Story By: MIKE PARKS / GRANITE STATE PRO STOCK SERIES – CLAREMONT, NH – Ray Christian ended the GSPSS season on a high note as the Granite State Pro Stock series completed their season at the Claremont Motorsports Park.
The series finale was the headliner of the return of the fall challenge. Series President Mike Parks made the decision to lease the Claremont NH facility and stage a two day event after the traditional season ending event at The Waterford Speedbowl was canceled.
A number of support divisions, highlighted by the return of the dirt modifieds and pro trucks, were run on Saturday to set the stage for a huge Sunday of racing. The decision was made to have the pro stocks run their entire program on Sunday including all qualifying as many of the series teams come from a substantial distance.
Out first it was the Crazy Horse Race for the Pole won by 2018 series champion Devin O’Connell. O’Connell hasn’t had the season he hoped for as he tried to defend his Championship but seemed to be on track to end his season on a positive note.
Up next were a pair of twelve lap heat races. Local Driver Luke Hinkley was able to comfortably win the first one much to the delight of the fans. Heat Race number was won by Ray Christian III in fairly dominant fashion and was a sign of things to come.
Up next was the GSPSS redraw which landed Christian on the pole with O’Connell to his outside and Luke Hinkley right behind them in third. Joey Doiron would simply need to start the feature to clinch the championship and would do so from mid pack.
As victory lane was wrapping up for the sportsman modified race just before the GSPSS feature, it began to sprinkle just a little bit. Series officials made the decision to forgo all planned prerace festivities and get the race under way as quickly as possible.
At the drop of the green flag it was all team 93 as Ray Christian was gone in a hurry. Christian stretched the lead to almost four seconds and a full straight away as he lapped up through seventh position. “Mitch and Mickey Green gave me a great car today”, said the CT driver in victory lane. “This is a great way to end our season and go into the off season.”
Behind him Joey Doiron was working his way from a mid pack starting position all the way to second but the lead was just to much. Doiron would need a late race caution to have any shot at Christian but it never came and the newly crowned champion would have to settle for second.
Local driver Luke Hinkley always looks forward to racing at the Claremont oval and today was no different. Hinkley had a solid run starting in third and finishing there after the caution free event. Hinkley was all smiles in victory lane with friends and family. “We were a little tight today”, he said. “We weren’t quite perfect but its nice to race at home. Thanks to Mike Parks and Granite State for putting this on.”
2018 Champion Devin O’Connell completed his championship reign with a solid fourth place finish. O’Connell didn’t have the championship defense he had hoped for but a solid season none the less.
Completing the top five was DJ Shaw. Shaw was running a car that was badly Damaged earlier in the season. His Dale Shaw Race Cars team rebuilt the car over the summer and used one of DJ’s favorite tracks to test it out. The end result was a solid fifth place finish for the second generation driver.
When the green flag finally flew on the final race of the 2019 GSPSS season it became official that Joey Doiron was the champion. Doiron has avoided talking points all year long but when asked, finally acquiesced in victory lane. “We can talk about it now that its over”, he said. “This is a neat deal, we came so close last year but a couple of mechanical failures caused us to come up short.” After taking some time to reflect Doiron added, “it’s just my dad and I in the shop so this is pretty cool. I need to thank all the guys who come to the track and my family for their support. Now we’ll go back to the shop, rebuild and try to come back stronger next year.”
Up next for the Granite State Pro Stock Series will be the 2019 banquet of champions. It is almost a certainty that it will be held at the Thompson Speedway Clubhouse on a date to be determined.
Granite State Pro Stock Series contingency awards:
- ARB Hard Luck Award: 17 Kevin Folan
- O’Reilly Auto Parts last car on the lead lap: 8 Angelo Belsito
- O’Reilly Auto Parts 7th place finisher : 40 Mike Mitchell
- American Racer N.E Hard Charger: 73 Joey Doiron
- Sunoco Heat Race Winners : 31 Luke Hinkley, 93 Ray Christian
- VDL 5th Place: 82 DJ Shaw
- Crazy Horse Racing Fast Time: Devin O’Connell
Claremont Motorsports Park Fall Challenge Official Finish
1- 93 Ray Christian III
2- 73 Joey Doiron
3- 31 Luke Hinkley
4- 43 Devin O’Connell
5- 82 DJ Shaw
6- 8 Angelo Belsito
7- 40 Mike Mitchell
8- 00 Jimmy Renfrew Jr.
9- 21 Josh King
10- 55 Cody Leblanc
11- Barry Gray
8 Guy Caron DNS
17 Kevin Folan DNS