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Tom Herzig's Motor Sports: Hooksett driver comes up big

June 27. 2018 10:49PM
Nick Maniatis of Hooksett was all smiles after capturing the 30-lap feature race of the New England Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Sunday. (COURTESY)
On Track This Weekend
Thunder Road (Vt.): Friday, 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, 5:30 p.m.

White Mountain: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Two Granite State racers, Nick Maniatis of Hooksett and Alby Ovitt of Barrington, had career highlight days at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday in two of the four events that made up the 2018 New England Short Track Showdown.

Both Maniatis and Ovitt have turned many a short-track lap, especially at Lee USA Speedway, in several different types of race cars with various amounts of horsepower.

Maniatis, married with two preschool daughters, picks and chooses North East Mini Stock Tour events to compete in these days for car owner Rick Solt. During his last full-season schedule in 2014, while driving for Solt, he won the Lee USA Late Model Sportsman championship.

Sunday, after catching a late restart he badly needed, Maniatis jousted off the final turn and down the long Magic Mile straightaway and nipped Joe Kendall of Winchendon, Mass., by just .003 of a second. Fifteen-year-old Devin Guy of Dublin finished third.

Maniatis was coming off a Mini Stock Tour win at Star Speedway June 3. Thirty-one Mini Stocks were in the pits.

“He had the car to beat,” Maniatis said of Kendall. “I fell back mid-race and tried to save the car and hope for a restart. I pulled to the inside on the last lap because I didn’t want him underneath me. I went up into him a little to side draft. He had the momentum. We rubbed a bit, but there were no hard feelings. I didn’t get him out of shape or out of the groove.”

Maniatis was in a Nissan Sentra sponsored by Here We Grow Learning Center of Salem (the Solt family business). His spotter on the radio was Chris Dydzvlis who’s helped Maniatis out wherever he’s raced.

The Short Track Showdown did not draw a substantial crowd through the front gate, but it had a good feel in the pits, which were well-populated with tried and true racers, crews, family members, sponsors and short-track devotees from all six New England states. The program was well run and announcers Mike Twist, Andy Hall and the inimitable John Spence were authentic and solid.

Ovitt won the Street Stock (8-cylinder) feature that started 32 cars. Corey Hutchins of Salem, Conn., raced back through the field after an early mishap to place second. Positions 3-5 went to Kyle Hewins of Leeds, Maine, Dan Brown of Peru, Maine, and Stephen Dickey of Hudson. Connor McDougal of Rochester was eighth.

The Granite State Pro Stock Series $5,000-to-win event presented by Springfield, Vt., Buick GMC, was a thriller despite a somewhat thin car count. The checkers flew for Reid Lanpher of Manchester, Maine, who managed to pull off a rare feat — pass Eddie MacDonald for the lead on the last lap — on the Magic Mile or anywhere else.

MacDonald survived a lengthy duel with Derek Griffith only to have Lanpher close in during the final laps and then pass him on the outside down the backstretch. Griffith earned a spot on the podium (third). Nick Lascuola of Abington, Mass., was fourth, followed by Cory Casagrande.

The Valenti Series 50-lapper was everything fans have come to expect from Modifieds at NHMS. Eventual winner Ron Silk, in Kevin Stuart’s No. 85, Anthony Nocella and last year’s Showdown winner Woody Pitkat, had at it to the tune of 18 lead changes — not counting dozens of passes for the lead during individual laps.

Pitkat’s day ended on lap 48 with a fuel cell pick-up problem. Nocella fell out of the top three after a shunt when Silk pinched him in turn four. That opened the door for Richard Savary and Les Hinckley to advance into second and third. Jon McKennedy had risen to third a few laps earlier, but he lost his brakes and dropped back.

Monadnock — after two rainouts — will try once again to turn the IMSA Supermodifieds loose this Saturday. Time trials start at 4 p.m.

Lee USA’s Fireworks Night is Friday. A week ago, R & R Wholesale “The Tool Store and More” Late Model Sportsman champion Frankie Eldredge of Stratham was the feature winner with Jimmy Russell and Zach Nicholson second and third. It was Nicholson’s first-ever podium finish.

Tommy Tombarello Jr., who’s had some early season struggles, won the Rodfather Supermodified main handily.

Star Speedway grappled with weather issues again on Saturday, but it managed to get everything in except the Austism Awareness Supermodified feature. That means double Supermodified features this Saturday with a 5:30 p.m. start time. Star’s having its fireworks show on Saturday, July 7.

Bear Ridge, which had a rare rainout Saturday, has its holiday fireworks planned for this Saturday. Ditto for Speedway 51 in Groveton and White Mountain. The headline event at White Mountain is the Foley Oil & Propane Late Model 100. Speedway 51 also has 100 laps for Late Models scheduled.

Todd Buchwold of Canaan — the current Sportsman Modified point leader at Legion Speedway won the Twin 20’s event at the Wentworth dirt track by finishing third and second in the two segments. His second-place effort behind Jeff Huntington of Orford was the winning tie-breaker (five points total) over Ryan Christian and Matt Lashua.

Aaron Fellows became a four-time Super Street winner at Claremont. Rookie Kyle Templeton of Claremont scored his first Wildcat win. The track’s Fireworks Night is Friday, July 6.

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

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