Story by Short Track Scene |By Jeff Brown
The New Hampshire native scored his second points-paying PASS win of 2021, sweeping the season’s events at the high-banked Connecticut oval.For the second time in a few hours Saturday evening, a driver named “Derek G.” drove to victory at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The second one may have been a bit more predictable. Derek Griffith took command just before halfway and survived a barrage of late-race restarts to win the Pro All Stars Series feature of Twisted Tea Saturday, the action-packed second day of Thompson’s 59th Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing.
Griffith fended off young Austin MacDonald to sweep the season’s PASS Super Late Model showdowns at the iconic Connecticut oval. “Congrats to these guys,” Griffith said in victory lane, gesturing to his close challengers. “They gave me a little run for our money there at the end.” With Griffith’s April Icebreaker win consigning him to a starting spot outside the top ten, the early laps were all about the MacDonalds. Eddie MacDonald, the multi-time Thompson feature winner and big-track expert, started from the pole and led a two-car breakaway in the opening laps. Stalking “The Outlaw” was the other MacDonald, the teenaged grandson of King Racing owner and former driver Rollie MacDonald. Austin settled into a groove quickly, staying close to Eddie’s bumper while Brandon Barker led a distant battle for third. The race pace was slowed eleven laps in by a grinding crash between DJ Shaw and Derek Ramstrom, both contenders for PASS National Championship honors.
Ramstrom’s borrowed car slammed the backstretch gate off turn two, forcing a red flag to remove his battered ride and check the gate. On the restart, Austin MacDonald took charge, beating “The Outlaw” off the restart and driving off from the field. After avoiding the Shaw-Ramstrom incident, Griffith wasted little time picking his way through traffic, working his way from ninth into second by lap 36. Anthony Constantino’s stalled car in turn one erased the rest of Griffith’s deficit with half the race remaining. At the drop of the green, Griffith powered into first, with Cory Casagrande getting past Austin MacDonald and into second. MacDonald pressured the Connecticut native for several laps, but with Oxford Plains Speedway track champ Dave Farrington at his own bumper, the young Canadian was unable to make a serious bid for second. Derek Gluchacki, who claimed his first American-Canadian Tour win only a couple hours before, saw his hopes of a strong PASS run go up in smoke with eleven laps remaining, spinning down the frontstretch and later retiring his Rollie Lindblad-owned mount.
The yellow flag was a reprieve for Austin MacDonald, who cleared Casagrande on the start and turned his attention to the battle for the lead. Austin MacDonald (#13) gave Griffith fits on restarts, but Griffith was able to keep the young Canadian upstart at bay. (Jeff Brown photo) Three laps later, the back half of the top ten was juggled again as Farrington and Johnny Clark made contact in turn three, sliding through the corner as the field dodged the spinning cars. A lap after the restart, Mike Mitchell and Michael Scorzelli wadded their cars up in a hard impact with the turn-four wall. One final incident, a spin for JR Robinson on lap 69, kept the young MacDonald in grasp of his first PASS win in only his third series start. But Griffith was able to make a nice escape from the pack on the restart, cruising home to his thirteenth career PASS North victory. In victory lane, Griffith gave credit to the tight-knit LCM Motorsports team, praising crew chief Louie Mechalides, spotter Dolly Mechalides, and the family and friends who support the small operation.
Griffith’s small team has powered him this year alone to a New Smyrna World Series championship in February, PASS road wins at Hickory Motor Speedway in April, impressive finishes in some of the year’s biggest Super Late Model features, a $10,000 win in August’s Motor Mountain Masters at Jennerstown (Penn.) Speedway Complex, and opened the door for the rising star to run his first NASCAR national touring series event. “My crew is so awesome,” he said. “We’re so lucky to do what we do, and we run really well. Man, I’m just so lucky. I’m amazed on how much success we’ve had the last couple years, and I’ve really got to thank them.”
Austin MacDonald impressed with his runner-up finish. The Nova Scotia native made his PASS debut in 2019 with a fourth-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. MacDonald was unable to make any starts in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but finished third in a PASS race at Oxford Plains Speedway this summer. With veteran racer Cassius Clark wheeling King Racing entries to two wins in 2021, including August’s Oxford 250, MacDonald was just short of keeping the team perfect on the season in its limited PASS appearances.
