RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; Breaking The Ice At Thomspon Speedway & More…

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The hills of northeastern Connecticut came alive with the sounds of racing engines at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway as IceBreaker 2019 got the green on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7.

Feature events included the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (150), Sunoco Modifieds (30), Late Model (25), Lite Modifieds (20), Limited Sportsman (20), Mini Stock (15), Pro All Stars Series (75), NEMA Lites (20), 375 Sportsman Challenge (35), Exit Realty Pro Truck Challenge (20), Valenti Modified Racing Series (50).

Twenty nine Whelen Modifieds were on hand for the IceBreaker 150. Cars qualified via the group qualifying method. Doug Coby secured the pole position after he recorded a time of 18.855sec. Second through fifth included Justin Bonsignore, Kyle Bonsignore, Tommy Catalano, Patrick Emerling.

Justin Bonsignore made it five in a row at Thompson as he got an unexpected gift from Doug Coby. Coby, who started on the pole, led the first 99 laps and appeared to be on cruise control. Pitting under caution for three tires Coby ran over an air hose and was penalized to the rear when the green was displayed on lap 110. Bonsignore, who also changed three tires, exited the pit behind Coby and assumed the lead on the restart. Coby made a valiant charge but just ran out of time as he finished fifth when the checker waved on lap 154. Ron Silk finished second and was followed by Eric Goodale, Patrick Emerling, and Coby. Sixth thru tenth were Burt Myers, Matt Swanson, Woody Pitkat, Chris Pasteryak and Jimmy Blewett.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track as part of the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 28. FansChoice.TV will live stream the entire NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series schedule.

Nine time NASCAR Connecticut State Champion and seven time Thompson Speedway Sunoco (SK type) champion Keith Rocco successfully embarked on another run for the track championship as he won a spirited 30-lap battle with Todd Owen. Owen had all he could handle with Woody Patkat breathing down his neck. Track announcer pretty much summed it up when he dropped one of his famous Buckler-isms, “Owen was caught between a Rocco and a hard place”. In the end Pitkat finished third with Mike Christopher, fourth. Rounding out the top five was Glenn Reen.

In victory lane Rocco stated that his mount was a brand new Troyer chassis. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 261 wins which include 150 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 61 at Thompson and 50 at Stafford Speedway.

Other Sunday winners were PASS Late Models: DJ Shaw, Limited Sportsman: Ryan Waterman, Mini Stocks: Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 2. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI); 3. Dave Trudeau, Jr. (Mansfield, CT); 4. Scott Mihalski and Late Models: Tom Carey, III.

The day was relatively warm, the over-all racing was great and the grandstands were full!

The first official day of racing brought five feature events and a great crowd to the track on Saturday, April 4 with competitive racing and close finishes that kept fans on the edge of their seats the entire afternoon. Several racing series and divisions kicked off their respective seasons as drivers sought to claim victory in one of the most prestigious racing weekends in New England.

The main event of the afternoon was the 50-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature kicking off their sixteenth season in style with a battle of two young stars of the sport surviving caution after caution chasing their first wins. While early on it looked like Chase Dowling was securely in control of the race Ronnie Williams quickly worked his way up the field and by halfway was battling Dowling for the lead. The rest of the event was filled with side by side racing and lead exchanges between the two young guns as they endured numerous cautions that saw each driver gain an advantage restart after restart. It all came down to a three-lap shootout after the final caution of the race where Dowling got the jump and outraced Williams to score his first Valenti Modified Victory as well as his first win at Thompson in any division. Max Zachem started on the pole but it was Dowling taking the lead at the start. Zachem continued to fade and ended up 14th at the checker. Glen Griswold hit hard in turn one on lap 6. He was taken to a local hospital for observation.

