Derek Griffith added an exclamation point to his stellar start to the 2018 racing season Sunday afternoon at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT). The driver from Hudson, NH broke the ice on the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North season by winning the 100-lap feature during the 44th Annual Icebreaker.
Griffth took the lead from DJ Shaw on a Lap 29 restart and never looked back during the 72-lap green flag run to end the race.
For Griffith, a New Englander who grew up watching races at Thompson, a win during the prestigious Icebreaker event meant a lot.
“This is really probably one of the first race tracks I watched a big race at,” said Griffith, who previously recorded three runner-up finishes at the track. “My crew chief (Louie) Mechalides raced a Valenti (Modified Racing Series) car. I was probably 14 or 15 at the time. I sat in the stands and watched him, it was just awesome. To get that win is just huge. We have the Teddy (Christopher) sticker on the side of the car and everything. I watched him win so many races here. It feels good to get one.”
Griffith started the race fifth and remained patient early in the race as front row starters Reid Lanpher and DJ Shaw swapped the lead. When Lanpher visited pit road following a Lap 28 caution, the door opened for Griffith to restart from the front row.
“I knew I was going to be really good and those guys were running pretty hard up front. I knew if I waited then we could get by them,” Griffith stated. “Eddie (MacDonald) is always good here so I was worried about him and DJ is always good on restarts. When Reid pulled in, I knew I’d have a shot because DJ chose the inside. The outside is favorited for me here and I knew if I just got going I’d be alright. From there on out I just kind of bid my time and made sure I didn’t burn it up in case we had a restart. The thing was awesome; the guys really got me hooked up.”
Shaw finished second with Southerner Jared Irvan, Lanpher and Vermont native Todd Stone completing the top five.
The win for Griffith is his second victory of the 2018 season following a win in the PASS National Series opener at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC) in March. In addition to his on-track success this year, Griffith has also been named a member of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program and Team PFC Brakes.
“It’s kind of looking like our year,” Griffith said after the race. “Every year has just kind of built up a little better, a little better, a little better and this year just took a massive jump. We only won a handful of races last year and we already started the beginning of the season, which we’re not even a quarter of the way through yet, better than the whole last season. It’s just huge. It’s surreal almost. We’re pumped.”
Sunday’s race at Thompson was also the first points-counting race towards the coveted Kulwicki Cup that is awarded to the KDDP champion. For Griffith, the victory is a huge boost towards his goal of becoming the fourth winner of the Kulwicki Cup.
“The Kulwicki Cup is huge, huge, huge. Tom Roberts and that whole team are awesome people. They’re so excited. I don’t have my phone with me but I’m sure he’s called me and texted me and said how excited he is. We really want to get as many wins as we can this season to try to win that. That Cup will be, hopefully, my shot at the next level.”
PASS North will be back in action next Sunday, April 15 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
For on-demand coverage of Sunday’s season opener, visit Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos
PASS North 100 Unofficial Results
Thompson Speedway Motorspots Park (CT) – April 8, 2018
|7||27||Wayne Helliwell, Jr|
|10||00||Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.|
|20||93CT||Ray Christian III|