Story By: KYLE SOUZA / THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK – THOMPSON, CT – Some of the top Modified talent in the Northeast region will head back to Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Wednesday, July 7, when the oval returns to racing headlined by the $5,000-to-win Sam Adams Wicked Hazy IPA Spirit of 76.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Preece, veteran multi-time Thompson champion and reigned Outlaw Open Modified Series winner Keith Rocco, two-time Modified Racing Series Champion Chris Pasteryak, Dave Sapienza, Ronnie Williams, Craig Lutz and others are expected to all be contenders for the big prize in the 76-lap special as the track continues the celebration just a few days after Independence Day.
One of the top drivers heading to the high banks is Acton, MA rising star Matt Swanson. In the first two Outlaw Open Modified Series events of the year, Swanson finished seventh at the Icebreaker 125 and fourth last time out in the Nutmeg State 75. Improving on those two finishes will be important for the driver that competes for the historic Boehler Racing team driving the famed Ole Blue No. 3 machine.
“It’s obviously just going to take being there at the end and being able to put the whole package together like it does for every race for us,” Swanson said. “We’ve been bringing solid race cars to the track all year. We just can’t seem to shake the bad luck streak. That’s been the story of our year so far — bad luck just keeps striking us. We just have to keep working to try and get everything going well and hopefully there will be one time soon that nothing will go wrong and we will be there for the win.”
Strategy will be the name of the game in the 76-lap race, with teams allowed to swap one tire for a fresh piece of Hoosier rubber at any time. Some drivers will attempt to make their stop early, some will wait until later, and some may not even pit at all. In the end, the differing strategies across the board are another thing to keep the fans engaged.
“It throws a little bit of a different strategy into it being a shorter race in general, you can go out there and go all out the whole time,” Swanson said. “It’s been a change of pace for me; some of these races, you ride around half of the race and save your stuff for the end. What everyone at Thompson has been doing — it allows you to just race it out. You don’t have to worry about saving anything.”
Also on the card will be the Late Models, Limited Sportsman, Mini Stocks, SK Light Modifieds and a special 8-Cylinder Open Street Stock feature worth $1,000 to win. All of Thompson’s local divisions have been impressive to start the season. With four races left in their championship battles, the action should continue to heat up on Wednesday.
The Late Models return for another 25-lap, $1,200 to win special, with Tom Carey III and Brian Tagg already holding the checkered flag so far this year. The Vandi Auto Supply Limited Sportsman also had two different winners in their first two events, with “Leadfoot” Larry Barnett and Corey Fanning taking down victories.
Barnett will be one of many Limited Sportsman drivers expected to do double-duty by competing in both the 20-lap Vandi Auto Supply feature and the 25-lap, $1,000-to-win Open Street Stock race. Paul Newcomb, who won the Icebreaker Open Street Stock event, is entered again and one of the early favorites to get away with the check.
While the Mini Stocks were originally eliminated from the card of racing, the group of drivers and teams banded together and will have a healthy field of cars for the fans on Wednesday. Steve Michalski was the big winner when they hit the high banks on June 16, while at the Icebreaker, Jared Roy won, continuing his streak of success dating back to the 2020 season.
Don’t forget that the rumble of the SK Light Modifieds also returns to the 0.625-mile oval. The division is coming off two thrilling finishes to open their season. At the Icebreaker, Anthony Bello edged George Bessette Jr. by a mere few inches. Last time out, Paul “Buddy” Charrette held off a late charge from Bello for the win as the two swapped the lead on multiple restarts throughout the race.
Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park get the green flag this Wednesday, July 7 at 6:00pm with the Samuel Adams Wicked Hazy IPA Spirit of 76. The $5,000-to-win shootout features the best Tour-type Modified racers in the Northeast. They’re joined by the local Late Models, Vandi Auto Supply Limited Sportsmen, SK Light Modifieds, and Mini Stocks plus an 8-cylinder Street Stock Open.
General admission is $30 for adults, $10 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. and under.