Photo Tom Morris
The Granite State Pro Stock series made its annual trip to Star Speedway to compete on opening night of the 55th annual Star Classic Friday night and Derek Griffith and Joey “Pole” Polewarczyk put on a show for the ages.
Griffith, the hottest man in northeast pro stock racing of late, showed up to star just off an airplane after competing in an ARCA car at Bristol the night before. “Pole” came to star winless in 2020 and feeling like their season had been sub-par. Their seasons would collide in spectacular fashion before the night was over.
In Claremont Derek Griffith was perfect. Crazy Horse Racing Fast Time Challenge winner, heat winner, drew #1 in the GSPSS redraw and won the race. Star seemed to be more of the same. Fast time, heat race win, #1 in the redraw and dominant through 83 laps of the race.
Point leader Ray Christain III would win his heat race and start on the outside of row one after pulling #2 in the redraw. Christain III came into the event with a six point lead over Polewarczyk and looked to expand on that at the classic where he was the defending winner.
Through lap 83 Griffith seemed to be untouchable. Each time the field got bunched up he would get a great restart and pull away to a comfortable lead which at one point was three seconds over the competition. A lap eighty three caution would change everything.
On the restart it would be Griffith on the inside with “Pole” on the outside of the front row. The two would run side by side for a couple of laps until another caution came out. This time “Pole” would be the control car as he was the leader on the last completed lap. To the surprise of everyone present, the Hudson NH Driver would chose the outside.
For the remainder of the race the pair would battle side by side for the lead and the win. “Pole” would get the clear of Griffith at one point but the winner of the last two races he entered would get back to the inside and the two would continue to race door handle to door handle.
In the end it would be Joey Polewarczyk for the win by .04 seconds in the most exciting pro stock race in recent memory. In victory lane both drivers showed the highest level of respect for each other as they exchanged congratulations and celebrated an outstanding performance.
Ryan Kuhn would race inside the top five for the majority of the event and wind up in the third spot holding off Christain III and Jake Matheson in a fantastic battle over the the closing laps. Kuhn, competing in his first GSPSS event of the season, would have arguably his best ever run with the series and a great view of the battle at the front.
Point leader Christain III would battle back from a late race flat tire to finish fourth and minimize the damage in the point standings. Coming in with a six point advantage, Christain III heads to Waterford Speedbowl two points behind Polewarczyk. Waterford is Christain III’s home track and a track that “Pole” has won twice at in Late Model competition.
Jake Matheson would round out the top five with a career day for the second year driver. The highlight of the day for the young driver would be the fact that he had to go to GSPSS post race technical inspection for the first time in his career.
Rookie Casey Call would finish in sixth with 2019 series champion Joey Doiron in seventh and Rusty Poland who would battle back from late race contact to finish eighth. Mike Hopkins would finish in ninth with Mike Mitchell rounding out the top ten.
Third place point man Angelo Belsito had an off day by their standards and struggled to an eleventh place finish losing valuable ground in the point standings. Belsito will head to Waterford needing a strong run and a little luck to get him back in the battle for the championship.
Three races remain on the 2020 GSPSS schedule. Saturday September sixth the series heads to the newly renovated Waterford Speedbowl for a $3000 to win 150 lap affair. From there it’s a date with Russ Conway’s Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday September forth. The season will conclude with a second date at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday October 24 where the 2020 champion will officially be crowned.
For more information visit the series at www.gspss.net or check them out on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
1 – 97 Joey Polewarczyk
2 – 12g Derek Griffith
3 – 72 Ryan Kuhn
4 – 93ct Ray Christian III
5 – 52nh Jake Matheson
6 – 90nh Casey Call
7 – 73 Joey Doiron
8 – 44p Rusty Poland
9 – 15 Mike Hopkins
10 – 40 Mike Mitchell
11 – 8b Angelo Belsito
12 – 66c Bobby Cabral
13 – 12p Bobby Pelland
14 – 18 John Lowinski-Loh
15 – 48g Larry Gelinas
16 – 77 Jeremy Sorel
17 – 88 Kevin Casper
18 – 55 Cody LeBlanc
Contingency Awards :
Sunoco Race Fuels heat race winners – 5gallons of race fuel – 12g Derek Griffith, 93ct Ray Christain III
AR Bodies hard luck award – $100 product certificate – 77 Jeremy Sorel
Crazy Horse Fast Time Challenge – 1st $125 -12g Derek Griffith – 2nd $75 – 93ct Ray Christain III – 3rd $50 – 52nh Jake Matheson
Magnus Performance Parts – 7th place finisher $100 product certificate – 73 Joey Doiron
Matco Tools : product certificates – winner $75 – 97 Joey Polewarczyk – Random Draw $75 – to be drawn at the next event
Bassett Wheels – 3rd 72 Ryan Kuhn
American Racer Hard Charger – one free tire – 44p Rusty Poland