Thompson, Conn: The 2013 season was celebrated in the final installment of Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) with Keith Rocco, Rick Gentes, Cam McDermott, Steve Kenneway, and Eric Bourgeois earning division titles. NASCAR Whelen All American Series winners included Woody Pitkat in the Sunoco Modified division, Tom Carey, Jr. in the Late Models, Glenn Griswold in the Lite Modifieds, Scott Sundeen in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman division, and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks. Toby Wells took down the victory in the North East Mini Stock 20-lap feature.
Tom Carey, Jr. hasn’t won at Thompson Speedway since 2003 when he ran in the then-titled NASCAR Busch North Series. But Carey has a lot of winning left in him.
Carey took the lead eight laps before the race conclusion on a restart and held off Keith Rocco for the win.
Chad LaBastie took the early lead, but an accident involving Damon Tinio brought the field under caution before the lap was complete. Marc Curtis, Jr. took his place at the head of the field for the restart. LaBastie, however, got a solid run in the high groove and took the lead coming out of turn two. The battle for second went three-wide into turn four with John Lowinski-Loh coming out in second and Rick Gentes in third. Gentes wasn’t about to settle in, however, and took over the second spot on lap three. His momentum wasn’t over and Gentes drove by LaBastie effortlessly to take the lead on lap four. Glenn Boss was the man on the move and positioned himself on Gentes’ bumper by lap seven. Keith Rocco moved into third.
Gentes, Boss and Rocco were nose-to-tail as they started working their way through lapped traffic. On lap 15, Boss dropped to the bottom lane and got up alongside Gentes in a bid for the lead, but Gentes shut the door. On the following circuit, the battle for the lead went three-wide as Boss went low and Rocco went high. Contact was made between Boss and Gentes on the front stretch and caution came out. Rocco, Boss and Gentes were all sent to the rear for aggressive driving while Lowinski-Loh inherited the lead.
Tom Carey, Jr. could not hold back the determined Lowinski-Loh on the restart, but all eyes were on the rear of the field where Boss and Gentes made contact once again. Boss ended up in the turn three wall, and the incident ended Boss’ championship run.
Lowinski-Loh led Carey and Larry Gelinas into turn one on the restart before opening up a ten-car lead over the rest of the field, but Carey dove to the bottom coming out of turn four of lap 32 to take over the top spot. Lowinski-Loh’s championship hopes also came to an end when he got a right front flat on lap 34 and had to take his 20 machine to the pits.
Carey maneuvered his way through lapped traffic with Rocco attached to his rear bumper, but Carey held on for the win.
Woody Pitkat took the lead at lap 12 and held off a determined Keith Rocco to take down the victory in the final Sunoco Modified division point race. Rocco’s second place finish earned him the 2013 division title.
Paul Newcomb and Ryan Preece were in a tight side-by-side battle for the lead when caution came out on the first lap for a spun car off of turn four. Newcomb assumed the top spot for the restart with Preece challenging on the bottom and Nick Boivin challenging up top. Newcomb maintained the lead, but Preece was able to get a run on the bottom groove to take over the lead on lap two. Preece pulled away as Rocco looked for a way around Newcomb. Sparks began to fly from Newcomb’s machine on lap five and officials reacted with a black flag for the 71 machine. Rocco patiently waited for him to pull in before setting his sights on Preece, who now held a full second lead over the rest of the field.
The race took a dramatic turn on lap nine when Preece spun in turn three and hit the outside retaining wall. Rocco inherited the lead with Woody Pitkat on the outside for the restart. Rocco drove to the front with Pitkat on his bumper. On lap 11, Pitkat went down to the inside into turn one and came out of turn two the new leader. Pitkat held on to the lead despite the pressure from Rocco on his bumper, but would have to hold off the point leader through another restart.
Rocco had a nose length advantage on the outside heading into turn one, but Pitkat came on strong in the corner and came out of turn two in the lead. Caution put a quick halt to the battle as the field lined up for yet another restart.
Pitkat shot to the front at the drop of the green with Rocco and Malone close behind. The top-five – Pitkat, Rocco, Malone, Matt Gallo and Dennis Perry – ran nose-to-tail over the next several laps, but ultimately, Pitkat, Rocco and Malone were able to pull away in a class all their own. Rocco stuck like glue to the back of Pitkat’s machine, and made a last-lap look on the bottom groove, but Pitkat was too strong and took the win.
