Thompson, CT — The season is winding down at Thompson Speedway but the excitement is still ramping up. With tight point races in all divisions, Thursday night’s feature events had major championship implications. Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, scored his third Super Late Model victory of the season to bring the chase to the championship to single digits. Cam McDermott had a good point night as he scored his second win of the season in TIS Modified competition.
Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT, hustled his way from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH, after qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event to win his sixth Sunoco Modified feature event of the season at Thompson and his second in a row. Christopher edged out fellow Modified Tour competitors Rowan Pennink, Keith Rocco, and Woody Pitkat to take down the victory.
Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI, returned to his winning ways in the Late Models while Sean Monahan of Waterford, CT, scored the victory in the Limited Sportsman division. Steve Michalski of Brooklyn, CT, earned his second Mini Stock victory of the season.
Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT, ended a busy day with a trip to victory lane. Christopher drove by pole sitter Dave LaCroix in the first turn of the first lap. Rocco and Pitkat followed through. The cars of Christopher, Rocco and Pitkat ran a distance ahead of Rowan Pennink in fourth.
Pitkat began to apply heavy pressure to Rocco for the second spot as they completed the fifth lap. Christopher could not gain any breathing room on Rocco. Pennink had begun to run the lead trio down. A bit deeper in the pack, Tim Sullivan and Danny Cates were locked in a heated battle for the sixth spot. Despite their battle they were reeling in fifth-place runner Kerry Malone.
Up front, Rocco had caught the back bumper of Christopher. Pitkat dogged Rocco for second and Pennink had caught the battle for the top spot. At halfway, Cates had gotten by Sullivan for sixth. He immediately began to apply pressure to Malone for fifth. Cates dove low in turn three to grab the fifth position away. The top three remained nose to tail as Pennink faded back.
A slugfest between Andy Gaspar, Ricky Shawn, and Harry Rheaume ended with Gaspar limping down the backstretch. The leaders came up on the slow car rapidly but all were able to take the low groove around safely. Ultimately, Gaspar would end up stopped on the backstretch to bring out the caution. Malone headed to pit road under the caution.
Christopher picked the low groove for the restart on lap 19. The move paid off as Christopher, who edged ahead on the restart. Pitkat appeared to miss a shift faltering a bit on the restart.
Rocco made a bold move in turn one to take the lead from Teddy. Christopher duplicated the effort in turn two to regain the top spot. The battle allowed Pitkat to regain the ground he lost to the leaders on the restart. Cates was now part of the mix as well. On lap 22, Cates got into Pitkat sending him spinning to the infield. His teammate Malone was also collected. Cates was put to the rear for his involvement in the incident.
On the restart, Christopher resumed the lead but it was Pennink rocketing into the second spot ahead of Rocco. A spin by Rheaume brought out the caution to negate the pass for second. They would do it all again on the second restart attempt on lap 22.
It was a dogfight at the head of the pack between Christopher, Rocco and Pennink with the green flag flying once again. Bert Marvin had quietly made his way into the fourth position. Pitkat was back in the top five with five laps remaining; but a caution for a single-car incident involving Wayne Arute put Pitkat back to sixth.
An attempt at a single file restart was thwarted when a spin by Sullivan brought out the caution once again. Again, Christopher got a slight advantage over Rocco for the top spot. Pennink was once again looking racy for the second spot. With two laps to go, Pennink sent his #31 in the low groove in turn four to take over the second spot. Pitkat was able to get by Marvin for fourth.
At the checkers, Christopher took down the victory over Pennink. Rocco had to settle for third over Pitkat and Marvin. With the finish, Rocco gained two points over his nearest competition, Pitkat. Rocco has a four-point advantage over Pitkat going into the final point race next Thursday.
Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, edged ever-closer to another championship with his Super Late Model victory. Right from the drop of the green flag there was excitement in the Super Late Models. Pole sitter Larry Gelinas immediately had his hands full with Dennis Maxfield. The two went fender-to-fender for a number of laps. As the lead duo battled O’Sullivan and Norm Wrenn lurked behind.
On lap seven, Maxfield was finally able to gain the advantage. Gelinas immediately fell to the challenge of O’Sullivan. A great run by O’Sullivan on lap 11 gave him the advantage and the lead over Maxfield. Derek Ramstrom was making his way to the front taking spots from Rick Fuller and Norm Wrenn. He got by Gelinas on lap 17 to take over the third position.
