Lee, NH Ė Despite Mother Natureís best efforts to wash out another Friday night of action at the Lee USA Speedway, four of the five divisions on the schedule managed to get their feature events into the record books after a lengthy rain delay. For the second time in the 2002 season, veteran Wayne Helliwell, Sr. captured top honors in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Pro Stocks and rookie Grant Aither bested the Late Models, while first-time winners Neil Kelly and Melanie Vencis grabbed the victories in the Hobby Stocks and Roadrunners.
Helliwellís son, Wayne Jr. was the story for most of the Pro Stock main, as he grabbed the lead at the drop of the green flag, and stayed there for quite some time. The father/son duo set the pace over the first half of the race, taking the crossed flags with Vinnie Anarummo, J.R. Baril and Ernie Holland filling out the top five.
Anarummo eventually knocked off the elder Helliwell to take over the second spot, but Wayne, Jr. continued to lead the way as the laps wound down. At the white flag, Anarummo was right on the leaderís bumper, and thatís when the complexion of the race changed. Contact between the two sent Helliwell spinning in turn one, while Anarummo was sent to the rear as a result. On the ensuing restart, Helliwell, Sr. picked up the point for the first time all night, but he led the lap that counted the most, leading the field across the stripe to take down the win. Baril went home with runner-up honors, followed by Gege Gravel, Ernie Holland and Charlie Rousseau.
Freshman Ron Harkins jumped out from the pole position to lead the first seven circuits of the Late Model feature, when he yielded the spot to fifth starter Joe Frotton. Frotton time out front was short lived however, as mechanical problems sent him to the pits just a lap later. Harkins picked up the lead once again after Frottonís demise, but on lap 11 he fell to the charge of fellow rookie Grant Aither.
Once out front, Aither immediately began to open it up, pulling away as A.J. Begin and Scott Bonney broke out of the pack in pursuit of the leader. At halfway, it was Aither, Begin, Bonney, Sean Caisse and Harkins leading the way, as contenders Joey Porciello and Tom Fuller brought the field under caution when they hit the wall on the frontstretch. Begin took a run at Aither on the restart, but there was no stopping the rookie this time out. Aither led the remainder of the event to easily post his second win of the year, with Begin, Bonney, Caisse and Steve Borges rounding out the top five.
In the Hobby Stocks, Mike Douglas, Jr. led the field to the green flag, but it was outside pole starter Kelly who was out quickly to take the point. Brian Thompson brought caution on lap two when he bounced off the retaining wall, and a lap later, Kevin Lanctot, Jr., Douglas and Tom Duda found trouble in turn one. On the restart, Kelly was off and running once again, pulling away from the field at will.
Rookie contenders Steven Dickey, Jr. and Chris White ran second and third at the crossed flags, but two-time winner Paul Daskoski was on the move. He quickly dispatched White, and on a lap 18 restart, he put Dickey behind him and headed out after the leader. Time ran out on Daskoskiís run from the 13th starting spot, as Kelly led them across the stripe to capture his first win of the year. Daskoski, Lanctot, Dickey and Jason Sexton closed out the top five.
Jimmy Linardy led the early laps of the NGK Spark Plugs Roadrunner feature, which saw the red flag stop the action after a hard wreck on lap five. Dana Faulkner and Dan Eaton went home with badly damaged racecars, while Paul Brown was greeted by the black flag after the incident. When racing resumed, Linardy lost the top spot to Ricky Porter, who set the pace for the next ten laps until engine failure sent him to the pits in a cloud of smoke.
Linardy inherited the lead once again on the restart, but there was little he could do to hold off Melanie Vencis, who had knifed through the field after starting 11th on the grid. Vencis restarted third, but quickly worked past Kurt Knight to get second, and just as quickly slipped underneath the out of shape Linardy to claim the lead heading to the white flag. A lap later, Vencis led them under the checkers to score a popular win, with Linardy, Matt Middaugh, Knight and Cory Sullivan the rest of the top five.
Next up at Lee USA is the annual All-Star Modified 100, featuring 30 of the regions top modified drivers competing for the $7,000 winnerís share of the $30,000 purse. All five weekly divisions will see action as well, with the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series pro Stocks, late Models, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks and NGK Spark Plugs Roadrunners all continuing their quest for the 2002 track championships. 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.