Story By: JEFF BROWN / GRANITE STATE PRO STOCK SERIES – LEE, NH – In the early stages of Saturday afternoon’s Granite State Derby at Lee USA Speedway, Joey Doiron seemed more likely to place than to win. But the first horse across the finish line is not always the fastest horse out of the gate.
Doiron outdueled early leader Bryan Kruczek on a late restart, then held off Kruczek to post his first Granite State Pro Stock Series win of 2022 and the fifth of his career.
“That was cool, you know, playing cat-and-mouse,” Doiron said, crediting Kruczek for a clean battle on his winning pass.
The Berwick, Maine, veteran started third and was content to ride in the early laps, pacing himself behind Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. as Kruczek showed the way. Doiron slipped past Renfrew for second on lap 24, but Kruczek had already built a formidable lead from the pole position.
A winner at Star Speedway two weeks ago, Kruczek and his team were late additions to the entry list. But Kruczek looked like nothing of the sort early on, backing up his speed in time trials with a fast race pace as the laps clicked by.
With half the race in the books and Kruczek working lapped traffic, Doiron chipped away at Kruczek’s advantage, catching the leader as a spin brought out the first caution flag of the day at lap 69.
On the restart, Doiron held firm on the outside, keeping Kruczek from getting away with the lead. Doiron nosed ahead and finally cleared Kruczek for the top spot a couple laps later. Kruczek settled back into second, with Brandon Barker getting past Renfrew for third.
In the final stages, Corey Bubar spun while battling for fourth, handing Kruczek an opportunity to make it two-for-two in his GSPSS appearances this year. But Doiron was quick off the restart, distancing himself instantly from the battle for second place.
Already a GSPSS winner at Lee in 2019, Doiron led the final 15-lap sprint to become the fifth driver with two series wins at “New Hampshire’s Center of Speed.”
Kruczek held on for second, unable to find anything in the closing laps to run down Doiron. Barker, a two-time GSPSS Lee winner in 2018 and 2019, was third at the stripe in Archie St. Hilaire’s No. 32 entry.
Jimmy Renfrew Jr. finished fourth, his fourth GSPSS top-five finish at Lee. Nick Cusack was the best-finishing series rookie in fifth.
Shaking off two bad races to open the season, Jeremy Sorel matched his best series performance with a strong sixth-place run. Ryan Green was seventh ahead of Dylan Estrella. Luke Hinkley, the point leader entering the evening, ended his streak of second-place performances by finishing ninth. And in his GSPSS debut, Isaac Bevin ended the afternoon in tenth, driving back from a late-race spin.
Doiron’s win moves him to the top of the point standings only three races into the season. The 2019 GSPSS champion is poised to become only the second driver to win multiple championships in the series’ twelve-year history.
The next race on the GSPSS calendar is at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. on June 18, where the series will pair for a second consecutive event with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS, Granite State Derby, May 21, 2022:
1. (73) Joey Doiron
2. (19) Bryan Kruczek
3. (32) Brandon Barker
4. (00) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
5. (2) Nick Cusack
6. (77) Jeremy Sorel
7. (93) Ryan Green
8. (46) Dylan Estrella
9. (31NH) Luke Hinkley
10. (7) Isaac Bevin
11. (N40) Dan McKeage, Jr.
12. (99) Charlie Buxton
13. (17) Kevin Folan
14. (01) Sammy Gooden
15. (05F) Bobby Frappier
16. (12) Corey Bubar
17. (82) Bobby Baillargeon
18. (90NH) Casey Call