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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Lee USA offers big weekend

By TOM HERZIG
October 04. 2017 10:12PM

On Track This Weekend
Speedway 51: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Monadnock: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Lee USA: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Lee USA: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

The days are getting shorter, the Boston Bruins’ season opener is tonight and the Deerfield Fair has come and gone. The 2017 short track racing schedule is, as Tom Petty would have told us, free fallin’.

Lee USA is going out with a bang this weekend with the 34th annual Advanced Gas Distributors Oktoberfest of Racing. This is a two-day affair, three days counting Friday’s practice sessions, with an entertaining assortment of racing divisions totaling over 200 cars chasing after $50,000 in main event purses.

The menu includes the Valenti Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Supermodifieds, Late Model/Super Streets, Hobby Stocks, Roadrunners, Ironmen, Classic Lites etc.

Sunday’s Oktoberfest serving consists of feature racing from start to finish.

Anthony Nocella of Woburn, Mass., a four-time feature winner on the Valenti circuit, will attempt to lock down the Series title in a 75-lap contest Sunday. Nocella holds a sizeable lead over Donnie Lashua of Canaan heading into this Sunday and next weekend’s Thompson Speedway World Series.

Star Speedway was prompted to cancel by inclement weather last Saturday and will not attempt a make-up. Its season will conclude with the 32nd annual Halloween Howler Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21-22.

Monadnock also ran into weather issues and bumped its season finale to this Saturday with a 2 p.m. start.

The 55th Annual Milk Bowl at Thunder Road came down to the closing laps of the final 50-lap segment and a duel between Trampas Demers and Jason Corliss of Barre, Vt. Corliss, driving the same Burnett Scrap Metals No. 66 that he runs on the American Canadian Tour, came out on top. Scott Payea of Colchester, Vt., finished third.

Payea, who was not a part of the recent ACT debacle at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, will be at Thompson Speedway next Saturday seeking to become the Late Model Tour champion for the first time. He leads his closest challenger, Dillon Moltz of Waterford, Conn., by 37 points.

Claremont Speedway, which soldiered on through seven rainouts this season, determined its divisional champions with its season finale Friday. Dana Smith of Sunapee is the Modified champion. Ricky Bly finished third in the Super Street feature won by Hayden Scott to claim that title. Tyler Janovsky of Jacksonville, Vt., is the Pepsi Limited Sportsman champion. Zach Lyn of Claremont won the final 4-cylinder Wildcat feature and the championship.

Kaz Grala, the 18-year-old from Westborough, Mass., drove the GMS Racing No. 33 Truck to a fifth-place finish at Las Vegas and will attempt to advance in the Truck Series playoffs with a strong showing this Saturday at Talladega.

After this season ends, Grala will resume his freshman year at Georgia Tech. He started racing go-karts at F1 Boston in Braintree, Mass., when he was 4 and began racing competitively at age 7. When he was 10, he raced Bandoleros, winning the Summer Shootout Championship in 2011.

Three years ago, he was the youngest full-time driver in the K&N Series. He made his Truck debut at Martinsville in 2016 and this February, won the Truck race at Daytona from the pole.

“You have to be more gentle with a truck at NHMS then you do with a K&N car,” Grala said a few weeks ago before placing 10th on the Loudon mile. “You make all your grip aerodynamically, there’s no banking to hold onto.”

Grala’s hoping to land a Cup ride someday. “That’s the ultimate goal,” he said. “It’s all about sponsorship and connections really. The timing has to be right.”

Grala will be racing at Talladega for the first time. “Nobody grows up on a superspeedway,” he said. “I’m in my wheelhouse on a short track. You just try to learn as fast as you can.”

Eric Goodale won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Fall Final at Stafford. Goodale started 18th and passed Ryan Preece for the lead with three to go. The 2017 championship will be settled at Thompson next weekend. Doug Coby is the point leader. Justin Bonsignore trails him by 10 points. Timmy Solomito is two points behind Bonsignore and seven points ahead of Preece.

Matt Hirschman won the Race of Champions Modified 250 at Lake Erie Speedway (Pa.). The winner’s prize was changed from $12,500 to $13,013.13 in honor of the late Ted Christopher.

Ten Years Ago …… Andy Seuss of Hampstead won the Valenti Modified Series Oktoberfest race at Lee.

The North East Motor Sports Museum at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon recently announced that on Saturday, Nov. 4, beginning at noon, the museum will honor two of New England’s finest racers, Bugs Stevens and George Summers. The Legends Day event at the Museum will include an entertaining roundtable with the honoree superstars that encourages audience participation. There will be free food and a cash beer and wine bar.

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


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