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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Three series on stage Friday night at Lee

By TOM HERZIG
August 03. 2017 12:50AM


Lee USA Speedway has the Pro All-Star Series (PASS) Super Late Models scheduled Friday night along with its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. The Late Model Sportsmen will compete in a 50-lap, $1,000-to-win race sponsored by R&R Public Wholesalers of Hooksett.

Last Friday, the Late Model Sportsmen held twin features in support of Make-A-Wish. Points and trophies were equally earned in both races, but the results were combined to decide who wound up with the overall $1,000 first prize.

The winner’s loot went to George Helliwell of Salem. He ran third to James Russell and Kris Miller in the first feature and won the second one by holding off point leader Frankie Eldredge of Stratham and Jay Sands of Hampton.

Eldredge drives the Exeter Roofing/FF Performance No. 09 that his dad, Frank Sr., helps set up and maintain. He has a win and five top-five finishes and a seven-point lead over Miller.

“It’s been a big challenge,” Eldredge said. “This is the toughest competition there’s been in the last three or four years.”

Next week, Lee will pack the house with the Ollie Silva Memorial 75 for ISMA Supermodifieds and a $4,000-to-win 40-lap special for The Rod Father Small Block Supers.

Despite its busy schedule, Lee hosted the Boots N’ Bulls Rodeo and a country music concert Saturday. To management’s delight, the event drew a big crowd.

“It was so good to have the track full of people,” owner Red MacDonald said. “The infield was where the rodeo was set up. We put sand all over it. It’s all cleaned up now and we’re ready to go back to racing.”

Mike Ordway Jr. of Fremont made ISMA Supermodified history over the weekend by driving the Clyde Booth No. 61 to victory in the 27th annual Hy-Miler 100 at Sandusky Speedway in Ohio, just as his father, Mike Sr., did in 2004. The Ordways are the second father-son combo ever to win the Hy-Miler. Third-place finisher Dave Shullick Jr. and his father are also past winners.

Jon McKennedy of East Chelmsford, Mass. finished sixth. Ordway Jr., Shullick Jr. and McKennedy are all expected to race in the Ollie Silva Memorial 75.

Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pa., won yet another high-dollar, big field Modified race before a big crowd at Star Speedway. The Tri-Track Modified Series and event founder Kevin Rice kept up the tradition of the event and the admirable amount of contingency dollars raised and distributed.

Hirschman pocketed nearly seven grand for his silky smooth performance, but one quirk in the race made it less thrilling than it otherwise might have been in spite of a flurry of yellows at one point.

Teams were allowed one tire change and the circumstances of the race were such that 25 of the 27 cars poured into the pits on lap 73. Hirschman, who had been running outside the top 10, popped out of the pits in third place. The fox was in the henhouse and the racing order had changed dramatically, all out of sight in the pits.

Richard Savary, running second when he pitted, was out of the top 10 when racing resumed.

Rowan Pennink was a stout runner-up three car-lengths from Hirschman. Former Star Modified champion Josh Cantara placed third.

Anthony Nocella had an impressive showing as the fourth-place finisher. The Valenti Modified Series points leader came from 23rd and appeared to be the fastest car in the closing laps. Woody Pitkat was fifth in the Dan Stebbins No. 52.

Dale Holdridge, father of competitor Mike Holdridge, received the fifth annual Chuck Montville Car Owner Award ($1,006) during pre-race ceremonies.

Brad Babb chased down Anthony Payne and won the Autism Awareness Supermodified feature earlier.

Star has another Tri-Track Modified Series event on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Claremont Speedway, having a revival season despite multiple rainouts, plans Twin 30’s for Modifieds sponsored by Daddy’s Pizza Friday.

Claremont has been bolstered by a strong Super Street division that includes not one, but two Craig Smiths — unrelated but virtual neighbors. Last week Craig Smith of Unity – aka the “other” Craig Smith, having spent fewer years racing, got his first feature win in the No. 97 sponsored by Smith Machine, A-1 Site Works and Jere’s Welding and Repair. Craig’s father, Forest, does a lot of work on the car.

“I started eighth and the car was going good,” Smith said. “There was some trouble in front of me, but I got through it. After I got by Jeff Morse for the lead there was only one caution.”

Smith reported that he received congratulations from his namesake, who hails from Newport and is one spot ahead of him (fifth) in the standings.

Ricky Bly of Sunapee closed late on Smith to finish second. Bly is the Super Street points leader, three points ahead of Hayden Scott.

Scott Payea of Colchester, Vt., will attempt to break his own record and win a fifth straight American Canadian Tour event when the Late Model Tour races at Beech Ridge Saturday.

Jim Chambers of Atkinson won the NEMA Lite Midget main event Saturday at Speedway 51.

The Sprint Cars of New England are at Legion Speedway on Friday. Will Hull of East Montpelier, Vt., is the current points leader.

Stephen Donahue of Barre, Vt., after some narrow misses, won his first Late Model feature at White Mountain.

The 15th Annual Don Hayes Memorial for Roadrunners is Sunday at Hudson.

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



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