Pearl grabs first SK Mod win; Cantor Checkers Midgets; Thomas, Puleo and James other victors

Waterford, CT —  The Waterford Speedbowl completed its NASCAR Whelen All-American  Series racing program on July 25 with two first time winners this season reaching victory lane.  Jeff Pearl won the SK Modified race while Adam Cantor took his first NEMA Midget event of the year.  Bruce Thomas Jr. returned to victory lane in the Late Models, and Ed Puleo and Kyle James repeated in the Street Stock and Mini Stock races.

Pearl, from Salem, jumped to the 35-lap SK race lead from his pole starting position.  The battle for second raged on behind Pearl between Tyler Chadwick, Rob Janovic Jr., Ron Yuhas Jr., and Jeff Paul.  The action was hot for several laps while they jockeyed for position.  The field raced green sorting out the running order through the first 19 laps before Justin Gaydosh of Newtown ended up against the turn one aarmco barrier, bringing out the first caution.  The lineup behind Pearl for the restart was Yuhas, Janovic, Paul and Keith Rocco.  Chadwick surrendered his spot in the top five when he went pitside during the caution.

Pearl got the jump into turn one on the restart and pulled out to a comfortable advantage while the field challenged Janovic for the second spot for several laps.  Rocco diced through the pack and asserted himself, making an inside bid on Janovic for second with 11 laps remaining.  Once clear of Janovic, the division points leader began to chase down Pearl.   Yuhas moved past Janovic for third and opened up distance back to a battle for fourth between Janovic and Paul.

With four laps to go Rocco had caught Pearl.  He looked both high and low with Pearl covering the spot for the next two laps.  Tom Abele Jr. spun out of turn four to interrupt the battle at the front and stage a restart battle for the event win.   Pearl again got the advantage on the restart to take the lead into turn one.  Yuhas moved past Rocco in the final two laps to take second and was able to pull outside Pearl’s right rear by the checkered flag.  Rocco finished third with Paul fourth and Janovic fifth.   The win was Pearl’s 31st SK Modified win at the track.

Erica Santos was the pole-sitter for the 25-lap NEMA Midget race, the first 2009 Speedbowl appearance and 88th Midget event held at the historic three-eighths mile Speedbowl oval.  Visiting Indiana native Cole Carter brought out caution on lap one when his engine erupted in smoke down the backstretch.  Calamity struck on lap two when several cars were eliminated after coming together in the frontstretch when Randy Cabral made contact with the wall.

Pennsylvania native Nokie Fonoro made an inside bid on Greg Stoehr for the race lead on lap seven when action resumed.  The move worked and the veteran took over down the backstretch.  The field completed the next 20 laps under green before Stoehr and Adam Cantor made contact battling for second as the field raced to the white flag.

Fonoro mastered the restart; however fuel pick-up troubles plagued his machine in the final two laps, giving Cantor his first win of the year.  Russ Stoehr finished second, with Fonoro hanging on for third and Chris DeRitis and Jim Miller completing the top five.

Greg Moran Sr. of Preston brought the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock feature to green for their 20-lap main event.   Groton’s Jeff Mehlenbacher took over on lap two and opened a five car lead on the pack which battled fiercely behind.  The field raced green through lap 11 when Sean Caron and Ian Brew made contact battling inside the top five, sending Caron spinning off the frontstretch to draw the event’s first caution.   Lisbon driver Louis Bellisle lined up alongside Mehlenbacher for the restart, and moved to the lead with points leader Danny Field in pursuit.   Bill Leonard, Kyle James, and Ken Cassidy Jr. also emerged in the top five to turn the final seven laps of the race into a barnburner.

Field, of Deep River, pressured Bellisle for the lead when Kyle James began to move through the top five.   James moved outside Field for second while Bellisle defended his lead.  With two laps remaining, James pulled alongside Bellisle and the pair spent the final two laps side-by-side for the win with Field boxed in riding third.  James edged ahead off turn four on the final lap and won his second race of the year by just a half-car length over Bellisle.  Field, Cassidy and Leonard completed the top-five.

North Windham competitor Larry Goss was the early leader in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model 30-lap race.  Bruce Thomas Jr., winner of four straight events, jumped to the outside lane and was making steady progress through the top five in the opening laps.   Thomas, from Groton, took the lead from Goss on lap 12.   Tim Jordan followed behind Thomas and moved to second a lap later.   Jordan, of Plainfield, began to track down Thomas when caution waved for the first time on lap 17 for Goss who had spun in turn four.

Thomas and Jordan began putting on another stellar battle for the lead.  Jordan pressured Thomas through the corners, but Thomas had the steam to hold off Jordan down the straightaway.   The battle reached its apex on lap 26 when Jordan’s run ended backwards against the turn three wall after cutting a tire down.  Thomas went on to his ninth win and extended his points lead in the process.  Vin Esposito, Ernie Bertrand, Jeff Smith and Dennis Botticello rounded out the top five.

Branford racer Ed Puleo was able to rebound from mechanical failure while leading comfortably this past Wednesday to hold off a hungry field of Street Stock competitors.  While Puleo moved out to the early lead, an intense battle for the top five broke out in his mirror.  Josh Galvin, Al Stone, Steve Barrett, Walt Hovey and Brandon Plemons all raced hard for the chance to challenge Puleo.  Caution waved on lap 14 when Diego Monahan spun in turn four.

Puleo got the jump on the restart but the action heated up on his rear bumper.  Both Galvin and Stone pressured the leader with increasing intensity as the laps ticked off.  With four laps to go, Galvin got high in turns three and four losing several positions while he kept his car off the wall.  That made room for Hovey to challenge the top two of Puleo and Stone.  Puleo held back the challengers to take his second win of the year.  Hovey nipped Stone by inches at the stripe for second.  Plemons and Greg Moran Jr., turning in his best performance of the year, rounded out the top five.

Anthony Nocella took the lead on lap five of the 20 lap NEMA Lite race and went on to the win in a quickly run event.

The Speedbowl resumes this week with Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday on July 29th featuring the exciting action of the Legends Cars, Super X-Cars, X-Cars, X-Modifieds, Bandolero’s and Women on Wheels.   Admission is just $7 for adults while all youth age 14 and under are admitted free.

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action returns Saturday, August 1st.    The SK Modifieds will be joined by the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Street Stocks, NEATV Truck Series, and a special visit from the X-Cars from the Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday race program.   The Mini Stock division will be off.  Qualifying gets underway at 5:00pm with feature events beginning at 7:00pm.   Adult admission is $14 with all youth ages 6 through 14 just $5.  Kids 5 and under, as always, are admitted free.

Souces: Waterford Speedbowl PR