Eddie MacDonald was third at the finish, one position off from his result in April’s Icebreaker. The Massachusetts ace is still seeking his first PASS win of the season. Ben Rowe matched his season-best and his April Thompson finish, crossing the line fourth. Cory Casagrande slid to fifth at the finish after putting on a strong performance for his Nutmeg State fans and friends. Ryan Kuhn was sixth at the stripe, with Jake Matheson turning in another strong run in seventh. Former Granite State Pro Stock Series champion Devin O’Connell was eighth, with fellow GSPSS challenger Josh King finishing ninth in his second PASS race. Johnny Clark rebounded from his late spin to finish tenth. Shaw’s crash may have been a death blow to the five-time PASS champion’s bid for the PASS National Championship, with Griffith holding the points lead with one race remaining.
Similarly, Dan Winter’s 13th-place provided Johnny Clark with added security as he seeks his seventh PASS North crown. Two races remain to award the premier championship in New England’s fendered racing ecosystem. Griffith’s win might reinforce his bid for the PASS National Championship honors, but it also gives momentum to a team eyeing one or two more big events this season, including December’s Snowball Derby. In a couple months, that momentum may prove priceless.
Story by Kyle Busch Motorsports
Derek Griffith will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut behind the wheel of No. 51 Tundra Friday at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. The 24-year-old driver’s Toyota will carry co-primary sponsorship from JBL, the authority in engineering superior sound and Griffith’s NASCAR Home Track, Hudson International Speedway. Friday’s 200-lap race will be the first race of three races in the Round of 10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner’s playoffs. The No. 51 team qualified for the owner’s portion of the playoffs by finishing the regular season ranked fifth in the point standings. They enter the playoffs seventh on the playoff grid, four points ahead of the cutoff line for advancing to the Round of 8. Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) has won a series-record seven owner’s championships, including three by the No. 51 team (2013, 2014 and 2019).
Derek Griffith, Driver Q&A:
How do you feel about getting the opportunity to make your NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut?
“I can’t put into words how thankful I am to KBM, JBL and Hudson Speedway — this is really a dream come true. Just being here at KBM the last couple days and checking everything out and having it all settle in is pretty amazing.”
How are you preparing for your Truck Series debut?
“Definitely taking as much time as I can to watch as much footage as possible. I know going in that I’m going to have the best Toyota Tundra that I can have with Mardy (Lindley, crew chief) and the crew working on it. I have a lot of confidence in what they can do. Coming into Gateway it’s going to be a big thing for me for sure.”
Have you set any goals for your Truck Series debut?
“It’s hard to set goals with the circumstances that are at hand because I have such a lack of experience compared to the other drivers. If we go out there and have a good run and it shows good, that’s all I am hoping for. I don’t want to tear anything up, I want to have a good finish and I know that I have a truck that is capable of winning. I’m very excited to get out there, but don’t have anything as far as goals yet other than to keep it clean and do what I can.”
What does it mean to be carrying your hometrack’s logo on your Tundra for your Truck Series debut?
“The whole story from start to finish has just been amazing. I started racing at Hudson Speedway when I was 12 years old in a little Volkswagen Gulf. To come from there to be stepping into a Tundra prepared by KBM with Hudson Speedway on the side all these years later, I never thought I would be here. Especially with carrying Hudson Speedway on the side, it’s very fulfilling, very special to me to be able to do that.”
Derek Griffith Career Highlights:
Derek Griffith No. 51 JBL/Hudson Speedway Tundra:
KBM-62: The No. 51 team will unload KBM-62 for Friday’s race at World Wide Technology Raceway. KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch led 26 laps and finished second to KBM driver John Hunter Nemechek with the Tundra at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in April. Raphael Lessard drove KBM-62 in last year’s event at WWTR and came home with a sixth-place finish.
A Story by RaceDayCT.com
Derek Griffith has built up a reputation as one of the top young short track competitors in the country.
