WINCHESTER — Saturday night was all about new records, extended win streaks and speed at Monadnock Speedway. Add in some great side-by-side racing and you had the formula for an exciting night of racing.
The spotlight was on the Late Model Sportsman division, which was scheduled for a double feature to make up for one race postponed from a rainy early-July program, plus their regular Saturday night 25-lap race. All eyes were on Vernon, Vt., driver Solomon Brow.
Coming into the night he had won six straight features to start the season. Only two other drivers have had similar starts — Bobby Stowell in 1986 and Mike Stebbins in 2003. And only one driver has ever won seven straight to start a year. That was a New England favorite, Pete Fiandaca. Thus, Brow had two records in his sights.
Two other consecutive win streaks were also on the line Saturday. Sportsman Modified point leader Todd Patnode of Swanzey was looking to take four wins in a row and Whatley, Mass., Young Gun series driver Jake Pulchalski was gunning for his third straight.
In the first 25-lap Late Model event, it took Brow six laps to take the lead and roll into victory lane, tying Fiandaca. Tyler Leary of Hatfield, Mass., collected second place with Cole Littlewood from Orange, Mass., running a close third.
The stage was set for round two. Over the first 20 laps, it looked as though Brow’s string was about to be cut. Justin Littlewood of Orange, Mass., had led from lap two. On lap 20, Brow found room to pass and take the lead. A hard crash on the next lap brought out the red flag, when Cole Littlewood’s car nailed the backstretch barrier head on. On the restart, Brow left no doubt who was quickest, pulling ahead to take the checkers to set a high-water mark of eight consecutive wins to start a season. Justin Littlewood claimed second; Hartland, Vt.’s, Robert Hagar had a consistent run for third.
The Sportsman Modifieds rolled out for their 50-lap main. Barely two laps of green-flag racing were complete when Patnode was caught up in a minor skirmish going into turn one. He disappeared into the pits. As the field fell into place to restart, Patnode returned, joining the back of the field.
For the next 40 laps, the race was all about former champion Keith Cazello of Somers, Conn., Greenfield, Mass.’ Ben Byrne and Whatley, Mass., driver Joel Monahan dueling for the top spot. By lap 43, Patnode had worked his way through the field. He then claimed the lead and the win for the fourth consecutive time. Byrne and Monahan were second and third, respectively.
Honorable mention goes to Claremont driver Alyssa Rivera, who contested for the lead early and ran a strong fourth.
In the 15-lap Young Gun feature, Puchalski added to his win total of five with his third straight, over Ashuelot’s Matt Lambert and newcomer Brandon LaVoie from Littleton, Mass.
Street Stocker, Ed Lofland of Belchertown, Mass., said he needed a win to keep his season going. He did just that by leading the 25-lap event green to checkers. Claremont’s David Greenslit was second; Rutland, Mass., driver Jaret Curtis was third.
Pure Stock point leader Chris Davis of Winchester added a fourth win to his total, outlasting a strong challenge from Erin Aikens of Claremont in a non-stop 25-lap race. Tolland, Conn., driver Rich Hammann was the early race leader before settling into third finish.
The always exciting Northeast Midget Association brought two super-fast divisions to the high banks of Monadnock to celebrate the Iron Mike Memorial. First featured division was the NEMA Lites. The hotly contested lead was eventually secured by Randy Cabral of Kingston, Mass., on lap 26 of 30.
Jake Stegios of Candia was second after having led the race twice; teenager Ryan Locke of Chester slipped into third with a lap to go.
In the NEMA 30-lap main, Danny Gugini of Mansfield, Mass., jumped on top at the green and was never seriously challenged in a fast, caution-free race. Randy Cabral, doing double duty, gave chase but settled for second; Avery Stoehr from Lakeville, Mass., worked through the field for third.
Monadnock Speedway starts a busy month of August this Saturday with another night of twin features. The Sportsman Modifieds make up their July 6 feature, along the night’s regular 50-lapper. Qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen All-American divisions plus the Classic Lites and Granite State Legends starts at 6 p.m.