Racin’ With Jason: Another Modified win for Deerfield’s Ben Byrne

  • Deerfield's Ben Byrne celebrates his fourth victory of the season in the NHSTRA Modified division at Monadnock Speedway on Aug. 15. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/EMILY MILLER

Published: 8/20/2020 3:43:49 PM
Modified: 8/20/2020 3:43:37 PM

Ben Byrne’s season to remember had another chapter written last Saturday at Monadnock Speedway.
The Deerfield driver won his fourth feature of the season in the NHSTRA Modified division at the Winchester, N.H., quarter-mile and later led 58 laps of the 100-lap Tri-Track Open Modified Series main event.

In the NHSTRA 40-lapper, Byrne battled Trevor Bleau, holding off the Troy, N.H., pilot for the checkered flag.

Fans were treated to, as the Monadnock Speedway press release stated, “the best two-car battle of the summer, this summer or almost any summer.” Bleau and Byrne battled wheel to wheel for 15 laps, one taking a brief lead before the other one nudged ahead again.

“That was a lot of fun. Probably the most fun I’ve had this year,” Byrne told WWLP.com’s Matt Wiernasz. “TJ (Bleau) did a great job keeping it under. We were door to door, bumper to bumper. Everyone kept it as clean as we could as hard as we could. That was amazing.”

Palmer’s Brian Chapin started out front and led the first nine laps as he looked to recover from a dismal showing the previous week. Bleau overtook him for the lead as Chicopee native Kimmy Rivet drove into second place on lap 13. Starting in row four, Byrne charged through the field and grabbed second place from Rivet on lap 16.

That led to the aforementioned battle for the lead between Byrne and Bleau. Eventually, Byrne zipped the No. 6 car into the top spot for good. Bleau finished second to remain within shouting distance of points leader Brian Robie — who finished third. Byrne hung onto third in the standings, 64 markers behind Robie — a deficit that is not insurmountable.

Rivet and Chapin came home seventh and eighth, respectively.

Byrne was one of six Monadnock regulars to test their mettle in the Tri-Track Open Modified Series event. He finished second in his heat race and was near the front of the 27-car field in the feature. Soon, he rocketed to the front, bringing veteran Kirk Alexander with him. Byrne stayed out front for 58 laps, the most of any driver in the race. An issue later hit him and he finished three laps down in 22nd.

Once Byrne surrendered the lead, it appeared that the race was Les Hinckley’s to lose. The veteran from Connecticut lost the last Tri-Track race at Monadnock on July 5 by only a few feet. His race to a victory this time was undone by a mistimed pit stop and, later, a cut tire.

This opened the door for an unlikely youngster to make his move. Sam Rameau grew up watching many drivers in the field rack up wins at the Mad Dog, but now the 18-year-old was one of them, vying for the win in a prestigious race. He took the point from veteran Ron Silk, a former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, on lap 72. Rameau survived a pair of restarts and a last-lap entanglement with Ronnie Williams to win the race and the $6,000 prize.

Robie charged up to second as Williams fell back to 14th trying to go for the lead. Open race specialist “Big Money” Matt Hirschman finished third, followed by Woody Pitkat and Anthony Nocella. Silk wound up eighth.

MORE MONADNOCK: Aaron Fellows didn’t forget how to get to Victory Lane after his seven-race victory streak to start the season was snapped on Aug. 8. The Croydon, N.H., hot shoe picked up where he left off to snag his eighth Late Model Sportsman win of the season at the Route 10 oval. Damon Roy, of Claremont, N.H., won in Pure Stocks for the second week in a row, while Agawam’s Kevin Cormier secured the Mini Stock victory.

Fellows took control on lap nine of the 25-lap feature and pulled away to take the checkers. Orange’s Cole Littlewood came in second, followed by first-time podium finisher Camdyn Curtis. Justin Littlewood was fifth.

Four Franklin County drivers are in the top 10 in points in the LMS division. Cole and Justin Littlewood are third and fourth, respectively, while Scott and James Beck of Greenfield are seventh and ninth.

In Mini Stock action, Bernardston’s Shelby Avery had a top-three run going before getting bumped out of that spot late in the race for the second straight week. She wound up 11th. After Tim LeBlanc led the first 11 circuits, Cormier flashed to the lead and pulled away for his first victory of the season.

Avery is fifth in points, and rookie Jake Puchalski of Sunderland is seventh.

All three drivers who led laps in the Pure Stock race wound up on the podium. Northfield’s Mike Douglas led laps 7-19 and finished second. Roy led the laps that mattered late in the race and scored the victory, while early leader Jason Leray finished third to earn his first trophy.

Douglas hung on to his points lead, 34 ahead of Leray. JD Stockwell of Turners Falls is third, and Greenfield’s Jimmy Zellman is sixth.

The Street Stock division had the night off but will return this Saturday as part of a full card of racing. The NHSTRA Modifieds will headline with their Battle for the Cup event.

CHASE ON POLE: After winning last weekend on the Daytona road course, Chase Elliott will lead the field to the green flag Saturday for the first leg of the weekend doubleheader at Dover.

Instead of a random draw for the top 12 positions based on points, NASCAR is now using a system that weighs finishing position from the previous race (50%), ranking in team owner points (35%) and the fastest lap from the previous race (15%).

Jason Remillard is a copy editor and page designer at the Recorder. He can be reached at jremillard@recorder.com and followed on Twitter @racinwithjason.


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