Travis Benjamin Opens ’23 Granite State Pro Stock Series Season In Star’s Victory Lane
Story By: JEFF BROWN / GRANITE STATE PRO STOCK SERIES – EPPING, NH – Saturday night’s Hedges Excavating 100 at Star Speedway launched the Granite State Pro Stock Series’ twelfth season at a familiar venue, but with a first-time winner claiming the checkers.
Maine racer Travis Benjamin took control at halfway and cruised to a long-overdue first victory with the New Hampshire-based Pro Stock touring series.
“I’ve never run good in a Granite State race,” Benjamin said in victory lane, “so it feels good to finally get a podium!”
A perfect spring evening served as the backdrop for the opening tilt of the GSPSS’ eight-race romp through the Northeast, with Saturday’s race the first of three planned visits to the Epping, N.H. bullring this year.
Rookie Garrett Lamb and Jeremy Sorel brought the field to green for the first time in 2023, with Sorel jumping out to an early advantage. Two early restarts spelled trouble for Lamb, as veterans Brandon Barker and Wayne Helliwell, Jr. shuffled the newcomer through the pack. But Sorel held steady, keeping the former series winners at bay as he made a case for his own breakthrough win.
Benjamin, who started sixth, had quietly climbed to third by a lap-37 yellow flag. The Belfast, Maine, veteran made quick work of Barker on the restart, then set his sights on Sorel. On lap 50, he made his move, slipping by Sorel for the top spot.
Evan Beaulieu, who restarted fifth on lap 37, found speed on the long run, chasing down Sorel for second with fourteen laps left. Beaulieu shaved time off Benjamin’s advantage as the veteran picked his way through slower traffic. But the race went clean and green to the finish, keeping Beaulieu from making his own bid for victory.
Benjamin took the checkered flag just over a second and a half ahead of Beaulieu, finally adding a GSPSS trophy to a long list of accomplishments.
Now a teammate to reigning GSPSS champion Joey Doiron, Benjamin credited his Petit Motorsports team for an offseason of hard work. “We struggled the last few years,” he said. “We’ve been horrible. And we finally started simplifying some stuff and just came back to the way we used to do it. This team here right here is just unbelievable. We had a really good car last week and an awesome car tonight.”
Beaulieu, who finished third at Star in 2021, was left wanting more after his best series performance. “I love this place, man,” he said. “Congratulations to Travis and those guys. If we had fifty more laps…this thing was on a rail.”
Sorel held on for third. “We’ve worked really, really hard over the last couple months to get this car ready for this,” he said of his first career GSPSS podium finish.
Vinnie Arrenegado finished fourth, with former series winner David Oliver rounding out the top five.
Helliwell was fastest on the stopwatch in time trials, then went on to win his heat race, earning bonuses from R&R Race Parts NH and Earnest Performance. Barker won the second heat race, pocketing a bonus of his own from Body’s By Kevin.
The next race of the 2023 Granite State Pro Stock Series season is at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H. on Saturday, June 3. More details will be shared when the event schedule has been finalized.
RESULTS, Hedges Excavating 100, May 6, 2023
1. (7) Travis Benjamin
2. (56) Evan Beaulieu
3. (77) Jeremy Sorel
4. (17RI) Vinnie Arrenegado
5. (21ME) David Oliver
6. (32) Brandon Barker
7. (27NH) Wayne Helliwell, Jr.
8. (38) Garrett Lamb
9. (21) Josh King
10. (66C) Bobby Cabral
11. (44) Rusty Poland
12. (04) TJ Watson
13. (31NH) Luke Hinkley
14. (15) Trevor Krouse
DNS (90NH) Casey Call
DNS (19) Bryan Kruczek