Lee, NH – The featured event on last Friday night’s racing program at the Lee USA Speedway was the extra-distance 35-lapper for the Hobby Stocks, with Tom Duda taking the checkers to post his second feature win of the year. In all four of the other regular divisions, it was first time winners taking the trip to victory lane, as J.R. Baril topped the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Pro Stocks, Grant Aither grabbed the win in the Late Models, Ron Bolduc showed the way in the Street Stocks, and Shaun Ready was the best of the bunch in the NGK Spark Plugs Roadrunners.
Duda’s night started out rough, as a heat race tangle put him 14th on the starting grid for the main event. In contrast, Paul Daskoski had captured a win in his heat race, and started the biggest race of the year from the pole. At the drop of the green flag, Daskoski immediately moved out to the lead, with Kevin Lanctot, Jr. next out of the pack to grab second on lap three. Steve Dickey, Jr. quickly worked his way past Lanctot to give chase to the leader, but soon gave way to Todd Bregy, who was on his way to the front.
Bregy quickly glued himself to Daskoski’s back bumper, but just after the ten lap mark, he got a challenge of his own when Duda pulled alongside looking for second. For the next 20 laps, the trio circled the 3/8th’s mile oval in formation, with Duda edging up alongside the leader from time to time, while Bregy followed in Daskoski’s tire tracks. With just five laps remaining, Daskoski got tangled up with lapped traffic and spun off the racing surface, with Duda nipping Bregy at the line to claim the lead. Once out front, Duda was in control, holding off Bregy’s challenge over the final circuits to grab the win. Bregy was next across the stripe, with Lanctot, with Rick and Randy Washburn closing out the top five.
In the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Pro Stocks, Wayne Helliwell, Sr. bolted out to the early lead, with Ernie Holland, Ricky Wolf and Baril in pursuit for the first few laps. On lap four, Wolf knocked off Holland for the second spot, but he soon lost the position t Baril, who was a man on a mission. Although Helliwell had opened up a healthy lead in the early stages of the race, Baril began to reel him in once he got past Wolf. Approaching the halfway mark in the 40-lap run, points leader Vinnie Anarummo and Charlie Rousseau got tangled up and spun, setting up the event’s first restart.
Baril took full advantage when racing resumed, and when the crossed flags were shown to the field a lap later, it was Baril, Helliwell, Wolf, Boe Green and Wayne Helliwell, Jr. setting the pace. With clear sailing in front of him, Baril showed some impressive speed, pulling away from the field to easily post his first win of the 2002 campaign. Helliwell, Sr. grabbed runner-up honors, with Wolf, Green and Anarummo finishing up the top five.
Aither found himself on the pole for the start of the Late Model feature, and he pulled out to nearly a full straightaway lead over the first ten laps of the race. Mike Mitchell had a strong run going in second until a lap 11 caution that resulted from a Jeremy Harclerode spin, as he got freight-trained on the restart with Joey Porciello and Scott Bonney moving up to claim second and third. After just another lap, Harclerode’s problems got worse, as he got into the turn three wall to end his night on the back of a wrecker.
Bonney passed Porciello on the restart, but A.J. Begin was the man on the move, and he picked off both Porciello and Bonney in the next few laps to put in a bid for the lead. While Aither and Begin were still battling it out up front as the laps wound down, they found themselves in the right place at the right time. A couple of lapped cars got together with three to go, collecting Porciello, Bonney and Sean Nolan among others in the ensuing wreck. After the cleanup, Aither held off Begin for the final three laps to grab the win, while Clyde Janvrin, Tom Fuller and Dean Scarito were next across the line.
Three-time defending champion Bolduc had been held winless in 2002, but that all changed as this week’s race unfolded. Paul Nesbitt took the point with Jesse Bousquet challenging in the early stages, but when Bousquet was eliminated after a bout with the retaining wall, Bolduc became the hunter. And he didn’t hunt Nesbitt for long, as Bolduc’s car was hooked up well, and he quickly took his turn at the head of the pack.
At halfway, it was Bolduc, Jimmy Renfrew, Mike Marshall, Nesbitt and Billy Fiske filling the top five spots, but nobody was up to the task of beating the champ in this one. Bolduc’s teammate Lance Davis made a late-race charge that made it look as if they were heading for a one-two finish, but a hard crash with two to go sent Davis hard in the backstretch wall, and severely damaged Lew Fortin’s racer as well. Marshall gave it one last shot in the two-lap shootout, but Bolduc held on to collect his first win of the season. Marshall, Renfrew, Fiske and Gary Beauregard finished second through fifth.
In the NGK Spark Plugs Roadrunners, Ready immediately jumped out to the lead, with Patrick Tanguay and Bruce Bernhardt mixing it up just behind. Melanie Vencis was on the move quickly from her seventh place start, flying past the lead trio to set the pace at the halfway mark. Well on her way to victory, a late race restart became Vencis’ undoing, as she slowed and Ready reclaimed the lead as a result. Vencis recovered quickly and got back up to speed, but the damage was already done. Ready led them all under the checkers to pick up his first career win, with Vencis, Ricky Porter, Lloyd Chapin and Matt Middaugh rounding out the top five.
Next up at Lee USA is another regular program on Friday night, June 14th, featuring the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Pro Stocks, Late Models, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks and the NGK Spark Plugs Roadrunners. For information on this or any other upcoming event, call the race hotline at (978)462-4252, or visit our website at www.leeusaspeedway.com.