Lee USA Speedway held another exciting program of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing on Friday night, with first-time winners the order of business in all five weekly divisions. The enthusiastic crowd was treated to not only a great night of racing, but a gigantic fireworks display to close things out.
The entry-level Benson Lumber and Hardware Ironman feature race was the first of the main events to take to “New Hampshire‘s Center of Speed“, with Austin Elliot of Epping leading them to the green flag. Fellow Epping resident Jeff Bennett quickly got by to take the point, and Bennett moved out to a comfortable lead after just a few laps.
Bennett maintained control well past the crossed flags while the field sorted out behind him, but as the laps wound down, the fast guys were coming in a hurry. Defending Ironman champ Travis Hollins of Milford made his move on lap 17, slipping past Bennett to grab the lead, with Evan Horvath of Nottingham hot on his heels to take second.
Hollins set the pace the rest of the way, and he held off Horvath to grab the first win of his title-defense season, moving him into the thick of the title chase with the mid-season mark approaching. After leading most of the race, Bennett had to settle for a third place finish, with Wayne Osborne of Raymond and Dracut, MA’s Tyler Mitchell rounding out the top five.
In the 4-cylinder portion of the Ironman main, Epping’s Steve George finally broke Jesse Tellier‘s season-long stranglehold on victory lane, grabbing his first checkered flag of the season.
The Northeast Classic Lites were next to hit the track, with Jake Cray moving out to the early lead. Cray led three circuits before giving up the point to Doug Dawkins, a former Lee USA Late Model competitor who set the pace for the next couple of trips around the 3/8th‘s mile oval.
On lap six, longtime area racer Chris Sullivan made a move past Dawkins to take his turn out front, and his turn lasted until the checkers waved. Sullivan made his first trip in several years to Lee’s victory lane, with runner-up Dan Poliquin and Eric Skofield joining him on the post-race podium.
The chase for the 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship in the EKeys 4Cars Supermodifieds produced yet another new winner, as Leslie Keyser of Northfield blasted past polesitter Kyle Sawyer of Kingston to grab the lead when the 30-lap main event went green, then led flag-to-flag to score his first win of the season.
Rookie Sawyer put in his best run of the year to collect runner-up honors, with Jake Stergios of Candia up strong in the late laps to finish third. Fourth spot went to Fremont’s Lance Barthelemy, with Groveland, MA driver Mike Murphy rounding out the top five.
Patrick Stewart of Beverly, MA was first out to the lead in the Prime Storage and Warehouse Late Model Sportsman feature, but the field was quickly under yellow when Goffstown’s David Piper bounced off the frontstretch wall, and rookie Mark Parenteau of Groveland, MA went for a long spin in the scramble that ensued.
Jesse Bousquet of Pittsfield moved up to challenge Stewart for the lead on the restart, and after a spirited side-by-side battle, he eventually prevailed and took over the top spot. Bousquet set the pace for the next several laps, but on lap 16, another yellow flag brought him back to the field.
Contact had sent Stewart spinning headed into turn three, and he collected Bobby Melvin and the retaining wall before the smoke cleared. Melvin was done for the night, but Stewart was able to continue on after pitting for some attention from his crew.
Three laps after the restart, Ricky Porter moved past Bousquet, and it was all over from there. Porter pulled away from the field to lead them easily to the checkers, picking up his first win of the year in the process. Kyle Roy of Barrington had his best finish of the season in the runner-up slot, with Bousquet, Geoff Rollins of Groton, MA, and Frankie Eldridge of Stratham the rest of the top five.
The David’s Race Cars and Components Hobby Stocks closed out the night’s racing action, with rookie Jay Avery of Berwick, ME impressing everyone with a strong run. Avery broke out of the pack early to grab the lead, led at halfway, and was still out front with the laps winding down.
Avery’s long lead finally ended when veteran Jim Piaseczny of Merrimack ran him down and got past, and Piaseczny went on to post his first win of the season at the checkers. Avery held on for a solid runner-up result, with three-time winner Dennis Dumas of Nashua, Brian DeStefano of Tewksbury, MA, and defending champ Patrick Tanguay of Berwick, ME closing out the top five.
-Lee USA Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Lee USA Speedway