WINCHESTER, N.H. – Nine weeks into the 2022 season, Bay State Modified ace Ben Byrne seems to be coming into own atop the highly competitive NHSTRA open-wheel division.
By Gary Dutton
Saturday, a week after he’d won a 125-lap main event at Claremont, Byrne rocketed to his second win of the season at Monadnock Speedway, adding to his thin points lead with the 30-lap main event victory.
Justin Littlewood earned his third victory lap in a row, tying his brother Cole for most wins in the Late Model Sportsman division. With the win, he pulled even with Ryan Currier atop the points parade, while brother Cole – third Saturday – sits only two markers behind the potent duo.
Cameron Sontag won the Mini Stock feature Saturday, his first victory of the summer after two previous runner-up performances. Kyle Boniface romped to his second Pure Stock in six days on the high banks, and 12-year-old Addison Brooks, tentative in traffic just a few short weeks ago, was dominant in winning her first career Young Guns feature.
Cory Plummer set fast time in Modified qualifying, turning a lap of 13.032 seconds but it was Byrne, starting up front, who would lead every lap of the night’s main event. Brian Chapin, victorious two weeks ago, rode in Byrne’s shadow the first 26 laps.
When Chapin suddenly dropped off-pace with four laps to go, Nate Wenzel quickly moved up to challenge but, on this night, was no match for the speedy Byrne. Scott MacMichael, in the mix all night, came home third.
Kevin Vaudrien led the first three laps of the Late Model Sportsman feature, then giving way to three-time winner Cole Littlewood. whose brother Justin was soon at his bumper.
Justin Littlewood took charge on lap seven and never looked back en route to his threepeat victory, but the action behind him was fast and furious. Ryan Bell, a late arrival Saturday, got up for second on lap 19, with Cole Littlewood finishing at his bumper for third. A lap-17 brush-up dropped hot shoe Ryan Currier to eighth.
Cameron Sontag started up front in Saturday’s Mini Stock 25-lapper and led all the way to join his brother Chris on the 2022 winner’s list. Points leader Gordon Farnum had to duck pitside on lap six, then charging back to second on lap 17, but had to settle for the runner-up hardware two lengths out of first.
Chris Sontag was impressive in third, with Jeff Heath nipping Jeff Asselin after a furious battle for fourth.
Chris Davis took the lead from rookie Dominick Stafford on lap four of the Pure Stock feature, but soon had Kyle Robinson Newell and last Sunday’s winner Kyle Boniface knocking at his door.
Boniface, who hadn’t been in the driver’s seat for years prior to his June 19th victory, continued to shine. Taking the lead on lap 23, he blasted to his second victory in six days. Davis, who’d needed an afternoon trip home for spindle replacement, was close behind in second, with Robinson Newell staying atop the points parade in third.
Addison Brooks, who’d earned her first trophy in second two weeks ago, was on a rail Saturday, winning both her heat and feature races with ease. Two-time winner Owen Zilinski, aboard a backup ride, was a distant second Saturday, followed under the checkers by Markus O’Neill.
Next Saturday, July 2, it’s Firecracker Night at Monadnock Speedway. For decades, fans have flocked to the high banks for this huge event. The NHSTRA Modifieds will battle in a 100-lap Firecracker Night main event, atop a six-division card of racing, followed by a huge aerial fireworks display.
MONADNOCK SPEEDWAY JUNE 25 TOP FIVES:
NHSTRA MODIFIED: Ben Byrne, Nate Wenzel, Scott MacMichael, Aaron Fellows, Brian Chapin.
LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN: Justin Littlewood, Ryan Bell, Cole Littlewood, Kevin Vaudrien, Nancy Muni Ruot.
MINI STOCK: Cameron Sontag, Gordon Farnum, Chris Sontag, Jeff Heath, Jeff Asselin.
PURE STOCK: Kyle Boniface, Chris Davis, Kyle Robinson Newell, JD Stockwell, Billy Graham.
YOUNG GUN: Addison Brooks, Owen Zilinski, Markus O’Neill, Jamielynn Flannery.
Photo Credit – Emily Miller
#6 NHSTRA Modified Winner – Ben Byrne (Greenfield, Ma)