And while the Hudson, N.H. driver might be recognized for winning big shows across the country, winning in New England still means plenty for the 24-year old.
Saturday at Thompson Speedway Griffith got to add another big win to that ever growing resume. Griffith proved dominant in cruising to victory in the 75-lap Pro All Stars Series feature Saturday at the Icebreaker 2021 at Thompson Speedway.
“I love it here,” Griffith said. “I tell people all the time about how cool the Icebreaker is and how big of a weekend it is. You know we travel everywhere and not everybody understands how big of a weekend it is. … So to come get another [win] here is pretty cool. It’s definitely one to mark off.”
Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass. was second and Gabe Brown of Center Conway, N.H. third.
Thompson Speedway has long proved to be a place where Griffith has felt fully at home.
“It has a lot of characteristics like New Smyrna [Speedway] and we’ve been running down there for a long time,” Griffith said. “I think it just plays right into my driving style. A bunch of banking, big straightaways. You kind of have to maneuver through the straightaways and hit the corners just right. And just because you have a big motor doesn’t mean you’re going to be fast here. If you roll through the corner that’s really the biggest thing. Just a cool place, I always like coming here.”
A Press Release From Stafford Speedway
When the Granite State Pro Stock Series shifts the 2021 season into gear at Stafford Speedway on April 24 as part of NAPA Opening Day, one of the favorites among the “outsiders” would be Derek Griffith.
The 24 year old Hudson, NH native and driver of the #12g Hudson Speedway Chevrolet has amassed an impressive resume in his young career, winning the 2020 and 2021 Super Late Model championships at New Smyrna Speedway, the GSPSS championship in 2015, and the PASS championship in 2018. Griffith is looking forward to his first time racing at Stafford and adding the Connecticut half-mile to the list of tracks that he has conquered.
“We really enjoy all the local tracks in New England and we like to run at places where we see friendly faces,” said Griffith. “Granite State has always been a phenomenal series to work with and Mike Parks and the whole Granite State crew are awesome people. I’m very excited to come to Stafford to race. I’ve watched a lot of races there and I’ve always wondered why they didn’t have a Super Late Model or Pro Stock race so I’m pretty pumped about the race. It would be pretty cool for us to be able to come down to Stafford and have a good run.”
“Want to give a big thanks to my father John, my crew chief Louie Mechalides and his sister Dolly who is my spotter, and Hudson Speedway, which is the track where I started my racing career and has come on board as a sponsor, Spot On, which is a credit card processing company that came on board for the ARCA race at Daytona, Northeast Auto Imports, Tyngsboro Motors, and LCM Racing,” continued Griffith.
Griffith, along with many of the GSPSS regular drivers, has never competed at Stafford before but will have plenty of seat time in 2021 racing on each of the three April weekends leading up to NAPA Opening Day on April 24th. Griffith just won both stages of a PASS Super Late Model event this past weekend at Hickory Speedway and plans to compete in events at New Hampshire and Thompson before coming to Stafford. Griffith’s busy schedule gives him plenty of seat time to get back in the groove of being behind the wheel and might even give him a slight edge.
“We have a pretty busy month leading up to the Stafford race,” said Griffith. “It’ll be kind of nice that most everyone will be starting out on the same page having not run at Stafford. I know a select few guys like Keith Rocco have laps at Stafford and those are the guys you’ll have to look out for. I tell people all the time that there’s no replacement for seat time. The most important thing in this sport is seat time even if you have the best equipment. We’ve gone from the beginning of December running the Snowball Derby to Speedweeks and the Rattler, and now these next couple of weeks so we’re almost in the middle of our season as other guys are just getting started, which might give us a small advantage.”
While Griffith is certainly one of the favorites to win the GSPSS feature on paper, he knows that he has to hit the track and see how he and his car react to a new track. Griffith feels that he could either be one of the cars to beat, or one of the cars that has a lot of work to do to be a front runner.
