By Lou Modestino

Lee USA Speedway opened up the 2012 season on Friday night, with second-generation racer Mike Ordway, Jr. of Fremont taking down the checkered flag in the Benson Lumber and Hardware-sponsored Small Block Supermodified feature event.

Defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr. and Mike Netishen took down the checkers with strong runs in the two Small Block Super qualifying heats, but at feature time, it was Ordway in control from start to finish.

[adrotate block=”1″]

After polesitter Tony Carroll had to pit during hot laps, Ordway picked up the point and never looked back, leading flag to flag to score the opening night win. “Super Dave” Sanborn held off a determined Helliwell to score runner-up honors, with P.J. Stergios right behind in fourth.

Fifth spot went to heat winner Netishen, followed by 2010 champion Tommy Tombarello, Jr., Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Gath, Sparky MacIver, Mike Spurling, and Jason Phillips.

J.R. Baril got a jump on the 2012 campaign with a win in the season-opening PASS Sportsman race, and that momentum carried on to the regular Friday night season opener, where he steered the Brian House machine to victory lane once again.

Patrick Stewart grabbed the point when the main event went green, but Baril quickly made his way to the front, and it was all over from there. Michele Fushpanski moved into second by the halfway mark, but she couldn’t mount a serious challenge to leader Baril.

J. R. went on to continue his hot streak in Late Model Sportsmen competition with win number one of the 2012 campaign, with Fushpanski, Timmy “Rockstar” Johnson, Stewart, Ray Dinsmore, Chris Titcomb, Kyle Roy, David Piper, and Jason Welch following.

Berwick, ME’s Patrick Tanguay rebounded from a tough outing in the David’s Race Cars and Components Hobby Stock season opener back in April to take down win in the regular-season lidlifter, slipping past early leader Niko Maniatis to take command of the event on lap four.

Tanguay was challenged hard late in the race by Mike Williams and Jim Shorey, but when Shorey headed to the pits in the waning laps, it was a two-car race to the finish. Williams gave it everything he had in the high line looking for the lead, but he couldn’t get past Tanguay and had to settle for second.

Tanguay got the spotlight in the post-race victory ceremonies, with Williams, Ron Washburn, Paul Palen, Jim Piaseczny, opening day winner Chris Jacobson, Eric Hoffman, Brian Thompson, Kenny Scott, Jr., and Brandon Bourne rounding out the top ten.

Jake Rheaume made it two-for-two in American Auto Parts Ironman feature event, outrunning a tough Evan Horvath to score the win. Horvath collected his career-best finish in the runner-up slot, with Tom Johnson rounding out the podium in third. Lee returns this Friday night at 7 p.m., a national racing news site, has named American Canadian Tour star Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. of Hudson, NH one of the top 25 short track drivers in the country according to their 2012 Short Track Draft. This marks the third year in a row that Polewarczyk has made the prestigious list.

The racing news website touted Pole’s resume on the ACT tour stating ”Pole has won countless races in the American Canadian Tour Late Models that dominate parts of the Northeast. The series is very challenging and offers a strong front to build off of as 30-plus cars show up to run each week, with the bigger shows drawing 40 or more with international flavor.”

Polewarczyk, who is coming off of a strong second place finish at Devil’s Bowl Speedway last weekend, was ecstatic to hear the news.

“That list is everybody in the country really, so it means a lot. To be on the same list of drivers with guys like Bubba Pollard and all those guys, 25th is really an honor. It really speaks for our team. It’s not just good for me, it’s good for everybody,” said Polewarczyk.

When asked about how it changes his confidence level for the rest of 2012, he stood by his team. “Honestly it doesn’t change anything. This whole year we’ve been looking at races differently. I feel like every race this year we’ve had a shot at winning. At Lee I made a mistake, at Thunder Road we pitted at the wrong time, and we were so close at Devil’s Bowl. Our team looks good, everyone is happy. We just go out there every week to try to win those races.“

Polewarczyk will continue his journey to becoming the next American Canadian Tour Champion at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME for the Oxford 150 on Sunday, May 20. Post time 1 p.m.

