The inaugural edition of the New England Short Track Showdown brought an assortment of drivers to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for four classes of racing, including the Granite State Pro Stock Series. But a freak engine failure under the hood of Scott MacMichael’s car early in the 50-lap GSPSS feature caused a massive stack up while dumping oil on the track in front of a tight field.
The result: nearly a third of the field, including several pre-race favorites were wiped out in a matter of seconds. This included former PASS North and National champion Ben Rowe and former GSPSS champion Derek Griffith, both of whom were in position to challenge for the lead.
Despite suffering a massive amount of damage to their race cars, both drivers are back with their teams for a second try in 2018.
Although this time around, Rowe plans to let the pack settle in before getting too excited early in the 50-lap feature Sunday.
“I love Loudon, it just doesn’t love me,” Rowe told Speed51.com. “Last year, someone blew up while running second and everyone on back piled into him. But, that kind of stuff can happen anywhere. We’ll let things get thinned out, it’s a long and wide track, so you can get spread out a little bit.”
Griffith is also determined not to get caught in any trouble early on as well, with the Hudson, New Hampshire driver still a little disappointed that he was unable to show off what he felt was a strong car in 2017.
“We were real good; the cards just weren’t in our favor that day,” Griffith said. “It stunk, the guy on the pole just blew up right there and we had nowhere to go. I’m hoping it’s going to be a cleaner race than last year, it took them a while to get rolling there and log some laps.”
As for the weekend ahead, both drivers are looking forward to what they believe will be a competitive race all around. While the announcement of McCreary bringing a favorable tire to the ‘Magic Mile’ is a big talking point, perhaps the biggest is the GSPSS limiting teams to running the popular crate engine, which is favored by both drivers and their teams.
“I think it’s best for the Series and the race if they want to keep doing it. The built motors are fine at places like Hudson and Star Speedway. But at Loudon, crate motors are going to be the fairest way,” Griffith explained.
Rowe made a prediction that the new rule may very well produce a similar form of racing that fans have seen from the Late Models of the American-Canadian Tour in their visits to Loudon in the past.
“It’s going to be a good time with everyone running the same engine combination now this year, to make it a level playing field. I think it’s going to be more along the lines of the ACT races we’ve seen. You get a bunch of cars running the same speed and they’ve had some good races.”
The Turner, Maine racing veteran went on to say that while the Richard Moody Racing No. 4N team has an even better chance of winning in 2018, he knows that there is one driver and team heading to New Hampshire with the biggest target of all. That target is last year’s GSPSS race winner Eddie MacDonald, a 10-time winner at The Magic Mile.
“We got as good a chance as any. I think we’ll all be chasing Eddie again, he’s the master there,” Rowe admitted. “If we can run with him, we’ll try to hook on and stay with him. That’s going to be the goal and we’ll have some fun.”
Griffith echoed Rowe’s statement, believing that he and the No. 12G LCM Motorsports entry is also a favorite, and that MacDonald is the top gun. Griffith went on to say that his fellow PASS ringers, including Rowe, have a chance to keep a short leash on the Rowley, MA star.
“We have a shot, I don’t know if we’ll be as hard to beat as Eddie MacDonald and a lot of these guys that are going to be rolling through from PASS,” Griffith stated. “There’s a lot of good guys that are showing up and it’s going to be a good race. Fingers crossed, there’s a lot of different guys that we could be racing for the win.”
The Granite State Pro Stock Series along with the Valenti Modified Racing Series, Northeast Mini Stock Tour, and Street Stock Showdown Series will hit the track for a day’s worth of practice sessions this Saturday before the big show on Sunday, featuring both heat and feature racing.
Speed51.com will be on site at New Hampshire Motor Speedway all weekend long with reports and race coverage.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com