The Exit Realty Pro Truck Challenge kicked off the afternoon with the first points race of the 2019 season at Thompson and concluded with its own exciting finish. Gerard Giordano, Jr. ran a dominant race starting on the pole and leading 34 laps of the 35-lap feature surviving several cautions to try and capture the Pro Truck season opener. However, it’s not over until it’s over as they say. That was the case for Jacob Perry who raced behind Giordano in second for the entire race until he picked his moment and relinquished the lead on a bump-and-run move on the final lap.

The night concluded with the kick off of Thompson Speedway’s divisional racing season with a new entry in the track’s lineup, the SK Light Modifieds®. This division has grown in popularity at Thompson over the last few years leading it to become an official addition to Thompson’s lineup in 2019. Coming into the event Bryan Narducci had a perfect record winning all four SK Light Modified® races run at Thompson since 2017. He continued that success with a dominating effort winning the division’s first event of 2019 at Thompson and is now five for five. Teddy Hodgdon finished second with Narducci’s cousin Alexander Pearl, third.

Other Saturday winners at Thompson were John Zych in the NEMA Lites and Alby Ovitt beat out Shawn Monahan in the Exit Realty 375 Sportsman division.

Next up On Sunday May 19. at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park the track divisions take center stage, specifically the Limited Sportsman with the division’s long-distance race to accompany the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Mini Stocks and SK Light Modifieds®. The pre-Memorial Day event will also salute active military members and veterans who can enjoy the races for free with a military ID. It all takes place

In some great news, FansChoice.TV will air ALL 10 NASCAR events at Thompson in 2019.This includes all of Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour & more! Many are hoping Stafford and Waterford will follow their lead.

Word comes from the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH that all new grandstands have arrived and will be erected this week. Fresh pavement for drainage and a hospitality area to be completed just off of turn 4 as well.

Their test and tune will be Saturday, April 27th for all competitors and touring divisions that compete at the speedway. Opening Day is Saturday, May 4th sponsored by O’Reilly Auto Parts with the Valenti Modified Racing Series headlining the day!

On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway stocks had positive endings. Dover Entertainment went up 0.03 to 2.05 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.01 to 53.64 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.02 to 14.45. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 1.70 to 52.88.while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.37 to 15.74 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.23 to 19.38. The auto manufacturers had a positive week. Toyota went up 4.52 to 122.54, General Motors went up 1.84 to 38.94 and Ford went up 0.47 to 9.25. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 10.17 to 202.06 and Lowes went up 5.51 to 114.98. The big team sponsors stocks had a good week. McDonalds went up 0.81 to 190.71, Coca-Cola went up 8.97 to 296.80, Target Department Stores went up 0.68 to 80.94, DowDupont went up 4.69 to 37.90, Fedex went up 8.49 to 189.90 and Stanley-Black and Decker went up 5.62 to 142.79.

On the tube this week:

Thursday, April 11
4 p.m., NASCAR K&N Series East: Zombie Auto 150, NBC Sports Net/NBC Sports App
5 p.m. NASCAR America: Motorsports Hour, NBCSN/NBC Sports App
6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, Fox Sports 1/FOX Sports App
7 p.m., Unrivaled: Earnhardt vs. Gordon (re-air), FS1/FOX Sports App

Friday, April 12
3 p.m., NASCAR RaceHub: Weekend Edition, FS1/FOX Sports App
3:30 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying, FS1/FOX Sports App
4:30 p.m., NASCAR RaceHub: Weekend Edition, FS1/FOX Sports App
5:30 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch Pole qualifying, FS1/FOX Sports App
6:30 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay: Xfinity Series, FS1/FOX Sports App
7 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series: ToyotaCare 250, FS1/FOX Sports App

Saturday, April 13
Midnight, NASCAR Xfinity Series: ToyotaCare 250 (re-air), FS2/FOX Sports App
6:30 a.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 (re-air), FS1/FOX Sports App
3 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1/FOX Sports App
7 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FOX/FOX Sports App
7:30 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400, FOX/FOX Sports App

Sunday, April 14
3 a.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 (re-air), FS1/FOX Sports App