Waterford, CT — Waterford Speedbowl opened for its 62nd consecutive season Saturday, hosting qualifying and eight main events as part of Budweiser Blastoff weekend. Picking up wins in Saturday’s main events included Paul French of Andover, who won the evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified race, Ryan Bigelow of East Hampton who found Victory Lane in the NEMA Light touring series race, and Corey Coates of Ledyard who won in the visiting New England Truck Series. In INEX racing, Dave Garbo Jr. of Stonington claimed the win in the opening day Legends Cars feature and Jacob Urch in the afternoon’s Bandolero race. Other winners included Jon Porter of Canterbury in Super X-Cars, Chris Garside of Waterford in X-Cars and James Logan of Dighton, MA in the New England Four Cylinder Pro Stock event.
After conquering early rain showers that plagued the region, those in attendance were treated to qualifying action for Sunday’s 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature and special 62-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified® feature before Saturday’s main events. Leading the way in qualifying for Sunday Blastoff features was Rob Goodenough, who earned the pole starting position for the Valenti Modified Racing Series feature with twenty six cars qualified for that event. Tom Abele Jr. of Norwich won pole-starting position honors for the SK Modified® feature. In addition to those two events, the NEMA Midgets will compete in a 25-lapper on Sunday as well as NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action for the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models (50-laps), Street Stocks (30-laps) and Mini Stocks (30-laps).
The 20-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified feature saw Chris Ignazio lead the field to the green flag, however defending division champion French raced to the lead through turns one and two outside Ignazio. Tyler Jackson moved to second position and newcomer Jason Ferreira came to third position in the opening laps.
Things heated up for the top spot before long, as Ferreira raced by Jackson’s outside for second position, taking the spot on lap-3. While Ferreira hounded French for the top spot, Jackson refused to give in from third. The three briefly went three-wide for the race lead out of turn two on lap-6 resulting in Ferreira getting crossed up, spinning down the back chute drawing the first caution period of the race.
French controlled the restart, racing ahead of Chris Correll, Jackson, and Bubby Brouwer. The running order up front remained unchanged until a caution on lap-11 for debris reset the field. French again resumed his lead over Correll after a very brief delay, with Brouwer momentarily challenging Jackson for third position. Jackson battled back to take the spot while Ferreira crept back into contention.
Correll looked strong moving up to French’s outside over the next several laps. The veteran tested French’s outside but could not find the room to complete a move for the top spot. The top four raced in tight formation setting up an exciting finish. As they raced to the white flag, Correll again made a strong bid outside French, however got crossed up and caught his right front wheel into the front stretch retaining wall. Correll rode the wall before coming to rest in turn one. Ferreira also spun in the mayhem which drew the third caution period.
French nailed one final restart to cruise to his first win of the season. Jackson ran well to claim second position at the finish, hanging with French over the green-white-checkered finish. Ignazio hung tough all race to take third.
Garbo benefitted with a pole starting position in the 25-lap Legends Cars event. He used that to rocket to the race lead over Dylan Izzo and Dana Dimatteo at the drop of the initial green flag. The field only completed one lap when Michael Blaskey spun exiting turn two, creating contact among multiple cars that sent veteran racer George Whitney’s car tumbling down the back chute before coming to rest on its roof. Whitney walked away from the incident, which drew the red flag.
After the cleanup, Garbo settled back in the race lead once racing returned to green flag conditions. Behind Garbo, Dimatteo raced to second position ahead of Kaz Grala and Izzo. The order continued through lap-9 when Garbo began encountering slower traffic ahead. Garbo navigated the lapped cars while Grala shifted past Dimatteo for second position by lap-12, as the race approached halfway. Behind the top-three Nicholas Lascuola, Kyle Rogers and Paul Kusheba were all racing for position. Kusheba was working his way through the field one car at a time until he was positioned in fourth position behind Garbo, Grala and Dimatteo.
Racing continued uninterrupted with a nice pace from the lead group. Garbo stretched his advantage over Grala to a very comfortable distance. Grala ran strong in second with Dimatteo holding third. Kusheba was strong coming up to fourth position ahead of Izzo.
The top five ran in position through the final laps with no further change to the running order in a cleanly contested race.
Urch raced his way to an opening day victory in the Bandolero feature, his first career at the Speedbowl. The race, which went caution free, saw Urch bolt out to a big lead early. He went unchallenged to the win. Derek Debbis finished in second position, with Andrew Morin placing third.
