A win is always worth celebrating. A win at a home track is always that much more special. And then there are wins like Bryan Kruczek’s Friday-night victory at Star Speedway.
The veteran racer from Newmarket, N.H. held off Joey Doiron in a 28-lap green-flag run, winning the Ty Cooper Land Holdings 100 to close out the Granite State Pro Stock Series’ 2022 season.
And while Kruczek has won three out of the last four GSPSS races at Star, Friday had a deeper significance to his Bobby Webber Racing team.
“We messed it up one time there last fall,” Kruczek said, reflecting on his streak of success at the track owned by his car owner. “We made it a point this year that this was one we were gonna win.”
Friday’s racing not only kicked off Star Classic Weekend at the track owned by the Webber family, but commemorated the 75th birthday of track patriarch Bob Webber, who lost his battle with cancer in 2018.
Kruczek rolled off fourth on the grid and followed outside polesitter Rusty Poland to the front on the first lap as they cleared polesitter Travis Benjamin. Poland held the point for nine laps before Kruczek worked his way past to take the lead. While Poland fell into the clutches of Doiron and Brandon Barker, Kruczek set sail.
As Kruczek managed slower traffic, Doiron passed Poland for second, setting his sights on the leader. The newly-crowned GSPSS champion had been in a similar spot just a week before in the Freedom 300 at Lee USA Speedway, waiting until later in the race to pounce on a fading Kruczek. That, in itself, was a repeat of the GSPSS-sanctioned Granite State Derby at Lee in May.
Sure enough, as the race approached halfway, Doiron began to trim time from Kruczek’s advantage, closing in on the leader’s bumper in traffic.
As the leaders cleared a cluster of slow cars on lap 72, though, one car clipped Doiron on his way past, sending the champion for a slide through turn three. Doiron gathered his car up, but the cars scattering in his mirror brought out the race’s first caution flag, eliminating the rest of Kruczek’s margin.
The two frontrunners lined up nose-to-tail for the restart, with Casey Call and Vinnie Arrenegado, Jr. gambling on a choose-cone option to restart second and fourth. Kruczek was faster to the gas for the restart, with Doiron following through to take second.
But Kruczek’s car was hooked up on the short run, and with slower traffic a whole race track ahead, there was little opportunity for Doiron to wait for an obstacle to slow the determined leader.
Kruczek crossed the line just under seven tenths of a second ahead of Doiron to sweep the 2022 races at his team’s home track.
“I was still saving when I was riding out front,” he said. “Just running my line, not sliding the thing. That’s what I’ve learned from the same guy all the time, and he’s pretty good.”
Doiron, fastest on the clock in time trials, started back in sixth and felt like he was a step behind from the drop of the green.
“It’s just one of those nights where the draw kind of hurts you,” he said. “I felt like me and Bryan were pretty equal. I was pretty tight. I feel like if I could have beaten him to the front, it would have probably been a different story, but he got to the front first.”
Bobby Webber takes great pains to pay tribute to those who have helped grow the speedway over the years. Bobby’s children, Tim and Jaime, have their own roles at the track as well.
Kruczek teamed up with Webber’s race team in 2019, steering Bobby Webber Racing entries to victories with the American-Canadian Tour, the GSPSS, and even at New Smyrna Speedway’s World Series. When Webber’s race cars are idle, Kruczek pitches in at Star. From the outside, Kruczek is part of the family.
And with Bob Webber looking on from the hood of Kruczek’s mount, the whole Webber family was able to celebrate Friday night.
Unofficial Results, GSPSS Ty Cooper Land Holdings 100 at Star Speedway:
1. (19) Bryan Kruczek
2. (73) Joey Doiron
3. (32) Brandon Barker
4. (90NH) Casey Call
5. (44) Rusty Poland
6. (17RI) Vinnie Arrenegado, Jr.
7. (31NH) Luke Hinkley
8. (09) Ryan Ripley
9. (46) Dylan Estrella
10. (7) Travis Benjamin
11. (2) Nick Cusack
12. (77) Jeremy Sorel
13. (N40) Dan McKeage, Jr.
14. (55) Randy Cole
15. (99) Charlie Buxton
16. (66C) Bobby Cabral
17. (15) Trevor Krouse
18. (05F) Bobby Frappier
DNS (82) Bobby Baillargeon