Thompson, CT – There was plenty to celebrate at the Raceway Restaurant and Golf Club on Friday & Saturday night, January 23 & 24, 2009 as Thompson International Speedway honored six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champions. The race for the crowns in each of the divisions went right down to the wire in what was the most competitive season in recent memory at Thompson.
Kerry Malone of Needham, MA, was lauded for this third Thompson Sunoco Modified championship along with car owners Jimmy Fuller, Bob Hitchcock and Kelly Iverson. Also feted on Saturday Night was Late Model champion Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, MA, and TIS Modified champion Kurt Vigeant of Oxford, MA. On Friday night Fred Astle, Jr. was crowned the 2008 Pro Stock champion while Scott Sundeen of Oxford, MA, received the 2008 Limited Sportman division top honors and Danny Field was celebrated as the 2008 Mini Stock Champion.
The Sunoco Modified division at Thompson International Speedway has earned a distinction for its outstanding level of competition. The fierce and talent nature of it’s competitors makes the divisions title all that much more coveted.
“This is where the best of the best compete,” said Master of Ceremonies, Russ Dowd.
Among a group of drivers who continually steal the headlines, Kerry Malone quietly racked up points during the 2008 season. A threat to win each and every week, he rode consistency and not necessarily the limelight to the top of the leader board. The fight for the title came down to the final night but after only two finishes outside the top-ten and 10 top-five finishes, Malone was crowned the 2008 Sunoco Modified champion.
Malone was presented with trophies from both Thompson and NASCAR by Track Owner Donald Hoenig, Chief Steward Dick Brooks, and NASCAR’s Ed Cox. He also received a championship jacket courtesy of Dave Lind Racing and a photo montage from Scott and Trevor Nickel.
“Championships are all about teamwork,” said Malone, “and my team is the best.”
There was no jinx for sophomore driver Danny Cates of Chaplin, CT, who quickly became the season’s dark horse for the championship in the Sunoco Modified division. He was in the hunt until the final race and in the end the underdog came home with a respectable runner-up finish in the 2008 point standings. Jimmy Blewett, Howell, NJ; Tommy Cravenho, Jr., Raynham, MA and former divisional champion Todd Ceravolo were honored in the top five.
In the Sunoco Modified division Josh Sylvester of Lebanon, CT, was honored with 2008 Rookie-of-the-Year honors for his outstanding year. David LaCroix of Fitchburg, MA, received the division’s “Most Improved Driver” Award for the 2008 season. Al Moniz, owner and crew chief for Tommy Cravenho, earned the NASCAR Craftsman “Mechanic of the Year” Award.
After tremendous success in the Pro Stock division at Thompson over the last several years, Jeff Zuidema, one of the busiest racers in New England, made the 2008 Late Model championship a stated goal from the start of the season.
“Winning a championship is a huge challenge,” said presenter Matt Buckler, “but over the years, meeting huge challenges has become a way of life for our 2008 Late Model champion.”
It became evident early that Zuidema meant business. In the first four races of the season he scored three victories and a runner-up finish. Throughout the season he amassed 15 top-ten and 14 top-five finishes including 5 wins. It was mission accomplished for Zuidema as he and his team were honored as the 2008 Late Model Champions.
“I have had the privilege of standing up here several times in my career,” said Zuidema, “but, by far, this championship is the most important so far; not for myself because this one is for a family that is so important to both me and my family. To my family, my wife, my daughter Shelby, and my son Benjamin, you are all champions.”
A host of fierce competitors rounded out the top five in the final Late Model point standings including Marc Palmisano of Hadley, MA, in second; Rich Gentes, Woonsocket, RI in third; followed by Conrad Cote, Lisbon, CT, and Mark Jenison; Danielson, CT. Andy Gasper of Andover, CT, was presented with Rookie-of-the-Year honors while Cote was recognized as the “Most Improved Driver”.