In 2012 many Thunder Road drivers are making moves to different divisions. Some with little experience, others bearing championships. The drivers below are ones to keep a close eye on in the upcoming season for Rookie of the Year honors.

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman
Waterbury Center’s Jason Woodard will pilot the familiar #68 Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman championship car of Derrick O’Donnell from 2011. Woodard, who was the final champion of the Junkyard Warriors with nine wins in 2011, will face a steep learning curve having opted to race in the Tigers as opposed to the Allen Lumber Street Stocks. With championship experience and a great car underneath him, he could be a wildcard in 2012.

Greg Adams, Jr. of Hardwick, the 2011 Champion of the Allen Lumber Street Stocks, also moves to the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman division. With five seasons of experience in the Street Stocks, Adams hopes for a more seamless transition to the Tigers. Adams knows what it takes to win a close points race after an electrifying battle with runner-up Nick Pilotte of Jefferson, NH for the 2011 Street Stock Championship that came down to a last lap pass. He is one to watch for Rookie of the Year in 2012.

Adams and Woodard will face competition from Georgia, VT native Josh Payea and Washington, VT’s Chris Roberts.

Allen Lumber Street Stocks
After a year hiatus, the third-place point finisher in the Junkyard Warriors in 2010, Kevin Dodge of Barre, returns to racing action. Moving up to the Street Stocks, Dodge will rely on the same consistency that brought him success in the Warrior division, but this time against the higher numbers of cars and more experienced drivers of the Street Stock division. He has the advantage of driving a similar car in 2012 though, which will be to his advantage as he seeks Rookie honors.

Another rookie campaigner for the Street Stocks is Williamstown’s Brock Parrott, who finished second last year in the championship race in the Junkyard Warrior division. With four career wins under his belt, Parrot looks to make the jump with ease to the Street Stocks and challenge for the Rookie of the Year title. Fellow Junkyard Warrior racers Tommy Elwood, Justin Town, Paul Grant, Kevin Wheatley and Daniel Brassard, as well as invaders Dean Switser, Jr., and Emily Packard will all compete for Allen Lumber Street Stock Rookie of the Year honors.

The Thunder Road season continues at the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic on Sunday May 27. Gates open at 10am. Post time is set for 1:30 pm. Admission is: Adult $15.00, $3 Children 6-12, Children under 6 are free.

Brian Whitney of Burnham became the first two-time feature race winner of the season in the top-tier Late Model division Saturday at Unity Raceway.

Whitney led the 35-lap event from wire-to-wire, holding off challenges from reigning track champion Jeff Burgess of Fairfield on a late-race restart to seal the victory. Burgess earned runner-up honors, and remains atop the championship standings.

Palmyra’s Ajay Picard finished an eventful day that included a wet, off-track excursion into the backstretch “moat” during the main event, and a heat race crash, with a third-place finish. Burnham’s Frank Moulton rebounded from several pit stops to claim a fourth-place finish in front of Unity’s Mark Dodge. Whitney also won the heat race.

Brent “Poochie” Chase of Burnham cruised to a comfortable victory in the 20-lap Wildcat division main event. Skowhegan’s Ed Gilblair was the best of the rest, with Liberty’s Joe Harriman rounding out the podium finishing positions. George Fernald III made his Wildcat division debut and posted a fourth-place finish. Clinton’s Ryan Robinson was credited with a fifth-place finish. Chase won the heat race.

Tim Robinson of Clinton made his first start of the season aboard the Jimmy Dennis 38 and drove from dead last on the starting grid to victory lane in the 20-lap Late Model Pro Four division feature race. Steve Rackliff of Starks rebounded from a mid-race spin to cross the finish line in second position, with Alex Fernald of Benton grabbing the third-place trophy. Bill Ellis of Parkman and Benton rookie Scott Horne rounded out the top five. Norm Cummings, Jr. of Augusta won the heat race but fell victim to mechanical gremlins in the main event.