In Super X-Car action, Porter found himself in prime position to capitalize on a final turn mishap by race leader Mike Maskell. Maskell took control of the race from early leader Eric Finkbein. Maskell stretched his lead at times during the 20-lap race, however caution two mid-race caution periods kept Porter on his rear bumper for the final laps. Exiting turn four with the checkered flags waving, Maskell lost traction, spinning off turn four and relinquishing the victory to Porter in an exciting exchange. Finishing behind Porter at the checkered flag were Dan Butler and Ed Ryan.
Garside won the X-Car 20-lap feature in a quick paced and spirited battle in a competitive four-cylinder affair. Garside got by early leader Brad Voglesong and held back the charges of Scott Limkemann in the closing laps to take the win. Voglesong finished in third.
A pre-racing Pit Party begins Sunday’s festivities where fans can meet and greet the cars and drivers on the track at 10:00am. Racing begins at noon.
Saturday Budweiser Blastoff 3/31 Results:
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modifieds (20-laps): 1. Paul French, Andover; 2. Tyler Jackson, Milford; 3. Chris Ignazio, Colchester; 4. Jason Ferreira, Lowell, MA; 5. Richard Brouwer, Waterford; 6. Chris Correll, New London; 7. Corey Larson, Bolton
New England Truck Series (25-laps): 1. Corey Coates, Ledyard; 2. Duane Noll, Monroe; 3. Vin Esposito, Seymour; 4. Roger Turbush, Riverhead, NY; 5. Jason Lafayette, Somers; 6. Chris Turbush, Riverhead, NY; 7. Bert Ouellette, Dayville; 8. Craig Cashman, Milford, NH; 9. Glen Noll, Naugatuck
NEMA Lites top-five (25-laps): 1. Ryan Bigelow, East Hampton; 2. Eric Cumens, Cyndell, PA; 3. Joey Payne, Fairlawn, NJ; 4. Randy Cabral, Plymouth, MA; 5. Ken Johnson, Bethany
New England Four-Cylinder Pro Stocks (20-laps): 1. James Logan, Dighton, MA; 2. Emily Packard, East Montpelier, VT; 3. Brad Zahensky, Bow, NH
Legends Cars (25-laps): 1. Dave Garbo Jr., Stonington; 2. Kaz Grala, Westboro, MA; 3. Dana Dimatteo, Farmington; 4. Paul Kusheba, Monroe; 5. Dylan Izzo, Westport; 6. Nicholas Lascuola, Brockton, MA; 7. Kyle Rogers, Waterbury; 8. Michael Blaskey, Bethany; 9. Nicholas Sowa, Middletown; 10. Cory Dimatteo, Farmington; 11. Dennis Pantani, Branford; 12. Calvin Therrien, Vernon; 13. Kyle Hardwick, Chaplin; 14. Jordan Churchill, Lisbon; 15. Richard Erlandson, Moodus; 16. Stephen Kopcik, Newtown; 17. Daniel Stolte; 18. George Whitney, Westbrook; 19. Matt Pappa, Nassau, NY; 20. John O’Sullivan, Salem; DNS – Joseph Perry, Ashaway, RI
Bandoleros (15-laps): 1. Jacob Urch, West Suffield; 2. Derek Debbis, Oakdale; 3. Andrew Morin, Old Saybrook; DQ – Ken Morin Jr., Old Saybrook;
Super X-Cars (20 laps): 1. Jon Porter, Canterbury; 2. Dan Butler, Waterford; 3. Ed Ryan, Preston; 4. Bill Reiman, Southington; 5. Mike Maskell, Quaker Hill; 6. Jim Boyle, East Windsor; 7. Eric Finkbein, Columbia; 8. Robert Norman, Clinton; 9. Ken Cassidy Sr., Lisbon; 10. Peter Pollard, Old Lyme; 11. Frank Alessio, Colchester; 12. John Yagmin, Tolland; 13. Ray Phillips, Canterbury; 14. John Robidoux, Fall River, MA; 15. Matt Carlson, Griswold; 16. Ken Downing III, Branford; 17. Paul Turcotte; DNS – John Brouwer Jr., Groton
X-Cars (20-laps): 1. Chris Garside, Waterford; 2. Scott Limkemann, East Lyme; 3. Brad Voglesong, Middletown; 4. Mike Marvin, Colchester; 5. Wayne Shifflett, Preston; 6. Randy Johnston, Westerly, RI; 7. Shawn Stula, Colchester; 8. Onie Pierce, Norwich; 9. Melissa Clavette, Bozrah; 10. Christopher Lee, Uncasville; 11. Chris Bissell, Jewett City; 12. Shaun Parker, Taftville; 13. Kim Bickford, Griswold; 14. Chuck McDonald, Groton; 15. Henry Lavallee, Uncasville; DNS – Javier Rivera, Willimantic; DNS – Mitchell Bombard, Willimantic
Sources: Waterford Speedbowl PR