Plenty of novelty awaits the Granite State Pro Stock Series entering its twelfth year on the road. And to get it all started, the New Hampshire-based touring circuit is returning to where last year’s championship chase wrapped up.
Saturday’s Hedges Excavating 100 at Star Speedway kicks off an eight-race schedule that introduces two new venues to the series’ repertoire and visits the Empire State for the second time in series history.
Race Advance by Jeff Brown of Souza Media, For Granite State Pro Stock Series, PHOTO: Rob Branning/GSPSS
But it all starts at “The Place To Race,” where 100 laps around the Epping, N.H. bullring will decide the first winner of the 2023 season.
Star has hosted sixteen rounds of GSPSS competition since 2012, crowning winners from 2020 champion Joey Polewarczyk to 2015 titlist and rising NASCAR star Derek Griffith. The venerable track owned by the Webber family will roll out the red carpet for the GSPSS in a big way this year, welcoming the series for three races starting with this weekend’s showdown.
Bryan Kruczek is one driver who has all three Star dates circled on his racing calendar. The Newmarket, N.H. ace, who drives for track owner Bobby Webber, Jr., has won three of the last four GSPSS bouts at Star, sweeping both races in 2022. Presented with three opportunities in 2023 to visit the brick-paved winner’s circle at his team’s home track, Kruczek is aiming to start the new year off the way last year ended, with a celebratory smoke show in turn four.
The home track advantage for Kruczek is real, but so is the star power on the entry list for this weekend’s lidlifter. Wayne Helliwell, Jr., a 2014 GSPSS winner at Star, and multi-time GSPSS feature winner Brandon Barker, have already logged laps this year before taking the green flag with GSPSS this week. Travis Benjamin, a winner in some of the region’s biggest races and another racer with past Star success, will be in the hunt for his first series trophy.
David Oliver, Rusty Poland and Evan Beaulieu have all found speed around Star in the past, and will be trying to bring new hardware home to the Pine Tree State. TJ Watson and first-year Pro Stock pilot Garrett Lamb are making their Star debuts, but hope to represent Maine on the podium as well. Rhode Island’s Vinnie Arrenegado, Jr. made his series debut last fall and returns for another shot at GSPSS success before competing at his home track, Seekonk Speedway, on opening day Sunday.
The road warriors have no shortage of competition from the GSPSS home team, either. Casey Call, a first-time winner in 2022, returns to the series with a focus on repeating his nail-biting victory over Tyler Reddick last July. Vermont veteran Josh King and New Hampshire’s Luke Hinkley are back on board. Massachusetts’ Jeremy Sorel looks to build on his progress last season. Rookie Trevor Krouse, who made his series debut at Star last fall, has a full season of learning ahead. Local veterans like Bobby Cabral and Bobby Frappier round out a stout bunch of GSPSS stalwarts with the goal of keeping the win away from the visitors.
Calling the action for fans in the stands and at the Outside Groove Saloon will be veteran motorsports journalist and announcer Mark Thomas. One of the most recognizable voices on the mic, “Marco” will be the voice of the GSPSS in 2023, with longtime announcer Andy Hall taking a greater role in the pits.
Qualifying takes on a new level of urgency this year, with extra money on the line for the day’s fastest drivers. R&R Race Parts of NH will award $100 to the fastest qualifier in time trials and $75 to the runner-up. Earnest Performance and Body’s By Kevin have stepped up to sponsor Saturday’s heats, with bonus payouts to the top three finishers in each heat race. Each heat winner will also receive five gallons of Sunoco race fuel, bringing added value to the night’s qualifying action.
And for a second year in a row, representatives from all five feature divisions will be in fierce competition for the Drivers’ Run For The Roses, Star Speedway’s tribute to the Kentucky Derby. Kruczek won last year’s inaugural en route to his GSPSS victory, and this year’s event looks to be just as thrilling.
The Granite State Pro Stock Series’ twelfth season opens Saturday with the Hedges Excavating 100 at Star Speedway in Epping, N.H. The stars and cars of the GSPSS will be joined by Star’s 350 Supermodifieds for their annual Bob Webber, Sr. Memorial 47, with Star’s Six Shooters, Slingshots and Cruisers rounding out a five-feature program. Heat racing starts at 5:00pm. General admission tickets are $25, junior/senior/military admission is just $20, and kids ten and under are admitted free.
For more information on the Granite State Pro Stock Series, visit http://www.gspss.net or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.