Defending champion Zach Audet of Skowhegan romped to victory in the 20-lap Monster Mini feature race after mechanical woes sidelined him about 200 feet from victory in the previous event which he had also dominated. Cornville teenager Jayson Bosworth held off hard-charging veteran Tim Collins of Farmington for runner-up honors. Brent Roy of Vassalboro raced from the back of the pack to a fourth-place finish. Clinton’s Kyle Robinson rounded out the top five. Audet won the heat race.

Cody Robbins of Oakland charged through the pack and made a last-lap move by Richmond’s Mike Dulaney to earn a trip to victory lane following a thrilling, 20-lap Flyin’ 4 division main event. Dulaney, who led most of the race, had to settle for runner-up honors. Waterville’s Paul Shorette charged through traffic to earn his first trophy in a while with a third-place performance. Early race leader Mika Stover of Augusta ended up in fourth position, followed by Clinton’s Alica Goodwin. Stover and Paul Jackson of Fairfield won heat races.

Challenger division teammates Robert MacDonald of Oakland and Ken Lord of Waterville dominated the 25-lap Challenger feature, swapping the lead throughout the event with MacDonald nipping Lord at the checkered flag to nail down his second victory of the season. Skowhegan’s Christie Foster was the best of the rest, earning a third-place finish in front of Skowhegan’s Ed Archer and Mike Flagg of Montville. Lord won the heat race.

The final Saturday afternoon racing card of the Unity Raceway Spring season is set for May 19 at 2 p.m. Weekly Saturday night competition kicks off at 6 p.m. on May 26, kicking off a doubleheader weekend highlighted by the Butch Burgess Memorial Race on Sunday, May 27 at 1:00 p.m.

When the gates opened Sunday, clouds and a stray sprinkle loomed over the track. When the sun did finally peak from behind the clouds, it heated up the action at Riverside Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts Spectacular and Bobby Shores Memorial opening weekend festivities.

The day started with the car show winners from yesterdays NAPA car show being recognized on the front stretch, and the Gold medal winning Groveton High School Band performed the National Anthem and America the Beautiful. Heats were run after, and for the most part, everything went by the books, except the Ouellette Trucking Angels division suffered a bit of a mishap, as #14 Carrie “Git-R” Dunn took a ride up turn four and landed drivers side down. Dunn was OK, and after a quick trip to the pits, was back on the track without losing a lap.

The features brought great racing to the hundreds of fans in attendance. The Kingdom Embroidery Daredevil division led off the day, with #18 Cody Smith taking the checkers after an amazing three wide move going into turn three late in the race. Smith was followed across the line by #16 Matthew Kopp and #82 Colby Bourgeois second and third respectively. In the rookie division, it was #1 Matthew Mason taking top honors, with #4 Dylan “The Dragon” Laleme following him across the line. These kids showed some great driving skills, not only for a kid’s division, but for any division.

The Ouellette Trucking Angels division ran next, with former champ #29 Allison Barney running wire to wire for the win. Barney had a rearview mirror full of #5 Traci Nelson for most of the race, but Nelson settled for second, and #23 Tina Leveille finishing third. Dunn came back from her wreck in the heat to finish 7th for the day.

The Town and Country Motor Inn Street Stocks took the green next, as #66 Cole Kilby and #10 Lorin Vear jockied for position for most of the race, until Vear got his first “Riverside Stripe” after slapping the frontstretch wall. Vear did charge back late, but Kilby held him off for the win, Vear settling for second, and rookie #23 Jeremy Wyman crossing the line third.

In one of the best shows that could happen in this early season, the Amoskeag Beverage Twisted Tea Dwarfs brought the fans to the edge of their seats with their feature. #27 “The Purple People Eater” Aric Cole led early, but came under heavy pressure from newcomer #88 Jason Wyman and 2011 championship winner #93 Dave Gyger. One lap Cole would record the lead, the next lap Wyman would stick a tire across the line first, and Gyger was just waiting in the weeds. Wyman eventually pulled ahead, brought Gyger with him, and held off the defending champion for his first feature win in the division. Gyger finished second, with Cole third.

