Third Straight Sunoco Modified Win for Christopher; Banfield Scores Career First Super Late Model Checkers; Gentes, Monahan, Tagg & Churchill Also Visit Victory Lane; Rocco, Ramstrom, Materas, Barnett, Sullivan & Michalski Thompson Champs

Thompson, CT — It was a night to crown champions at Thompson International Speedway as the 2009 season came to an end on a beautiful Thursday night. In Sunoco Modified action, Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT, took his third straight victory but it was Keith Rocco of Wallingford, CT, taking the crown. Jim Banfield of S. Glastonbury, CT, had a career night winning his career first Super Late Model feature event. Teenager Derek Ramstrom of Worcester, MA, earned his first Thompson championship.

Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI, made it two in a row in Late Model competition. John Materas of Voluntown, CT, had a joy ride on Thursday night as he clinched the championship the week before. Tom Tagg of Oxford, MA, scored his fifth win of the season in the TIS Modifieds. Brian Sullivan of S. Windsor, CT, earned the title in the division by a scant eight points.

Shawn Monahan of Waterford, CT, scored his second straight Limited Sportsman feature victory. After an eventful night, Larry Barnett recovered from an early race incident to become a multi-time Limited Sportsman champion. Randy Churchill of Niantic, CT, scored his third win of the season in the Mini Stocks. Scott Michalski of S. Killingly, CT, had a banner year to win the division’s title.

Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT, made a move in the late stages of the Sunoco Modified main event to cleanly take his seventh victory of the season at Thompson. Tim Sullivan jumped out to the early lead with Ronnie Silk in tow. Rocco and Pitkat ran side by side in the sixth and seventh positions respectively. Christopher ran behind in eighth.

Rheaume got out of shape allowing Rocco, in the outside groove, to gain a position on Pitkat. Rocco ran comfortably in the fifth spot. Pitkat ran a distant sixth followed by Christopher. Rowan Pennink ran in the eighth spot.

Rocco made a dive bomb move to get by Danny Cates to run in fourth. Pitkat followed through. There was contact between Rocco and Malone; sending Malone sliding and opening the door for Rocco to take over third.

Up front, Silk dogged Sullivan for the lead. The battle allowed Rocco to catch the lead pack. On lap 12, Silk was finally able to get by Sullivan taking Rocco along for the ride. Christopher caught Sullivan as well.

On lap 15, Rocco continued to tail Silk. Christopher had gotten by Sullivan to take over the third spot. Rocco dove low exiting turn three to take the top spot from Silk on lap 18. Christopher was able to get by Silk and immediately tracked down Rocco. A spin by Wayne Arute brought out the event’s first caution on lap 19.

On the restart, Silk was followed by Sullivan, Rocco, Christopher and Pennink inside the top five. Pitkat ran in the sixth spot. On the lap 19 restart, Sullivan failed to come up to speed. Pitkat was collected in the incident sustaining heavy damage to the right front. The race restarted with Pitkat on pit road. Rocco was able to retain his lead on the restart but he had plenty of company in Christopher and Pennink.

Christopher was able to maneuver by Rocco for the lead in turn one. Pennink began to apply pressure to Rocco for the second spot. Over the final laps, Rocco was glued to the back bumper of Christopher. They raced to the checker nose to tail with Christopher taking the win over Rocco and Pennink. Cates quietly came home in the fourth spot followed by Silk. Rocco’s strong run combined with Pitkat’s misfortune proved to be the winning combination for Rocco, who scored his second championship in three seasons.

Over the final stages of the 2009 season, Jim Banfield of S. Glastonbury, CT, had been able to turn his luck around. Runner-up finishes had paved the way to his first career Super Late Model feature on Thursday night. Larry Gelinas jumped out to an early lead over Jim Banfield. Derek Ramstrom, who led Mike O’Sullivan by eight points, ran in the sixth position while O’Sullivan was mired a bit deeper back in the pack in eighth.

Ramstrom was all over the back bumper of George Bessette while O’Sullivan was struggling in his efforts to get around Rick Fuller. On lap 11, Ramstrom was able to get alongside Bessette. The two went fender to fender lap after lap.

Up front, Gelinas continued to enjoy a ten car length advantage over Banfield. The battle for the third position was heating up between Dennis Maxfield and Norm Wrenn. On lap 14, Ramstrom was able to get by Bessette. O’Sullivan had not advanced his position.

With Maxfield and Wrenn battling, Ramstrom was able to catch the duo. In a flash of flame, the motor of Maxfield expired. The oil laid down on the speedway, sent cars sliding. During the incident O’Sullivan climbed over the #15 of Bessette.

Gelinas suffered mechanical failure on the ensuing restart; handing the lead over to Banfield. Ramstrom lined up in second while O’Sullivan was able to climb into the third spot on the restart. Ramstrom chased the back bumper of Banfield.

