With his home track of Seekonk Speedway sitting dormant for much of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, multi-time track champion David Darling hasn’t raced a whole lot in 2020. But on Saturday night at the New London-Waterford Speedbowk, the veteran Pro Stock racer showed no sign of rust.
Darling dominated the second half of the Granite State Pro Stock Series 150 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Saturday night, scoring his second win with the series and his first win at the Speedbowl.
“I can’t thank the guys that work on this car enough. I mean, this thing was unbelievable, it was perfect,” Darling said in Victory Lane. “I was trying not to burn the tires up for, I don’t know, the first hundred laps or so. Just picked a good spot to ride and watched the show, I guess.”
And watch the show he did. While fighting for the lead, Joey Polewarczyk entered Turn 3 a little too hot and ran into the back of then-leader Angelo Belsito, sending Belsito spinning up the track. Polewarczyk was sent to the rear of the field for the contact.
With arguably the fastest two cars now buried in the pack, it cleared the path for Darling – then running third – to take over the lead. From there, he disappeared out front. A late charge from Ryan Kuhn added some pressure, but Darling was not affected. The Seekonk, Massachusetts native put the pedal down and pulled out to a final margin of victory of over two seconds.
Darling is known for his success at his home track of Seekonk Speedway, where he is a multiple-time track Late Model champion. But he enjoys racing at the Speedbowl, and the track definitely seems to suit him.
“I came here a few years ago for the first time, and this place is fun,” Darling said. “It’s a lot of fun, it’s fast, completely different [from Seekonk] but it’s got good grip, so you can really get after it. We were trying to save some tires there, but it’s like the faster I went, the better it drove.”
Ryan Kuhn, of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, brought his No. 72 home in second place, topping his previous series-best finish of third at Star Speedway one week ago. He spent the majority of the race saving his equipment for the end, but regretted not going for it a little bit sooner, as he thought he might have had something for Darling.
“[I wish I had gone] a little bit,” Kuhn said. “But at the same time, trying to save it to halfway and see what we had at the end, hoping for some cautions. The outside was really good there at the end, it seemed like I could pick the throttle up two or three car lengths earlier than anyone else. I think if we had a yellow we would have had something for Dave, but a heck of a run. I can’t believe second after the heat race, I thought we were done. Unbelievable.”
Center Conway, New Hampshire’s Gabe Brown was competing in only his second race at the Speedbowl. Brown’s race was far from perfect, as he got caught up with a lapped car early on and damaged the front of his car. Restarting at the back, he carved his way through the field and scored an impressive third-place finish.
“We’ve had a pretty good car the last five races or so,” Brown said. “We got into some contact with a lapped car during the race and tore the thing up, but a bunch of people wrecked and we got back up to third. The car was really good, once we moved up to the third groove we picked up a ton of speed, I think we just found out too late. I think we might have had a little more for the leaders if we had found that out earlier.”
Two-time GSPSS champion Mike O’Sullivan came home in fourth and Legend Cars standout Casey Call capped off an incredible run with a solid fifth-place finish.
Points leader Joey Polewarczyk finished 7th after being sent to the rear for contact with Belsito, who was third in points coming in to this event. Ray Christian III, longtime point leader and second in points coming in, crashed with Corey Bubar on Lap 56 and finished 19th.
Video highlights and more from Saturday’s race at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl will be available on Speed51.TV soon.
The Granite State Pro Stock Series will be on the bill for Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, New Hampshire on Sunday, October 4. That race will be the penultimate event for the series in 2020.
-Story by Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo
Granite State Pro Stock Series Unofficial Results
New London-Waterford Speedbowl (CT) – September 26, 2020
1 52 David Darling
2 72 Ryan Kuhn
3 47 Gabe Brown
4 08 Mike O’Sullivan
5 90NH Casey Call
6 2 Tom Scully
7 97 Joey Polewarczyk
8 8B Angelo Belsito
9 60 D.J. Shaw
10 90 Craig Weinstein
11 40 Mike Mitchell
12 31 Luke Hinkley
13 76RI Tyler Tomassi
14 12P Bobby Pelland
15 87 Alexander Pearl
16 17 Kevin Folan
17 16 Kyle Harvell
18 12B Corey Bubar
19 93 Ray Christian III
20 29 Adam Gray
21 52 David Darling
22 16MA Austin Blais