“You almost have to reserve your thoughts until after the first practice session is over to know where you’re at,” said Griffith. “I can remember times where we thought guys were going to be much better than us and they end up being half a second off the pace and they don’t ever really get going and then sometimes you’re that car that is a half second off the pace. Our Pro Stock program has been pretty dang good the last couple years so I feel like we’ll have a pretty good car. There’s a lot of Granite State regulars who can win races like Joey Pole, Joey Doiron, and a lot of the guys who run weekly. I’m sure Mike O’Sullivan is going to be strong, Gabe Brown has been running much better, so there’s going to be a ton of competition. I’m excited to get racing with these guys because it gets harder and harder every year. We like to have a lot of competition.”
In addition to his GSPSS and Super Late Model duties, Griffith ran the Daytona ARCA race driving for Venturini Motorsports where he started 6thand finished 30th after getting caught up in a wreck. Griffith currently has plans to run the ARCA race at Kansas on May 1st and possibly more, if funding can be secured.
“So far all we have left is Kansas and we’re looking at possibly one or two more races, it all depends on the sponsor,” said Griffith. “Even though our finish was terrible because we got caught up in a wreck, they had a great time seeing a car with their name on it going around Daytona. Hopefully we’ll have something to announce in the coming weeks.”
For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.
A Story by NASCAR.com | By Paul Lambert
The world of Super Late Models is undoubtedly centered in the South, with drivers like Bubba Pollard and Stephen Nasse gobbling up the big prizes.
But for the last two years, it’s been New Englander Derek Griffith who’s been on top of the division at the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna.
After locking up his second straight SLM title at the World Series, Griffith joined a very select group of drivers to win at least two straight championships at New Smyrna in that division since New Smyrna began hosting the event in 1968 (Pete Hamilton, Junior Hanley, Dick Trickle, Pete Orr).
The week was a dominant one for Griffith. He picked up three wins and finished no worse than ninth in seven races, winning the title by 28 points over Ryan Moore.
From racing at Hudson Speedway in his hometown of Hudson, New Hampshire, Griffith has made it to the top over some of the best Late Model competition in the country.
“If you told me when I was 12 years old, when I was first starting off, that I even would be racing a Super Late Model, I’d have been like ‘Yeah, right. Whatever. Get out of here…’ I would never have projected myself to be in this position when I first started,” Griffith said.
In fact, Griffith’s career has gone nowhere but up the last couple of years. Driving the ARCA Menards Series in a part-time role with Chad Bryant Racing in 2020, Griffith picked up a pair of top fives and seven top-10 finishes in eight starts.
RELATED: Derek Griffith Career Stats | Watch: All 9 Nights of 2021 New Smyrna World Series
Only 24, Griffith’s stock has risen to the point where he’s one of the most sought-after Super Late Model drivers in the country. This past week, Griffith was being asked for advice on finding speed by young local drivers.
“It’s funny. I’m considered, like, an old guy now,” he said. “I’ve had some of the kids [in Florida] asking me questions, talking to me about stuff.”
Something Griffith has always been proud of has been that he’s very much a part of doing work on his cars. “The hard way,” as he calls it, began when he was a teenager, racing at his hometown track and it adds a bit more satisfaction each time he gets to Victory Lane.
“It’s a fulfillment level I can’t put into words,” Griffith says. “We’re just some little team from New Hampshire. It’s crazy to think that just because we’ve hustled, and put our time in, that it’s earned us the spot that we’re at right now.”
This year, Griffith has plans to run more ARCA races, along with short track events across the Northeast. Despite all the success and all the accolades that have gone his way to this point in his career, Griffith makes sure not to let the winning go to his head.
“I like to try to stay as humble as I possibly can,” Griffith says. “It’s so important for me to kind of keep my head in check and make sure I’m not overstepping where I think I need to be.”
“I’m always going to remember myself as that kid at Hudson Speedway that ran a Volkswagen Golf GTI for some fun on the weekends.”
With that in mind, Griffith continues winning—hopefully, with plenty more to come in 2021.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Derek Griffith finished on the podium during Friday’s David Rogers Super Late Model feature that opened the 55th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, but that simply wasn’t enough for the driver from New Hampshire.
