Houlihan & Godin Dynamite in Thursday Night Thompson Thunder

Thompson, CT –  The debut of Thursday Night Thompson Thunder was not without it’s share of lightning. Lightning fast cars took home top honors in the four NASCAR Weekly Racing Series divisions. Twin 25 Pro Stock events saw Dick Houlihan of Berkley, MA and Roger Godin of Spencer, MA taking down the wins. In the Late Model division David Blain of Danielson, CT returned to victory lane after a long absence. Repeat winners were the order of business in the Strictly and Mini Stock divisions as Memorial Day weekend winners Ryan Stone of Branford, CT and Chris Gagnon of Moosup, CT took their second consecutive checkers.

In the first Pro Stock 25-lap event George Bessette of Danbury, CT and Jeff Zuidema of North Brookfield, MA brought the field of 32 cars to the green in a picture perfect start. The two would run side-by-side through turns one and two when Zuidema would establish himself as the leader on the backstretch. The two would head a pack of cars that included Dick Houlihan, Norm Wrenn of Nashua, NH, and Jimmy McCallum of Fall River; who had moved into the fray from his fourteenth starting position.

A lap nine restart would change the whole complexion of the race when a multi-car incident on the front stretch would eliminate a number of cars including the #69 of Fred Soucie, who sustained heavy damage, and Chris Perley. While under caution leader Jeff Zuidema would discover a broken right rear break caliper forcing him to relinquish the lead and retire to the pits. Dick Houlihan would restart in the lead and that is where he would stay. At the checkers it was Houlihan followed by George Bessette, Jim McCallum, Rusty Bryant, and Steve Ribbe rounding out the top five.

In victory lane Dick Houlihan selected the #6 pill from the can indicating that the top-six drivers from segment one would be inverted. The initial lap was an indication of what would come. Exiting turn two on the initial lap several cars would get out-of-shape causing a pile-up on the backstretch with the heaviest damage coming to the #0 of Dennis Maxfield. Several cars were eliminated in the incident including Maxfield, Les Hinckley, and Mike Gramolini. At the restart Steve Ribbe of Kingston, MA would take the lead only to see the caution fly immediately. Once again several cars were caught up in the incident. Cars unable to continue included Rob Murray of Tiverton, RI and Chris Magee of Edgartown, MA. Contact between front running Ribbe and Rusty Murray allowed Roger Godin to take the lead on lap two. When they finally put together a stretch of green flag runs Godin distance himself from the field. A tremendous battle for second waged between McCallum and Rusty Bryant. In the end McCallum would get the edge and follow Godin to the checkers. The Defending Pro Stock Champion Roger Godin’s return to regular racing at the 5/8th mile asphalt oval would be in a blaze of glory; after catching on fire in his qualifying heat he would return to finish a respectable seventh in the first event and grab the checkers in the second.

David Blain would take advantage of his outside pole starting position to establish himself as the man to beat in the Late Model feature. He would withstand heavy pressure from the likes of Gerry Konopka, Bruce Adams, and Lonnie Mecteau; and a number of restarts to claim the win. Impressive runs were turned in by Lonnie Mecteau who started deep in the field to take home the runner-up spot. Last week’s winner John Falconi quietly worked his way through the field to claim the third spot. Jeff Zuidema’s bad luck would continue in the Late Model as well getting a flat tire while running in the top five.

In Strictly Stock action Mark Jenison of Warwick, RI took the early lead. Ken Fecteau of Franklin, MA and Tim Taylor of Danielson, CT had made their way to the front from seventh and ninth positions respectively. On lap four Taylor took the lead; however, his lead would be short-lived, as point leader Ryan Stone would take over the top spot. At halfway Taylor and Lyle Wolfinger waged a tremendous battle for the second position. Scott Cook of Uncasville made an aggressive move on a lap 15 restart to move from the fourth position to second. Mark Jenison would hold on for third ahead of Tim Taylor and Lyle Wolfinger. Ryan Stone extended his point lead with the win and sits atop the Exide ShorTrack Series by NASCAR for the New England Region.

In the Mini Stock event Donald Hoenig, owner and promoter of Thompson Int’l Speedway, presented Chris Gagnon with the laurels on the evening. Gagnon would take the lead with five laps remaining to record his second straight win. He, too, extended his point lead on the field.

On June 15, 2000 Thompson Speedway will present Modified-Mania; where the Sunoco Modifieds will return to the speedway for a 30-lap main event. Also on tap are Pro Four Modifieds, Late Models, Strictly Stocks, Mini Stocks, and a special visit by Senior Tour of Auto Racers. For more information call the Speedway at (860) 923-2280.

Results, Thursday, June 08, 2000: Pro Stock #1: Dick Houlihan, George Bessette, Jim McCallum, Rusty Bryant, Steve Ribbe.

Pro Stock #2: Roger Godin, Jim McCallum, Rusty Bryant, Dick Houlihan, Norm Wrenn.

Late Model: David Blain, Lonnie Mecteau, John Falconi, Gerry Konopka, Bruce Adams.

Strictly Stock: Ryan Stone, Scott Cook, Mark Jenison, Tim Taylor, Adam Smith.

Mini Stock: Chris Gagnon, Rod Rixham, Brian Marcotte, Ron Rixham, Roger Larson Jr.

Sources: Thompson Speedway PR