Kurt Vigeant and car owner Ron Vigeant successfully defended their TIS Modified title earning back-to-back championships with 13 top-ten and 9 top-five finishes in 14 races including two wins. Glenn Boss of Danielson, CT; Shane Michalski of Woodstock, CT; Leo Oliveira and Richie Ferreira, both of Raynham, MA, made up the remainder of the top-five in the points chase in 2008. Continuing a family tradition of excellence, Brian Tagg of Oxford, MA, was presented with the Rookie-Of-The-Year Award in the TIS Modifieds. Keith “Cam” McDermott of Scituate, RI was recognized as the division’s “Most Improved Driver”.
On Friday Night, the Pro Stock, Limited Sportsman, and Mini Stock divisions were honored for their accomplishments. For these three Thursday Night Thompson Thunder divisions the championships were not decided until the final Thursday night of competition. As they shared the excitement all season long, three champions shared the spotlight at the Raceway Restaurant & Golf Club with their fellow competitors.
Two names synonymous with winning in New England highlighted Friday Night’s award ceremony. Veteran second-generation driver Fred Astle, Jr. carried on a legacy of winning not only for his family but also for his car owner Rollie Lindblad. After a season that saw the team score 12 top-ten finishes in 13 races including 10 top-fives and two wins, Astle and Lindblad were honored as the 2008 Pro Stock Champions.
Runner-up Jay Macedonio applied pressure to Astle all season. He fell only six points short; giving Astle the smallest margin of victory of any of the six divisions.
Former divisional champion Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, had his eye on the top duo all season to finish third in the final point standings over Norman Wrenn of Nashua, NH and Derek Ramstrom of Worcester, MA. By virtue of his impressive season that included three straight victories, teenager and fan favorite Ramstrom was also presented with Rookie-of-the-Year honors. Scott Rotherforth of Glastonbury, CT, was named the Pro Stock division’s “Most Improved Driver”.
The 2008 season was an especially rewarding one for Scott Sundeen, who garnered the 2008 Limited Sportsman Championship. Not only did his team emerge as the team to beat, his son and fellow divisional competitor Jay proved to be a chip off the old block. In a truly team effort, the elder Sundeen garnered 14 Top-Ten and 12 Top-Five finishes including two wins to earn the title for his car owner Peter Kinne. During the year, Sundeen was also selected by the fans as the Most Popular driver in the division.
Specialty awards in the Limited Sportsman division went to Rookie-of-the-Year recipient Randy Jurcik and “Most Improved Driver” Joe Arena, who scored a win on the opening night of Thursdays Night Thunder competition.
Danny Field is becoming one of the most revered Mini Stock competitors in New England. An outstanding 12 top-five finishes and three wins during 2008 including the prestigious Icebreaker on April 6 and an extra-distance event on July 31 earned Field the coveted 2008 Thompson Speedway Mini Stock title. Field also owns championships at the Waterford Speedbowl. With a chase that went down to the final race, Field ousted defending champ Mike Romano from his throne by a mere 18 points.
Like his fellow champions on both Friday and Saturday night Field received trophies from NASCAR and Thompson Speedway along with a racing jacket From Dave Lind Tire and a photo collection from Scott and Trevor Nickel.
Romano finished a close second at season’s end. Scott Michalski of S. Killingly, CT, the winningest Mini Stock driver in 2008, ended with a third place in the final point standings ahead of Chuck Rogers of Quaker Hill, CT, and his brother Steve Michalski of Brooklyn, CT. Rogers was also presented with “Most Improved Driver” honors while Bert Ouellette of Dayville, CT, was heralded with Rookie-Of-The-Year honors.
Over the weekend a series of specialty awards were presented. Fast Track Medical Response Systems recognized Jeff Hartwell for his continued commitment to safety. Tim Bennett presented the Chief Starters Awards to Tommy Cravenho, Jr. on Saturday and Scott Sundeen on Friday Night for exemplifying the spirit of cooperation and sportsmanship.
The John Hoenig Memorial Award, given in memory of the founder of the Thompson International Speedway, was presented to Chief Scorer and Raceway Restaurant & Golf Club veteran employee, Brenda Romanik.
“Brenda has worked as a scorer for well over 30 years. That kind of long-term dedication is almost unheard of these days and her determination to get it right is a real tribute to her commitment to each and every one of you,” said Dowd proudly.
