Thompson, CT — It was a career day for Doug Coby of Milford, CT, who dominated in Whelen Modified Tour action in the inaugural UNOH North/South Showdown at Thompson International Speedway. Coby bested his fellow Northern competitors to score the victory in the regularly scheduled Whelen Northern Modified Tour event. He went on to dominate a very lucrative 50-lapper in the North/South Showdown. George Brunnhoelzl, III, of West Babylon, NY, extended his point lead in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour with his victory in the companion 125.
Keith Rocco of Wallingford, CT, found new life in his quest for his second-straight NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship with a Sunoco Modified victory at Thompson on Sunday. Larry Gelinas of Buxton, ME, was in the right place at the right-time to score the victory in the Super Late Models. It was a career first for Art Moran III in the Limited Sportsman. Cam McDermott of Scituate, RI, was tops in the TIS Modifieds.
Doug Coby of Milford, CT, took the lead early and withstood a number of late race restarts from a handful of talented drivers to win the UNOH North/South Showdown and the $15,000 take. Coby capitalized on his front row starting spot to lead the field early. Ted Christopher was on the move-meticulously moving toward the front. He muscled his way by Coby on lap eight to take over the lead. Coby returned the favor on lap 12 to recapture the lead. Preece went along for the ride; relegating T.C. to third. After a pair of cautions before halfway, the front four cars of Coby, Preece, Christopher and Civali fanned out ahead of a brewing battle between George Brunnhoelzl and Eric Goodale.
At halfway, Coby enjoyed a several car length advantage over Preece. Christopher had fallen back from Preece and into the clutches of Civali. Brunnhoelzl continued to lead Goodale. Bobby Santos had worked his way up from the 27th starting position to run seventh followed by L.W. Miller, Rowan Pennink, and Szegedy inside the top ten.
The action slowed when the caution flew for a spin by Patrick Emerling on lap 35. The yellow started what was one of many that would plague the remainder of the event. The positions changed between several drivers except the one at the front. Civali, Christopher, and Preece all jockeyed for position, swapping positions lap-after-lap. Over the closing laps, Coby was able to stretch his advantage while Christopher and Civali duked it out for second.
Coby cruised to the checkers to score his second victory of the day; earning $15,000 plus nearly $5,000 in lap money and contingencies. Christopher earned $5,000 plus an estimated $750 in lap money for his runner-up performance. After a tremendous run, Civali had to settle for third. Brunnhoelzl and E. Goodale completed the top five.
Earlier in the day, George Brunnhoelzl of West Babylon, NY, won what could be deemed a controversial 125-lap Whelen Southern Modified Tour event during the first leg of the North/South Showdown. After dominating the event, Steve Massey was given the consolation flag for jumping the start on a lap 119 restart; getting on the gas before the designated restart line. Brunnhoelzl appeared to chase Steven Massey to the checkered flag; however, Massey remained on the speedway not heeding the penalty; giving the win to Brunnhoelzl.
Steve Masse took the lead on lap 48; taking the position away from early leader Donny Lia. Burt Myers had worked his way into second on lap 90 passing a fading Lia. Brunnhoelzl chased Myers for many laps before grabbing the runner-up spot on lap 100. The second caution of the event flew on lap 109 when the #71 of Robby Fuller came to rest on the backstretch. Massey rocketed back to the lead on the ensuing restart.
A spin by John Smith on lap 115 brought out another caution; setting up a restart with six laps to go. It was on the ensuing restart that found Massey in violation of the restart rule. Massey was posted for jumping the restart; handing the race lead over to George Brunnhoelzl III. Brunnhoelzl led the final two laps to score the victory. Burt Myers, Tim Brown, Andy Seuss, and Steve Park completed the top five. Massey was given a two-lap penalty; ending up fourteenth in running order.
Doug Coby of Milford, CT, took the lead early in the 125-lapper and would never be headed en route to his win in the Whelen Northern Modified Tour event. In the opening laps of the race pole sitter Ryan Preece and Doug Coby ran in a two-car breakaway leaving behind a great battle from third position back between Eric Goodale, Ted Christopher, Ronnie Silk and Erick Rudolph.
On lap 29, Coby took over the top spot from Preece. Rudolph gave up his front running spot on lap 36 heading down pit road with mechanical failure. During the long green flag run, Coby extended his lead over Preece while James Civali had worked his way into contention breaking into the top-five. The first caution of the event flew when Eric Berndt spun making hard contact with the outside wall.
Christopher, running third, struggled on the second attempt at a restart giving up several positions. Up front, Coby was left to contend with Civali for the lead. The lead duo of Coby and Civali ran away from Preece in third and a great battle for fourth between Todd Szegedy, Tom Rodgers, and Christopher.
In the closing laps, Coby continued to stretch his lead over Civali. Preece gained some distance on Christopher, who had plenty of company in Szegedy. Rogers lurked in the sixth spot. Pennink and E. Goodale were locked in a heated battle for sixth. Justin Bonsignore, who started scratch on the field, dogged Silk for eighth. Coby threaded his way through lapped traffic over the final five laps to take down the win. Civali came home in second followed by Preece. Christopher held off Szegedy to finish fourth.
