PHOTO: Nick Berry opened the season at Legion Speedway with a Sprint Cars of New England victory on Sunday. (VMM photo)

(From track press release)

RUMNEY, N.H. — The 2011 season at Legion Speedway got off to a rousing — albeit tardy — start on Sunday with Nick Berry, Doug Norrie, Terry Reil, and Lacey Hanson taking down wins in the all-open cockpit, all-winged, Super Sunday Series.

Manchester, N.H., driver Berry, who has only raced Sprint Cars sporadically in recent years while concentrating on his Modified exploits, pulled off a wire-to-wire victory, besting a 19-car field of talented 360ci Sprint Car drivers in the Sprint Cars of New England 25-lap marquee event. It was Berry’s first Sprint Car win since 2007.

At the start, Berry faced a surprising challenge from NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour star “Asphalt Andy” Seuss, who is in his rookie year both on dirt and in a Sprint Car.

“To be honest, I thought I’d be able to get by Andy easy at the start because he doesn’t have much time in a Sprint Car, but he did a really good job. He didn’t give it to me without a fight, that’s for sure,” Berry confided. “I knew I had a good car, so after I got the lead, it was just a matter of being patient and then working my way through lapped traffic. The car hooked up really well so I just had to not over drive it.”

In the late stages, Shawn Lawler battled rookie Tyler Rich for second before securing the spot, but was never able to get within striking range of Berry. Another rookie, Jake Williams, drove a smart race to finish fourth and Kevin Chaffee came from 15th to finish fifth.

West Suffield, Connecticut’s Doug Norrie highballed from the tail end to win the 25-lap East Coast Mini Sprint Association main for 750/1000/1200cc uprights. He had to withstand a late challenge from fellow townsman Justin Phillips. Rob Walendy finished third and was the first 750cc across the line, followed by 750cc cohorts Wayne Bush and Nikki Ouellette.

“Phillips almost got me there at the end, he got better and I got worse, but I was still better than him,” Norrie joked, as Phillips stood by laughing. “I think I might have sealed a tire over, because after a while I just didn’t have the bite. The bottom was better, which is I think where he was and after I moved to the bottom he couldn’t catch me.”

The 600cc 20 lapper was co-sanctioned by the Northeast Mini Sprints and the Granite State Mini Sprints and Northeast Mini Sprints president Terry Reil of East Barre, Vt., took the win. Josh Boissoneau lost the lead to Reil on a restart and was attempting to battle back when his fuel pump let go, forcing him to the pits. Rookie Kevin Heath looked comfortable en route to his second place finish. ‘Racey Lacey’ Hanson, who lived up to her nickname by competing in three different classes during the afternoon, was third. Rookie Scott Preston finished fourth and rookie Spencer Allen, who was second across the line but penalized for passing before the cone on a restart, was fifth.

“It was an awesome race with good racing all around,” Reil said. “Josh Boissoneau was tough. If he didn’t slip up on that restart, there was no way I was going to get by him.”

After coming from fourth and battling with rookie Stephen Hutchinson, Hanson, of Orwell, Vt., took top honors in the Granite State 500cc 20-lap feature. Hutchinson finished a solid second followed by Josh Boissoneau and a trio of rookies, Patrick Smith, Dylan Rock and Robyn Boisvert.

“I had a real good time racing with Stephen, we were swapping back and forth for quite a while,” a smiling Hanson said. “He’s a rookie, but he was driving so well that I had to wait until he made a mistake to get by him.”

The next event in the Open Cockpit Super Sunday Series takes place at Legion Speedway on August 7. Hot laps are at 2:00 pm with the first green flag scheduled for 3:00. Legion Speedway is located at the Rumney/Wentworth, N.H., town line on Route 25.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Open Cockpit Super Sunder Series #1
Legion Speedway, Rumney, N.H.
Sunday, July 24, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

Sprint Cars of New England (25 laps)
1. Nick Berry, Manchester, N.H.
2. Shawn Lawler, Mason, N.H.
3. # Tyler Rich, Lyme, N.H.
4. # Jake Williams, Center Tuftonboro, N.H.
5. Kevin Chaffee, Fairlee, Vt.
6. Chris Donnelly, Piermont, N.H.
7. Tunk Berry, Center Ossipee, N.H.
8. Lacey Hanson, Orwell, Vt.
9. Bruce Kimball, Lebanon, N.H.
10. Dan Douville, Bridgewater, N.H.
11. # Brandon Valley, Center Ossipee, N.H.
12. # Matt Robie, Hill, N.H.
13. # Andy Seuss, Hampstead, N.H.
14. Shawn Berry, Center Ossipee, N.H.
15. # Will Hull, East Montpelier, Vt.
16. # Jim Lowrey, Jr., Tilton, N.H.
Did Not Qualify: Robby Bodwell, Sanford, Me.; # Dylan Campbell, Southboro, Mass.; Bob Giuliani, Lebanon, N.H.

East Coast Mini Sprint 750/1000/1200cc (25 laps)
1. Doug Norrie
2. Justin Phillips
3. Robb Walendy
4. Wayne Bush
5. Nikki Ouellette
6. Sammy Kraemer
7. John Casazza
8. Jack McKeon
9. Jack Fogarty
10. Matt Brown

Granite State Mini Sprint/Northeast Mini Sprint 600cc (20 laps)
1. Terry Reil
2. Kevin Heath
3. Lacey Hanson
4. Scott Preston
5. Spencer Allen

Granite State Mini Sprint 500cc
1. Lacey Hanson
2. Stephen Hutchinson
3. Josh Boissoneau
4. Dylan Rock
5. Patrick Smith