Wednesday, August 10, 2016
(Photo Credit: Clarus Studios)
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made its third trip to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Wednesday, August 10th for a Thompson tradition, the 27th annual Budweiser “King of Beers” 150. With only twenty points separating the top two drivers in the series, reigning champion and points leader Doug Coby looked to regain his composure and momentum following a poor finish at Stafford.
After dominating at Thompson last year, Coby, the reigning champion of the Bud 150, sought to recapture that success after placing 4th and 10th in the first two events in Thompson for 2016. He started off strong by winning another pole at the Big T and leading the way for the first 54 laps before a caution brought the field to the pits. Coby dropped several spots during the stop, but wasted no time reclaiming a lead he wouldn’t hold for very long.
Justin Bonsignore took advantage of a great pit stop under the first caution of the event to give Coby a run for his money and in the end he was able to secure not only the lead, but also an impressive win despite the best efforts of some of the series’ best talents to take the top spot away and a huge points day that put him in the hunt for the championship title.
It was Bonsignore’s fourth win at Thompson, the ninth of his career in the series and his first of the season putting him back in the winners circle for the first time in a while. In his own words, Bonsignore saw the win as the end to a losing streak that has gone on far to long.
“I haven’t won since Riverhead or won anywhere but Riverhead since last year. It was weighing on me. I hadn’t won in a really long time,” said Bonsignore after the race. “We had a really good car – We qualified good and stayed up there and we were just kind of riding. We had a good pit stop. We were the first car out with three tires. I could see Coby was really tight to start that second run and I wanted to put pressure on him.”
Coby settled for second while Bobby Santos, Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece rounded out the top ten. Bonsignore entered the race with a twenty point deficit to Coby for the championship and left with a fifteen point deficit, but most of all momentum. The atmosphere after the win was one of optimism and pride as Bonsignore has realistically become a threat for the title.
“We want to be the guy that can beat (Coby),” Bonsignore said. “His team is the best every week and to beat them tonight is huge for us. They are the best right now and we’re trying hard to catch them and beat them.”
In other racing news, the Sunoco Modifieds took to the track twice as the series held its regularly scheduled event for the day and a makeup race that was rained out on July 9th. Points leader Keith Rocco looked to continue his domination of the series this season after seeing his win streak broken in late July. In the first race he would not be able to regain his winning ways but came home a strong third as Woody Pitkat, the reigning champions of the series, claimed his first win of the season, fighting off strong runs from Rocco and Ryan Preece to find his way back to victory lane.
“I thought I had the World Series won last year and we had a late caution. We had a late caution again today and I saw that Keith (Rocco) was coming. I think the caution helped me because I was actually getting loose,” Pitkat said after his win. “It gave the tires an opportunity to cool off a bit and then I lost my spotter. I pushed the radio and there was nothing so I just looked ahead and drove as hard as I could.”
The second event did see Rocco return to form as he fought his way to the lead over the course of the first half of the 30-lap event, going toe to toe with Ryan Preece in the process and holding off a hard charging Rowan Pennink, who led a good portion of the event, and Pitkat to return to victory lane and continue his charge towards a Sunoco Modified title.
“It’s tough when everyone is nose to nose. It’s hard to pass,” said Rocco in victory lane. “It looked like Preece spun himself out and it worked to our advantage – I have to thank the fans for sticking around and watching the race. I hope we made it fun for them.”
Despite a spin while battling for the lead Preece finished third and shared some choice words with Rocco after the event as the two had engaged in an intense battle over the course of the race. Pitkat held on for a great night in the Sunoco Modified Series with a second place finish while Jeff Gallup and Mike Benevides rounded out the top five.
The XtraMart Limited Sportsman Series also saw good, competitive racing as several drivers made a hard push for a victory. Jesse Gleason held the early lead but it was Corey Hutchings and Josh Wood who created the most fireworks in the 20-lap feature. The two drivers raced side by side for several laps, even trading a bit of paint at one point, and endured several restarts as they battled for the top spot. While Hutchings led at the halfway point, Josh Wood led across the finish line and took home his third win of the season at the Big T, spoiling Hutchings’ push for his second win of the season.
“This car was really fast. I have to thank the crew. They work diligently week after week to put this car back together especially after a couple races ago when I hit the wall,” Wood said in victory lane. “To be back in victory lane is great. I just drive the car, the crew works on it and without them I wouldn’t be here.”
Points leader Ryan Waterman held on for a third place finish while Brent Gleason and Phil Jacques rounded out the top five.
The Late Models saw a comeback victory by a familiar name as William Wall continued his strong 2016 season. Wall claimed his fourth victory of the year at Thompson after having to work his way to the front in the 25-lap feature. Matt Lowinski-Loh, Rick Gentes and Brian Tagg traded positions within the top three for much of the event, but Wall took advantage of a good car and a late race caution to take the lead and, eventually, the win. Wall extended his points lead over Gentes, who recovered from a mid-race spin to finish third. “It all worked out in my favor,” said Wall in victory lane about a very eventful race. “I just can’t thank everyone enough.”
In the Mini Stocks it turned out to be a battle of the 24's as Joe Baxter and Brad Caddick fought it out in the closing laps for a win in the division. Despite starting in the rear of the field, Baxter worked his way to the front in methodical fashion to claim a win in the mini stock division. Baxter was later disqualified, giving the win to Wayne Burroughs, Jr.
