Ron Yuhas Jr. crowned 59th Modified Track Champion; Bruce Thomas Jr., Brandon Plemons, Danny Field, Jason Palmer and Allen Coates also honored
Waterford, CT — A full house of over 500 strong gathered Saturday evening at Groton Inn & Suites to pay tribute to Waterford Speedbowl’s 2009 Track Champions. Ron Yuhas Jr., Bruce Thomas Jr., Brandon Plemons and Danny Field were awarded the track’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division championships while Jason Palmer and Allen Coates picked up their respective hardware as the Legends Cars and NEATV Truck Series champs. Each etched their name into the Speedbowl record books in unique fashion.
Nearly 80 drivers in total were recognized for their efforts during the season. Special awards honoring the Top Rookie, Sportsman of the Year, Most Improved Driver and Pit Crew of the Year in each of the six divisions were also distributed.
The opening Saturday night of the season set the tone for the battle to the SK Modified® track championship. In that event Keith Rocco used a daring last lap maneuver in turn four to gain the win by inches over Ron Yuhas Jr. From there, a classic Speedbowl duel engaged between the two and carried throughout the 20-race season. Yuhas, of Groton, used a 10 race streak of top-five finishes to narrow a 50-point cushion Rocco built up over the first half of the year. Yuhas checkered the final Saturday night race and survived a wild 100-lap Finale event to claim his first ever championship. He also brought home the first title to his car owner, Mike Murphy, as well as to the Yuhas family. His father, Ron Yuhas Sr., was a long-time car owner in the Modified ranks at Waterford. In total Yuhas captured three wins and posted 15 top-five and 19 top-ten finishes on the season. He was the only competitor to complete every lap in 2009 and became the 59th Modified track champion at the ‘Bowl, one of the nation’s longest such lists.
Bruce Thomas Jr. achieved a milestone few have in the long history of the shoreline oval in 2009. He became just the fourth driver to win three straight Saturday night track championships by dominating the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division. Thomas, from Groton, finished the year with 10 victories and 15 top-five finishes in 17 starts. His feat joins the elite company of Dick Dunn (Modifieds ‘72-‘75), Dennis Gada (SK Modifieds ’99-‘03) and Phil Rondeau (Late Models ’87-‘89).
Uncasville’s Brandon Plemons captured his first Street Stock division title, becoming the only competitor in track history to claim both a Mini Stock and Street Stock division title. Brandon was the 2002 Mini Stock titlist. He bested a very competitive Street Stock field in 2009, narrowly edging the competition in one of the closest points battles the division has ever seen. He finished with one win, 16 top-fives and was the only driver to finish all 20 races in the top-ten.
Danny Field returned to the ‘Bowl in 2009 after a year away and picked up his third Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock track championship, the first driver in Speedbowl history to achieve that number. Field, of Deep River, posted a division best five wins to go along with 17 top-fives and 18 top-ten finishes. He was also the Speedbowl’s 2005 and 2006 division champion.
The Saturday Legends Cars belonged to Berlin’s Jason Palmer this past season. Palmer put together a season for the record books, winning 10 of 13 races to take the championship. He also was the track’s Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday Legends Cars champ where he won 12 races. Combined, he was just the second driver to ever win greater than 20 races in a single Speedbowl season. He vaulted up the chart to 10th all time in track wins, and now has amassed four total track titles in his young career.
Allen Coates of Ledyard won the NEATV Truck Series crown to become the first to win titles in three different points divisions at the ‘Bowl. He now has five titles overall. This season’s Truck division crown goes along with three Late Model championships (1998, 2001, 2002) and a Street Stock championship (1996). He won seven Truck races in 2009 to boost him to fifth in all-time Speedbowl wins with 71 and further his legacy as one of the track’s best ever in the full-fendered ranks.
Picking up hardware for Top Rookies were Joe Perry (SK Modifieds), Brian Andronaco Jr. (Late Models), Steve Barrett (Street Stocks) and Greg Moran Sr. (Mini Stocks). For the Legends the Rookie of the Year honors went to 15 year old Anthony Flannery and in the Trucks it was Brad Caddick.
The Sportsman of the Year Award winners were Jeff Paul (SK Modifieds), Rich Staskowski (Late Models), Al Stone III (Street Stocks), Nick Pappacoda (Mini Stocks), Giovanni Giarratana (Legends Cars) and Scott Gregory (Trucks).
Taking home the Most Improved Driver honors were Tom Abele Jr. (SK Modifieds), Jeff Smith (Late Models), Chris Meyer (Street Stocks), Kyle James (Mini Stocks), Ryan Morgan (Legends Cars) and Greg Butler Jr. (Trucks).
Pit Crew of the Year went to the teams of Ron Yuhas Jr. (SK Modifieds), Vin Esposito (Late Models), Ed Puleo (Street Stocks), Ian Brew (Mini Stocks), Jason Palmer (Legends Cars) and Howard Payne (Trucks).
For more information on the 2010 Waterford Speedbowl season including schedule and more, please visit www.speedbowl.com.
Sources: Waterford Speedbowl PR