The momentum for the 2009 season that flourished during the weekend ceremonies will continue as the Thompson International participates in the upcoming SpeedwayEXPO on February 27-March 1, 2009. On March 21 & 28, Thompson will be holding Practice, Test & Tune Sessions from 11:00AM-6:00PM. The 2009 season formally gets underway with the traditional Icebreaker on Saturday and Sunday, April 4-5, 2009.
For the latest news on Thompson Speedway including the 2009 schedule call the speedway office at (860) 923-2280 or visit online at www.thompsonspeedway.com.
Sunoco Modifieds Final 2008 Point Standings (Top Ten): 1. Kerry Malone Needham, MA; 2. Danny Cates, Chaplin, CT; 3. Jimmy Blewett, Howell, NJ; 4. Tom Cravenho, Jr, Raynham, MA; 5. Todd Ceravolo, Gales Ferry, CT; 6. Keith Rocco, Wallingford, CT; 7. Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs, CT; 8. Josh Sylvester, Lebanon, CT; 9. Bert Marvin, New London, CT; 10. Bobby Grigas III, Marshfield, MA.
Late Model Final 2008 Point Standings (Top Ten): 1. Jeff Zuidema, N. Brookfield, MA; 2. Marc Palmisano, Hadley, MA; 3. Rich Gentes, Woonsocket, RI; 4. Conrad Cote, Lisbon, CT; 5. Mark Jenison; Danielson, CT; 6. Tommy O’Sullivan, Springfield, MA; 7. Peter Yetman, Peru, MA; 8. Jeff Hartwell, Putnam, CT; 9. John Materas, Voluntown, CT; 10. Mark Oliveira, Blackstone, MA.
TIS Modifieds Final 2008 Point Standings (Top Ten): 1. Kurt Vigeant, Oxford, MA; 2. Glenn Boss, Danielson, CT; 3. Shane Michalski, Woodstock, CT; 4. Leo Oliveira, Raynham, MA; 5. Richie Ferreira, Raynham, MA; 6. R. J. Marcotte; Millville, MA; 7. Brian Tagg, Oxford, MA; 8. Keith ‘Cam’ McDermott, Scituate, RI; 9. John Studley, Framingham, MA; 10. Bart Ramos, Sterling, CT.
Pro Stocks Final 2008 Point Standings (Top Ten): 1. Fred Astle, Jr., Westport, MA; 2. Jay Macedonio, Somerset, MA; 3. Mike O’Sullivan, Springfield, MA; 4.. Norman Wrenn, Nashua, NH; 5. Derek Ramstrom, Worcester, MA; 6.George Bessette, Danbury, CT; 7.David Berghman, Seekonk, MA; 8. Jim Banfield, S. Glastonbury, CT; 9. Jeff Connors, Ellington, CT; 10. Dave Silvia, Warwick, RI.
Limited Sportsman Division Final 2008 Point Standings (Top Ten): 1. Scott Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 2. Ed Puleo, Branford, CT; 3. Joe Arena, Bristol, CT; 4. Larry Barnett, Ledyard, CT; 5. Jesse Gleason, Lisbon, CT; 6. Randy Jurcik, Chaplin, CT; 7. Paul Palen, Pelham, NH; 8. Jay Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 9. Gerald Sevigny, Brooklyn, CT; 10. Ernie Larose, Moosup, CT.
Mini Stocks Final 2008 Point Standings (Top Ten): 1. Danny Field, Deep River, CT; 2. Mike Romano, Glendale, RI; 3. Scott Michalski, S. Killingly, CT; 4. Chuck Rogers, Quaker Hill, CT; 5. Steve Michalski, Brooklyn, CT; 6. Glynn Roy, Sterling, CT; 7. Tim Taylor, Wauregan, CT; 8. Billy Pomposelli, Chepatchet, RI; 9. Leo Defevers, Brooklyn, CT; 10. Roger Ducharme, Foster, RI.
Sources: Dale Wolbrink/Thompson International Speedway PR