The newly unified NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour took center stage during day two of Icebreaker weekend at Thompson
Speedway Motorsports Park with the Icebreaker 150 capping of the tracks annual opening weekend on Sunday, April 9.
Thompson served as the second stop of the Whelen Modified Tour season and after finding early success in Myrtle Beach,
reigning Icebreaking winner Timmy Solomito looked to continue his strong early run in the 2017 campaign with a possible
win at the Big-T. While Solomito got off to a good start on the day, capturing the pole for the 150-lap feature, it was
another driver who shined with a dominating performance as Rowan Pennink took the checkered flag in theweekend’s main
The win didn’t come easy for Pennink, despite a dominating performance during the mid-portion of the race and leading the
most laps. Pennink, who started fourth, wrestled the lead away from Timmy Solomito after an early caution and opened up
a significant lead, but had to recover following a late race pit stop that put him in seventh after a caution with 28 laps to
go. Pennink made a daring three-wide pass for the lead against Bobby Santos, but lost the top spot when a caution came
out before he could complete the pass. When the green flag finally came back out Pennink left it all on the track, passing
Santos for good and taking the checkered flag, his second at Thompson and his first since the World Series in October of
It was a special win for both Pennink and his team, BRE Racing whose legendary “Ole Blue” #3 car is a fan favorite on the
Whelen Modified Series Tour. Pennink ended not only his own personal win drought, but also a lengthy drought for the BRE
Racing team who is celebrating 60 years of racing for “Ole Blue” in 2017. After his win Pennink said it was certainly a
special victory for everyone involved.
“It’s unbelievable for this #3 team,” Pennink said. “This team has been dying real hard for a win and they’ve been working
hard in the shop. I’m glad we could get it done for them here. A lot of team effort went into getting this win. It’s been a
while for me too, but I finally got one and hopefully we have some more coming.”
Pennink said he was a little surprised how dominant his car was over the course of the race. He complimented his team for
giving him the equipment he needed to get the job done and bring the #3 back to victory lane. “I knew we had a good car
after practice, but the way the thing got out front there and we got ourselves a comfortable lead we ran the pace we
needed to run and when they put new tires on it was one of the best cars I’ve ever driven in my life in the final laps,” said
Pennink. “Hats off to all the guys on this team. They put their heart and souls into this car and I couldn’t have done it
without a great group of guys like them.”
With a second place finish, defending Icebreaker winner Timmy Solomito continued to show strength at the Big-T and said
even though his team didn’t win it all, a runner-up finish felt like a win. “We had a really good car all day. We were a little
bit late getting new tires, but we were able to come back through the field and we were strong all day. For a pole win for
today and a second place it’s pretty good,” said Solomito. Max Zachem, Bobby Santos, and Patrick Emerling rounded out
the top five in the final race results for the race behind Pennink and Solomito.
Defending Whelen Modified Tour Champion Doug Coby failed to finish the Icebreaker 150 after a wreck at the drop of the
green flag caused heavy damage to Coby’s car. After several cars made contact in turn one a domino effect eventually sent
Coby into the backstretch wall, ending his day prematurely and leaving the 2015 Icebreaker winner frustrated.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s lap one of the Icebreaker and the caution is out. I heard from my spotter ‘caution is out, hand up’, that’s
three or four seconds at least after the caution is out and I’m slowing down and got hooked into the fence. I’m really
disappointed for my team. We had a winning car today and the thing’s junk,” Coby said after the wreck. The finish continued
a slow start for Coby’s championship defense in 2017 after a 13th place finish at Myrtle Beach.
The Whelen Modified Tour was not the only division to provide some fireworks on the track throughout the second day of
Icebreaker weekend. The Late Models provided possibly the most dramatic finish of the afternoon as reigning champion
William Wall raced side by side with challenger Raymond Christian, III for most of the 25-lap feature.
The two drivers were challenged by veteran Rick Gentes and survived numerous restarts and a red flag before another
caution slowed the pace in the closing laps. After getting a jump on the final restart, Wall held on to the lead until turn two
of the final lap when Christian was able to drive up to Wall’s back bumper, diving into turn three in an attempt to take the
lead. Wall and Christian would make contact in turn four, collecting Gentes in the process and allowing Ray Parent to
become the surprise winner of the race.
