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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Short-track racers will step up to NHMS challenge

June 20. 2018 10:22PM

On Track This Weekend
Thunder Road (Vt.): Thursday, 7 p.m.

Legion Speedway: Friday 7, p.m.

Lee USA Speedway: Friday 7, p.m.

Claremont: Friday, 7 p.m.

Monadnock: Saturday, 4 p.m.

Bear Ridge (Vt.): Saturday, 6 p.m.

Speedway 51: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Star Speedway: Saturday, 6 p.m.

White Mountain: Saturday, 6 p.m.

NHMS: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

Four divisions of short-track racers will go long-tracking (at high speed) during the New England Short Track Showdown this Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The lineup includes the Granite State Pro Stock Series, the Valenti Modified Series and the two series overseen by Showdown promoter Bob Guptil: the Northeast Mini Stock Tour and the Northeast Street Stock (8-cylinders) Series.

“This is a big weekend, a good weekend, for all of us,” Guptil said. “We’ll have a good field of cars — about 26 to 28 Modifieds, 32 Pro Stocks, 35 Street Stocks and 35 to 40 Mini Stocks.”

Everyone will be on Hoosier tires and Guptil is confident that the safety of the drivers, while not a certainty (the Mini Stocks approach speeds of 125 mph), will be maximized.

“We mandate containment seats, harnesses and restraint devices and conduct full safety inspections,” Guptil said. “We’ve had wall impacts here before. The cars are well-built and the drivers respect the track and each other.”

The Showdown’s Granite State Pro Stock Series $5,000-to-win 50-lap event will be contested with crate motors. Eddie MacDonald, the “Outlaw” from Rowley, Mass., returns to defend his win last year against the likes of DJ Shaw, Derek Griffith of Hudson, 2017 champion Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, Mass., current GSPSS points leader Joey Doiron of Berwick, Maine, multi-time PASS North and National Champion Ben Rowe, Pro All Star Series (PASS) standout Reid Lanpher of Manchester, Maine, Jacob Dore of Sanford, Maine, past Series champion Barry Gray and Devon O’Connell of Madison, Conn.

Shaw is coming off a PASS win at Speedway 95 over the weekend. “I think this year it’s a better deal with crate motors for all,” he said in a recent GSPSS promo video. “I think it’ll shape up to be a lot more competitive and a better race throughout the field.”

The Valenti Modifieds will run restrictor plates and set their lineup by drawing for heat positions and then using the results to form the grid for the 50-lap feature. Last year, Woody Pitkat and the late Ted Christopher finished first and second.

Monadnock has the ISMA Supermodifieds back Saturday to make up the previously rained-out Genden Auto Parts 75. The race was to have been the winged rockets’ season opener on May 19. Since then, Canadian Mark Sammut and Tennessean Kyle Edwards have visited victory lane. It’s highly likely a track record lap is in the cards and a full field is expected. Get there early. ISMA time trials start at 4 p.m.

It’s a busy time for Lee Speedway’s R&R Tools Late Model Sportsmen. They’ll go 100 laps on Fireworks Night June 29 after Twin 44’s last Friday. Kris Miller of Bedford and Bryan Kruczek of Newmarket were the Twin 44 winners. Dave Helliwell won the Supermodified main. Paul Palen of Pelham took the Street Stock feature. Rob Carleton drove to his first career victory in Pure Stock action. Troy Washburn was best in the Ironman feature.

It’s Autograph Night this week at Lee and the night’s card includes a 75-lap Enduro.

Star’s Saturday night program includes the Jen Garland Memorial for the Autism Awareness Supermodifieds. A separate vintage race car restoration group, S.T.A.R., will be on hand.

Last Saturday, the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites were at the Epping oval and Ryan Locke of Chester drove to a convincing win in the NEMA Lites feature. Other winners were Randy Cabral (Midgets), Bobby Cabral (Late Models), Jim Storace (Strictly Stocks) Dan Sweeney (Roadrunners) and Brandon Flanders of Seabrook, who won for the first time ever in the L & W Auto Repair Six Shooter main event.

Double Late Model features are on tap tonight at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre.

Quinny Welch was the Foley Oil & Propane Late Model feature winner at White Mountain. Oren Remick was the closest pursuer. Jerry Lesage, rookie Matt Morrill and Stephen Donahue filled out the top five. White Mountain is celebrating its 25th anniversary season and this Saturday all adult grandstand tickets are only $5.

Justin Bonsignore’s hot start in pursuit of the 2018 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship continued last week at Thompson Speedway. The Long Island driver gained track position with a “quicker than the others” pit stop and went on to his third win in five starts.

“We put the option tire on during the pit stop and our car was just lights out for the last 30 laps or so,” Bonsignore said. “If you can roll off the top here, and have a good drive off, you can just roll away from the guys on the bottom.”

Doug Coby led 82 laps, but Bonsignore beat him out of the pits after a lap 92 caution and then kept Rowan Pennink at bay on the final laps.

Coby was third ahead of Ryan Preece and Dave Sapienza. Chase Dowling, who trails Bonsignore in the standing by 19 points, placed ninth.

The next stop on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is this Saturday at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. The Whelen Modifieds will be at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Eastern Propane & Oil 100 on Saturday, July 21.

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