Thompson, CT — The Sunoco Modified and Strictly Stock championships went down to the wire with Curt Brainard and Tim Taylor claiming their respective championships on Tri-Fifty Night at Thompson International Speedway. Roger Godin had previously clinched the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Championship to record his second title in as many years. Late Model champion Lonnie Mecteau, Mini Stock champion Chris Gagnon, and Pro Four Modified ace George Savary had also secured the titles previously.
Feature winners on the evening included Jim McCallum of Fall River, MA who brought home the Pro Stock checkers; while Jerry Young, Jr. in the Late Models, Bill McNeil in the Strictly Stocks, and Dennis Coates each scored their second feature wins of the season. Scott Quinn brought his Sunoco Modified in for his second straight feature victory
Veteran Jim McCallum led green to checker to record his first Pro Stock victory of the 2000 season. McCallum jumped out to the lead with Steve Ribbe, Jeff Zuidema, Phil Rondeau, and 2000 champ Roger Godin in pursuit. The championship already decided the chase was on for the runner-up position between Steve Ribbe and Dick Houlihan. Ribbe had his hands full battling Rondeau, while Houlihan, in a borrowed car after crashing hard last week, was working his way through the pack. At the halfway point McCallum and Ribbe, running nose-to-tail had started to distance themselves from the pack. The car on the move at the time was Eddy Carroll. Jeff Zuidema, who had been battling for the fourth position, lost power and was forced to retire from the event with only 11 laps remaining.
The front runners encountered problems with five laps to go. Phil Rondeau threw his #19 into the turn two corner losing the handle and bringing out the caution. On the ensuing restart Ribbe missed a shift causing a chain reaction that claimed the cars of Daryl Stampfl, Mike Parks, and Eddy Carroll. The next attempt at green saw contact between Ribbe and Godin with #28 ending up in the front stretch wall. At the run for the checkers it was McCallum leading Ribbe, Dave Bergman, and Bobby LeClerc, who had rebounded from a mid-race spin to finish fourth. Season ending points found Houlihan taking second over Steve Ribbe.
Scott Quinn visited victory lane for consecutive victories in the Sunoco Modifieds in the fifty-lap season finale. When the green flag waved at the start of the Sunoco Modified feature five drivers had a shot at the title. Each of the contenders would see their share of problems. Todd Ceravolo, who entered the night trailing point leader Curt Brainard by only eight points, took the lead at the second lap and looked to be on his way to victory when with only three laps to go he lost the engine and with it his bid for the championship. Curt Brainard spun on the backstretch on lap twenty-eight spending many laps behind the wall for repairs. Third point man, Bert Marvin, had been solidly in the top five when an incident on lap nine sent him to the back of the pack. He was involved in a number of minor incidents during the course of the event, but was able to recover to record a top ten finish. Ted Christopher made a half-dozen trips into the pits for repairs from early contact, setting a dismal outlook for the team fourth in the standings. Excellent work by his pit crew had him remarkably in contention for the win at the checkers. David Kukta, who had an outside shot from his fifth place standings, was also involved in a late race incident to erase his shot at the title.
When the dust settled it was Scott Quinn in victory lane and Brainard with the crown. Ted Christopher and Bert Marvin each finished two points behind Brainard. Christopher was awarded the runner-up slot by virtue of his four wins. Fans saw a tight point race come to a head as three cars finishing within two points.
Jerry Young, Jr. battled his way to Late Model victory to record his second of the season in the fifty lap main event. David Blain led the early going of the Late Model main. Scott Foster made a run on Blain at lap 11; slight contact between the two allowed Young to take the second position from Foster. Jeff Plakias was making a serious run at the front of the pack when contact with Jerry Young relegated him to the back of the pack, continuing a season-long trend for the young competitor. On lap 33 Young would take over the top spot. With only ten laps to go the 2000 champion Lonnie Mecteau looked on the high and low side to try to take the victory from Young. Young stayed strong to grab the checkers.
The Strictly Stock championship bout went down to the 25th round with the number one and two point men battling on the track for the championship. At the checkers Bill McNiel pulled out the victory. Scott Cook finished one spot ahead of Tim Taylor, after the two waged a tremendous battle, allowing Taylor to take the championship by a mere two points.
Dennis Coates held off the late race challenges of multiple feature winner Rich Barry to claim the victory in the 25 lap Mini Stock event. Ron Rixham had established a sizeable lead when Dennis Coates reeled in and passed the leader by lap seven. Rich Barry began to pick his way to the front taking fourth by lap 15, third on lap 16, and second on lap eighteen. Dennis Coates watched his half-straightaway lead evaporate when the caution flew on lap 19 for Cindy Larson. Coates jumped out to the lead when green flag racing resumed and held on to the top spot for the last six laps. George Savary capped off a stellar season with his sixth Pro Four Modified win of the season.
Pro Stock Finish: 1. Jim McCallum, Fall River, MA; 2. Steve Ribbe, Kingston, MA; 3. Dave Bergman, Rehoboth, MA; 4. Bobby Leclerc, N. Dighton, MA; 5. Dick Houlihan, Berkley, MA; 6. Chris Perley, Rowley, MA; 7. George Bessette, Danbury, CT; 8. Phil Rondeau, Baltic, CT; 9. Mike Parks; 10. Chris Magee, Edgartown, MA.
Sunoco Modified Finish: 1. Scott Quinn, Slatersville, RI; 2. Ted Christopher, Plainville, CT; 3. Kerry Malone, Needham, MA; 4. Shaun Buffington; 5. Jeff Malave, Old Saybrook, CT; 6. Zach Sylvester, Lebanon, CT; 7. Tom Tagg, Oxford, MA; 8. Butch Perry, Ashaway, RI; 9. David Kukta, Jr., Westbrook, CT; 10.Bert Marvin, Waterford, CT
Late Model Finish:1. Gerry Young,Jr., Jewett City, CT; 2. Lonnie Mecteau, Plainfield, CT; 3. John Falconi, Marlboro, MA; 4.Jim Peterson, Monson, MA; 5. Rick Laflesh, Griswold, CT; 6. Henry Stampfl, Walpole, MA; 7. Rick Gentes, Woonsocket, RI; 8. Jeff Plakias, Agawam, MA; 9. Dennis Stampfl, Norwood, MA; 10. Scott Bronczyk, N. Grosvernordale, CT
Strictly Stock Finish: 1. Bill McNeil, Taftville, CT, 2. Norm Beauvais, Jr. Mapleville, RI, 3.Ed Puleo, E. Haven, CT; 4. Mark Jenison, Warwick, RI; 5. Larry Barnett, Ledyard, CT; 6. Ken Fecteau, Franklin, MA; 7. Todd Dean, Danielson, CT; 8. Michael Lindquist, 9.Scott Cook, Uncasville, CT; 10. Tim Taylor, Danielson, CT
Mini Stock Finish: 1. Dennis Coates, Walpole, MA; 2. Rich Barry, Central Village, CT; 3.Rod Rixham, Sutton, MA; 4. Roger Perry; 5. Ron Rixham, Jefferson, MA; 6. Joe Lemay, Millville, MA; 7. Chris Gagnon, Moosup, CT; 8. George Rego, N. Dartmouth, MA; 9. Roger Larson, Jr., Milford, MA; 10 Brian Marcotte, Danielson, CT.
Sources: Thompson Speedway PR