Sonnhalter Grabs First Win Of 2016

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Gloomy skies dominated the north country on Saturday as the NEMST made its second trek of 2016 to the newly restructured Speedway 51 in Groveton, NH. Last month Haywood Herriott paced the field taking home the win in front of his hometown crowd. The skies briefly opened up before practice but the rest of the night was clear sailing as 18 NEMST minis joined the pit area.

Rookie of the year leader Cody Leblanc took home the first heat after beating teammate Haywood Herriott on an early restart after a hard wreck into the turn four wall by Loren Smith. In the second heat another rookie brought home the win in the form of Brandon Gray and his Volkswagen truck. After the heat races the invert chip drawn was a 7 row invert moving both heat winners to the 13th and 14th starting positions.

The pole sitter Stephen Donahue was unable to make the start due to damage suffered in the street stock main event placing Justin Faford on the pole for his first time on the NEMST. Faford broke out to the lead for the first two circuits before Dana Shepard would take over the top spot leading his first laps as an NEMST competitor. Another Mustang took over the lead next as Mike Viens began to lead the field around the speedway. On lap 4 hard luck struck again for two-time champion Emerson Cayer as he had a flat tire and was forced to pit falling 8 laps down to the leaders, upon his return Cayer was running pace with the top 5 competitors but unable to earn any laps back.

By lap 10 Matt Sonnhalter took over the lead with his teammate Brandon Gray hot on his heels as they ran away from the rest of the field. On lap 27 the aforementioned second place car of Brandon Gray broke a right rear hub while running in turn four causing the car to spin out of control and created hard contact with the rear and then the front of the car into the outside retaining wall as the tire and wheel bounced down the front straight resting inside of turn one.

On the restart Sonnhalter continued to control the field with Jake Rheaume taking over second and Haywood Herriott pushing forward to third place. Sonnhalter would hang on for the win with Rheaume winning the close battle over Herriott for second. Mike Viens turned his recent luck around with a fourth place finish and Cody Leblanc came home fifth making his best career NEMST finish.

Up next for the NEMST is the final event of 2016 at the Thompson World Series October 15 and 16 in Thompson, CT. For more NEMST or TSMP information please visit our website at www.northeastministocktour.com or Like us on Facebook.