WALPOLE, N.H – With 10 races down and two races to go, the Granite State Pro Stock Series is heading for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park to be part of the Sunoco World Series. Heading to the high-banks of Thompson, there are two drivers at the top of the championship standings looking to capture the title.
The top of the points has Springfield, Mass. driver Mike O’Sullivan holding a 14-point advantage behind the wheel of his No. 08 Tom O’Sullivan Welding Super Late Model. In the first 10 races of the season, O’Sullivan has yet to visit Victory Lane. But the former series champion is not giving in.
“After the first race of the season at Lee it didn’t look so good,” O’Sullivan said. “We came out with the outlook that we were going to try and run for points and the championship. Crashing out on lap one of the first race and then going to Riverhead, -- we were leading the race there and broke. We started out zero for two.”
The first 10 races have seen a bumpy road for O’Sullivan. He started with those finishes outside the top 10, but then turned it on, finishing three straight races inside the top seven at Claremont, Seekonk and New Hampshire.
“We had speed so I wasn’t really that worried about it to be honest,” O’Sullivan said. “We weren’t really looking at the points. When we went to Claremont, both my brothers car and my car were really good, my brother won and we finished third. Seekonk was the first time we were there, it didn’t end up too bad.”
In the five races since a fourth at NHMS, O’Sullivan has a two finishes of 13th, a 10th, fourth and second. He mentioned that he struggled at Lee and Star this season, but felt the team had great speed at all of the other tracks. His second place finish at White Mt. Motorsports Park was his best run of the year to date.
Although O’Sullivan has plenty of experience at Thompson, he doesn’t have as much experience at New London-Waterford Speedbowl. He is hoping to finish the final two races strong and mentions that you won’t necessarily have to win a race to win the title. But he is hunting that checkered flag.
“When you start the season, you have a goal (to win the championship) with your guys and you’re trying to accomplish a goal with them,” O’Sullivan said. “To see that goal through is a really good feeling; I want to see a smile on their faces. It’d be a good feeling to know that over the course of the year, you collected the most points of anyone.”
For second-place Scott MacMichael, this season has been everything he was looking for as he hopes to win his first series championship. He came into this season as a Rookie of the Year contender and has excelled behind the wheel of his No. 72.
“I didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t driven one of these cars, so we had Dale Shaw go through the car for us. I didn’t really even know how to drive this car at the beginning of the year,” MacMichael said. “I had driven modifieds and had to save my tires, but in these cars, the tires can go hard for 100 laps. If I didn’t have a good car at the start of the race my only option was to hang out and try to stay out of the wrecks. I took it easy trying to learn the car and it has put me in position for the points. If I didn’t blow up at Loudon, we’d be in a really good position.”
The finishes for MacMichael pretty much mirror those of O’Sullivan. Both drivers have had some nights at the front of the field and both have definitely had some misfortune as well. MacMichael finished 11th in the season-opener at Lee, then fourth and sixth in the next two races. Two finishes outside the top 10 at Seekonk and NHMS pushed him back in the standings.
However, he followed it up with a fifth at Lee, a 13th at White Mt., then his best run of the year, a second place finish in the JBH 100 at Monadnock, where he says he probably should have won the race. A fifth at Star last time out bested a finish of 17th at Oxford the race before.
Much like O’Sullivan, MacMichael isn’t sure he will need to win a race in the final two in order to lock up the title. But he is going to give it everything he has to take a checkered flag.
“Bob (the car owner) and the guys have worked hard, I definitely want to win the championship in my rookie year,” MacMichael said. “It’d be great to get the championship, I kind of thought we would be a little bit better speed-wise. I’m 35-years-old, I don’t just want to win the Rookie of the Year. I want to win the championship. I’ve had such a good time doing this. To win the championship, it would mean a ton.”
O’Sullivan has sponsors like the family company, Tom O’Sullivan Welding and Flamingo Motorsports, a group that has been with him for more than a decade. Tom Rosati, among others, also help O’Sullivan get to the track.
MacMichael wishes to thank his entire team, which he says works extremely hard to get him the car he needs to race up front, along with Dale Shaw from Dale Shaw Race Cars, who has been a huge help to his team.
Both O’Sullivan and MacMichael will return to the track when the Granite State Pro Stock Series visits Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as part of the Sunoco World Series on Friday, Oct. 13. The series will practice, qualify and race all in the same day, with a 60 lap feature on tap.
Following Thompson, the only race left on the schedule is the 2017 season finale at New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Oct. 21.
For more information on the series, fans are encouraged to visit the website, www.gspss.net, or keep up with the lastest on Facebook.