Ramstrom was looking racy for the lead with three laps to go. Sullivan had caught the leaders. With two to go, O’Sullivan was able to get to the rear tire of Ramstrom. The battle for the second spot allowed Banfield to head to his first win of the season. Ramstrom finished second ahead of O’Sullivan to earn the local favorite his first Thompson Speedway championship. Wrenn and Fuller completed the top five.

Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI, survived a caution-marred Late Model main event to score his second straight victory. Jeff Hartwell capitalized on his front row starting spot to lead the opening lap but there was trouble right off the bat as Mark Oliveira spun in turn four. On the first attempt at a restart, the champ, John Materas, came to rest on the back stretch.

A three car battle for the lead erupted on the restart as O’Sullivan used the outside groove to get along side Hartwell. Dave Trudeau moved within striking distance. The leaders went side-by-side for the duration of lap eight before O’Sullivan could take over the top spot. Gentes was able to get around Hartwell and into the second position.

A spin by Al Mandarino brought out the caution on lap 10. Hutchings headed down pit road for service. On the restart, O’Sullivan was able to edge ahead of Gentes. On lap 14, Gentes began his bid. He got alongside O’Sullivan on lap 13. With the leaders side by side, Trudeau was once again able to join the fray. On lap 15, Gentes was the new leader. O’Sullivan immediately fell into the grasp of Trudeau. Materas had recovered to run in the fourth position.

A spin by Jeremy Sadowski set up a restart that would change the complexion of the battle for the lead. Contact between Materas and Trudeau sent Trudeau spinning to the infield. Damon Tinio and Corey Hutchings were also involved.

On the restart, O’Sullivan appeared to miss a shift leaving Gentes to battle with Materas for the top spot. The lead duo broke away from a heated multi-car battle for the third position between Phil Rondeau, O’Sullivan, Wayne Coury, Sr., and Tom Fox.

Contact between Hartwell and O’Sullivan sent the pack scattering on lap 18. The chain reaction resulted in cars deeper in the pack sustaining heavy damage. Back under green, it was much of the same as Gentes and Materas bolted out to a sizeable advantage over a great battle for third, this time between Coury and Fox. In the end, Gentes cruised to victory on the newly crowned Late Model champion Materas. Coury came out on the battle with Fox. Oliveira rebounded to finish fifth.

Shawn Monahan of Waterford, CT, muscled his way to his second straight Limited Sportsman feature victory. Kevin Bowe set the pace early but the action was a little further back in the pack. The first caution of the event flew for a spin by point leader Larry Barnett. Barnett joined the rear of the field in search of his second Limited Sportsman championship. His nearest competition in the championship chase ran in the third spot when back under green behind Bowe and Joe Campbell.

Back under green, things got strung out at the head of the pack. The best battle was for the seventh position between Paul Coutu, Jr. and Joe Coates. The race leader went up in smoke on lap seven with an apparent blown engine to bring out the second caution. New leader Campbell had some breathing room as J. Sundeen had his hands full with a charging Joe Arena. Barnett was methodically picking his way through the pack. At lap 10, Barnett was in the twelfth position.

Arena continued to pressure J. Sundeen as Monahan was locked in a battle with Coates for the fifth position. Chris Douton, who had trouble in the early going, had fought his way back to join the battle for fifth. There was another scary moment for Barnett as Jesse Gleason spun in his path on lap 14 in turn four to bring out the caution.

A failed attempt at a restart saw J. Sundeen lose the handle making contact with leader Campbell. Sundeen sustained heavy damage as he spun in front of the field. Campbell was able to continue. A handful of laps later, Campbell was not so lucky. He lost the handle collecting Coates.

Arena had inherited the lead as Monahan and Douton resumed their battle; this time for the second spot. Monahan was able to free himself of Douton, who immediately fell into the clutches of Scott Sundeen. Monahan quickly ran down leader Arena. Over the final laps, the battle for the lead heated up. Monahan got up alongside Monahan exiting turn two with two laps remaining. The two made contact at the start finish line. Monahan was able to move by Arena in turn two.

Monahan went on to claim the victory. Arena had to settle for the second spot. Chris Douton, Al Stone III, and Scott Sundeen rounded out the top five. Barnett rebounded to finish sixth and to claim his championship.

In the TIS Modifieds, Brian Tagg scored a popular victory. Outside pole sitter John Studley got out of shape to ride the wall on the opening lap. Tagg capitalized on the confusion to take the lead. Championship contender Cam McDermott ran a distant second. During the green flag run, McDermott was able to cut into Tagg’s lead while point leader Sullivan and Shane Michalski took chase.