Toby Wells drove Thompson Speedway like a veteran, but it was the New Hampshire native’s first trip to the 5/8th’s mile oval. Wells took the lead from Glen Thomas on a lap 12 restart and drove unchallenged to the checkered flag.
Mitchell Bombard led the first lap, but it was Cristofer King out front on lap two. Coming quick was Thomas in second on the bottom groove, but Wells managed to get by him on the outside before caution flew on lap five. King drove to the front as Thomas battled Danny Field for the second position. Thomas won that battle as he set his sights on King. Thomas took the lead coming out of turns three and four on lap seven and pulled ahead ten car lengths ahead of Wells.
Thomas and Wells were brought back together when caution set them up for a restart at lap 12. Thomas led them into turns one and two, but it was Wells ahead by a nose at the line to officially lead the lap. Thomas remained a fixture in his rear-view mirror as the duo pulled away by half-a-straightaway over the rest of the field. No one could catch them, however, as Wells drove to the checkered flag with Thomas in tow.
Glenn Griswold gave his father the best birthday present he knows how – a victory in the Lite Modified division. Griswold held off John Studley on a late-race restart to take the lead for the final time in his bid for his first season win. Cam McDermott, who finished fourth, won his second consecutive Lite Modified championship. Studley rocketed to the front at the drop of the green as McDermott went backwards in the field after apparently missing a shift. Griswold and Joe Boivin took over second and third respectively, but McDermott was on the move and coming quickly. By the fifth lap, McDermott was up to third, but still a full second behind Studley and Griswold. Griswold closed in on Studley and was within two car lengths by lap 12 as they set a torrid pace that saw them lap the tail end of the field. Studley opened up a gap over Griswold by lap 15 as McDermott had closed in within two car lengths behind second place. Caution flew at lap 16 and tightened them up once again. Studley had his hands full with Griswold at the drop of the green with Griswold taking the lead at the line. Griswold would have to do it all over again after caution set them up for a two-lap dash to the checkers. Griswold had a nose-length advantage over Studley coming off of turn four, but it was deemed a false restart and the field was tightened up again. Griswold drove out front again as Studley took the green off the pace. Griswold cruised on to the victory – his first of the season.
The Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman feature race was full of excitement with door-to-door racing up front for the entire race distance and point leader Steve Kenneway jumping hurdles with a cut right front tire en route to his 2013 division championship. Scott Sundeen took the victory after taking the lead from Jason Chicolas five laps before the race conclusion.
Lowinski-Loh led the first circuit, but only led by a nose on the second. Chicolas got a run for the lead before the caution flew and kept Lowinski-Loh out front for the restart. Chicolas inched ahead at the line at the drop of the green, but Lowinski-Loh retaliated and the duo went door-to-door to the line with Lowinski-Loh ahead by a mere inches. The tight battle continued, but caution slowed the pace once again at lap five. Chicolas drove to the front on the restart with Corey Fanning taking the low line to challenge Lowinski-Loh for second. Unfortunately, Fanning’s bid for the position would have to wait as caution flew before the lap was complete. Lowinski-Loh took the lead on the restart – again by only inches – but Chicolas came on strong on lap seven as he got ahead of Lowinski-Loh by a nose-length. Scott Sundeen became a part of the picture when he overtook Lowinski-Loh for second on lap 10 allowing Chicolas to pull ahead by three car lengths. Caution, however, took away any breathing room Chicolas had.
Chicolas shot to the front on the restart when Sundeen dove to the bottom and prevented Fanning from taking over his second place position. Coming up through the pack, however, was Steve Kenneway, the man who entered the race as the point leader. On lap 15, Sundeen used the bottom groove – a lane that had been working so well for him all night long – to take the lead from Chicolas. The top four cars – Sundeen, Chicolas, Fanning, and Jesse Gleason – ran nose-to-tail as they approached the white flag. Sundeen began to pull away on the final lap and drove to the checkered flag. Chicolas was disqualified in post-race tech inspection.