Parent was as shocked as everyone else that he was able to cross the finish line first and said that he may not have had the
best car on the track, but luck was on his side for the Icebreaker.
“I’ve won a lot of races, but I’ve never won a race that way,” said Parent. “I didn’t have enough steam to pass those guys,
but the car was handling pretty good - This is short track racing at it’s best. I’m glad to be on the receiving end of this win
The Sunoco Modified series started off the second afternoon of Icebreaker activity at Thompson with Ryan Preece
outracing the competition to take his first checkered flag of 2017 at Thompson in a 30-lap feature. Preece had to survive
several restarts over the course of the race, fighting off the likes of defending champion Keith Rocco and Rowan Pennink in
the closing laps to secure the victory. Rocco and Pennink held on for second and third place respectively.
Preece said the win is a good start for his championship hopes, but he acknowledged that if he wants to hoist the trophy at
the end of the season it will take consistency and a respect for the competition.
“I think towards August last year we really found our stride. We got the car to work a little better and it’s carried over to
this year. I’m not saying that we’re going to go out and win every race, but I feel like we definitely have a car that can
contend. The competition is getting a lot harder up here,” said Preece.
The Pro All Stars Series also took to the track with their own 75-lap feature where restarts proved to be a difference maker
for the eventual winner, Eddie MacDonald. MacDonald managed to capture the victory after losing and regaining the lead
during subsequent restarts early on in the event and took the lead for good on lap 19, holding off hard charging series
rookie Eddie Fatscher. MacDonald said he learned from his mistakes early in the feature to conquer the late race restarts
and take his first checkered flag of the season at Thompson.
“That was incredible. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to victory lane here in Thompson,” MacDonald said in victory
lane. “I wanted to stay out front as much as I could. I screwed up a little bit on that first restart and wanted to make sure
that didn’t happen again. I just can’t thank my guys enough.”
Eddie Fatscher held on to second place at the finish line and said he walked away with a satisfying effort after the
conclusion of the race. “We made a few runs to beat (MacDonald), but he just had a better car,” Fatscher said. “We saved a
little bit there in the beginning and middle of the race. He messed up a little bit I think and we got one run to get after him,
but we couldn’t get it.”
The remaining winners of the day were Jesse Gleason, who claimed a dominating victory in the XtraMart Limited
Sportsman Series 20-lap feature, and 2015 champion Dave Trudeau who held off Eric Bourgeois to claim his first victory of
the year in Thompson’s Mini Stocks division. Next up for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is the Limited Sportsman
Long Distance event on Sunday, May 21. The day will include a 30-lap XtraMart Limited Sportsman race as well as features
for the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Mini Stocks, and Lite Modifieds. Active military members will be admitted for free
as a thank you by the track for their service.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Top-10: 1. Rowan Pennink (Huntingdon Valley, PA); 2. Timmy Solomito (Islip, NY); 3. Max
Zachem (Preston, CT) 4. Bobby Santos (Franklin, MA); 5. Patrick Emerling (Orchard Park NY); 6. Eric Goodale (Riverhead,
NY); 7. Matt Swanson (Acton, MA); 8. Woody Pitkat (Stafford, CT); 9. Justin Bonsignore (Holtsville, NY); 10. Todd Szegedy
SUNOCO MODIFIED SERIES TOP-10: 1. Ryan Preece (Berlin, CT); 2. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 3. Rowan Pennink (New Egypt,
NJ); 4. Woody Pitkat (Sturbridge, MA); 5. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 6. Danny Cates (Chaplin, CT); 7. Adam Norton
(Palmer, MA); 8. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 9. John Studley (Framingham, MA); 10. Nick Salva (Prospect, CT)
PRO ALL STARS SERIES TOP-10: 1. Eddie MacDonald (Rowley, MA); 2. Eddie Fatscher (Long Island, NY); 3. DJ Shaw (Center
Conway, NH); 4. Derek Ramstrom (Worcester, MA); 5. Derek Griffith (Hudson, NH); 6. Garrett Hall (Scarborough, ME); 7.
