Tom Herzig's Trackside: Stergios family has busy racing season
The racing season has been very busy lately for Bill Stergois of Candia and his sons P.J. and Jake and it’s going to stay that way through Friday’s Supermodified Shootout on “Buckle Up For Safety Night” at Lee USA Speedway.
In addition to being the check writer and race day mechanic for both P.J.’s NEMA Midget Lite No. 11 and Jake’s Benson Lumber and Hardware Supermodified No. 11, father Bill produces the New England Racing Show, which airs on Manchester Public Television Channel 23. Show times include Saturdays at noon, Sundays at 10 a.m. and Mondays at 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.manchestertv.org.
The Stergois gang really started going around in circles on the eve of the Oxford 250 when P.J. wheeled the New England Racing No. 11 at Oxford Plains. Three days later, it was off to Seekonk where the NEMA Lites filled out the bill along with their high-powered counterparts, the NEMA Midgets and 45 Modifieds that were chasing the $10,000-to-win loot in the final race of the three-race Tri-Track Modified Open Series.
The Midget Lite feature at Seekonk unfolded before a large crowd with lots of media on hand and motorheads like Bentley Warren, Lew Boyd, George Summers, Sam Kramer and promoters Jim “Long Island Mod Maniac” Schaefer and Dick Williams strolling about. It was a well-driven and entertaining race with a full field. P.J. Stergois came from 14th to win it.
Bear Ridge regular Adam Pierson, driving for Frank Manafort and racing at Seekonk for the first time, was fourth.
“Between Midgets and small block Supers, I’ve raced at Seekonk about 20 times,” P.J. Stergois said. “I’m finally getting the hang of it. I didn’t know how it would go starting 14th, but the car was almost perfect.”
It was Stergois’ fourth win of the season. He turned in the fastest time of the race — under 12 seconds — on the next to last lap.
Three nights later, Stergois placed third at Waterford Speedbowl in a race that went to first-time winner Juris Kupris of Williamsburg, N.Y. “He was very fast,” Stergois said. “By the time I got from 12th to 3rd, he was gone.”
In the past, the Stergois brothers swapped rides back and forth, but this season, P.J., the elder, has stuck with the Midget Lite and Jake has focused on the Supermodified at Lee.
“In a Midget, you’re sitting straight up with the steering wheel underneath you,” Jake said. “In the Super, your legs are more stretched out and the wheel’s in front of you. I don’t use the brake as much as P.J.’s apt to. My style is more to try to keep momentum up by being on and off the gas pedal. If the car’s handling good, I don’t use the brakes except to avoid an accident.”
Stergois enters Friday’s event as the Supermodified point leader, one point better than Tommy Tombarello. The Shootout has been tweaked to consist of three segments — two legs are 25-lap NASCAR All-American Series point races with resultant handicapped starting spots — the third is a 10-lap sprint. The three combined finishes will produce the overall winner.
The Supers aren’t the only Lee division with a tight points battle. Ricky Porter of Epping is three points ahead of last week’s Late Model Sportsman feature winner Geoff Rollins of Groton, Mass. Nick Maniatis of Hooksett is another four points back.
Tommy Barrett of Millis, Mass., used a fourth-turn crossover move to take the lead from Todd Annarummo late in the race to win the $10,000 Modified open at Seekonk. Jon McKennedy came from deep in the field and made it all the way to second after a late race bobble cost Matt Hirschman the runner-up spot and dropped Annarummo to fourth.
The Granite State Pro Stock Series brought 31 cars to Lee for last week’s GSPSS debut, which was won by Hudson’s Joey Polewarczyk Jr. Joey Pole got around runner-up Larry Gelinas on a late restart to earn the checkers. Derek Griffith of Hudson completed the podium finish in the MOM’s of Manchester/LCM Racing No. 12. The Polewarczyk team is back on the ACT beat this weekend at Beech Ridge.
Rookie T.C. Forward of Lyme was a first-time Sportsman Modified winner at Bear Ridge. Adam Pierson won the 1st annual Elliott Beverage USAC Dirt Midget Memorial Race named in honor of Frank Manafort’s friend and former crew chief.Bernie Lantagne of Morgan, Vt., had a triple-crown night in Late Model action at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
Hudson Speedway has reverted to a 6:03 p.m. post time for its August Sunday night events.
Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.