Thompson, CT — Jim Banfield and Jesse Gleason scored their first season wins and led a roster of exciting finishes in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Thursday Night Thompson Thunder at Thompson International Speedway this week. Ted Christopher and Tommy O’Sullivan earned milestone career finishes for their teams while Cam McDermott and John Lewinski-Loh added to their season totals.
Patience paid off for Jim Banfield in the 50-lap Super Late Model feature Thursday night. The So. Glastonbury, Conn.-native took the lead with two laps to go after then-leader Mike O’Sullivan blew a tire in turn one. Banfield drove to the lead and eventual victory unchallenged. Derek Ramstrom catapulted to the front at the drop of the green, and even an early-race caution couldn’t slow him down. Dick Houlihan and Mike O’Sullivan took over second and third on the restart as the top-five began to string out single file. O’Sullivan maneuvered by Houlihan for second and set his sights on Ramstrom, who was already out to a half-a-straightaway lead. Caution flew on lap seven and tightened the field back up again. O’Sullivan won the drag race into turn one on the drop of the green and took over the lead on lap eight with Ramstrom in his rear view mirror and Larry Gelinas in third. Ramstrom continued to pressure O’Sullivan before reclaiming the top spot at lap 20. Once out front, he was able to pull away by five-car lengths over O’Sullivan and Gelinas. With 14 laps to go, the No. 41 of Scott Rotherforth spun into the infield retaining wall on the front stretch and brought out the caution flag. O’Sullivan beat Ramstrom to the lead, but a caution would force him to try again. Ramstrom appeared to have the lead heading into turn one, but Gelinas went low making it a three-wide battle into turn one. Gelinas took the lead in commanding style, but had a lot of pressure by Ramstrom and O’Sullivan. Ramstrom dove low to challenge, and as he attempted to go by for the lead on lap 40 in turn one, Ramstrom started to go around and collected Gelinas in the mix. O’Sullivan inherited the lead for the restart with Jim Banfield and Rick Gentes rounding out the top-three. With two laps to go, O’Sullivan lost the left front tire on his No. 08 machine and handed the lead and win to Jim Banfield.
Ted Christopher earned his 96th career Thompson International Speedway victory when he powered his way to the win in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Sunoco Modified division. It was his second win of the season. John Catania and Kerry Malone went into turn one double-file with Malone getting the lead coming out of turn two. Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece moved into second and third with Preece all over Christopher’s bumper for the second position. Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco made it a five-car bumper-to-bumper train up front. On lap nine, Christopher shot to the bottom and took over the lead with Preece in tow. Malone squeezed into third, but was quickly passed by Pitkat and Rocco. The frontrunners approached lapped traffic at lap 13, but continued in a tight formation without a hiccup. On lap 22, Pitkat broke free of the trio to make a bid on Preece, but lost momentum and turned his focus to Rocco, who threatened his third place position. Pitkat regained himself as Christopher continued to lead Preece less than a car length in front of him. Christopher never faltered and drove straight to the checkered flag.
Tommy O’Sullivan put another notch in his belt by earning the 75th career victory for the O’Sullivan race team when he drove to a commanding victory in the Late Model division on Whelen Engineering Night. John Falconi drove to the front at the drop of the green as Mike Scorzelli spun to the infield grass on the front stretch. The caution came out and the field lined up to do the start again. Once again, it was Falconi out front as Randy Tucker contended with the challenges of O’Sullivan, who moved into second by the second lap. Marc Palmisano took over third as Scorzelli powered into the fourth position. O’Sullivan closed in on Falconi and started to put the pressure on. At lap five, O’Sullivan went low heading into turn three and the two were side-by-side with Falconi ahead at the line. O’Sullivan continued his bid and took the lead in turn four of lap seven. Palmisano followed O’Sullivan’s line but Falconi wasn’t about to give up another position, and closed the door on his challenge. O’Sullivan put some distance on the rest of the field as the race reached the halfway point, but Palmisano’s departure at lap 16 would put Scorzelli solidly in the third position behind Falconi. O’Sullivan continued his dominating ways and soared to the checkered flag unchallenged.
Jesse Gleason held off a hard-charging Art Moran to take the checkers in the Limited Sportsman feature in one of the biggest turnarounds thus far this season. “We got wrecked four times last week,” said Gleason from victory lane. “I’m glad to be here this week.” Chris Bisson drove to the front, but his charge was halted on lap two when Kevin Bowe and Mike Caprio tangled in turn two. Steve Kenneway took over the lead on the restart after challenging Bisson on the outside. Art Moran dove low on lap four to challenge Kenneway for the lead. Kenneway held him off at the line, but was by no way in the clear. Jesse Gleason got in the mix as he challenged Moran for the second position, which he took over at lap seven. Gleason kept his machine glued to the bumper of Kenneway’s No. 55, and at lap ten, took the outside groove to challenge for the lead. Heading down the backstretch, Gleason got the advantage and took the lead at lap 11. Moran was still a factor, however, and pressured Gleason on the bottom groove. Moran continued to pressure on the bottom, but lost some momentum when he approached a lapped car. Moran reeled Gleason back in and the two made slight contact in turn four of lap 16. Gleason got squirrelly, but saved it and remained the leader. Despite constant pressure from Moran, it was all Gleason when the checkers dropped.
Cam McDermott earned his second Lite Modified win in as many weeks after taking the lead early in the 20-lap feature event. Shawn Brule beat out Nikki Ouellette to the lead, but Cam McDermott soon had his presence known on the rear bumper of Brule’s machine. On lap four, McDermott dove to the bottom and got side-by-side with Brule before taking the lead at lap five coming off of turn four. With Brule right on his bumper, McDermott showed the way around Thompson in commanding style lap-after-lap, and could not be shaken before soaring to the victory.
