Derek Griffith cut his teeth in Late Model racing while competing with the Granite State Pro Stock Series during the early years of his racing career. It was during those four years (2012-2015) that he learned how to race and how to win races. On Sunday night, everything came full circle as Griffith went from being a student to being the teacher during the Oktoberfest 100 at Lee USA Speedway.
Griffith, the 2015 GSPSS champion, made his first start of the season with the series count by pulling his No. 12G into victory lane after a polish victory around the 3/8-mile Lee, New Hampshire oval.
The 2019 Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalist ran near the front of the field all night, keeping the No. 00 of Jimmy Renfrew Jr. on his toes through the first half of the race. Griffith made his move on Lap 60, diving to the inside of Renfrew and never looking back. He weathered a handful of late-race restarts, but in the end, nothing was going to stop the Hudson, New Hampshire native from reaching victory lane.
“At the beginning there those guys were running real hard. The guys told me this place is so tough on tires, so we rode around for a bit there,” Griffith said after the race. “I put a little pressure on Jimmy. He made me work for it tonight, he was so good on those restarts for a little bit.”
Renfrew ran up front during the middle portion of the race but ultimately couldn’t keep the No. 12G of Griffith behind him. He still finished second, but said he could hold his head high leaving Lee.
“The car was good all night, just lacking little bit of drive off. If I get beat by [Griffith] it’s a win for me, he’s one of the best in the business right now,” Renfrew said. “I’ll take it as a win. I love racing with him, I learn so much just by following him and racing side by side with him. Good night overall.”
Griffith heard Renfrew’s kind words, saying it was hard to believe that he is now the driver others look to as a role model.
“It’s crazy, I was him not that long ago,” Griffith said. “It’s really cool for him to be doing as good as he does, he got that win last year at Star. He was a pretty good car tonight, he was one of the cars to beat, and he did a good job.”
Connecticut driver Ray Christian III quietly finished third. He ran in the top three the entire evening, but said he was just missing the performance he needed to compete for the win.
“[We were lacking] just a little, those guys were just a little better than us,” Christian said. “It was a good points night for us, hopefully we can carry this into Thompson. I’m really good at Thompson, so I’m really looking forward to that, hopefully we can bring home the big one next week.”
Brandon Barker finished fourth after an engine change between qualifying and the race, and Dennis Spencer Jr. charged his way up to a very strong fifth-place finish. Luke Hinkley, Wayne Helliwell Jr., Joe Squeglia, Mike Mitchell, and Dillon Moltz rounded out the top 10.
The next race for the GSPSS is a 50-lap feature on Friday, October 11 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, as part of the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing.
Fans can watch a replay of the Granite State portion of Russ Conway’s Oktoberfest right now on the Speed51 Network.
Full results, updates, and more can be found on our Race Day Now coverage, available by clicking here.
-Story by Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent - Twitter: @ian_pettigrew
-Photo credit: Speed51.com