PHOTO: Randy Potter celebrates his first Clash of the Titans 150 win at his home track, Riverside Speedway, on Sunday. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

GROVETON, N.H. — Randy Potter knows Riverside Speedway like the back of his hand. The hometown racer, whose house sits adjacent to the track, had tried in the first two editions of the Clash of the Titans 150 to thrill the crowd, only to come up short.

But the 2011 edition of the Clash was his year.

After starting eighth, Potter wasted little time moving to the front, taking second by lap 30. However, after losing second to Wayne Helliwell, Potter gave up third place to pit during a lap 59 caution. After pitting, Potter had a long time to think about his decision as the race was delayed for over two hours due to rain.

Potter would restart eighth, and steadily worked his way back to the front, moving back into second place on lap 100. A caution three laps later put Potter on the outside of race leader Helliwell, who took the lead from Quinny Welch. Helliwell had unsuccessfully jumped Potter twice, with both restarts being waved off, setting up the third restart. Potter and Helliwell went side-by-side for a handful of laps, when Potter finally cleared Helliwell’s slipping car and pulled away for the victory.

“I don’t know how Wayne was doing that, but he was shooting like a bullet on the restarts,” said Potter. “I had an idea that he really needed to have a great restart to beat me, but I didn’t realize he would be that loose on the bottom. Once we got him pinned down and then made the pass, I realized there were 40 laps to go.”

Helliwell, of Dover, N.H., took second, and realized his only chance was to get a great restart.

“I was doing what I had to do to get the jump,” Helliwell said. “It seemed like on restarts here, when you’re side by side, the guy on the outside has the advantage. I was just trying to get the advantage by getting the jump. After the rain delay, the car was tight. We didn’t take tires and Randy did, so he had a little bit better tires. Overall, though, I’m really pleased with second.”

Early race leader Welch rallied back to finish third after pitting for tires on the final caution period. Welch, of Lancaster, N.H., dominated the first 90 laps of the race, and restarted the race in the ninth position with multiple lap cars in between he and the leader. Hyde Park, Vt., veteran Eric Williams finished fourth while Craig Bushey, of Fairfax, Vt., completed the top five.

Chip Grenier, Rick Thompson, Jr., Jesse Switser, Luke Shannon, and Jeff Marshall rounded out the unofficial top ten.

Potter, who competes regularly on the American-Canadian Tour and sits third in the point standings, has been running on a shoestring budget, barely finding enough money to buy tires at every event. The winner’s check, $5,000, should help Potter for the rest of the season.

“It’s going to help a ton. I haven’t even thought about it,” Potter said about his payday. “[This race] has always been the one that’s been close. I led a lot of laps in the first one, but used up my stuff early. We were just really good after that rain delay. But this paycheck should help out a lot.”

For winning, Potter will go in the record books as the victor of the 2011 edition of the Clash of the Titans. And for him, that was important.

“It feels real good [to win]. A lot of my family and fans were here today,” said Potter. “It was very important for me. I really wanted to win. And as this race keeps going, my name will always be etched in as a winner.”

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Clash of the Titans 150
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H.
Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pos.-(Start)-Driver-Hometown

1. (8) Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
2. (4) Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dover, N.H.
3. (2) Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H.
4. (3) Eric Williams, Hyde Park, Vt.
5. (12) Craig Bushey, Fairfax, Vt.
6. (1) Chip Grenier, Graniteville, Vt.
7. (14) Rick Thompson, Jr., Derby, Vt.
8. (5) Jesse Switser, Lyndonville, Vt.
9. (11) Luke Shannon, Groveton, N.H.
10. (9) Jeff Marshall, Jefferson, N.H.
11. (20) Joe Tetreault, Enfield, N.H.
12. (7) Bryan Mason, Stark, N.H.
13. (17) Paul Schartner, III., Lyndon, Vt.
14. (26) Walt Hammond, Canaan, N.H.
15. (24) Nick Gilcris, Groveton, N.H.
16. (23) Will Avery, Campton, N.H.
17. (18) Cody Hodge, Orleans, Vt.
18. (21) Michael Smith, St. Johnsbury, Vt.
19. (10) Bobby Baillargeon, Kingston, N.H.
20. (6) Russ Clark, Littleton, N.H.
21. (13) Brett Gervais, Island Pond, Vt.
22. (16) Mike Kenison, Lancaster, N.H.
23. (15) Corey Mason, Groveton, N.H.
24. (19) Steve Patnaude, Pittsburg, N.H.
25. (25) Matt LeBlanc, Gorham, N.H.
26. (27) Dylan Switser, West Burke, Vt.
27. (22) Brandon Lambert, Colebrook, N.H.