Story By: MIKE PARKS / GRANITE STATE PRO STOCK SERIES – EPPING, NH – It was all fenders all the time on opening night of the 54th annual Star Classic and Ray Christian III was the man to beat.
Every time the Granite State Pro Stock Series was on the track it was the black 93 at the top of the charts and leading the way to the checkers. Joey Doiron did all he could but wound up a disappointing second and Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. came up two spots short from another win at his home track.
Competition kicked off with time trials and the Crazy Horse Racing Race for the Pole. Christian and his 93 team had their car tuned to perfection and Christian was able to lay down the fastest lap of the day.
A pair of heat races were up next and it was all Christian in heat race number one. Behind him the competition was hot and at times over the top. Numerous cautions for contact had tempers flaring but in the end Christian was able to get away from the competition and win with ease. Heat race number two was much more calm and Joey Doiron was able to take the win.
Up next was the GSPSS redraw and team 93 stayed perfect as crew chief Mickey Green drew pill number one giving his driver the pole position for the Vynorious Piledriving 100.
The main event of the night rolled out and for the first 73 laps it was an extremely clean but exciting race. Several single car spins slowed the action briefly and kept the field tight with battles for position throughout the field.
At the front of the field Christian had lead the entire distance but not without pressure from point leader Joey Doiron who wouldn’t let Christian get more than a couple of car lengths ahead. With 20 to go, Doiron was able to take advantage of one of many late race cautions to take over the lead, getting around the 93 on the high side and looked to have Christian covered.
A lap 96 restart would give Christian one last shot at the race leader. With the 73 starting on the inside Christian fought hard on the outside for almost three laps. Coming to the white flag Christian crossed Doiron over and got to the inside taking a slight advantage to turn one. Over the last lap the two cars would come together several times but both drivers did a masterful job of keeping their cars pointed straight.
At the stripe it would be Ray Christian III coming out on top for the first time in 2019 and Doiron extending his points lead, finishing second. In victory lane the two drivers spoke about the contact and agreed to disagree. “It’s been a struggle this season and I just wanted this win really badly”, said Christian. “I hope he’s not too upset but we got the big check and the trophy”. When asked about the last lap Doiron said, “the fastest car didn’t win. I followed him for eighty laps and passed him clean, I just wish he’d done the same for me”.
2018 Star Classic GSPSS winner Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. was caught up in the physical first heat race and had to start eleventh in the main. He worked his way methodically into the top five, then the top three, and when the fireworks happened between the top two, the Candia, NH driver had a front row seat. “I thought about three wide there on the last lap”, said Renfrew after the race. “I just didn’t want to wreck all three of us. I mean those two are two of the best in the division”. Renfrew went on to say, “I really wanted to qualify well so I could ride with those guys (Christian and Doiron) but when we qualified eleventh I had to use my stuff up getting to them”.
Cory Casagrande has run the last three events with the GSPSS and looked strong in the process. Casagrande had a solid run all night long running between fourth and sixth and keeping his nose clean. When the checkers flew Casagrande found himself in fourth with a virtually damage free car.
Luke Hinkley would round out the top five after another solid run. Hinkley struggled in practice but was able to find speed in his car for the heat and feature and pick up his second top five in a row.
Other finishers inside the top ten included Josh King, who found himself turned around on the back stretch at one point in sixth. Todd Stone and Jacob Dore came home seventh and eighth while Ricky Bly and John Lowinski-Loh rounded out the top ten.
Up next for the Granite State Pro Stock Series will be the DAV memorial at the Seekonk Speedway on September 27-28. 2019 is the first year that the DAV will be a GSPSS-sanctioned event and excitement is high. Along with the series regulars a number of the Seekonk regulars are expected to chase the checkers, lead by weekly point leader Dave Darling.
Granite State Pro Stock Series contingency awards:
ARB Hard Luck Award: None
O’Reilly Auto Parts last car on the lead lap: $ 75.00 Bobby Pelland
O’Reilly Auto Parts 7th place finisher:$75.00 1 Todd Stone
American Racer N.E. Hard Charger: One Free Tire at next event Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
Sunoco Heat Race Winners: 5 gal Sunoco Rcae Fuel #1 93 Ray Christian III, #2 73 Joey Doiron
VDL 5th Place: 31 Luke Hinkley
Crazy Horse Racing Fast Time:
1st 93 Ray Christian III $125.00
2nd 73 Joey Doiron $75.00
3rd 00 Jimmy Renfrew Jr. $50.00
1- 93 Ray Christian III
2- 73 Joey Doiron
3- 00 Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
4- 7 Cory Casagrande
5- 31 Luke Hinkley
6- 21 Josh King
7- 1 Todd Stone
8- 05 Jacob Dore
9- 28 Ricky Bly
10- 18 John Lowinski-Loh
11- 29 Adam Gray
12- 51 Jeremy Harclerode
13- 43 Devin O’Connell
14- 12 Bobby Pelland
15- 2 Chola Shay
16- 84 Jamie Wright