Reigning champions Dave Trudeau suffered another scare as he continues his push for his second consecutive series title. Close calls seem to be a trend for Trudeau lately as he barely missed a first lap multi-car incident. The defending champ held on for a fifth place finish but it still was not enough to make up ground on points leader Wayne Burrough, Jr. who entered the event with a five-point lead.
The NEMA Midgets also held a 25-lap feature where Dan Cugini hoped to continue his success at Thompson in 2016 in midget competition. Cugini would settle for a fifth place finish however as John Zych took home another win on the year and secured the points lead in the process. Prior to the NEMA event drivers performed a parade lap with the pole position left temporarily vacant in honor of Bryan Clauson who lost his life in a crash racing in the Belleville Nationals in Kansas over the weekend.
Racing action returns to Thompson on August 24th for the track’s annual Pepsi Back To School Night. The evening will feature many of the tracks traditional racing series as well as twin 25-lap Sunoco Modified races as the highlight events of the night.
WHELEN MODIFIED SERIES BUDWEISER “KING OF BEERS” 150 TOP-10 (UNOFFICIAL): 1. Justin Bonsignore (Holtsville, NY); 2. Doug Coby (Milford, CT); 3. Bobby Santos (Franklin, MA); 4. Woody Pitkat (Stafford, CT); 5. Ryan Preece (Berlin, CT); 6. Max Zachem (Preston, CT); 7. Ron Silk (Norwalk, CT); 8. Donny Lia (Jericho, NY); 9. Shawn Solomito (Islip, NY); 10. Jeff Goodale (Riverhead, NY)
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE #1 FINISH: 1. Woody Pitkat (Stafford, CT) 2. Ryan Preece (Berlin, CT); 3. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 4. Rowan Pennink (New Egypt, New Jersey); 5. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 6. Steven Kopcik (Newtown, CT); 7. Jason Sundeen (Douglas, MA) 8. Jeff Gallup (Agawam, MA); 9. John Studley (Framingham, MA); 10. Mike Benevides (Westerly, RI); 11. Kyle Trainor (Marlboro, MA); 12. Joey Parker (Weymouth, MA); 13. Adam Norton (Palmer, MA); 14. Kyle Cafro (North Windham, CT); 15. Andrew Charron (East Greenwich, RI); 16. John Catania (Agawam, MA)
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE #2 FINISH: 1. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 2. Woody Pitkat (Stafford, CT) ; 3. Ryan Preece (Berlin, CT); 4. Jeff Gallup (Agawam, MA); 5. Mike Benevides (Westerly, RI); 6. Rowan Pennink (New Egypt, New Jersey); 7. Kyle Trainor (Marlboro, MA); 8. Steven Kopcik (Newtown, CT); 9. John Catania (Agawam, MA); 10. Joey Parker (Weymouth, MA); 11. Andrew Charron (East Greenwich, RI); 12. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 13. Kyle Cafro (North Windham, CT); 14. Jason Sundeen (Douglas, MA); DNS - John Studley (Framingham, MA); Adam Norton (Palmer, MA)
NEMA FEATURE FINISH: 1. John Zych (Mendon, MA); 2. Seth Carlson (Brimfield, MA); 3. Jim Chambers (Atkinson, NH); 4. Avery Stoehr (Lakeville, MA); 5. Dan Cugini (Marshfield, MA); 6. Randy Cabral (Kingston, MA); 7. Bobby Santos (Franklin, MA); 8. Paul Scally (Raynham, MA); 9. Todd Bertrand (Danielson, CT); 10. Pete Pernisiglio (Lake Grove, NY); 11. Bethany Stoehr (Bridgewater, MA); 12. Jim Santa Maria (Burlington, CT); 13. Kevin Parks
LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH: 1. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 2. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 3. Rick Gentes (Harrisville, RI); 4. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 5. Larry Gelinas (Buxton, ME); 6. Lloyd Anderson, Jr (Wauregan, CT); 7. Brandon Warren (Chicopee, MA); 8. Scott Serydyniski (West Greenwich, RI); 9. Jared Materas (Westfield, MA); 10. Marc Curtis (Brookfield, MA)
XTRAMART LIMITED SPORTSMAN SERIES FINISH: 1. Joshua Wood (Palmer, MA); 2. Corey Hutchings (Salem, CT); 3. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 4. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 5. Phil Jacques (Dudley, MA); 6. Scott Sundeen (Sutton, MA); 7. Larry Barnett (Moosup, CT); 8. Troy Waterman (Killingly, CT); 9. Ed Puleo (Branford, CT); 10. Tommy Shea (New London, CT); 11. Corey Fanning (Maple Valley, Rhode Island); 12. Jesse Gleason (Lisbon, CT); 13. Randy Waterman (Danielson, CT); 14. Nick Anderson (Oxford, CT); 15. Hank Stott (Medway, MA); 16. John Carpenter (North Grosvenordale, CT); 17. Ed Correia (Raynhyam, MA)
MINI STOCK FINISH: 1. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 2. Brad Caddick (Wyoming, RI); 3. Eric Bourgeois (East Haaddam, CT); 4. Dave Trudeau (Mansfield, CT); 5. Ed Field (Deep River, CT); 6. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 7. Nathan Taylor (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Nick Matera Warwick, RI); 9. Mitch Bombard (Willimantic, CT); 10. Keith Ballou (Pascoag, RI); 11. Dave Trudeau, Jr. (Mansfield, CT); 12. Christopher Viens (Putnam, CT); 13. Roger Ducharme (Foster, RI); 14. Scott Bellisle (Wauregan, CT); 15. Mike Anderson (Oxford, MA) DQ Joe Baxter (Pascoag, RI)