Going into the day, the National Championship hopes looked grim for Keith Rocco of Wallingford, CT; but a stout field of 22 cars qualified the event as a “full-field” and a dominating performance gave Rocco new life. The opening lap of the Sunoco Modified feature was marred by caution. Contact between pole sitter Carl Oberg and third-starting Danny Cates sent the field scattering. Woody Pitkat, who was caught up in the incident, sustained the most damage. Both Cates and Pitkat headed to pit road for service. Each was able to rejoin the field. Oberg continued without incident.
A second attempt at a start found outside pole sitter John Catania turned around in front of the field. Todd Ceravolo, driving the back-up car of Ryan Preece, was collected in the incident along with George Wilkinson. Joe Allegro was sent to the rear for the contact with Catania. Oberg, who had struggled on all attempts at the start, was sent to the rear of the field for not maintaining adequate speed on the start. Keith Rocco had inherited the lead before a single-lap of competition was scored.
Rocco took off with Rick Fuller and Ryan Preece in pursuit. Andrew Charron and Ricky Shawn ran inside the top-five. Pitkat was on a mission diving into the fifth spot on lap three. The lead trio ran nose-to-tail; meanwhile Pitkat had gotten around Charron and into fourth. He quickly began to run down the leaders Rocco, Fuller, and Preece.
Preece dove underneath Fuller on lap 10 to take over the second spot. During the brief battle, Rocco was able to edge out to a car length advantage over Preece. Pitkat had caught Fuller making it a four-car breakaway. The caution flew again on lap 16 for an incident involving Charron and Cates. Under the caution, Pitkat headed down pit road for further service to his #00.
Rocco was flawless on the restart; getting his biggest advantage of the event. A heated battle for the second spot between Fuller and Preece gave Rocco more breathing room. Keith began to pull away from Fuller who ran second. Pitkat had made quick work of the cars at the back of the pack to run sixth on lap 21.
On lap 22, Preece had once again moved by Fuller. The pair were not done swapping spots as Fuller again made his way by Preece and into second; allowing Rocco to stretch his advantage. Pitkat continued to make progress running in fourth. At the checkers, Rocco had run to his 100th overall career win (all divisions). Fuller came home second over Preece. Pitkat and John Jensen completed the top-five.
Larry Gelinas of Buxton, ME, was the beneficiary of good fortune late in the Super Modified feature to score the victory. Derek Ramstrom rocketed out from his fifth starting position to battle for the lead with Bessette and Stefanik on the second lap. Ramstrom could not get the edge riding side-by-side with Bessette. The duel allowed Mike O’Sullivan and Larry Gelinas to join the fray. As the four cars exited turn two on lap seven, contact at the head of the pack sent Bessette into the outside wall and Ramstrom spinning to the infield. Stefanik, hard on the binders, was able to avoid contact.
On the ensuing restart, Stefanik was pitted again O’Sullivan, Gelinas, and Jim Banfield. Stefanik ran out to the lead with O’Sullivan glued to his back bumper. Gelinas settled into a groove in third. Ramstrom was making a nice recovery; chasing down Banfield for fourth. Back up front, O’Sullivan was all over Stefanik in search for the lead. Lap-after-lap, O’Sullivan would get alongside Stefanik exiting the second and fourth corners but couldn’t maintain the momentum to complete the pass.
Smoke poured off the cars on lap 20 as the two made contact exiting four. On lap 24, O’Sullivan got inside up to the door on Stefanik at the start/finish line. The two made contact in turn two; sending Stefanik spinning. Stefanik was collected by Ramstrom as he slid down the track. O’Sullivan was sent to the rear of the field under the caution. Gelinas inherited the lead with six laps remaining. On the ensuing restart, Gelinas rocketed out to the advantage over Banfield. O’Sullivan had made quick work of several cars; taking the third spot from Jeff Hartwell on lap 28. The final laps were uneventful for Gelinas, who cruised to his third win of the season. Banfield, O’Sullivan, Hartwell and Stefanik rounded out the top five.
Cam McDermott of Scituate, RI, extended his point lead in the TIS Modified division with a victory on Sunday afternoon. Early leader R.J. Marcotte had his hands full right from the drop of the green flag with heavy pressure from Cam McDermott and Glenn Boss. On lap two, Marcotte surrendered positions to them both; allowing McDermott to take the lead with Boss in hot pursuit. The first caution of the event flew on lap 7 for an incident involving J.P. Lowinski-Loh, Jr., Ryan Morgan, and Chad LaBastie. McDermott jumped back into the lead on the restart; again with Boss in tow. Lap-after-lap Boss continued to dog McDermott for the top spot. Jay Sundeen had moved into third and began to run down the lead duo. Marcotte had company in John Studley for fourth.
