WINCHESTER — Monadnock Speedway fans were treated to 220 laps of feature race competition Saturday night, including the much-anticipated “Battle of the Belt” 50-lap challenge for the Street Stock division.
The “Battle of the Belt” drew racers representing all five of the New Hampshire Short Track Racing Association race tracks from the seacoast to the Connecticut River — Lee, Hudson, Star, Claremont and Monadnock. Twenty-five cars qualified for the first of six races to be held across the five tracks. The drivers will share in a $3,000 point fund along with winnings for each race. The prize at the end will be an authentic WWE-style belt.
Chase Curtis of Rutland, Mass., took home the win in the marquee event, despite crossing the finish line third. The top two finishers — Alby Ovitt of Somersworth and Billy Clement Jr. of Manchester — were disqualified for technical rule infractions after a post-race inspection.
Swanzey native Todd Patnode won the Sportsman Modified race, while Solomon Brow took first in the Late Model Sportsman, extending his winning streak in the division to seven races going back to 2018. Kevin Cormier of Agawam, Mass., triumphed in the Mini Stock and Chris Phelps of New Salem, Mass., won the Young Guns main event.
In the Street Stock race, Chris Buffone of Belchertown, Mass., led the field to the green and held the lead for the first 18 circuits as some of the state’s top Street Stockers diced for position behind him.
On lap 19, Curtis moved to the front of the field and looked to settle in for a ride to the checkers. Unfortunately, the caution flew on lap 33 for a spinning car. As the field slowed under caution, Curtis’ car slowed to a stop in the middle of the front stretch. An apparent transmission failure ended his run.
On the restart, Ovitt assumed the lead and rode to the win, with current Monadnock points leader Clement coming in second.
But after the post-race disqualifications, the win went to Curtis, last week’s feature-race winner. Rich Vincent was also disqualified for technical rule infractions.
The early lead in the Sportsman Modified belonged to the female competitors: Kim Rivet of Antrim and Alyssa Rivera of Claremont. By lap 10, however, Patnode — a three-time Modified champion — had powered his way to the lead and remained there for his first win of the season. Opening-day winner Brian Robie of Sunapee moved into second and recent ConVal Regional High School graduate Matt Kimball of Bennington claimed third.
Brow’s win streak in the Late Model Sportsman class appeared to be in jeopardy in the night’s 25-lap main. Brow started sixth for the first time this year.
Defending champion Tyler Leary of Hatfield, Mass., assumed the early lead and by the halfway point in the race was ahead of Mark McClay of Charlestown and Brow. McClay soon pulled out of the race with mechanical issues, moving Brow to second. With four laps to go, Brow made his move, took the lead and won for the fourth time this year. Leary held on for second. Veteran Dennis Stange of Athol, Mass., had another podium finish, taking third.
Slowed by only two minor cautions, the 25-lap Mini Stock race saw just one lead change. Cormier took the early lead from Kevin Clayton of Winchendon, Mass. From there it was a Saturday night cruise to his first career win at Monadnock. Keene native Cory Plummer moved into second and Kevin McKnight of Orange, Mass., claimed third.
The Young Guns division fielded its best lineup of the season. But in the end, the win was taken for the second time by Phelps, followed by Jake Puchalski of Whately, Mass., and Matt Lambert of Ashuelot.
The Exit Realty Pro Truck series made its first appearance at Monadnock in three years and didn’t disappoint the fans. Young driver Jacob Perry of Stonington, Conn., dominated the 55-lap race, leading from green to checker.
A full red-flag stoppage with three laps to go tightened the field and provided the only real challenge for Perry, which came from Gerald Giordano of Freeport, N.Y. But Giordano couldn’t catch Perry and settled for second, with Lucas Leone of Stonington taking third. The last time Leone raced at Monadnock, he won racing in a GoKart event.
Monadnock Speedway ramps up this coming weekend for two days of racing. Saturday night the NASCAR Whelen All-America divisions will be in regular competition with the addition of the Pro-4 Modifieds and the NEAR Antique racers at 6. Then at noon on Sunday, the Mudbog Mudslinger series will present “Mud, Muscle and Mayhem” with a muscle car cruise and mudbog competition. Details for both events are at monadnockspeedway.com and on the Monadnock Speedway Facebook page.