A chassis built in 2002 turned the fastest lap during Monday’s New England Short Track Showdown open test for the Granite State Pro Stock Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Dillon Moltz, driving Zig Geno’s No. 57, jolted to the top of the speed chart in the seventh session of the day with a 29.778 second lap around the “Magic Mile.”
Moltz arrived in Loudon, New Hampshire on Monday morning with the simple plan to help Geno get acclimated to New England’s largest race track. But, like most drivers, he had his firesuit and helmet with him just in case.
Moltz, who has previously competed at the track in a Super Late Model and ACT Late Model, went out and recorded a lap two tenths faster than anybody else had recorded during the day.
“She’s rode hard and put away wet, but she’s still got some life in her,” Moltz said with a smile.
“As much as I know Zig is going to do great when the race comes around, it was really nice to show these big money teams that a low-budget, old car can get it done. These guys are firing tires on their cars all day and clicking off lap times; we’ve probably got 10 heat cycles on these tires and he’s gone out a bunch of times and made long runs to get comfortable with the car. I’m happy he let me get in it. He just wanted some verification that the chassis was there and I think it’s a great piece. It’s very pleasing for myself towards him that this car, in this garage area right now, is the lowest budget but clearly one of the best cars right now.”
Following Moltz’s fast laps around the mile-oval, the key word for Geno was confidence. Heading into the inaugural New England Short Track Showdown on July 1, he now knows that he has a car capable of contending with the rest of the field.
“It’s huge. Like (Dillon) said, this is an old car and we’ve worked really hard trying to make this car work. Dillon has been a huge help and I can’t thank him enough,” Geno said. “We made great strides every time we went out and we were picking up two tenths of a second every time, so I was getting there.
“We were at the point with the heat cycles in the tires that I said, ‘I’d rather have you go out so we have a reference point.’ He went out and he blistered it. Two tenths faster than anybody all day long. It makes me feel good in what we did yesterday in getting the car set up and everything. I know I’ve got a little ways to go, but I know now what it can do and I won’t be so afraid to plant it.”
Another driver who showed speed throughout the day was 17-year-old Matt Swanson. Driving the No. 49 Pro Stock for Dale Shaw Race Cars, Swanson set fast time in the third, fourth and fifth practice sessions of the day.
Although his three previous starts at the track came in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races, he had an edge over his competition when it came to experience at the tricky New Hampshire oval.
“There’s obviously a speed difference, weight wise and horsepower wise, but other than that you can really drive the track the same way,” Swanson explained. “There is a big draft difference, the (Super Late Model) doesn’t draft as well as the Modifieds. There’s a really big draft in a Modified and you really couldn’t feel it as much today. It might have just been because of the race track; you could tell the race was quite a bit off just because nobody has been on it in a long time. Other than that, it’s pretty similar.”
One driver who didn’t have the best of luck on Monday was Hudson, New Hampshire’s Derek Griffith. After setting the fastest time in the second session of the day, Griffith suffered a blown engine under the hold of his No. 12 during the third session.
“It’s our first time here, so we were just trying to figure out this place. I made like five or six laps and when I went down the fronstretch I heard the motor get a little tight on me. I smelled the oil and it just locked right up on me,” Griffith stated. “I was lucky enough to keep it off the wall and rolled back down on the backstretch. Bummer. I wanted to get some more laps in today because it’s my first time here, but we’ve got some decent notes. I’m happy to be here and it sucks that this is how our day ended, but I’d rather have it happen today than in July.”
Another substitute driver, Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., was the only driver other than Moltz to break the 30 second barrier on Monday. The former ACT Invitational winner strapped into the Fathead Racing No. 12, normally driven by Joe Graf, Jr., and turned a 29.913 second lap in the sixth session of the day.
Granite State Pro Stock Series rookie Devin O’Connell also showed some speed throughout the day, finishing top three in the majority of the day’s test sessions.
The inaugural New England Short Track Showdown is scheduled for Saturday, July 1 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Granite State Pro Stock Series will be going 50 laps in their inaugural race at New England’s largest sporting facility.
Speed51.com will have more from Monday’s test including a video recap and in-car videos soon on the Speed51 Network powered by JEGS.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com