Johnny Clark (Hallowell, ME); 8. Joey Polewarczyk (Hudson, NH); 9. Dave Farrigton, Jr. (Jay, ME); 10. Ben Rowe (Turner, ME)
Limited Sportsman Top-10: 1. Jesse Gleason (Lisbon, CT); 2. Scott Sundeen (Sutton, MA); 3. Chris Meyer (North Franklin,
CT); 4. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 5. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 6. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 7. Larry
Barnett (Moosup, CT); 8. Phil Jacques (Dudley, MA); 9. Troy Waterman (Danielson, CT); 10. Mike Palin (Dudley, MA)
Late Model Top-10 (unofficial): 1. Ray Parent (Tiverton, RI); 2. Ryan Morgan (Pawcatuck, CT); 3. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI);
4. Brandon Dion (Taunton, MA); 5. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 6. Jared Materas (Westfield, MA); 7. Wait Sutcliffe (East
Haven, CT); 8. John Lowinski-Loh (Millville, MA); 9. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 10. Rick Gentes (Burriville, RI)
MINI STOCKS TOP-10: 1. Dave Trudeau (Mansfield, CT) 2. Eric Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 3. Wayne Burroughs, Jr.
(Oakdale, CT); 4. Jeff Moffat, Sr. (Danielson, CT); 5. Roger Ducharme (Foster, RI); 6. Larry Loomis, Jr. (Moosup, CT); 7.
Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI); 9. Mike Anzalone; 10. Nick Matera (Warwick, RI)
The ice is breaking and racing is back at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The 43rd Annual Icebreaker got underway
on Saturday with six feature races at the historic motorsports facility.
The Lite Modifieds, Street Stocks, NEMA Lites, Mr. Rooter Pro Truck Series and Vintage Outlaws all ran feature races on
Saturday, and for the first time a “Race of Champions” event was held featuring all four Thompson Speedway Motorsports
Park track champions from 2016 in equally-prepared race cars.
The Vintage Outlaws was the first feature of the day. Jim Lowrey walked away with the win repeating his success from the
Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing in 2016.
The Race of Champions event was the next feature of the day. It was a 12-lap affair featuring Keith Rocco (Sunoco
Modifieds), Wayne Burroughs Jr. (Mini Stocks), Ryan Waterman (Limited Sportsman) and William Wall (Late Models) in equal
race cars that were prepared by The Racing School.
Burroughs’ race didn’t last long as he crashed hard in turn one, backing his No. 19 car into the wall. Rocco’s race didn’t go
much better as his car suffered mechanical issues a few laps later.
That set up a two-car match race between Wall and Waterman. Wall battled hard with Waterman to try to take the lead
and the win, but Waterman ran a clean enough race to take the victory over Wall, Rocco and Burroughs Jr.
The Race of Champions event would not be Waterman’s only race on Saturday, nor would it be his only victory. Waterman
also ran the 20-lap Thompson Open Street Stock feature, which he won from the pole position ahead of Scott Sundeen, Joe
Arena, Larry Barnett and John Bercham.
The 35-lap Mr. Rooter Pro Truck Series feature was the first of two touring series events on Saturday evening. In last year’
s feature, it was Roger Turbush from Long Island taking the victory; this year it was a different Long Islander heading to
victory lane. Frank Dumicich Jr. held off Gerard Giordano Jr. in a heated late-race battle to take the checkered flag. Josh
Stringer, Duane Noll and Rick Ashlaw rounded out the top five.
The 20-lap feature for the NEMA Lites was the second touring series feature of the evening. Todd Bertrand and Dan Cugini
put on a thrilling late-race battle for the win. Bertrand was able to work his way by Cugini with three laps remaining.
Cugini gave it one last try on the final lap, but Bertrand was able to hold him off at the checkered flag. Chad Labastie, Jim
Chambers and Ryan Bigelow completed the top five.
The final feature of the evening was a 20-lap event for the Lite Modifieds. Just like in the NEMA Lites race, this event went
down to the wire. Three cars battled for the win on the last lap. Brett Gonyaw, Glen Griswold and Cam Sontag could fit
under a blanket on the final lap, but it was Gonyaw taking the victory in a true photo finish. Chris Veins and Joe Graf Sr.
rounded out the top five.
Also in action on Saturday were the Pro All-Stars Series, Sunoco Modifieds Mini Stocks, Limited Sportsman and Late Models
as they all ran their heat races for Sundays events. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ran two practice sessions with four-
time series champion Doug Coby setting fast time in the first session and Chase Dowling pacing the final practice session.
