North East Mini Stocks made a stop at the old Cement Palace and, though the racers come from all over the northeastern US, it fell to a local driver from West Bridgewater to haul down the trophy. Glen Thomas took the lead on lap 20 from Emerson Cayer of Contoocook, NH, who had grabbed the spot right from the outside pole. And Cayer chased Thomas all the way to the checkers at lap 50, always threatening to take the lead back. Michael Viens of Seekonk, spent most of the race in third, where he had started the race, but Thomas and Cayer were so intent on each other that they left little room for Viens to get past. Still, the trio were the podium finish for the tour event. Rounding out the top five on the event came Desmond Skillings of Antrim, NH and Kodi Sabins of Windsor, VT.
Former Sport Four champ Devin Miranda came back to his home track as part of the tour but his homecoming was met with a balky ride and he lost two laps on pitstops. Bill Schoeler joined the event but the tech man encountered problems that sidelined him after 32 laps.
Thomas started on the inside of row seven and progressed steadily through the field as Cayer and Viens battled for the lead over the first fifteen circuits. One caution had marred the early running as debris on the track called out the safety crew on lap 13 while Cayer was enjoying a straightaway lead over Viens and about to lap Miranda.
NEMST has an interesting caution restart for their events: as the field circles single file, an officil drops a highway pylon in turn three. When the cone is on the track, any driver can choose to shoot to the second lane for the restart and many try to do so. The old bullring at Seekonk is not so easy a way to work the outside, but the drivers do take the opportunity. Skillings took the shot on lap 13 as Viens elected to stay on Cayer’s bumper. And stay on the bumper he did, freezing Skillings outside. Viens then tried to drop under Cayer as Vermont driver Cody Sabins took third followed by Thomas and then New Hampshirite Matt Boucher.
Thomas ducked under Jacob Rheaume as behind him Skillings was cutting under Mitch Bombard. But lap 15 saw Marlboro’s Jarrod Soucy up against the wall between turns one and two. He was off on the hook and the field reformed. When the cone came out, Thomas was fourth, but he leapt to the outside pole to challenge Cayer. Skillings roared up again to the outside of row two, alongside Viens. Behind them sat Sabins and Bombard.
It was door-to-door out of the box. Cayer went ahead and Thomas dropped in ahead of Skillings, who had Sabins and Bonbard behind him.
On lap 19, Thomas looked underneath and drove underneath. Cayer got very wide and Thomas nosed ahead in turn four. But Cayer came battling back. It took Thomas another two laps of persistence but he finally got out front of Cayer. Viens continued in third and behind him Sabins was under Skillings. Not done or undone, Cayer ran up to Thomas’ buimper and Viens closed in as Justin Faford found the same spot on the wall that Soucy had hit. But the real drama came moments later as Bombard began to pour smoke and he pulled off the backstretch to the infield as flames belched out of his radiator. Emergency crews closed on Bombard as the red flag flew and Bombard scrambled from his vehicle. Fire crews opened it up and secured the car for the tow back to the pits.
This time, the cone attracted no takers and the field crossed over with Thomas and Cayer on the front. They battled for position and Viens settled into third to wait. Cayer dropped in and then began trying to slingshot around the outside coming out of the turns, but Thomas was able to hold him off.
By lap 31, they were still locked in their duel, followed by Viens. Nick Anderson ran fourth, followed by Skillings, Nate Taylor, Boucher, Rheaume and Sabins. Cayer was still all over Thomas’ bumper on lap 33 as Soucy went around in turn four and Schoeler was collected. Soucy was away and running as Miranda headed for the pits. Schoeler needed a push to the pits to end his night. Miranda was able to return after some work.
Skillings rushed up to the outside front and Cayer settled in Behind Thomas with Boucher on his shoulder. Thomas rushed away and Cayer was under Skillings. Behind them, Viens got under Boucher. Skillings tried to get below Viens and pulled alongside, but Rheaume took a solo spin out of turn one.
Thomas pulled away on the green and Cayer pursued with Skillings on his tail. Now Viens was working under Louis Maher while behind them Boucher was under Nate Taylor. Faford had something go wrong as he slowed markedly and limped toward the pit tunnel.
Thomas and Cayer continued their brawl and Skillings now settled into third with Viens in pursuit. Maher followed. By lap 40, however, Viens had recovered third and Skillings was fourth. The field was strung out single file and they wound around the oval in position. Cayer was able to keep running up to Thomas’ bumper but the stubborn Bridgewaterite refused to let him pass. Cayer was all over his back end, however while Viens was a full straight behind them and Skillings about the same distance behind Viens.
With 5 laps to go, the lead was still paper thin. However, Thomas found a few more turns on his tachometer and over the following circuit had pulled out to a two car lead. Undeterred, Cayer rused back up and they pitched and yawed the open space all the way to the white flag.
Entering the final lap, Thomas’ mirror was as full of Emerson Cayer as it had been all night, but he hung on to his lead through the checkers. Cayer grabbed second, just two tenths of a second back.
Completing the top ten on the event were Nick Anderson in sixth, followed by Nate Taylor, Rheaume, Boucher and Maher.