Over the final laps of the event, McDermott was able to distance himself from Boss. Sundeen edged closer to Boss but could not muster up a serious challenge for the runner-up spot. McDermott cruised to the checkers to take his fourth victory of the season. Boss settled for second. Sundeen came across the line third; however, he was disqualified in post race inspection. Marcotte was awarded a podium finish followed by Studley, and Morgan inside the top five.
Art Moran, III of Preston, CT, earned his first career Limited Sportsman feature event win; holding back a pair of former divisional champions to score the victory. The opening laps of the Limited Sportsman main event featured a spirited battle for the lead between Tommy Shea and Art Moran III. It was door-to-door for several laps before Moran established himself as the leader. Shea began to fade as Scott Sundeen and Larry Barnett charged. At halfway, Moran held a slight advantage over Sundeen, and Barnett. Joe Coates and Chris Douton battled for the fifth spot. Dwayne Dorr was gaining ground on the pair in sixth.
A pack of three cars ran nose-to-tail from first through third. A distance back it was a similar look for fourth through sixth. Moran continued to hold on to the lead over Sundeen and Barnett as the three entered lapped traffic. Coates held off Douton and Dorr. The running order would go unchanged as the division ran to the checkers in a caution-free event. Moran was victorious over Sundeen, Barnett, Coates and Douton in the top-five.
Whelen Southern Modified Tour (Top Ten) 125-Lap Feature Finish: 1. George Brunnhoelzl, III, W. Babylon, NY; 2. Burt Myers, Walnut Cove, NC; 3. Tim Brown, Cana, VA; 4. Andy Seuss, Hampstead, NH; 5. Steve Park, E. Northport, NY; 6. Frank Fleming, Mt. Airy, NC; 7. Timmy Solomito, Islip, NY; 8. Donny Lia, Jericho, NY; 9. Thomas Stinson, Chester, VA; 10. Austin Pack, Winston-Salem, NC.
Whelen Northern Modified Tour (Top Ten) 125-Lap Feature Finish: 1. Doug Colby, Milford, CT; 2. James Civali, Meriden, CT; 3. Ryan Preece, Berlin, CT; 4. Ted Christopher, Plainville, CT; 5. Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, CT; 6. Tom Rogers, Jr., Patchogue, NY; 7. Eric Goodale, Riverhead, NY; 8. Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, PA; 9. Ronnie Silk, Norwalk, CT; 10. Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, NY.
UNOH North/South Showdown Feature (Top Ten) Finish: 1. Doug Coby, Milford, CT; 2. Ted Christopher, Plainville, CT; 3. James Civali, Meriden, CT; 4. George Brunnhoelzl, III, W. Babylon, NY; 5. Eric Goodale, Riverhead, NY; 6. Bobby Santos, III, Franklin, MA; 7. Ryan Preece, Berlin, CT; 8. Mike Stefanik, Coventry, RI; 9. Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, NY; 10. Ed Flemke, Jr., Southington, CT.
Sunoco Modified Feature (Top-Ten) Finish: 1. Keith Rocco, Wallingford, CT; 2. Rick Fuller, Auburn, MA; 3. Ryan Preece, Berlin, CT; 4. Woody Pitkat, Stafford, CT; 5. John Jensen, Wolcott, CT; 6. Rick Shawn, Bradford, CT; 7. John Catania, Agawam, MA; 8. Eric LeClair, E. Hampton, MA; 9. Carl Oberg, Sutton, MA; 10. Joe Allegro, Jr., Vernon, CT.
Super Late Model Feature (Top-Ten) Finish: 1. Larry Gelinas, Buxton, ME; 2. Jim Banfield, S. Glastonbury, CT; 3. Mike O’Sullivan, Springfield, MA; 4. Jeff Hartwell, E. Putnam, CT; 5. Mike Stefanik, Coventry, RI; 6. Daryl Stampfl, Norwood, MA; 7. Scott Rotherforth, Glastonbury, CT; 8. Keith Caruso, Millbury, MA; 9. Michael Rivard, N. Scituate, RI; 10. Scott Foster, Broadbrook, CT.
TIS Modified Feature Finish: 1. Cam McDermott, Scituate, RI; 2. Glenn Boss, Danielson, CT; 3. R.J. Marcotte, Millville, MA; 4. John Studley, Framingham, MA; 5. Ryan Morgan, Mystic, CT; 6. Payton Henry, Willington, CT; 7. Chad LaBastie, Uxbridge, MA; 8. J.P. Lowinski-Loh, Jr., Milford, MA; 9. Denis Legere, N. Reading, MA. DQ- Jason Sundeen, Douglas, MA
Limited Sportsman Feature (Top-Ten) Finish: 1. Art Moran, III, Preston, CT; 2. Scott Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 3. Larry Barnett, Moosup, CT; 4. Joe Coates, Groton, CT; 5. Chris Douton, Waterford, CT; 6. Dwayne Dorr, Ledyard, CT; 7. Jason Chicolas, Sutton, MA; 8. Tom Shea, New London, CT; 9. Kevin Mason, W. Warwick, RI; 10. John Carpenter, Danielson, CT.
Sources: Dale Wolbrink/Thompson International Speedway PR