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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Barrington's Ovitt has big week

By TOM HERZIG
Trackside

July 04. 2018 10:29PM




The Granite State Pro Stock Series is at Lee USA Speedway Friday night for its third points race of the season. The winner of the Seacoast 100 will earn an automatic starting spot in the upcoming $10,000-to-win 3rd Annual U.S. Pro Stock/Super Late Model National Championship 200 at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway on Wednesday, July 18.

The most recent Granite State Pro Stock Series contest was a non-points thriller at the New England Short Track Showdown event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Reid Lanpher of Manchester, Maine, passed Eddie MacDonald at the end of the backstretch on the final lap to secure a guaranteed place on the grid at Seekonk.

Garrett Hall, often seen at Beech Ridge or out on the Pro All Star Series (PASS) circuit, and Dylan Estrella have also qualified for the 200 with wins at Beech Ridge and Seekonk respectively.

Last Friday at Lee, Bryan Kruczek of Newmarket was a dominant winner in the Late Model Sportsman 100. Mike Netishen of Auburn drove to his first win of the season in the Rodfather Supermodified feature. Other winners included defending O’Reilly Auto Parts Ironman champion Christin Destefano, Jacob Michaud/MLM Diagnostics Pure Stocks, Robbie Bryant/NE Classic Lites and Alby Ovitt/Race Parts NH Street Stocks.

Ovitt has had himself a season in the last 10 days. The Barrington native, who began racing as a teenager at Hudson and Star Speedway, drove to the biggest win of his career in the Street Stock portion of the Short Track Showdown. He was driving the same R&R Public Wholesalers No. 35 for owner Jimmy Renfrew that he won with Friday at Lee.

Last Wednesday, Ovitt showed up at Seekonk, climbed into Russ Stoehr’s NEMA Midget and on his qualifying heat for the Boston Louie event that led into the Tri-Track Open Modified Series 100. It was his first time out in a winged, open cockpit midget, which weighs less than 1,000 pounds and sports nearly 400 horsepower.

“The car had been sitting around for a year and a half,” Ovitt said. “My friend, Keith Botelho, injured his shoulder at work and couldn’t take the ride so he recommended me to owner Russ Stoehr, who said OK.

“It’s different. You don’t use any brake. You’re flat-out, you let off for a second and then you drive it off the turn.”

“At NHMS we changed some body parts to stiffen the car up, but it was basically the same car we run at Lee,” Ovitt said.

Ovitt has driven a wide variety of race cars, including Late Models at White Mountain. He currently is a crewman for Bryan Kruczek’s Late Model Sportsman No. 88. He won a four-cylinder division title at Star in 2002 and came close to winning a Hobby Stock championship on five different occasions at Lee.

“It’s a roller coaster,” Ovitt said of his racing career. “This season, we’re also running the Strictly Stock Fast 40 Series at Star. It’s a five-race series with separate points and higher purses.”

Sparkling weekend of racing

It’s Fireworks Night at Star Speedway Saturday. The New England Classic Lites and an 8-cylinder Enduro are scheduled along with Late Models, Strictly Stocks, Six-Shooters and Roadrunners.

Aerial fireworks are also planned at Claremont and Monadnock. The Valenti Modifieds are back in action for 100 green flag laps at Monadnock.

Last Saturday, even as the heat wave set in, Monadnock had a big turnout for the return of the ISMA Supermodifieds after a 40-year absence. It was good to see New England Auto Racers Hall-of-Famers Russ Conway and Eddie West, with Supermodifed credentials as long as your arm, in attendance.

The ISMA 75-lap feature didn’t disappoint and race winner Mike Lichty had a lot to do with that. The Ontario driver started 15th and was circling around out of the top 10 when his car came to life mid-race and he began picking off competitors one by one. He passed Dan Bowes of Epping for the lead on lap 56 and scored his 15th ISMA career win.

Bowes matched his career-best finish as the runner-up in the Northeast Metals Technologies No. 25.

Jon McKennedy, who pitted early and then came back up through the field, was third despite losing a part of his wing late in the race. Earlier, McKennedy earned a $1,000 bonus by turning the quickest lap (11.138) in Monadnock history.

“The race was great, but it was a long day,” Bowes said. “We were terrible in practice, but with new tires for the race it got a lot better. We knew the track would get loose, but we could have tightened it up more.”

ISMA will be at Lee USA Friday, Aug. 10, for the Ollie Silva Memorial 75.

Smooth as Silk at Seekonk

Tuesday the Tri-Track Open Modified Series hauled back to Seekonk to complete the $10,000-to-win event that was halted by rain the previous Wednesday after 22 laps.

Ronnie Silk of Norwalk, Conn., landed Bob Horn’s No. 50s in the winner’s circle with Matt Hirschman second, Chase Dowling — subbing for Rowan Pennink — third, Russ Hersey (fourth) and Todd Annarummo (fifth) rounded out the top five.

It was quite a turnaround for Swanzey native Hersey. He returned to Seekonk despite being two laps down after a tangle with Anthony Nocella and Les Hinckley.

Hersey had a quick car that night and he was fast again Tuesday, taking advantage of the Lucky Dog rule after two cautions to get back on the lead lap.

Post time is 5 p.m. Sunday for Hudson Speedway’s “Mighty Mike” Lewis Memorial Rookie Stock 50 event, including Roadrunners, Thunder Lights plus 50-lap Enduros for four-cylinders and V-8’s.

It’s Fan Appreciation Night at White Mountain. Admission is only $5 and there’s a pit tour for kids beginning at 5 p.m.

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

On Track This Weekend

Thunder Road (Vt.): Tonight, 7 p.m.

Legion Speedway: Friday, 7 p.m.

Lee USA Speedway: Friday, 7 p.m.

Claremont: Friday, 7 p.m.

Monadnock: Saturday, 5 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.

Hudson Speedway: Sunday, 5 p.m.


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