WINCHESTER — More than 200 laps of feature races kept race fans in their seats at Monadnock Speedway Saturday night. Headlining the program was round two of the “Battle of the Belt” and the Granite State Legends.
“Battle of the Belt” is a six-race series for mini stock racers across five southern New Hampshire tracks. The top point-getter will win a WWE-style championship belt along with prize money.
Saturday night a strong field of competitors from central New England took the green for a 50-lap battle. Jon Fultz of Billerica, Mass., led the race early. However, within a few laps, Emerson Cayer of Hopkinton moved to the front of the field. By the half-way point, Cayer led Agawam, Mass., drivers Kevin Cormier and Tim Wenzel.
Five laps later, a hard crash exiting turn two brought out the red flag. A car appeared to be leaking fluid on the track for a number of laps, before cars started spinning. Vernon, Vt., driver Pat Houle got the worst of the wrecking, hitting the retaining wall and leaving even more liquid on the track.
After a lengthy clean-up, the race went back to green with Cayer receiving a strong challenge from Cormier. A lap-43 caution closed the field and on the restart, defending mini stock champion Matt Kimball of Bennington found enough daylight to slip past Cayer and win.
Cayer held on for second; Wenzel moved past Maher for third, but Maher took the spot after Wenzel’s car failed a post-race inspection. The series moves to Hudson International Speedway Aug. 4.
The night’s second 50-lap event, for the sportsman modified division, was led to the green by Alstead rookie Kenny Thompson. Although Thompson had a strong first few laps, he gave way to eventual winner Todd Patnode of Swanzey on lap three. Patnode’s lead was challenged by semi-retired former champion Bill Kimball of Bennington.
Kimball was substituting for his son, Matt. He took a close second; and Brian Chapin of Three Rivers, Mass., had his best finish of the year since wrecking badly on opening night, placing third.
The late model sportsman division rolled onto the track with everyone’s sights set on knocking five-time winner Solomon Brow of Vernon, Vt., out of the winner’s circle. It didn’t work. Brow took the lead on lap eight and cruised to his sixth consecutive win in 2019. Brown closed the 2018 season with three victories, making his win streak nine.
Hartland, Vt.’s, Robert Hagar did his best to stay close for second; Cole Littlewood from Orange, Mass., took third.
The street stockers ran a pair of 25-lappers. The first was held over from last week’s rain-plagued event. Turners Falls, Mass., driver Greg Williams led the field for the first half the race, when a rear wheel separated from his car and knocked him out of the race. David Greenslit of Claremont took over after the race restart and held off a strong challenge from Chase Curtis for his second win of the season.
Curtis was second; his twin brother, Jaret Curtis took third.
Later in the night, the street stocks returned to Monadnock’s high banks for their regularly scheduled main event. This time, Williams was not deterred. With his car repaired, he led green to checkers for his first win since 2006. Chris Buffone from Belchertown, Mass., battled with Chase Curtis for second. Curtis completed a good night of racing in third, his second podium finish.
In a post-race inspection, Williams was disqualified for a rule infraction awarding the win to Buffone.
The season’s largest field of young guns ran 15 uninterrupted laps with Jake Puchalski taking his fourth win ahead of Chris Phelps of New Salem, Mass., and Matt Lambert of Ashuelot.
The Granite State legend cars made their first visit of the year to for a 25-lap feature. Shaun Buffington continued his dominance of the quarter-mile oval with the win. Buffington survived three cautions and out-dueled Jack Wheeler and Luke LeBrun.
Monadnock Speedway will take its traditional summer break July 20 in deference to the major NASCAR race weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Racing will resume July 27 with The Iron Mike Memorial for the Northeast Midget Association, along with the full complement of NASCAR Whelen All-American divisions.