Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park hosted its second weekend of oval action on Sunday, May 21 with the second annual Limited Sportsman Long Distance & Military Night where veterans were welcomed to the race for free in celebration of their service, Armed Forces Day, and the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend.
The drivers of the Limited Sportsman series took center with the highlight event of the evening, a 30-lap long distance race with 30 cars making up the field of competitors in the biggest race the series hold all season at the Big-T. The race was a popular new addition to the calendar in 2016, extending the normal 20-lap Limited Sportsman feature an extra ten laps. The 2017 event saw its share of drama as Ryan Waterman proved to be the car to beat, leading for much of the first half of the event. However, the extra distance paid off for Brent Gleason who took the lead around halfway and never looked back, surviving numerous cautions and a hard charge from Waterman to take the win but was later disqualified after post race inspection.
The Mr. Rooter Protruck series made it’s second appearance of the season at Thompson Speedway and started off the night’ action with a 22-truck field for a 35-lap feature. Frank Dumicich, Jr. came into the event hoping to continue his success at the track after taking the win in the Icebreaker in April. However it was a different name who found himself in victory lane as Roger Turbush survived numerous cautions and a competitive field to claim a win.
Pole sitter Dumicich, Jr was involved in a crash right at the drop of the green flag that stacked the field and sent his #42 truck into the outside wall. Turbush, who started second on the inside line, avoided the incident and never looked back on his way to victory lane. Turbush said that he didn’t have the best truck in practice or in qualifying, but credited his brother for making the changes needed to make his #88 truck a competitive winning machine.
“I pulled a good lap in the qualifying session, but I fell off like there was no tomorrow. My brother made huge changes. We didn’t know how it was going to go. We put two percent of wedge in. it was so loose and it got worse and worse in the qualifying session, but in the main event it was on the money,” Turbush said. “I love it here (at Thompson). This is my favorite track. Any chance I can get to race here I want to be here. When they added this show I was excited because I couldn’t make the Icebreaker so this was my opportunity to get here and race.”
The Sunoco Modifieds held their second race of the season at Thompson and it was a pair of familiar names up front battling for the checkered flag as Keith Rocco out-dueled Ryan Preece for the win after Preece took the victory in the Icebreaker when Rocco settled for a runner-up finish.
The duo had to survive numerous multi-car wrecks that resulted in two red flag periods before racing to the finish in the 30-lap feature. Despite Preece’s best efforts, Rocco claimed a dominant win in his hunt for a second consecutive title.
“It’s always nice to start fresh and start a new season with Ryan. We do have a lot of respect for each other, but at the same time we both have a passion to win and sometimes it gets out of control,” Keith Rocco said in victory lane. “He ran me clean and I appreciate that.”
Ryan Preece congratulated his friendly rival after the event and said he just didn’t have enough to hunt down Rocco. “(Rocco’s) car was pretty fast. We’re just going to have to work a little harder next time,” Preece said, also weighing in on the numerous cautions that slowed the pace of the race at times. “When you have three guys up there that don’t normally run up there, I don’t know if they get nervous or not, but something always ends up happening. Unfortunately there were two big wrecks. You’re going to have incidents.”
In the mini stock 15-lap feature Wayne Burroughs continued right where he left off in 2017, taking the checkered flag after a hard fought battle with newcomer Jacob Perry, who made only his second start in Thompson. Perry held the lead for much of the event while Burroughs worked his way through the field from a sixth place starting position before challenging for the lead on numerous restarts. It took a lap nine restart for Burroughs to take the lead for good, passing Perry and setting the pace to the finish.
“We had it figured out today. Every restart I was beating (Perry) by a little bit and had enough to clear him going into one that last time. I slid up in front of him just enough. I knew he could have got me, but we have a lot of respect for each other,” Burroughs told reporters after the race.
Nate Taylor managed to claim a second place finish while Jacob Perry held on for a third place result. Steve Michalski took a fourth place finish and Icebreaker winner Dave Trudeau bounced back from an early race spin to round out the top five.
The night closed out with a 25-lap Late Model feature and a 20-lap Lire Modified feature. Veteran Rick Gentes added to his record victory count at Thompson on the Late Models, fending off a last lap charge from William Wall and Ray Parent for the win, while Josh Galvin claimed his first Lite Modified victory at Thompson after coming out of a one-year retirement from the series
Up next for Thompson Speedway, the Whelen Modified Tour makes its second appearance at the track in 2017 with the Thompson 125 on Wednesday, June 14. The event will also feature the third races of the season for the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman, and Mini Stocks and a 20-lap feature for the NEMA Lites.