Twelve Sign Depot Outlaw Sportsman took the track next, and made sure they were not to be outdone, gave the fans great door-to-door racing. Pittsburg NH’s #18 Ron Watson led early, but was challenged quickly by #67 Jourdan Davis. Davis led for a good chunk of the race, until a caution brought his brother, defending champion #57 Chandler Davis, to Jourdan’s outside door. Jourdan jumped ahead at the restart, but with only two laps to go, Chandler got underneath his brother and went on to the win. Jourdan came across the line second, and after riding the outside groove for numerous laps in a battle with Watson and #14 Mike Paquette, it was #74 Doug Laleme powering his Sportsman to third.

Finally, it was the North Country Ford Late Model division’s turn to excite the crowd. Lunenburg VT’s #32 Jeff Marshall led for the first 23 laps, until a spin brought former Riverside Speedway champion #02nh Randy Potter to the outside of the front row. Marshall and Potter battled for a lap or two, but Marshall’s car seemed to go away from him, and Potter jumped to the lead. Potter held off a closing #78 Quinny Welch for the win, as Welch crossed the line second, and #13 Luke Shannon charged up from the back of the pack after a mid-race pit stop to finish third.

Overall, the weather was great, racing was spectacular, and fans walked away happy after the opening weekend at Riverside Speedway. We invite you to join us next Saturday, May 19th at 6pm for Dalton Mountain Motors and Lancaster Auto Sales presents Senior Citizen Night. Pit gates open at 2 p.m., and grandstands will be open at 4pm. All Senior citizens 62 years young and over will receive FREE grandstand admission. Todd Goulet will be on hand to give an invocation of blessing on drivers, crews, staff and fans. North Country Ford Late Models, Sign Depot Outlaw Sportsman, Amoskeag Beverage Twisted Tea Dwarfs, Town and Country Motor Inn Street Stocks, Ouellette Trucking Angels, and Kingdom Embroidery Daredevils will all be in action. See you at the race track!!!

Tim, TJ, and Vanna Brackett have sent entries for the American Canadian Tour Armed Forces 150 this coming Sunday May 20. This will be the first time a father and daughter have raced together in an ACT race.

2010 Oxford Plains Speedway Late Model Champion Tim Brackett and son TJ Brackett have raced several times on the ACT Tour together. TJ has been hot at Oxford, finishing in the top ten in his last four starts with the Tour. This year the Oxford 150 is even more of a family affair.

Tim’s 25-year old daughter Vanna Brackett will be making her first appearance in an ACT Late Model. Her storied career includes four championships in the “Ladies Division” at Oxford Plains Speedway where she is the all-time win leader with 35 feature victories. The Oxford 150 will be the first time ever that Tim has raced with his daughter. He is thrilled with the opportunity.

“This is her first race of her first year in late models. The American Canadian Tour is a tough bunch, nobody is a pushover. I know she’ll do fine, but just to get in and have the experience would be a big deal to all of us,” Brackett said. “My son TJ and I really look forward to these big races and I know she will too,” he finished.

The Bracketts will take on the stars of the American Canadian Tour this Sunday, May 20 for the ACT Armed Forces 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME. Post time is 2 p.m.

Here’s what else is happening in northern New England this weekend. Street Night goes Friday at New England Dragway at 5 p.m. and ET action all day Saturday. Lots of stockcar action is on for Saturday night. Bear Ridge in Bradford, NH, Monadnock in Winchester, NH, Star in Epping, NH, and Twin State in Claremont all offer racing action at 6 p.m. White Mountain in N. Woodstock, NH will host the PASS Tour and other support classes at the same time.

On Sunday, Devil’s Bowl in W. Haven, VT plans a full card of racing at 1 p.m. Earlier in the day New England Dragway offers the Import Faceoff starting at 8 a.m.

[adrotate block=”1″]