With clear skies forecasted for this Saturday night in Epping, New Hampshire, the stars of the ISMA Supermodifieds will shine bright at Star Speedway in the 53rd running of legendary Star Classic. The 150-lap race, which is being run in remembrance of longtime track owner Bob Webber Sr., is an event where winning is on the mind of all drivers, especially those who hail from New England.
Jon McKennedy can attest to this sentiment, growing up down the road in Chelmsford, MA and running the ISMA Series the number of years. After winning his first ISMA season title in 2017, McKennedy has reverted to a part-time Supermodified schedule after receiving a career opportunity to run a majority schedule on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with Tommy Baldwin Racing.
This weekend McKennedy is excited to be returning home for another try at this grand old marathon.
“I’ve always enjoyed this race,” McKennedy said. “It’s been around for so long, it’s the 53rd time they’ve run it. A lot of big name open-wheel drivers have raced and won over the years. It’s a neat race, I know the place will be packed, and it’s an awesome atmosphere.”
Supermodifieds are tough enough to drive anywhere, putting a tremendous physical strain on the drivers that pilot that superfast machines. At the extended distance of 150 laps, the Star Classic is the longest event of the year for ISMA racers, making the race one of the biggest challenges on the schedule.
“It’s a challenging race, 150 green flag laps, so when you count the cautions and everything it’s over 200 laps,” McKennedy stated. “It’s a lot different than your typical Super race; it’s one of the bigger races of the year, a good turnout of cars, and a whole bunch of people.”
Put all that together and you have a true crown jewel for open-wheel racing, not just in the Northeast, but the entire country. For McKennedy, who won in 2013, along with other past winners, finishing first once will never be enough in a race so legendary in both prestige and difficulty.
“Been fortunate to win a lot of races, but to win the Classic a few years ago was definitely a big win,” McKennedy said. “Hopefully this weekend we can get another win and our first this year. We put a lot of work into the car this week, all the guys, we’ll see what we got.”
McKennedy will have plenty of company through the field on Saturday, including the five drivers chasing the 2018 ISMA championship with two races to go. Fellow Massachusetts driver Dan Bowes leads the bout heading to Star, but only by a mere seven points over Ohio’s Kyle Edwards, both of which are looking for their first ISMA title. Behind them, Canadian drivers Mike Lichty and Mark Sammut battle for third in points, with New Hampshire’s Mike Ordway, Jr. rounding out the top five in points as he looks to back up his win in August in the Ollie Silva Memorial just up the road at Lee USA Speedway.
The Granite State Pro Stock Series will also headline the 2018 edition of the Star Classic with the Nocella Paving 100, where a fierce title race between Cory Casagrande, Joey Doiron and Devin O’Connell currently rages.
While race fans from all over the New England and beyond will pack Star Speedway to the brim on Saturday, those unable to make it can see both the ISMA and GSPSS features live on the season-finale of Speed51’s Summer Thunder presented by PFC Brakes. As has been the case all summer long, the event will be available to all Speed51 premium subscribers for free.
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-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com