The second day of the 43rd Annual Icebreaker kicks off at 7 a.m. with the breakfast buffet at the clubhouse. The
grandstands will open at 10 a.m. with the champion’s banner rising at 10 30 a.m. and the Annual Fan Appreciation Party
kicking off at 11a.m. Pre-race ceremonies will begin at 12:15 p.m. with racing set to follow at 12:30 p.m.
traditional four-race schedule is a combination of mid-week and weekend shows that kicks-off at Seekonk Speedway in
Seekonk, Ma. followed by a stop at Star Speedway in Epping, N.H. and culminates with a pair of races at the New London
Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut.
“The schedule was a strong one to begin with,” said Wayne Darling, managing partner. “The goal simply was to ccontinue
doing what works. The partnerships that we enjoy with these three race track is, in large part, why this format has been
successful in the past.”
The TTOMS season will commence on June 28 at Seekonk Speedway with the running of Open Wheel Wednesday. This
popular event has attracted the biggest names in racing including the newly crowned NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
champion Doug Coby, who was last year’s winner of the event. It was his third Open Wheel Wednesday victory.
“Seekonk Speedway is excited to have the Tri-Track series back again for the 14th annual Open Wheel Wednesday featuring
the $10,000 to win main modified event,” said Ed St. Germain, director of business development for Seekonk Speedway.
“We look forward to working with the organizers and helping the series grow in years to come.”
The second race on the schedule is the SBM VI at Star Speedway on Saturday, July 29. This two-groove bullring has been
the site of many great Modified battles. With championship drivers like Jon McKennedy calling Star Speedway home, the
competition is always fierce.
“Since its inception the SBM event has been an important race to us here at Star Speedway,” said owner and promoter
Bobby Webber, Jr. “We are happy that we were able to keep it going strong through the affiliation with the Tri-Track Open
Modified Series over the last few years. My family and I are proud to work with a group that, like us, believes in the
grassroots of racing.”
The series finishes up with two events at the New London Waterford Speedbowl including Wednesday August 23 and
Sunday, October 22, 2017 as part of the Bemer’s Big Show. Another ultra-competitive quarter-mile speedway, the events at
the New London Waterford Speedbowl draw the best-of-the best in Modified competition. Championship drivers dot the
entry lists for the TTOMS events at the Speedbowl last season including the likes of hometown favorite Chris Pasteryak,
Ryan Preece, Ronnie Silk, perennial Waterford and SK Modified Champion Keith Rocco, Woody Pitkat, and Rowan Pennink.
“Big Money” Matt Hirschman and Steve Masse split wins at the Speedbowl in 2016.
“Car counts were strong at each of the events held in 2016,” added Darling. “With basically the same schedule and a focus
on improving the program operationally, we firmly anticipate that it will be equally, if not stronger, in 2017.”
Thompson, CT (December 5, 2016) – Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park today announced dates for the 2017 racing
schedule, celebrating its 77th season on the high banked oval. The 2017 seven event NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
(NWAAS) schedule is highlighted by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the return of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
“This year’s schedule balances our commitment to tradition and innovation,” states Josh Vanada, General Manager of
TSMP. “The 2017 schedule preserves fan favorites while introducing unique and creative events and promotions.”
The speedway will continue to showcase Sunoco Modifieds, which will compete in eight points-counting races supported by
the Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks, who will all have seven points-counting races. The Lite Modified
Division will race in five of the seven events, but will not race under the NWAAS sanction.
Several touring series will be making appearances at TSMP in 2017. At the top of the list will be the NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour visiting the track four times followed by NEMA Lite making three stops. NEMA, the North East Street Stock
Tour and Mr. Rooter ProTruck Series will all be appearing twice. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, American-Canadian
Tour, Pro All Stars Series, International Super Modified Association, Valenti Modified Racing Series, Granite State Pro
Stock Series, North East Mini Stock Tour, New England Pro 4 Modifieds, Vintage Outlaws, and Senior Tour Auto Racers will
make single stops at the track throughout the season.
