Texas Roadhouse North East Mini Stock Tour
Mike Mason of Skowhegan, ME made history Saturday May 12, 2012 by being the first driver to ever win on the road course at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a stock car. Much earlier in the day over 30 teams from six New England states hauled their trailers from near and far to be a part of the first Texas Roadhouse North East Mini Stock Tour event of the 2012 season.
At 11:00 AM all of the drivers were gathered around the NEMST tech area and given an instructional drivers meeting by NHMS Director of Operations Tom Blanchette and NEMST Promoter Bob Guptill. The drivers were given the tips and hints of road course success as well as instruction on the different types of flags and caution areas the excitement continued to build for the practice session rapidly approaching. At noon the drivers were instructed to strap into their vehicles and prepare for a 45 minute long practice session to build experience as well as set the starting order for the feature later on in the day.
As the time on the practice session wore down multiple cars ran many laps trying to find the best route to navigate the unfamiliar course at the fastest speedway. At the end of 45 minutes it was the rookie competitor, and eventual winner, Mike Mason with the fast time set at 1:24.122 around the 1.6 mile course. Mason beat out 2009 NEMST champion Emerson Cayer buy only .140 seconds to secure the first starting position in the event. Many competitors experienced wear and tear on their machines and required extensive drivetrain repair to be ready for the feature scheduled for 6:00 PM that evening.
Later on in the afternoon all of the cars went through pre-race inspection and were lined up according to their speeds earlier in the practice session. Preparations for the event and final adjustments to the cars were still being made as NEMST Promoter Bob Guptill spoke to the drivers and crews before the start of the feature. The Tater’s NASCAR Merchandise award was won by Pete Zakarite and was in the amount of $50. Pro-4 Champion Stan Mertz also made a cash prize available and John Kelly received $100 from him. At 6:00 PM the feature began to roll onto the race track for the final event of the evening.
As the green flag waved the action was quick as the pole sitter Mason jumped out to a lead down the long front stretch. The horsepower of Mason’s Acura was strong but the Mustang of Emerson Cayer dogged the leader through the corners waiting to capitalize on any mistakes. Once the laps began to tick off the field spread out and a few competitors were forced to the garage area with mechanical issues. On lap 4 the second place vehicle of Cayer lost his transmission down the front stretch and brought out the first full caution of the event. When the field resumed Minot Maine’s Scott Farrington showed some strong power and began to tail mason through the windy turns of the road course.
With laps winding down a few cautions came out and closed the NEMST field up and made for exciting and challenging restarts, with young competitors Shawn Swallow and Cris King showing a very strong presence in the top 5. When the checkered flag fell it was cars from Maine controlling the top 2 positions of Mike Mason and Scott Farrington, with John Kelly, Shawn Swallow, and Mark Panaroni rounding out the top 5. Danny Field won the $25 Texas Roadhouse Gas Card for his 17th position finish.
The NEMST is back in action on June 2nd at the Waterford Speedbowl as part of their annual Four-Cylinder Fury night. For additional information please visit www.northeastministocktour.com and www.speedbowl.com
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