This week’s early spring snow makes the name of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s (TSMP) season-opening event more appropriate than ever this year. The 42nd Annual Icebreaker on April 9th-10th will bring the racing season into full swing as twelve divisions of racing take to the track over two action-packed days, headlined by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT).
Defending NWMT champion, Doug Coby and the No. 2 Mike Smeriglio III Racing Team, have proven a powerful combination over the last couple of years, securing the championship in both 2014 and 2015 and sweeping all four events at TSMP last season. That’s not to say there hasn’t been some fierce competition for them from drivers like Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece, as the championship last season came down to a tight battle at the last race of the season, Thompson’s Sunoco World Series. With Ryan Preece running a full season in the NASCAR XFINITY series this season, he will be forced to run a limited schedule in the #6 NWMT car. This will provide the opportunity for other strong drivers in the field, like Justin Bonsignore, Timmy Solomito, Donny Lia and Ron Silk, to contend for the title.
The North East Street Stock Tour (NESST) will be opening their second season on Saturday afternoon of the Icebreaker with a 20 lap feature. The NESST race, presented by RAD Auto Machine, kicks off a ten-event championship season which also ends at Thompson’s 5/8-mile oval in October. The defending champion, Joe Arena, will face stiff competition from other championship-winning drivers, including Chris “Moose” Douton and Steve Kenneway.
Also, opening their season on Saturday will be the New England Pro 4 Modifieds and the NEMA Lites, both with 20 lap features. With a twenty plus car field anticipated for the NEMA Lites, there is sure to be some exciting battles in this race. The winningest driver at Thompson, with twelve victories, is Randy Cabral returning in his family-owned #35 Lites car. Also present will be the winner of both NEMA Lites races at Thompson last year, Scott Bigelow, and last year’s NEMA Lites Champion, Anthony “The Tornado” Payne.
Saturday afternoon’s races will also include the Lite Modified and Truck divisions.
The Vintage Outlaws, a vintage modified racing series, will race both Saturday and Sunday, offering a look back at some of the cars that used to run at Thompson throughout the 76-year history of the track.
On the schedule for Sunday, for the first time since 2012 is the Pro All Star Series (PASS). They will be running their first PASS North Super Late Model race of the season on Sunday afternoon, which will also serve as race three of the PASS National Championship Series. Following the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Speedway on March 26, former Thompson Speedway track champion Derek Ramstrom will enter the Icebreaker weekend leading the National points standings by two points over Ben Rowe and Mike Hopkins.
Also on the schedule for Sunday afternoon are Thompson’s four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) divisions, the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks. The Sunoco Modified field is shaping up to be more competitive than ever, with the defending champion Woody Pitkat going up against 4-time Thompson champion, Keith Rocco. He will also be running against reigning Stafford Speedway SK modified champion, Rowan Pennink who will be returning to Thompson for the first time since 2010.
The Late Model division last season saw rookie, Brian Tagg, take his first championship in another tight points battle. He was not the only one to see success last season. Jeff Rocco, who won 4 times in 2015, will also be a favorite for the 2016 crown. Six-time champion, Rick Gentes, will also be looking to get back on top with a switch to a new engine package this season.
The Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman are always a strong division at Thompson and with over 30 drivers on the roster, should provide some good two and three-wide action at the Icebreaker. Returning veterans Scott Sundeen and Larry Barnett will both be ones to watch this season. Scott Sundeen won the title the past two seasons bringing him up to four championships total, and tying him with Larry Barnett’s title wins. Corey Hutchings has also been dominant in the division winning half of the last two years’ races, but has a history of bad luck at the Icebreaker. He will be looking to turn that around this weekend with a strong finish in the first event of the season. This will be the first of three races in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Triple Crown Championship for the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman.
The Mini Stocks will also be competing in their first O’Reilly Auto Parts Triple Crown Championship race at the Icebreaker. First-time champion Dave Trudeau will be looking to defend his hard-earned title. There will be some fresh faces in the division this season, which will mix with seasoned veterans to make for an interesting field. Doug Curry, who showed strong potential in his two races at TSMP last season, will be coming to Thompson full time in 2016 aiming for the championship. Eric Bourgeois, last year’s inaugural Triple Crown champion, will also be back in his #87 car.
Sunday’s events will conclude with the feature event, the 150 lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at around 3:30 PM.
The Icebreaker kicks off the season this weekend, April 9-10. A practice day is scheduled for Friday, April 8. For more information on Thompson Speedway news and events, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.