The 2017 season of racing kicks off Friday, March 31st with the 43rd Annual Icebreaker. Eleven divisions will be featured
in TSMP’s season opener, headlined by Thompson’s 135th NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. The Race of Champions has
been added to this year’s event, featuring our four NWAAS champions. They will face off in equally prepared cars from The
Racing School. Bragging rights are on the line to determine who the champion of the champions will be. The highly-
anticipated Fan Appreciation Party and Champion’s Banner Raising will be held on the last day of the event.
Sunday, May 21: 2nd Annual Limited Sportsman Long Distance & Military Night
Wednesday, June 14: 3rd Annual NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 125
Friday, July 7-8: Inaugural NASCAR Busch North Throwback
Wednesday, August 9: 28th Annual Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150
Sunday, September 10: 2nd Annual For the Fans Event; 4th Annual Sunoco Modified 20/20 Sprint
Friday, October 13 – Sunday, October 15: 55th Annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing
About Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP), “Indianapolis of the East”, the famed 5/8 mile, high banked, oval and
motorsports facility is tucked away in the beautiful countryside of Thompson, CT. Our 2017 Schedule includes seven
exciting events: March 31-April 2 (Icebreaker), May 21 (Limited Sportsman Long Distance & Military Night), June 14
(NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 125), July 7-8 (NASCAR Busch North Throwback 100), August 9 (Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150),
September 10 (For the Fans Event; Sunoco Modified 20/20 Sprint), October 13-15 (Sunoco World Series of Speedway
Racing). To purchase tickets or a season pass, call 860.923.2280 or visit www.thompsonspeedway.com. Follow TSMP on
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube for the latest news and events.
Planning is well underway for the 2017 season at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP). Officials from the historic
⅝-mile oval announced that they are receiving car number registrations for their 77th season. Renewals for drivers in the
Sunoco Modified, Late Model, Limited Sportsman, Mini Stock, and Lite Modified drivers will continue until January 15. After
that date, numbers will be issued on a first come-first served basis. As an incentive, anyone registering their car number
from now through January 1, will receive discounted rate of $25. After January 1, the rate will increase to $35. Drivers can
visit the competitor info tab under NASCAR Racing on www.thompsonspeedway.com to download the registration form.
Instructions for return are also on the form.
Officials also announced some personnel changes within the technical inspection team. Veteran inspector, Todd Stiles, has
been promoted to Technical Director, effective immediately. All Divisional Inspectors will report directly to Stiles. John
Kelly, a well-respected INEX Legend inspector, and current TSMP Official has been promoted to Late Model Divisional
Inspector. Kelly will join Mark St. Hilaire (Sunoco & Lite Modified Divisions), Joe Delorimiere (Limited Sportsman), and
Chris Austill (Mini Stock), who all will be returning to inspect their respective divisions.
“We’re pleased to elevate Todd to the Technical Director position,” TSMP General Manager, Josh Vanada, stated. He went
on to explain, “Todd has proven himself as a detail-driven individual, who places a premium on the integrity of the rulebook.
He also balances this with understanding the challenges of crew chiefing a car. He’s built a good team around him, which
now includes John Kelly. I see lots of overlap in the way the ACT and INEX rulebooks are written and enforced. John works
very well within that framework, and has always been well-like in a position that usually does not receive much fan fare.”
This team of inspectors has been hard at work, and is pleased to release the 2017 rules packages for the Sunoco Modified,
Limited Sportsman, Mini Stock, and Lite Modified Divisions. The Late Model rules will be released in conjunction with the
2017 American-Canadian Tour rules package.
The 2017 schedule will be released Monday, December 5, at 7:00pm on the Victory Lane Radio (www.victorylaneradio.
com). For more information on 2017 registration, rules and contact information for our technical inspectors, please visit
our website at thompsonspeedway.com.
Seekonk Speedway set to welcome the new Modified Touring Series
to the schedule in 2017.
Seekonk Speedway and The Modified Touring Series are proud to announce that a date has been schedule for the new Open
Wheel touring series based out of New Hampshire. The Modified Touring Series will be joining the storied history of the
Venditti family owned Seekonk Speedway for the 2017 season on June 10th.
“We are excited to be joining the Venditti family in their 70+ year family tradition of racing at Seekonk Speedway on June
10 of 2017. Seekonk Speedway has a standard of excellence in New England for short track racing that we, at the Modified
Touring Series, are honored to be a part of in 2017 and hopefully many years to come.”- Gary Knight (MTS)
The Modified Touring Series “MTS” is committed to bringing a program to race tracks in the North East that is entertaining
for the fans as well as having a program that is not only enjoyable but beneficial to the teams that support MTS.