John Lowinski-Loh slammed on the brakes to avoid a lap nine accident to take over the lead and drive to victory for the second consecutive week in the Thompson Modified feature. Brian Tagg outraced Jay Sundeen into turn one to take the early lead in the 20-lap feature, but Glenn Boss took less than a circuit to make his bid for the top spot. Coming off turn four, Boss completed his challenge on the bottom and drove to the front by the completion of lap two. Sundeen and John Lowinski-Loh, Jr. rounded out the top-three and the trio quickly pulled away from the rest of the field. Sundeen stuck his nose down low coming off turn two on lap eight and pulled ahead of Boss by inches. The two ran aggressively into turn one on lap nine, and after contact, Boss spun into the outside retaining wall. Lowinski-Loh assumed the lead for the restart with Tagg and Danny Gamache, Jr. rounding out the top-three. Lowinski-Loh pulled away to a comfortable lead while Sundeen worked his way into the top-three. Lowinski-Loh, however, was untouchable and took the checkers for the second week in a row.
Chad Baxter used a late-race bid to upset the Monster Mini Stock feature and take the lead away from Scott Michalski on the final lap in the final turn for the victory in the 15-lap affair. The feature was brought to caution before the first lap was complete when Steve Violette and Mike Gorgievski tangled in turns three and four. Scott Michalski assumed the lead position when green flag action returned, and he immediately pulled out to a two-car length advantage. Jeff Moffat and Eric Bourgeois rounded out the top-three. On lap four, Bourgeois tried to get by Moffat using the bottom groove, but couldn’t complete the pass. He tried again on the following circuit, but this time took the second spot and set his sights on Michalski. By lap eight, however, Bourgeois has his hands full with Nick Anderson, who dove to the bottom to challenge for second. The duo ran side-by-side for a full circuit before Anderson got out in front of the No. 33 machine for second. Bourgeois made contact with the rear of Anderson’s machine, which turned around in turn four as the tenth lap completed. Michalski drove right back out front at the drop of the green, but had a challenge from Chad Baxter on the inside coming out of turn two. Michalski held him off at the line, but Baxter continued his bid for the lead. The two battled door-to-door with Michalski holding him off by mere inches every cross of the line. On the final circuit, Baxter pulled ahead enough to take the victory by less than the nose of his bumper.
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH: 1. TED CHRISTOPHER, Plainville, CT; 2. Ryan Preece, Berlin, CT; 3. Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs, CT; 4. Keith Rocco, Meriden, CT; 5. Kerry Malone, Needham, MA; 6. Shawn Thibeault, Southington, CT; 7. John Catania, Agawam, MA; 8. Dennis Perry, Pawcatuck, CT; 9. Eric LeClair, Easthampton, MA; 10. Shawn Brule, W. Thompson, CT.
SUPER LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH: 1. JIM BANFIELD, S. Glastonbury, CT; 2. Colbey Fournier, Berkley, MA; 3. Derek Ramstrom, Worcester, MA; 4. Larry Gelinas, Buxton, ME; 5. Dennis Maxfield, Fitchburg, MA; 6. Dennis Krupski, Calverton, NY; 7. Dick Houlihan, Bridgewater, MA; 8. Jeff Hartwell, East Putnam, CT; 9. Mike O’Sullivan, Springfield, MA; 10. Daryl Stampfl, Norwood, MA.
LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH: 1. TOMMY O’SULLIVAN, Wilbraham, MA; 2. John Falconi, Oakham, MA; 3. Mike Scorzelli, Malta, NY; 4. Damon Tinio, Mendon, MA; 5. Randy Tucker, Millis, MA; 6. Ryan Waterman, Danielson, CT; 7. Marc Palmisano, Hadley, MA; 8. Robert O’Connell, Jr., Wrentham, MA.
THOMPSON MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH: 1. John Lowinski-Loh, Milford, MA; 2. Brian Tagg, Oxford, MA; 3. Jay Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 4. Danny Gamache, Jr., Woonsocket, RI; 5. Chad LaBastie, Uxbridge, MA; 6. Keith Rocco, Meriden, MA; 7. Glenn Boss, Danielson, CT.
LITE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH: 1. CAM MCDERMOTT, Scituate, RI; 2. Shawn Brule, W. Thompson, CT; 3. Nikki Ouellette, East Granby, CT; 4. Eric LeClair, Easthampton, MA; 5. Troy Talman, Oxford, MA.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH: 1. JESSE GLEASON, Lisbon, CT; 2. Scott Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 3. Art Moran III, Preston, CT; 4. Larry Barnett, Moosup, CT; 5. Steve Kenneway, Lowell, MA; 6. Chris Bisson, Putnam, CT; 7. Bill McNeil, Putnam, CT; 8. Jason Chicolas, Sutton, MA; 9. Mike Palin, Dudley, MA; 10. Corey Fanning, Mapleville, RI.
MONSTER MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH: 1. CHAD BAXTER, Pascoag, RI; 2. Scott Michalski, S. Killingly, CT; 3. Steve Violette, Canterbury, CT; 4. Jeff Moffat, Smithfield, RI; 5. Nick Anderson, Oxford, MA; 6. Travis Jurcik, Chaplin, CT; 7. Eric Bourgeois, East Haddam, CT; 8. Joe Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 9. Mike Viens, Seekonk, MA; 10. Leo DeFevers, Moosup, CT.
Sources: Penny Aicardi/Thompson International Speedway PR