By Dick Therrien
GROVETON — It was opening night on Saturday at Speedway 51 powered by the Autosaver Group at the high banked quarter-mile oval in Groveton, New Hampshire, and the fans were treated to some red hot racing throughout the evening at the NAPA Spectacular. Winners included Corey Mason, Brendan Moodie, Thomas Merchant and Kyle Labounty.
The North Country Ford Late Models were in town for Round No. 1, and the event feature side-by-side racing for the entire 50-lap run. Chip Grenier grabbed the point and held the field at bay for the first 24 laps before a cut right front tire brought out the lone caution event of the race. Mike Kenison assumed the point with Corey Mason to his outside. The next 21 laps were some of the best seen in years at the pair ran side-by-side, swapping the lead numerous times before Mason took over and grabbed the lead on the outside.
Kenison now had his hands full with rookie driver Brendan Moodie as he took to the outside lane and passed Kenison at the stripe on lap 48. Mason collected the checkered flag ahead of Moodie, Kenison, Randy Potter and Kevin Boutin. Mason won the qualifying race.
A short field of Perras Ace Hardware Tiger Sportsman took to the track for their 15 lap feature event, and when it was over, 2016 champion edged out newcomer John Boutin for the win. The pair battled hard with Boutin leading the first 14 laps, before Moodie battled his way by on the final lap. Chris Noyes, subbing for Bill Stebbins Jr. finished third.
A highly entertaining Caron’s Fabrication Street Stock feature saw newcomer Thomas Merchant from Eden Mills, Vt., capture his career first feature win in dominating style. The battle behind the leader was intense as four cars raced under a blanket the entire race. Brett “The Jet” Rowell held off Kasey Beattie, Brandon Lamphear, and Bunker Hodgdon to claim the runner-up spot. Rowell carried the checkered flag in the heat race.
It was a family feud for the A.B. Excavating Daredevils as younger brother Kyle Labounty edged out his older sibling Garrett Labounty to grab his first ever Daredevil victory. Early Leader Josh Plumley raced home third ahead of rookies Hunter King and Jesse Dunham.
Speedway 51 powered by the Autosaver Group will return to action on Saturday, May 20, for the Tiger Sportsman Special. Joining the Tiger Sportsman will be the Street Stocks, Daredevils and Pure Stocks. There will also be Bike Races for the kids. Bike classes will include ages 0-3, 4-6. 7-9, and 10-12. Post time for the event is 6 p.m. For more information on this event and others, visit www.speedway51int.com, or call the new track hotline message info center at (802) 266-0240. Speedway 51 is located on Brown Road in Groveton.