Seekonk becomes the fourth date released in a proposed 12 race inaugural schedule. The Modified Touring Series season
kicks off at Monadnock Speedway on April 29th.
“We are hoping to see some great modified racing from the new tour. We are excited as a track to help promote a new
series and continue to be a part of the growth of short track racing in New England.” states Ed St Germain, Director of
Business Development at Seekonk. “ This will be our first open wheel show of the season followed by Open Wheel
Wednesday on June 28th and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour later in the season.”
“The Modified Touring Series has some innovative new ideas that we look forward to being a part of for years to come “
says David Alburn, Competition Director at Seekonk Speedway “ the Speedway looks forward to being there at the start of
something that has the potential to be great”.
Seekonk Speedway is a 1/3 mile paved oval NASCAR sanctioned track featuring weekly racing on Friday & Saturday nights
featuring Pro Stocks, ACT Late Models, Street Stocks, Sport Trucks, INEX Legends, Sport Fours, Pure Stocks & INEX
The Seekonk Speedway races from the first Sunday in May till Columbus Day weekend every year.
D. Anthony Venditti, “The Godfather of New England Auto Racing,” began construction of Seekonk Speedway in 1945. On
May 30, 1946, the gates were opened for the first time. D. Anthony owned, operated, and promoted the Speedway until his
death in 1991. Anthony received the promoter of the year award in 1978. His wife Irene continued till her passing in 2014,
her son Francis, and grandson David continue the tradition of operating the speedway. Know as the “Action track of the
East” Seekonk Speedway has been family owned, operated, and promoted for over 70 consecutive years.
|OLD School Photos
(THOMPSON, CT) - Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park saved the best for last in 2016, crowning several champions on the final day of the Sunoco World
Series of Speedway Racing, presented by Xtra Mart including a champion in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Defending series champion Doug Coby looked to earn his third consecutive title and fourth in the last five seasons after extending his points lead on Justin
Bonsignore and Timmy Solomito with a victory at Stafford Motor Speedway on October 9th. Coby came into the race with a 20-point advantage over
Bonsignore and a 48-point lead over Solomito and only needed to finish 16th or better to lock up the championship.
Coby started off the race on the right foot, qualifying for the outside pole next to Solomito who led the first portion of the event with Coby hot on his trail.
Things changed around lap-73 however when a caution brought the cars to pit road where Justin Bonsignore made up ground and Coby lost ground setting
up a battle between Solomito and Bonsignore for the second half of the event. While Coby kept his eye on the prize for a title, his closest rivals for the
championship battled it out for one last win of the season. Bonsignore finally took the lead with twenty laps remaining and would hold on to win his fourth
race of 2016 while Coby worked his way to a sixth place finish and a third consecutive title, a series record in the modern era which dates back to 1985.
“Every (championship) is different and every one is special for a different reason. There’s many ways to win them and many ways to lose them. We just
found a lot of ways to win them. It goes back to preparation and having a car that’s just good everywhere we go. We obviously had a little better than a
sixth place car today but I had to play it cool and just keep my eye out for who was around me and what the situation was if the caution came out,” Coby
told reporters after securing the title. “I didn’t even want to be sixth. I would have rather been on the bottom if a restart had come later so I was trying to
get fifth, but I was playing it cool.”
When asked how it feels to be considered among the greatest in his sport and the only driver to ever win three consecutive titles since 1985, Coby said he
takes none of his titles for granted and knows how hard it is to win one title, let alone three.
“It’s neat, but it doesn’t matter what era you’re in. It’s difficult to win a championship and it’s still seventeen races and a war you have to win. We won a lot
of the battles. Tonight Justin Bonsignore won the battle and did what they had to do,” Coby said. “We just put ourselves in the position all year with a really
clean season. I don’t think there’s any question that during the season we just chipped away every week and got our wins.
As for Bonsignore, he called his race victory bittersweet, enjoying the moment of capping off his season with a strong win but lamenting on his failed
attempt to dethrone the champion in the closing months of the 2016 campaign.
