. His closest challenger, MacMichael, went spinning from second spot right in front of the entire field. Unfortunately, O’Sullivan was the one who got into him and sent him around -not intentionally, though. There was a car stopped at the bottom of turn four and MacMichael checked up. It created the accordion affect.
“To be honest, I was hoping Scott would get his spot back. He checked up for the wreck in turn four and they were yelling there was no caution,” O’Sullivan said. “I got hit from behind and pushed into him and he got put around. I was hoping they would just give him his spot back and wipe the slate clean.”
O’Sullivan didn’t even have his own car on the property on Saturday night. His brother, Tommy, who also competes in the series, lended his car over to his brother after Mike was involved in a nasty crash at Thompson a week prior. They knew it would be hard to get the car fixed, but his brother stepped in to help.
“He’s always been like that, I’ve driven his Late Models before and I’ve even driven his go-karts before. He’s always had a bone in him to be happy and be content to see me drive his car,” Mike said. “That being said, he had a good car at Thompson and he won this year with this car. To be able to step away and know that it was a possibility that he wasn’t going to be able to take his car here, it was tough. He didn’t hesitate.”
His fourth career championship is definitely something special.
“They are all different, the first one at Thompson was cool, we weren’t really expecting to do that. We ran really good that year and it was a little bit of a surprise. It took us a while to get back there, we won in 2002 and then in 2007,” O’Sullivan said.
“To come here on a touring series, we had Icebreaker and the World Series on the schedule and we decided we wanted to run them all. The first time we won a title on this series, I hadn’t even visited three-quarters of the tracks. To be able to do this is a testament to my guys. They love running for points.”