Eric Bourgeois knew the championship was his to lose. With only six points separating Bourgeois from second-place driver Chad Baxter, Bourgeois wasn’t about to hold back in the final 15-lap Monster Mini Stock feature of Thompson’s Thursday Night Thunder. Bourgeois took the lead on lap two and never looked back on his way to the checkered flag and to being crowned division champion. Alicia Thatcher led the field into turn one, but Dave Trudeau led the first circuit after taking the top spot heading into turn three. Bourgeois and Mike Viens took over second and third respectively. Bourgeois didn’t waste any time getting to the front when he dropped to the bottom groove and made a run on Trudeau coming off of turn four to take the lead on the second lap. Trudeau remained a fixture on his bumper for the next three circuits, but Bourgeois was able to pull away by a comfortable five-car length advantage by lap five and nearly half-a-straightaway by lap 10. Bourgeois went unchallenged for the remainder of the event as Chad Baxter made a last-lap run on Trudeau to take second place.
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs, CT; 2. Keith Rocco, Meriden, CT; 3. Kerry Malone, Needham, MA; 4. Matt Gallo, Berlin, CT; 5. Dennis Perry, Pawcatuck, CT; 6. Nick Boivin, Belchertown, MA; 7. Jay Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 8. John Catania, Ludlow, MA; 9. Paul Newcomb, Plymouth, MA; 10. Shelly Perry, Westerly, RI.
SUNOCO MODIFIED DIVISION CHAMPION: Keith Rocco, Meriden, CT
LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Tom Carey, Jr., New Salem, MA; 2. Keith Rocco, Berlin, CT; 3. Larry Gelinas, Buxton, MA; 4. John Falconi, Oakham, MA; 5. Chad LaBastie, Uxbridge, MA; 6. Dave Farrington, Jay, ME; 7. Rick Gentes, Burriville, RI; 8. Marc Curtis, Jr., Spencer, MA; 9. Derryck Anderson, Jr., Coventry, RI; 10. Jerry Dawson, Lynnfield, MA.
LATE MODEL DIVISION CHAMPION: Rick Gentes, Burriville, RI.
LITE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH: 1. Glenn Griswold, Vernon, CT; 2. Joseph Boivin, Belchertown, MA; 3. John Studley, Framingham, MA; 4. Cam McDermott, Scituate, RI; 5. Geoffrey Boisjoile, East Hampton, MA; 6. Ryan Pellerin, Dayville, CT; 7. Paul Tommasino, Meriden, CT; 8. Bob Vojtila, Southington, CT.
LITE MODIFIED DIVISION CHAMPION: Cam McDermott, Scituate, RI
XTRA MART LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Scott Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 2. Corey Fanning, Mapleville, RI; 3. Jesse Gleason, Lisbon, CT; 4. Bill McNeil, Preston, CT; 5. Steve Kenneway, Lowell, MA; 6. Kevin Mason, West Warwick, RI; 7. Scott Fanning, Mapleville, RI; 8. Matthew Lowinski-Loh, Milford, MA; 9. Ed Puleo, Branford, CT; 10. Todd Dean, Danielson, CT.
XTRA MART LIMITED SPORTSMAN DIVISION CHAMPION: Steve Kenneway, Lowell, MA.
MONSTER MINI-STOCK FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Eric Bourgeois, East Haddam, CT; 2. Chad Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 3. Dave Trudeau, Mansfield, CT; 4. Joe Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 5. Mike Viens, Seekonk, MA; 6. Alicia Thatcher, Pascoag, RI; 7. Nathan Taylor, Wauregan, CT; 8. Nick Anderson, Oxford, MA; 9. Louie Bellisle, Lisbon, CT; 10. Steve Michalski, Brooklyn, CT.
MONSTER MINI-STOCK CHAMPION: Eric Bourgeois, East Haddam, CT.
NORTH EAST MINI STOCK TOUR: 1. Toby Wells, Dublin, NH; 2. Glen Thomas, New London, CT; 3. Pete Zakarite, Niantic, CT; 4. Emerson Cayer, Contoocook, NH; 5. Michael Viens, Seekonk, MA; 6. Cristofer King, Derry, NH; 7. Matt Sonnhalter, E. Thetford, VT; 8. Natalie Perrault, 9. Desmond Skillings, Antrim, NH; 10. Mitchell Bombard, Willimantic, CT.
Sources: Penny Aicardi/Thompson International Speedway PR