EPPING, N.H. — With the Granite State Pro Stock Series in town, the tight quarter-mile bullring of Star Speedway (NH) was host to another wild and exciting finish on Saturday night. In the end, it was New Hampshire’s own Wayne Helliwell, Jr. holding off Larry Gelinas and Matt Frahm in a dramatic green-white-checkered finish to win the Star 100.
After starting from the sixth position, Helliwell took over the lead for the first time following a restart near the halfway mark of the 100-lap event. The Dover, New Hampshire driver continued to lead the way on each ensuing restart as he fought off multiple side-by-side challenges from Frahm during the later stages of the event.
Derrick Griffith’s spin in turn four with two laps to go set up a green-white-checkered finish with Helliwell on the inside of the front row and former Oxford 250 winner Larry Gelinas on the outside. Frahm was close behind in third.
Gelinas, who entered the night first in the GSPSS championship standings, battled on the outside of Helliwell for the first of two laps before closing to the back bumper of Helliwell’s orange No. 27 on the white flag lap.
In a last ditch effort to steal away the win from Helliwell, Gelinas would dive to the inside of Helliwell in turn three on the final lap. The two drivers made contact that resulted in Gelinas spinning to the infield while Helliwell drifted up the track. Helliwell straightened out his car after the contact with Gelinas and was able to regroup just enough to beat Frahm to the checkered flag.
“I didn’t even know it was Larry,” said Helliwell after the race. “My crew just told me it was Larry that had stuck it down in there. I didn’t know he was there and then my spotter yelled it out last second. That’s when I pulled up and that’s probably what saved us, ultimately.”
For Helliwell, the win was his first in a Super Late Model/Pro Stock built over the winter by his Bruce Bernhardt-led team. After struggling with the car so far this season, Bernhardt and Helliwell took the car to DRP Performance in Rocky Mountain, Virginia prior to Saturday’s race to work out some of the problems they were experiencing.
“We went down to DRP with Lenny and the gang down there,” Helliwell told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. They really gave us a product to straighten ourselves out and guided us through it. We were able to put all of those pieces together and it paid off tonight. This is a big turnaround for this team, the car, and all the hard work finally paid off.”
While Helliwell was celebrating his win on the frontstretch, Gelinas was loading his car in the team’s enclosed trailer second guessing whether or not he should have made the move that he did.
“Typically, racing for points or whatever I take what I can get without taking any chances,” said Gelinas. “I lost the race at Lee because I took it easy on the start and got second, so here I said maybe it will work out alright. I took a chance and got in there.
“If I made it work, everybody would be jumping up and down saying that it was great. Now that I didn’t make it everybody thinks it’s the stupidest thing, which is true. It’s one of those things. I took a chance that I usually don’t and it didn’t stick. I’m glad I didn’t hurt anyone else in the race, just myself.”
Gelinas would go on to finish 16th in the race, while Frahm was able to avoid the incident and come home second after battling for the lead with Helliwell during a large portion of the race. At the end of the night, Frahm was left wondering what could have been if the race had seen longer green flag runs.
“We had a lot more on the long runs,” said Frahm. “The cautions were just killing us. The car didn’t want to handle on the outside for the first lap or two on the restarts. We were very, very good on the bottom, too. Unfortunately, Wayne was as good or a tick better or very similar. I’d try to get my nose up under there, but I wasn’t going to wreck him or bump him. We gave it all we had on the outside, but we just didn’t have enough.
“Wayne did a good job and we both raced clean and had fun there at the end. We did have some wild laps where I felt like I was in a drift car, but I had fun and that’s what it’s all about.”
Bobby Baillargeon was able to avoid the last lap skirmish to claim the final podium spot. Brad Babb rebounded from an early race incident to finish fourth, while Dillon Moltz drove through the field after a mid-race pit stop to round out the top-five.
On Saturday afternoon during the driver’s meeting at Star Speedway, Granite State Pro Stock Series and Star Speedway officials announced an additional race for the series at the track on September 5-6 during the prestigious Star Classic weekend. The event will be a 100-lap race on the night of the 150-lap ISMA Supermodified main event.
The GSPSS will be back in action on August 24 at Hudson International Speedway (NH).
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twiter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com