Up front, O’Sullivan had run out to a six-car length advantage over Maxfield while Ramstrom was quickly closing the gap. Gelinas ran along in the fourth spot followed by a battle for the fifth position between Wrenn, Fuller, and George Bessette.
With five laps to go Ramstrom had caught Maxfield and the leader entered lapped traffic. Maxfield and Ramstrom were able to cut down the lead substantially when O’Sullivan was forced high on the track by a lapped car. The incident was hardly a glitch as O’Sullivan quickly gained his composure and once again stretched his advantage.
O’Sullivan had nearly a half straightaway lead as he streaked under the checkers for his third win of the season. Ramstrom could not muster up a serious challenge on Maxfield for second. Gelinas and Norm Wrenn completed the top five. With this victory on Thursday night in the Super Late Model division, Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, cut Derek Ramstrom’s point lead to a mere four points heading into the final point race.
Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI, scored his fourth win of the season in impressive style. Gentes took the lead after halfway and ran uncontested to the checkers. Corey Hutchings came from the fifth position to set the pace early in the Late Model main event. While Hutchings had quickly run out to a sizable margin in the opening five laps, point leader John Materas was coming on strong; reeling in the leader. Gentes joined the fray before the completion of lap 10 to make it a three-car freight train at the head of the field. The most recent winner, Tommy O’Sullivan, was beginning to run down the leaders.
Gentes began to assert himself with less than 10 laps to go. He got alongside Materas and easily made the pass for second. Once by Materas, Gentes immediately went to work on Hutchings. The two went side-by-side lap after lap before Gentes muscled his way by on lap 19.
Ken Bamford made hard contact with the outside wall to bring out the caution on lap 20. On the single file restart, Hutchings appeared to miss a shift making it clear sailing for Gentes, who ran out to a 10-car length advantage. The hottest battle on the field was for the third position. The battle got too hot as Materas and O’Sullivan made contact. Materas got out of shape but was able to continue with some damage. O’Sullivan headed to pit road for service. He, too, was able to rejoin the tail end of the field.
An uneventful last dash to the checkers saw Gentes run away with the win. Hutching finished a distant second to Dave Trudeau. Damon Tinio had a career night to finish fourth. Wayne Coury, Sr. recovered from a heat race incident to complete the top five.
Cam McDermott of Scituate, RI, cut into the point lead of Brian Sullivan with his second TIS Modified victory of the season. McDermott now trails Sullivan by 14 points heading into the final race of the regular season. A heated battle for the lead between John Studley and McDermott was slowed when Jeff Barrows and Jay Sundeen made hard contact with the outside wall in turn one on the opening lap. McDermott grabbed the lead from Studley on the restart. Another incident followed involving Glenn Boss and Bart Ramos. Brian Sullivan was penalized for his involvement. Brian Tagg headed to pit road with a flat tire.
Before a lap could be completed, the #31 broke in a shower of sparks; coming to rest on the front stretch and bringing out the caution. Things settled down after the restart with McDermott in control. The young driver was able to extend his lead by nearly a half-straightaway advantage over Studley in second. A fully recovered Tagg was running down R.J. Marcotte for third.
A hard lick by Ramos in the turn four wall set up a green-white-checker restart that pitted McDermott against Studley once again. In the single-file restart, McDermott edged out to a single car-length advantage. Things remained unchanged over the final two laps as McDermott headed to victory lane. Studley had a great run to finish second. Marcotte, Tagg, and Sullivan completed the top five.
With a last lap pass, Sean Monahan of Waterford, CT, scored his second win of the season in Limited Sportsman competition. Joe Campbell jumped out from his front row starting spot to lead the opening laps of the event. After a restart on lap three, his car began to show smoke. He gave up the lead to Joe Arena. After losing the second position to Sean Monahan, Campbell headed down pit road.
Arena had run out to a comfortable lead over Monahan as Barnett had already worked his way into the third position. The leader encountered heavy lapped traffic as the field got the halfway marker. Arena had to weave in and out of the slower traffic allowing Monahan to cut the margin. Monahan was only a couple of car lengths away. Barnett was not able to make any headway toward the lead duo.
With rotors aglow, Monahan went in search of Arena. On the white flag lap, Monahan caught Arena. On the final lap, in a last ditch effort, Monahan was able to make the pass. Arena had to settle for second. Barnett padded his point lead finishing third. Chris “Moose” Douton and Paul Palen completed the top-five.
