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Rick Gentes Gets LM Win at Thompson

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) returned to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on June 10th with Ryan Preece riding a two race winning streak and four straight top five finishes into the fifth race of the season, the Mr. Rooter Plumbing 125.

With a packed crowd on hand Preece hoped to match an accomplishment he completed in 2013 as the most recent driver to win three consecutive events on the Whelen Modified Tour, however it was not meant to be as the points leader was overshadowed by a dominant performance by defending series champion Doug Coby, who has owned the Big T as of late with a win in the Icebreaker earlier this year, and who claimed another victory leading all 125 laps of the event. It was Coby’s twelfth career victory in the series and represented a maximum points day for the driver who sat third in the points coming into the night. Coby remains in third, only a single point behind Pitkat for second.

Other winners from the night included Rick Gentes in the Late Models, Ryan Waterman in the XtraMart Limited Sportsman, Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks and Scott Quinn in the Vintage Outlaws. Ryan Preece would claim victory in the Sunoco Modified Series.

Coby lead nonstop for much of the NWMT race after starting on the outside pole, with pole sitter Woody Pitkat, who was second in final practice, never more than a few car lengths away for the first half of the event. A lap eighty-five caution brought the drivers in to pit, with Coby retaining the lead.

Coby went on to lead the rest of the race in dominating fashion with Justin Bonsignore, Todd Szegedy, Keith Rocco and Pitkat filling out the top ten. Preece finished seventh.

Following his win Coby said it was a fun race but while the win looked easy, it certainly had its challenges. “This car is just unreal,” he said. “We won the Icebreaker (with this chassis) and to come out and win again it certainly wasn’t as easy as the Icebreaker. It’s so loose out there. Everybody was sliding around and we were just a little better than everybody.”

Preece, who finished seventh in the Mr. Rooter Plumbing 125, faired much better earlier in the night during the Sunoco Modified Series feature where he claimed the checkered flag despite being penalized for rough driving during an early race accident in turns one and two. Cam McDermott led most of the early laps of the race, but much of the attention was on Preece and Keith Rocco who beat and banged each other until Preece nearly sent Rocco into the wall. Preece was eventually sent to the back of the field for rough racing during a lap nine caution which ended strong, and potentially top five, runs by Shawn Thibeault and Ed Pulio. Preece made his way to fourth place in two laps on the restart and eventually took the lead on lap eighteen.

A brief red flag on lap twenty-two bunched up the field but on the restart it was all Ryan Preece who maintained the lead and never looked back. Preece had to endure one more caution before leading the final seven laps on route to victory lane and extending his points lead in the series.

Preece said that it was a hard fought race and a good win but he did feel bad for contact that led to his penalty and caused damage to Thibeault and Pulio’s cars. “I’m just really upset how I got into Shawn Thibeault there. I feel bad for him and I’ll talk to him later,” said Preece. “Obviously that dampens the win right there, but (my team) gave me a great car. It’s really fun driving with them. They have great attitudes.”

Woody Pitkat finished a strong second while Rocco managed a third place finish and McDermott had to settle for a fourth place finish despite his early run at the front.

The twenty-five lap Late Model feature included a massive wreck with less than ten laps to go that created a chaotic finish when early leader Jeff Rocco, who showed some muscle stretching out a two-and-a-half car length lead in the opening laps, was collected on a restart following a late race caution.
Coming back to the green with the lead Rocco was turned and received the bulk of the damage from a multi-car incident, taking him out of the race prematurely. His brother, Keith Rocco, created a bit of his own drama when the cars came to the line for the restart, taking the battle for first and second nearly three-wide. Keith Rocco would settle for a 4th place finish while Late Model all-time win leader Rick Gentes added to his win total beating Brian Tagg to the line by .362 seconds. Larry Gelinas went on to finish third.

Following his victory a humbled Gentes credited his team for a job well done, “We didn’t have the fastest car, but we stayed patient. It was good enough to get it done. I’ve got to thank my guys for working on this (car). We spent all day Sunday working on it. They did a good job”

The action continued into the XtraMart Limited Sportsman Series with a neck and neck battle between eventual winner Ryan Waterman and runner-up Corey Hutchins for much of the twenty-lap event. Waterman initially took the lead with sixteen laps to go passing early frontrunner Frank L’Etoile, Jr. Hutchins followed suit staying on Waterman’s back bumper until eventually taking the lead with seven laps to go.

