D.J. Shaw bested Mike O’Sullivan in a thrilling duel during the closing laps to score a $5,000 paycheck at Claremont Motorsports Park Sunday night. The victory is Shaw’s second straight Rocky Ridge 150 win and his first Granite State Pro Stocks Series win of the season.
Shaw led a race-high 86 laps, but was never able to pull a lead of more than a car length or two throughout the race. Shaw and O’Sullivan battled side-by-side and nose-to-tail for 110 of the 150 laps, with the battle intensifying on a pair of late-race restarts.
“I love this place. I don’t like how close these finishes are, but to be on the better end of both years it’s awesome,” Shaw said in Victory Lane. “The car was better on the long run there. It pushed real bad on the short run, and then with that caution there when Mike got the lead I missed a shift. I blew it and thought I was all done, so luckily we got another shot at it and Mike ran me with all the respect that I always get from him. We were able to go get it back, my guys deserved to win there and I had to go get it for them.”
Two-time series champion Mike O’Sullivan gave Shaw a run for his money, but a late-race restart lane choice sealed O’Sullivan’s second-place run. He had briefly grabbed the lead from Shaw prior to a restart on lap 138 but chose the bottom lane, allowing Shaw to get back around him on the top and take the lead for the final time.
“I got a timely caution on the top side there and I was able to get around him,” O’Sullivan said. “The whole time I’m thinking to myself, well, I’m the leader, and I could choose the top but then it gives somebody else an opportunity to take it from me, so if somebody is going to take it from me, you try to do it on the bottom in the preferred groove.
“I regret that, but he’s a world-class race car driver and I can’t say enough good things about him and how good he is at what he does. Just came up a little short, you know, it was for five grand.”
Claremont, New Hampshire’s own Luke Hinkley also ran up front the entire night, leading some laps early before falling into a rhythm behind Shaw and O’Sullivan. Hinkley, whose son was born just three weeks earlier, was pleased with the result but felt he still left a little bit on the table.
“We were tight off in the spring, and we tried to free it up to beat the 73 [of Joey Doiron] and we didn’t take into consideration the 08 (O’Sullivan) and the 60 (Shaw) tonight,” Hinkley said after the race. “So we went the wrong way a little bit but we’ll get one sooner or later. I rode around at the beginning and when those guys went by I said perfect, I have to teach myself to slow down in the beginning. But then it just got free up off, so we’ll keep going for it.”
Current GSPSS championship leader Joey Doiron padded his points lead with a strong fourth-place finish, while defending series champion Devin O’Connell came home fifth. Mike Mitchell, Jimmy Renfrew Jr, Ray Christian III, Ricky Bly, and Cory Casagrande completed the top ten.
Video highlights from Sunday’s 150-lap race at Claremont Motorsports Park will be available soon on the Speed51 Network.
The next race for the Granite State Pro Stock Series is a 100-lap feature on Friday, September 6 at Star Speedway (NH), as part of the Star Classic weekend.
-Story by: Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent - Twitter: @ian_pettigrew
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
GSPSS Rocky Ridge 150 – Full Results (Official)
1 60 DJ Shaw
2 08 Mike O'Sullivan
3 31NH Luke Hinkley
4 73 Joey Doiron
5 43 Devin O'Connell
6 40 Mike Mitchell
7 00 Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
8 93CT Ray Christian III
9 28 Ricky Bly
10 7CT Cory Casagrande
11 14 Matt Frahm
12 21 Josh King
13 88 Kevin Casper
14 12P Bobby Pelland
15 8B Angelo Belsito
16 47 Gabe Brown
17 03 Joe Squeglia
18 52NH Jake Matheson
19 29 Barry Gray
20 16 Austin Blais
21 09 Jeremy Davis