“It’s probably the worst win we’ve ever had at Thompson under the circumstances, but there’s a lot worse things I could be doing with my life and I get to
race cars with a bunch of guys I call my friends,” Bonsignore said during his visit to victory lane. “We kept them honest for sure this year, but it is a little
depressing I’m not going to lie.”
Starting off the day’s racing action was the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman series, which featured the tightest points race of the weekend as far as track
championships where concerned at Thompson. Ryan Waterman entered the final event of the season with a slim 10-point lead over Scott Sundeen. The two
drivers have been at the top of the class all year with Waterman recovering from a slow start in the Icebreaker to notch four second-place finishes and
seven top-five finishes prior to the season finale, using pure consistency to maintain his points lead on Sundeen who also had seven top-five finishes
including four third-place finishes and a single win in the August feature.
The race started with near catastrophe for both championship contenders as Corey Fanning spun in traffic, nearly collecting Waterman and causing damage
to Sundeen’s car forcing Sundeen to make repairs under caution. Sundeen was able to continue, but from the back of the field while Waterman was able to
maintain a position in the top ten for much of the 20-lap event. While it was not the strong showing fans have become accustomed to by Waterman, the
young driver managed a sixth-place finish, one spot better than Sundeen, to score his first Thompson track championship and he did it without winning a
single race in the Limited Sportsman series.
“It feels like it’s not happening,” Waterman said in victory lane. “I would have never guessed I would be able to do this. I knew (Sundeen) was in trouble,
but I was also in trouble because in the same wreck Scott Sundeen was in I bent something on the front end and the car was really slow.”
While Waterman celebrated a championship, another driver celebrated success in the Limited Sportsman season finale as Phil Jacques came home with the
race win after a hard fought battle with Brent Gleason in the closing laps. An emotional Jacques was brought to tears in victory lane as he celebrated with
his family by his side.
“I don’t even know what to say. Today is twenty years to the day from the first time I ever set foot here (at Thompson),” Jacques said. “We’ve lost a lot of
good friends this year and it’s been a little rough. I couldn’t do it without all these guys who helped me. We struggled. We were quick in practice on Friday
and yesterday the car was just junk. If you had asked me yesterday if I thought I’d be here today I would have told you ‘not a chance’.”
The Sunoco Modifieds also crowned a Thompson champion, but for many there was never a question who would hoist the trophy at the end of the day. Keith
Rocco has enjoyed a historic season, dominating the series with no finish worse than 4th coming into the final event, four wins and a 23-point advantage
over NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Ryan Preece. A finish of tenth or better would guarantee Rocco a title, but it would not come easy.
Despite starting in the back after skipping practice and qualifying days to run the NASCAR Xfinity Series race in Kansas, Ryan Preece made quick work of
the field and cracked the top five in the opening laps of the 30-lap feature. Preece worked his way to second place in the first half of the event, engaging in
an intense battle with Rowan Pennink while Rocco worked his way into a top five position as well. Preece made one final effort at relinquishing the lead in
the closing laps, finally making the pass on Pennink on the final lap after seemingly running Pennink into the top groove to secure a win. However it was not
enough to best Keith Rocco who took the title in the Sunoco Modified division at Thompson with yet another top-five finish, ironically his worst finish of the
“We definitely hit something in August with the car. Even today we weren’t at our best, but we were good enough,” Ryan Preece said after the victory. “I
was just kind of riding there behind Rowan (Pennink) between laps ten and twenty watching his car, seeing when it was going to start freeing up. Right
when it did I think I beat on it a little too early and I freed myself up. I knew I wasn’t going to get him on the outside so I started working the bottom - I’m
sure Rowan has (ran me up the track) before. Racing is racing if you look at it like that.”
The champion, Keith Rocco, reflected on an impressive 2016 Sunoco Modified campaign where only himself and Preece reached victory lane noting that he
took a conservative approach in the final race of season to try and capture yet another Thompson track title.
“It was tough. There’s time when you’ve really got to think about the big picture. The way the racing has been up here it’s been getting pretty rough for the
leader so we didn’t really want to put ourselves in a predicament,” Rocco said. “You race all year for that one trophy. You race every night for a trophy, but
it’s pretty special to get this one because it’s not just one night. It’s a whole season.”
