Helliwell Hangs On In New Hampshire

Wayne Helliwell Jr. is one of several drivers to pre-enter the American Canadian Tour American Racer Challenge Cup at New Smyrna Speedway. (Matty Wiernasz Photo)
Wayne Helliwell Jr. won Saturday's Granite State Pro Stock Series event at Star Speedway in New Hampshire. (Matty Wiernasz Photo)
Wayne Helliwell Jr. won Saturday’s Granite State Pro Stock Series event at Star Speedway in New Hampshire. (Matty Wiernasz Photo)

EPPING, N.H. – Wayne Helliwell Jr. recorded his second career Granite State Pro Stock Series win at Star Speedway Saturday night after surviving a green-white-checkered finish.

Babe Branscombe took the lead after pole sitter Joey Squeglia Jr. spun his tires to start the race. Branscombe would lead the first 14 laps before Squeglia would overtake Branscombe and put car into the top spot. Squeglia would set a fast pace as the laps ticked by until lap 41 when Dennis Maxfield went around in turn three, bringing out the first caution of the night.

The old adage cautions breed cautions was true on the night, as the field saw five cautions in eight laps, one of which saw Squeglia relinquish the lead to Helliwell as Squeglia fell off the pace in a hurry as cars stacked up behind him, with John Salemi spinning in turn three. Squeglia would pit and rejoin the field just in time for the green flag.

Helliwell then had a new dancing partner in the form of Matt Frahm. Frahm, from the fifth starting spot, would work Helliwell multiple times over, but could not unseat him. Another green flag run saw Helliwell lead Frahm, Larry Gelinas, Barry Gray and Brad Babb, who recovered from an early race bobble which dropped the youngster out of the top 10.

The field would bunch back up after a spin involving early race-leader Branscombe. Helliwell would come out on top from multiple restarts, until the final showdown after a spin by Derek Griffith on lap 98 set up a green-white-checkered finish. Helliwell had Larry Gelinas on his outside door.

Helliwell got the jump when the green flew, but Gelinas put the fans on the edge of their seats by sticking a nose underneath Helliwell going into the final corner. Gelinas and Helliwell would make contact, resulting in Gelinas sitting in the infield and Helliwell speeding off for the victory. Frahm would inherit the second spot as a result of Gelinas’ spin, and Bobby Baillargeon fought his way to a third place finish after battling with Babb in the final few laps.

“We went out leading (the Icebreaker) with a flat right front, and since that race we’ve struggled with this car,” Helliwell said. “The last two weeks we’ve done a lot of work, even took a trip down to Virginia to put the car on a pull-down machine (a machine that checks vertical ride rates and travel limits). With this being it’s (the car) first time out, I’m happy with the results.”

Frahm, who took the point lead after Gelinas finished 16th, kept his eyes on the big picture.

“The car had really good grip on the outside, but just not enough to get by Helliwell,” said Frahm. “We definitely had a good points night. I knew what Larry (Gelinas) was going to have to do to Wayne (Helliwell, JR), which was exactly what I didn’t want to do to Wayne, which was root him off the bottom. It ended up working in my favor and we gained a bunch of points tonight.”

Babb finished in the fourth spot, with Dillon Moltz once again fighting his way back to a fifth spot.

The finish:

Wayne Helliwell Jr., Matt Frahm, Bobby Baillargeon, Brad Babb, Dillon Moltz, Bobby Cabral, Joey Squeglia Jr., George Helliwell, Babe Branscombe, Barry Gray, Mark Parks, Tommy O’Sullivan, Josh King, Cory Robert, Jesse Smith, Larry Gelinas, John Salemi, Derek Griffith, Todd Stone, Dennis Mitchell, Adam Norton, J.D. Miller.