In the Mini Stock main event, Steve Michalski of Brooklyn, CT, earned his second win of the 2009 season. Ian Brew moved from the fourth position to the lead in the opening lap. Less than a lap later, Brad Caddick had taken over the point. Almost immediately, Caddick had company. It was a three car battle for the lead between Caddick, St. Michalski, and a charging Randy Churchill. After a heated battle, Michalski had taken over the lead on lap 12.
Once out front, Michalski was able to extend his lead. Meanwhile his brother Scott Michalski had joined the lead pack. In the closing laps with St. Michalski comfortably out front the battle continued for the second position. Steve Michalski went on to score his second win of the year. Scott came on strong on the final lap to finish second. Churchill continued his late season string of top finishes finishing in the third position. Caddick and Jeff Moffat rounded out the top five.
After the 1,500 plus votes were tallied, the “Most Popular Driver” awards were presented on Thursday night to drivers in each of the six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division. Taking the honors were Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT, in the Sunoco Modifieds; Derek Ramstrom of Worcester, MA, in Super Late Models; Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI, in Late Models; Joe Arena of Bristol, CT, in the Limited Sportsman division; Jay Sundeen of Douglas, MA, in the TIS Modifieds; and Scott Michalski S. Killingly, CT, in the Mini Stock divisions.
Sunoco Modified Feature (Top-Ten) Finish: 1. Ted Christopher, Plainville, CT; 2. Rowan Pennink, Huntington Station, PA; 3. Keith Rocco, Wallingford, CT; 4. Woody Pitkat, Stafford, CT; 5. Bert Marvin, Waterford, CT; 6. Danny Cates, Chaplin, CT; 7. Ricky Shawn, Bradford, RI; 8. Kerry Malone, Needham, MA; 9. Dave LaCroix, Fitchburg, MA; 10. Harry Rheaume, Oakdale, CT.
Super Late Model (Top Ten) Finish: 1. Mike O’Sullivan, Springfield, MA; 2. Dennis Maxfield, Fitchburg, MA; 3. Derek Ramstrom, Worcester, MA; 4. Larry Gelinas, Buxton, MA; 5. Norm Wrenn, Nashua, NH; 6. Rick Fuller, Auburn, MA; 7. George Bessette, Danbury, CT; 8. Les Rose, Jr., Southbridge, MA; 9. Steve Desmarias, Westport, MA; 10. Jim Banfield, MA.
Late Model (Top Ten) Feature Finish: 1. Rick Gentes, Woonsocket, RI; 2. Corey Hutchings, Salem, CT; 3. Dave Trudeau, Mansfield, CT; 4. Damon Tinio, Medfield, MA; 5. Wayne Coury, Sr., Milford, CT; 6. Jeremy Sadowski, Voluntown, CT; 7. Jeff Hartwell, E. Putnam, CT; 8. Phil Rondeau, Baltic, CT; 9. Tom Fox, Plainfield, CT; 10. Al Mandarino, Lake Grove, NY.
TIS Modifieds (Top Ten) Feature Finish: 1. Cam McDermott, Scituate; 2. John Studley, Framingham, MA; 3. R.J. Marcotte, Millville, MA; 4. Brian Tagg, Oxford, CT; 5. Brian Sullivan, S. Windsor, CT; 6. Jay Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 7. Denis Legere, N. Reading, MA; 8. Bart Ramos, Putnam, CT; 9. John Michael Shenette, Thompson, CT; 10. Glen Boss, Danielson, CT.
Limited Sportsman (Top Ten) Feature Finish: 1. Shawn Monahan, Waterford, CT; 2. Joe Arena Bristol, CT; 3. Larry Barnett, Moosup, CT; 4. Chris Douton, Waterford, CT; 5. Paul Palen, Pelham, CT; 6. Gerald Sevigny, Brooklyn, CT; 7. Jay Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 8. Joe Coates, Eastford, CT; 9. Jesse Gleason, Lisbon, CT; 10. Al Stone III, New Haven, CT.
Mini Stock (Top Ten) Feature Finish: 1. Steve Michalski, Brooklyn, CT; 2. Scott Michalski, S. Killingly, CT; 3. Randy Churchill, Niantic, CT; 4. Brad Caddick, New London, CT; 5. Jeff Moffat, Warwick, RI; 6. Scott Jassaume, Danielson, CT; 7. Ian Brew, Wood River Jct, RI; 8. Chad Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 9. Billy Pomposelli, Chepachet, RI; 10. Chuck Rogers, Quaker Hill, CT.
Sources: Dale Wolbrink/Thompson International Speedway PR