The International SuperModified Association also crowned a champion at Thompson at the Sunoco World Series. Providing some of the fastest racing of the
weekend, the ISMA series drivers took to the track for a 50-lap feature where Mike Lichty hoped to put the finishing touches on a championship run.
Looking to chase down the title himself, defending champion Dave Shullick, Jr. put on an impressive performance, staring from the front and doing
everything he could to wrestle the points lead away from Lichty.
Shullick had a little help after Lichty experienced mechanical issues in the middle of the race, forcing him to retire and surrender the title to Shullick who
not only repeated as series champion, but as winner of the Sunoco World Series ISMA race at Thompson Speedway with a dominant flag-to-flag run.
“This car has been amazing all weekend,” Shullick said after his win. “We just tried to be calm with it and not make a mistake. We figured it would be good
at the end and it was – Hats off to Mike (Lichty) and the tough battle they gave us all year.”
Finally in the NEMA Lites, PJ Stergios came home with a victory in that series’ penultimate race of the season. Stergios, who grew up racing quarter
midgets at Thompson’s Little-T, outraced his points rival Jim Chambers to the line. Chambers edged closer to a championship with a runner-up finish while
Stergios put some distance between himself and Danny Cugini, who was unable to start the event due to engine issues, for the second spot in the standings
with one more race on the schedule.
NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED SERIES SUNOCO WORLD SERIES 150 FINISH TOP-10: 1. Justin Bonsignore (Holtsville, NY); 2. Ryan Preece (Berlin, CT); 3.
Jimmy Blewett (Howell, NJ); 4. Donny Lia (Jericho, NY); 5. Timmy Solomito (Islip, NY); 6. Doug Coby (Milford, CT); 7. Woody Pitkat (Stafford, CT); 8. Eric
Goodale (Riverhead, NY); 9. Matt Swanson (Acton, MA); 10. Dave Sapienza (Riverhead, NY)
XTRAMART LIMITED SPORTSMAN SERIES FINISH TOP-10: 1. Phil Jacques (Dudley, MA); 2. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 3. Corey Hutchins (Salem, CT); 4.
Chris Meyer (Norwich, CT); 5. Dwayne Dorr (Ledyard, CT) ; 6. Ryan Waterman (Daneislon, CT); 7. Scott Sundeen (Sutton, MA); 8. Jack Aquilina (Oakdale, CT);
9. Rob Janovic, Jr. (Waterford, CT); 10. Al Stone (Durham, CT)
SUNOCO MODIFIED SERIES FINISH TOP-10: 1. Ryan Preece (Berlin, CT); 2. Rowan Pennink (New Egypt, NJ); 3. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 4. Woody
Pitkat (Stafford, CT); 5. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 6. Matt Gallo (Berlin, CT); 7. John Studley (Framingham, MA); 8. Danny Cates (Chaplin, CT) ; 9. Nick Salva
(Prospect, CT) ; 10. Mike Benevides (Westerly, RI)
NEMA LITES FINISH TOP-10: 1. PJ Sturgios (Newmarket, NH); 2. Jim Chambers (Atkinson, NH); 3. Joey Sipriano (Waterbury, CT); 4 Todd Bertrand
(Danielson, CT); 5. Anthony Payne (Fair Lawn, NJ); 6. Ben Mikitarian (Northborough. MA); 7. Chad Labastie (Uxbridge, MA); 8. Meg Cugini (Marshfield, MA); 9.
Nikki Carol (Andover, NJ); 10. Kevin Iannarrelli (Shirley, MA)
ISMA FINISH TOP-10: 1. Dave Shullick, Jr. (North Ridgeville, OH); 2. Mike Ordway, Jr. (Windham, ME); 3. Mark Sammut (London, ON); 4. Ben Sietz (Bourne,
MA); 5. Mike McVetta (Wellington, OH); 6. Timmy Jedrejzek (Independence, OH); 7. Chris Perley (Rowley, MA); 8. Mike Netishen (Auburn, NH); 9. Allison
Cumens (Glenmoore, PA); 10. Joey Payne (Madera, CA)
Rowan Pennink, Tom Fearn, Tony Membrino, Jr., Duane Provost, Johnny Walker, And Noah Korner Honored As 2016 Stafford Motor Speedway Track
|Matt Hirschman SBM 125
|Steve Masse Tri Track open winner