With two laps to go, McDermott dove to the low groove in a last ditch effort at the lead. Tagg was up to the challenge and headed to victory lane for his fifth win of the season. McDermott settled for second in the race and in the chase for the championship. Michalski, Sullivan, and Jay Sundeen completed the top five. The top-five finish was enough to secure Brian Sullivan the 2009 TIS Modified championship.

Randy Churchill of Niantic, CT, turned a last lap pass into his third feature win of the season in the Mini Stock division. Early leader Mike Gorgievski had run out to a sizeable advantage in the early going of the main event. Rick Blanchard was making great strides in the opening laps. Both were able to continue where they left off when racing resumed after a caution on lap three. Gorgievski resumed his place on the point while Blanchard had moved into the second spot. Churchill; too, was also making tracks to the front.

Blanchard watched his great run come to an end as he dropped off the pace on lap nine. His misfortune opened the door for Churchill; now running in second. In the waning laps Churchill, began to cut into the lead that Gorgievski had built up. Point leader Scott Michalski ran comfortably in the third position.

A spin by J.T. Suprenant set up a green-white-checker restart that pitted Gorgievski against Churchill. Gorgievski was able to gain the advantage on the restart but Churchill got a great run on the outside. Churchill took the lead entering turn two on the final lap putting Gorgievski. That is the way they would head to the stripe. A third place run gave Scott Michalski his first Mini Stock championship. Eric Bourgeois and Steve Michalski completed the top five.

Sunoco Modified (Top Ten) Feature Finish: 1. Ted Christopher, Plainville, CT; 2. Keith Rocco, Wallingford, CT; 3. Rowan Pennink, Huntington Station, PA; 4. Danny Cates, Chaplin, CT; 5. Ronnie Silk, Norwalk, CT; 6. Harry Rheaume, Oakdale, CT; 7. Ricky Shawn, Bradford, RI; 8. Dave LaCroix, Fitchburg, MA; 9. Carl Oberg, Sutton, MA; 10. Andy Gaspar, Andover, CT.

Super Late Model (Top Ten) Feature Finish: 1. Jim Banfield, S. Glastonbury, CT; 2. Derek Ramstrom, Worcester, MA; 3. Mike O’Sullivan, Springfield, MA; 4. Norm Wrenn, Nashua, NH; 5. Rick Fuller, Auburn, MA; 6. Mike Stefanik, Coventry, RI; 7. Marc Curtis, Worcester, MA; 8. Les Rose, Jr., Southbridge, MA; 9. Chris Magee, Edgartown, MA; 10. Bobby Tripp, Westport, MA.

Late Model (Top Ten) Feature Finish: 1. Rick Gentes, Woonstocket, RI; 2. John Materas Voluntown, CT; 3. Wayne Coury, Sr., Milford, CT; 4. Tom Fox, Plainfield, CT; 5. Mark Oliveira, Blackstone, MA; 6. Damon Tinio, Mendon, MA; 7. Tommy O’Sullivan, Springfield, MA; 8. John Falconi, N. Grafton, MA; 9. Phil Rondeau, Baltic, CT; 10. Robert O’Connell, Franklin, MA.

Limited Sportsman (Top Ten) Feature Finish: Shawn Monahan, Waterford, CT; 2. Joe Arena, Bristol, CT; 3. Chris Douton, Waterford, CT; 4. Al Stone, III, New Haven, CT; 5. Scott Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 6. Larry Barnett, Moosup, CT; 7. Paul Coutu, Jr., Thompson, CT; 8. Phil Evans, Uncasville, CT; 9. Tom Shea, New London, CT; 10. Jason Chicolas, Sutton, MA.

TIS Modifieds (Top Ten) Feature Finish: 1. Brian Tagg, Oxford, CT; 2. Cam McDermott, Scituate, RI; 3. Shane Michalski, Woodstock, CT; 4. Brian Sullivan, S. Windsor, CT; 5. Jay Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 6. John Michael Shenette, Thompson, CT; 7. John Studley, Framingham, CT; 8. Jeff Barrows, Worcester, MA; 9. Denis Legere, N. Reading, MA; 10. Glen Boss, Danielson, CT.

Mini Stock (Top Ten) Feature Finish: 1. Randy Churchhill, Niantic, CT; 2. Mike Gorgievski, Auburn, MA; 3. Scott Michalski, S. Killingly, CT; 4. Eric Bourgeois, E. Haddam, CT; 5. Steven Michalski, Brooklyn, CT; 6. Jeff Moffat, Warwick, RI; 7. Scott Jassaume, Danielson, CT; 8. Brad Caddick, New London, CT; 9. Billy Pomposelli, Chepachet, RI; 10. Mike Viens, Seekonk, MA.

Sources: Dale Wolbrink/Thompson International Speedway PR

September 2009
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