THOMPSON, Conn. — George Bessette added his name to the growing list of winners on the Granite State Pro Stock Series.
The second-year touring group opened the season at a new venue, but it was a familiar face for the Thompson Speedway fans waving the checkered flag.
“This is for them,” George beamed from victory lane, pointing to the LaMountain Bros. team. “The fans have watched me run like a bag of you know what for the past couple of years, and to win today, feels great!”
The 50-lap main event started with Billy Brady and Glenn Tyler bringing the 21-car field down to the green. Tyler jumped out to the lead, and set a fast pace around the five-eighths-mile oval. Brady ran second, but started to slide back just a little, as Mike O’Sullivan moved into the runner up position. O’Sullivan put pressure on Tyler, but could not squeeze by the Katie’s of Smithstown machine.
Former Thompson Pro Stock Champion Larry Gelinas ran fourth for several laps before being overtaken by Louis Mechalidas, who was working his way up from his tenth starting position. By the time he moved into fourth, he had some ground to make up, and in ten laps, was up to third. As he closed in on the leaders, he made quick work finding himself in a battle for the lead.
Lightning Lou moved to the inside of Tyler as they came off turn four, and moved to the top of the leader board as they completed lap 21. From there, the MacLellan Metal Finishing Chevy checked out from the rest of the field.
At the lap-25 mark, Mechalidas had already opened up a second advantage on Tyler, O’Sullivan, Brady, and Bessette, who had just moved into the top five. Gelinas, Jake Vanada, Carl Eriksson, Jim Banfield and Mike Parks were sixth through 10th.
At the 30-lap mark, the Flamingo Motorsports Chevy of O’Sullivan started to pressure Tyler once again, and on lap 35, took over the second position. By that time, the lead was several seconds from first to second. The lapped traffic didn’t slow down the leader at all, but on lap 41, Mechalidas slowed down the backstretch, and with that slight puff of smoke, the whole complexion of the race changed.
On the restart, the new leader, Mike O’Sullivan chose the outside lane over Bessette, who had just moved into third past Tyler. Bessette raced wheel to wheel with O’Sullivan, something these two drivers have done many times over the years, and as they came off turn two, the Danbury, CT native found himself at the top of the leader board. Jake Vanada moved into third just before the second caution came out for Carl Eriksson, who spun off the second corner and hit the backstretch wall. Bessette had the lane choice, and gave O’Sullivan the same option, the inside lane, but once again, the MadDog showed the way as the duo raced off the second turn for the third and final restart.
With a fist up in the air, Bessette crossed under the checkered flag, becoming the eighth different winner in series history, extending the streak of different winners for the second year series. O’Sullivan crossed the line in second, with Tyler moving back into third over the final few laps. Jake Vanada and Jim Banfield rounded out the top five.