Fast forward to Saturday and Griffith, the defending World Series champion in the David Rogers Super Late Model division, was in his own zip code as he roared to his first victory of the week and third of his career during the World Series.
“It just feels good, especially after last night,” Griffith said in Victory Lane. “I know we finished podium, but we got tore up and had all sorts of issues. To come out and kind of prove ourselves as someone who kind of belongs here, it feels good.”
With a band of storms washing out qualifying, the field for Saturday’s 35-lap feature was set based on the finishing order of Friday’s race. The top-six were then inverted, placing Justin Mondeik on the pole alongside Connor Mosack.
Mosack drove into the lead entering turn one from the top, with fourth-starting Griffith advancing to second by the completion of the first lap. Griffith took several looks to the inside of Mosack in the first few laps before finally making his move on lap eight. They raced side-by-side for two laps before Griffith completed the pass entering turn one on the 10th circuit.
It was effectively game, set, match from there as Griffith drove away from the field en route to the victory.
“We’re just a small, family-owned team,” said Griffith, who is also scheduled to compete in the ARCA Menards Series opener at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 13 for Venturini Motorsports. “It’s so cool to come down here and run with these guys and compete.”
Mosack finished more than a second behind Griffith in second, followed by Mondeik in third. Jacob Goede took fourth after holding off a fierce challenge from Jett Noland in the final laps of the race.
Bryan Kruczek initially won the 50-lap Sportsman feature after an intense battle with Friday’s feature winner Matthew Green, but both were later disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct after their respective crews shared harsh words with each other. That eventually led to a physical altercation in technical inspection, leading to the disqualifications.
As a result, third-place finisher Wayne Smith inherited the victory.
Noland doubled his fun in the Pro Late Model class as he outran Kody Swanson for the second-straight night. Travis Eddy also earned his second victory in as many days in the Florida Modified division.
Lastly, Matt Jarrett was initially declared the winner of the E-Mod feature, but he and runner-up Michael Mark were disqualified due to left-side weight violations. Tim Walters inherited the win.
Super Late Model (35 laps): 1. Derek Griffith, 2. Connor Mosack, 3. Justin Mondeik, 4. Jacob Goede, 5. Jett Noland, 6. Ryan Moore, 7. Sammy Smith, 8. Brad May, 9. Jake Garcia, 10. Dan Fredrickson 11. R.J. Braun, 12. Kris Wright, 12. Stephen Nasse, 14. Jesse Love, 15. Kelly Moore, 16. Daniel Dye, 17. Michael Hinde, 18. Jake Finch, 19. Nick Panitzke, 20. Kody Swanson 21. Bubba Pollard, 22. Jaden Cretacci, 23. Steve Weaver, 24. Patrick Thomas, 25. Travis Wilson.
A Press Release From Venturini Motorsports
Hard work, persistence and some spot-on timing helped New Hampshire born driver Derek Griffith fulfill his desire of returning to the racetrack after making eight starts during the 2020 ARCA Menards Series season.
Teaming with Venturini Motorsports (VMS), 23-year-old, Derek Griffith, with support from San Francisco based, SpotOn, small business software and payments company, will be back behind the wheel this season in ARCA’s premier touring series for two races under the VMS banner.
Griffith, a top-10 finisher at the Snowball Derby back in December, will showcase his No.55 SpotOn Toyota Camry during the series’ season-opener at Daytona International Speedway on February 13 and again at Kansas Speedway during the May event. Both races will be televised on FS1.
“Never give up,” responded Griffith when asked about his off-season deal allowing his return to the track. “This is awesome. I’ve worked really hard during the offseason to make this moment happen. I can’t thank everyone at SpotOn enough for giving me this incredible opportunity. I’m excited to represent their brand and continue to build our relationship.”
Griffith notched two top-5 and seven top-10 finishes during his eight starts in 2020 driving the No.22 for Chad Bryant Racing in the ARCA Menards Series.
“It’s an honor to now have the opportunity to represent my sponsor racing for such a successful organization like Venturini Motorsports. They’re a great team. I’ve been talking with Billy (Venturini) for a while – I’m excited everything fell into place the way it did. I’m ready to go!”