By Jeff Brown, for Granite State Pro Stock Series
PHOTO: Rob Branning/Granite State Pro Stock Series
WALPOLE, N.H. – With the Granite State Pro Stock Series season just beyond its halfway point, nothing stands between the series’ lineup of short-track stars and the grandest event on the 2022 calendar.
Friday night’s Keen Parts 150 at Lee USA Speedway has the most laps, the richest purse, and the biggest talent of any race on the series schedule, with a $10,000 bounty awaiting the driver who crosses under the checkered flag at the front of the field.
The legendary oval only minutes from New Hampshire’s seacoast has a long history of welcoming the biggest names in motorsport through its gates. And when national-level NASCAR racing found its way to the Granite State by way of New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the early 1990s, Lee welcomed NASCAR stars to battle its own cast of characters in support of the big-ticket events at the “Magic Mile.”
Friday’s race pays tribute to that special era, with a full card of racing on hand for fans who need their short track appetite satisfied before heading north to Loudon.
The season’s deepest and strongest field is assembled for the evening showdown, with over 24 racers on the entry list. From seasoned regional veterans to familiar household names, each one will be looking to hoist the trophy and collect the winner’s purse at the end of the evening.
However, Friday’s big-money showdown is also another step on the path to the GSPSS championship, paying no more points than the other eight races on the schedule. And those with a title in mind will have to temper going for glory against settling for a good points night.
Points leader Joey Doiron leads the charge among the series regulars. Few drivers in New England are hotter; Doiron won May’s Granite State Derby at Lee, owns another win this season in Maine, and has not finished worse than fifth in a race this year. Doiron’s relationship with Lee runs hot and cold, but Friday’s extra-distance feature is the 2019 GSPSS champion’s preferred kind of race.
Chasing Doiron in the points is Jimmy Renfrew, Jr., who won one of Lee’s season-opening Pro Stock features two weeks ago. Maine’s Nick Cusack, the series’ top rookie so far, enters Lee with back-to-back third-place finishes and plenty of momentum. Fellow rookie Dylan Estrella led laps at Monadnock and is adapting to touring racing, while Jeremy Sorel has reversed course on a tough streak of luck that opened the season.
Casey Call, the 2020 GSPSS rookie of the year, was strong on Lee’s Pro Stock opening night and challenged for the win in last year’s Oktoberfest feature. Series veteran Josh King is looking to be in the hunt, and Sammy Gooden returns to the series after a week off. Rookie Dan McKeage, Jr. was unable to stay through a rain delay at Monadnock, but he will be back in action at Lee.
Star Speedway winner Bryan Kruczek, who finished second at Lee in May, returns for his third start of the year for car owner Bobby Webber. Cory Casagrande was sixth at Riverside Speedway two weeks ago, and the Connecticut racer is looking for a strong run with big money on the line. And on a week off from his usual Late Model conquests, Derek Gluchacki will get back behind the wheel of Rollie Lindblad’s yellow #48.
Ryan Green won one of Lee’s Pro Stock openers two weeks ago, and Lee is one of the Berwick, Me. racer’s best tracks. Joining Green from the local Pro Stock ranks are Bobby Baillargeon and rookie Bobby Frappier, as well as Mainer Charlie Buxton.
Beech Ridge Motor Speedway veterans Corey Bubar, Garrett Hall, Brandon Barker and Dave Farrington, Jr. will represent the Pine Tree State as well. All four are former GSPSS feature winners, with Barker winning twice at Lee in 2018 and 2019.
First starts are in line for a trio of Maine drivers with widely differing experiences. Kate Re is slated to make her series debut in her third year of Super Late Model competition. The eighteen-year-old Re was named to the Kulwicki Driver Development Program earlier this year. Also making his GSPSS debut is veteran racer Kelly Moore, the 1995 NASCAR Busch North Series champion and one of New England’s most decorated drivers. Moore has raced closer to home in recent years, but has a Busch North win at Lee in 1992. TJ Watson has limited touring time in recent seasons, but will look to make a splash in his first series start.
Kentucky’s Isaac Bevin, who made his series debut for Petit Motorsports in May, will make another start for the Maine team as he builds his Pro Stock resume. Another established team from Maine, Richard Moody Racing, has two entries of its own, with both Ben Rowe and 2020 GSPSS champion Joey Polewarczyk in fast #4 entries.
And NASCAR’s presence in New England will lend two drivers to the field in special appearances with the GSPSS field.
Maine native Derek Kneeland grew up in short track racing, but has found a role on the national scene as a spotter in all of NASCAR’s top divisions. Kneeland will be in his own car for Friday’s race, making his first GSPSS start since 2017.
And Tyler Reddick, who entrusts Kneeland to be his eye in the sky in the NASCAR Cup Series, will join the GSPSS for his first-ever race with one of New England’s short-track touring series. The Corning, Calif. native’s career took shape on dirt, but the recent Cup Series winner will put his talent to the test at “New Hampshire’s Center of Speed.”
All eyes will be on Reddick, but with the competition in Friday night’s field, he will need more than star power alone to have a shot at the $10,000 jackpot.
The GSPSS Keen Parts 150 anchors a full night of weekly competition at Lee USA Speedway, also featuring the New Hampshire Short Track Racing Association’s Whitcomb 5 Series race. Lee’s Street Stocks and Ridge Runners will round out an action-packed card to kick off New Hampshire’s biggest weekend of motorsports. Qualifying begins at 6pm for the evening’s featured events. Tickets will be available at the gate.
For more information on the Granite State Pro Stock Series, visit www.gspss.net or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.