After what could only be described as a disastrous ending to his Oxford 250, Derek Griffith turned his luck around Sunday night at the home of his first-ever Late Model victory. Griffith led all 150 laps of the Granite State Nationals at Claremont Motorsports Park on his way to the victory, collecting a series-record $10,000 payday along the way.
Griffith was the car to beat all afternoon. The Hudson, New Hampshire native set fast time in qualifying, won his heat race and drew pole for the feature. He then left the field in his rear-view mirror, cruising to an almost flawless win in the Newport Chevrolet 150.
“We unloaded just a little bit off, and we worked on it all day and this thing just…this thing was hooked up tonight,” Griffith said in Victory Lane. “I could have put this thing anywhere I wanted. I knew we had the best car in practice there. I can’t thank my guys enough, we had such a long week. After the 250, we were destroyed, and we had to change practically everything. The thing did good, and man, I can’t believe it.”
Angelo Belsito, who has won twice already this season, had a solid run to finish second, but did not have the car he needed to chase down Griffith or challenge for the win. He was disappointed with second, but only because he’s trying to chase wins, not race for points.
“For sure [a good finish] helps [the points situation], but the big picture’s over there,” he said with a grin. “But all in all, good run. Just missed it, didn’t deserve to win it. The car was good all day, but just didn’t get that last adjustment I needed.”
Gabe Brown had a very strong run, bringing his car home in third. He worked his way up through the field, capitalizing on the lengthy green-flag runs.
“We weren’t very good in the short run, we really needed a long run to get going,” Brown said after the race. “Derek was definitely the fastest car here and there was nothing we could do about that. We’re getting better every time we come back here, and hopefully next time we’ll be the one with the checkered flag.”
Connecticut’s Cory Casagrande made some late moves to finish fourth, and defending series champion Joey Doiron rounded out the top five.
A replay of Sunday’s race will be available soon on Speed51.TV.
The next race for the Granite State Pro Stocks is the opening night of the 55th Star Classic at Star Speedway in Epping, NH, on Friday, September 18.
-Story by Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: GSPSS / Tom Morris