Waterman took the lead back, using the lapped car of Tyler Cinamelia as a pick, and went on to lead the final laps of the race. Following the win he said it was a challenging and hard fought victory. “I tried to keep my head calm for once and I wanted to race (Hutchins) good. I think I did. We had some fun. His car just went away from him,” said Waterman. He added that the car was consistent the entire race and allowed him to be competitive thanks to the work his crew, including his father, did to prepare it for the event.

The Mini Stock feature proved to be a more tame event with twenty laps of nonstop green racing, despite two spins, leading to a runaway victory by Eric Bourgeois. Dave Trudeau did make for a little drama, steadily moving his way through the field before taking second on lap ten. His efforts weren’t enough to erase a deficit of more than a straightaway between himself and Bourgeois who led all twenty laps for a runaway victory.

Bourgeois, whose winning car during Icebreaker weekend at the Big T earlier this year was disqualified after failing inspection due to what he called a mix-up in the head gaskets used by the team, said his team had a lot to prove in their return to Thompson. “We came here tonight with something to prove from the last race, that we’re not cheaters and we’re here to win,” he said.

The Vintage Outlaws started off the night providing some great racing of their own as much of the event was dominated by a competitive battle between Paul LaPlante of North Attleboro, MA and Scott Quinn of North Smithfield, Rhode Island. Quinn would go on to win the race after a power move coming across the line for the white flag left him with the lead for the final lap. The two raced bumper to bumper for the majority of the fifteen-lap event.

NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Doug Coby, Milford, CT; 2. Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, NY; 3. Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, CT; 4. Keith Rocco, Wallingford, CT; 5. Woody Pitkat, Stafford, CT; 6. Bobby Santos, Franklin, MA; 7. Ryan Preece, Berlin, CT; 8. Eric Goodale, Riverhead, NY; 9. Timmy Solomito, Islip, NY; 10. Ted Christopher, Plainville, CT.

SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Ryan Preece, Berlin, CT; 2. Keith Rocco, Berlin, CT; 3. Woody Pitkat, Sturbridge, MA; 4. Bert Marvin, Colchester, CT; 5. Kerry Malone, Needham, MA; 6. Brandon Dion, Taunton, MA; 7. Adam Norton, Ludlow, MA; 8. John Studley, Framingham, MA; 9. Jason Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 10. Nick Ladyga, Voluntown, CT.

LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Rick Gentes, Burrillville, RI; 2. Brian Tagg, Oxford, MA; 3. Larry Gelinas, Buxton, ME; 4. Keith Rocco, Berlin, CT; 5. Marc Curtis, Spencer, MA; 6. Anthony Ryan, Ridgefield, CT; 7. William Wall, Shrewbury, MA; 8. John Lowinski-Loh, Milford, MA; 9. Jeff Smith, Old Lyme, CT; 10. Art Moran III, Preston, CT.

XTRAMART LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Ryan Waterman, Danielson, CT; 2. Corey Hutchins, Salem, CT; 3. Frank L’Etoile Jr., Wethersfield, CT; 4. Moose Douton, Waterford, CT; 5. Joshua Wood, Palmer, MA; 6. Larry Barnett, Moosup, CT; 7. Scott Sundeen, Sutton, MA; 8. Diego Monahan, Quaker Hill, CT; 9. Jesse Gleason, Lisbon, CT; 10. Todd Dean, Danielson, CT.

MONSTER MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Eric Bourgeois, East Haddam, CT; 2. Dave Trudeau, Mansfield, CT; 3. Nick Matera, Warwick, RI; 4. Steve Michalski, Brooklyn, CT; 5. Ed Field, Deep River, CT; 6. Mike Viens, Seekonk, MA; 7. Louis Bellisle, Lisbon, CT; 8. Nick Anderson, Oxford, MA; 9. Joe Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 10. Mike D. Viens, Putnam, CT.

VINTAGE OUTLAW FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Eric Bourgeois, East Haddam, CT; 2. Dave Trudeau, Mansfield, CT; 3. Nick Matera, Warwick, RI; 4. Steve Michalski, Brooklyn, CT; 5. Ed Field, Deep River, CT; 6. Mike Viens, Seekonk, MA; 7. Louis Bellisle, Lisbon, CT; 8. Nick Anderson, Oxford, MA; 9. Joe Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 10. Mike D. Viens, Putnam, CT.

For more information, contact Thompson Speedway at thompsonspeedway.com