Category Archives: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

Tyler Ankrum Charges From Last to First To Win Second Annual Throwback 100

 

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park hosted its second annual King Cadillac GMC Throwback 100 featuring the K&N Pro Series East on Saturday, July 14 showcasing the young up-and-coming drivers of NASCAR. The theme of the night was racing history with a showcase of vintage cars and K&N drivers featuring classic paint schemes as they took to the track hoping to write their name in the history books as a NASCAR winner.

The evening started with qualifying which saw record breaking speeds by the K&N Pro Series drivers. Points leader Tyler Ankrum looked to score his second win of the season and started the day with his first pole breaking the track record with a time of 19.882. However, Ankrum’s time was disallowed after he failed tech following qualifying putting Spencer Davis, driving a #13 car paying tribute to the late Ted Christopher, on point.

The first 75 laps of the race were relatively smooth sailing for Davis who secured a comfortable lead early and dominated the first 50 laps before Ruben Garcia, Jr. presented Davis with his first true battle of the evening. Meanwhile Tyler Ankrum worked his was through the field moving into the top three by lap 63 where he began to put the pressure on Davis and Garcia. After the only caution of the race a few laps later a restart changed everything for the frontrunners as Davis managed to lead up to lap 75 but was finally passed by Dillon Bassett while Ankrum once again found himself in a precarious position after spinning his tires on the restart.

Bassett opened up a decent lead in the ensuing final laps of the event, but Ankrum would not be denied using the top line to power his way past Bassett with six laps to go and charge to his second victory of the season, winning the event from last place.

“It was a little frustrating being sent to the back like that for something that was so minor. Our skew was off a few thousandths of an inch. We had an awesome racecar regardless. We flew through the field. Halfway through I was in the top five and I thought to myself ‘there’s no stopping us’,” Ankrum said after visiting Victory Lane. “Overall an awesome night. There’s not too many times you can come from the back like that and win. I’m super excited about it. Second win of the year. Hopefully that will extend our points lead by a lot.” Dillon Bassett, Tyler Dippel, Spencer Davis and Chase Cabre rounded out the top five.

Earlier in the evening the Limited Sportsman division turned into a battle of championship contenders in a 20-lap feature, but it didn’t start that way. After rookie Kyle Gero started up front and led the opening laps the fight for the lead became a battle of veterans as Jesse Gleason and Ryan Waterman tangled for the top spot. A caution that waved eleven laps in set up a restart that would alter the complexion of the race as Gleason and Waterman restarted on the front row and fought hard through the first half of a lap before getting into each other in turn three and wrecking, stacking up the field and essentially ending any opportunity for either driver to win.

The wreck opened the door for Shawn Monahan and Chris Meyer who inherited the top two spots creating a nine-lap shootout for the victory. Despite getting caught behind a slow car in lap traffic in the final turn of the final lap Monahan held on and defeated his closest rival for the title. The win was Monahan’s second of the season as he looks to win his second consecutive division title. After the race Monahan admitted he didn’t have the best car on the track but called the battle between himself and Meyer in the closing laps an exciting and nerve wracking one from the driver’s seat.

“I don’t think I had the car to beat tonight. I just wanted to keep it clean and get a good finish, but it got real funny looking down the back straightaway and what do you know,” Monahan said. The race winner offered some insight into the current relationship he has with second-place Chris Meyer after the two endured a rivalry in years past. “Chris Meyer and I have quite the history, but that history has turned in a positive direction over the past couple of years. We’re getting older. We respect each other. He had a real fast car. He was closing in there at the end and I was nervous, but I’ll take it. You can’t take a win for granted these days.” After the race Meyer took a moment to congratulate Monahan with a soft tap to the bumper on the backstretch that Monahan called an “exchange of love”.

The Sunoco Modified division closed the night with a 30-lap feature as Keith Rocco looked to remain perfect on the season and score his fourth consecutive win in the division at Thompson. It didn’t take long for Rocco to find himself where he is most comfortable as he had the lead in hand by lap five. Rocco led until halfway when things got interesting as Ryan Preece was able to work his way to the front and put pressure on the defending champion. A pair of cautions with 11 laps to go set the battle up to be an epic showdown in the closing laps of the night.

Rocco was able to hold the lead off the restart, but Preece would not let Rocco drive away staying glued to his back bumper and making several attempts to pass on the inside. Preece finally completed the pass out of turn four on lap 23 and fought off a rebuttal from Rocco to carry that momentum to his first win of the year in the division and prevent Rocco’s perfect season in the Sunoco Modifieds.

“It was a race that’s for sure,” Preece said. “I’m really proud of how good of a car we had on the long run. I feel like after ten laps we were really good so I’m just super proud of how good this car is right now.”

In the Late Model division is was a dominating victory by Ryan Morgan who started the 25-lap feature strong and finished over five seconds ahead of William Wall to claim his second win of the season. Morgan was a contender for the Late Model title in 2017, winning a race before an injury sidelined his chances at a title. The event was also bittersweet as it was the final run for defending champion Ray Parent who sold his #98 car and is moving his talents to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Current points leader Nick Johnson finished in sixth making him the only driver in the division to score top five finishes in all five features of 2018 despite not having a win.

The Lite Modifieds took center stage for a 20-lap feature where Bryan Narducci took home the trophy, his second in two nights of short track racing. Narducci is a perfect three for three in his races at Thompson and he did it all after a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Finally, in the Mini Stocks Wayne Burroughs showed dominance by claiming his second win of the season. The reigning champion is out of the running for a title after missing one of the two races in June. Points leader Eric Bourgeois finished second. The night also included a showcase of the modifieds of yesterday in a 15-lap vintage modified feature that helped kick off the festivities early on.

The Whelen Modified Tour returns to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the third time in 2018 on Wednesday, August 8 with the 29th Annual Bud “King of Beers” 150. The yearly mid-summer staple will feature the stars of the Whelen Modified Tour with points leader Justin Bonsignore looking for this third victory of the year at the Big-T as well as the NEMA Midgets and Thompson’s four track divisions with drivers looking to capture every point they can as the season winds down.

UNOFFICIAL FINISHES:

KING CADILLAC GMC THROWBACK 100 FINISH: 1. Tyler Ankrum; 2. Dillon Bassett; 3. Tyler Dippel; 4. Spencer Davis; 5. Chase Cabre; 6. Anthony Alfredo; 7. Brandon McReynolds; 8. Chase Dowling; 9. Ruben Garcia, Jr.; 10. Ryan Vargas; 11. Tristan Van Wieringen; 12. Ronnie Bassett, Jr.; 13. Colin Garrett

LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 2. Chris Meyer (North Franklin, CT); 3. Larry Barnett (Moosup, CT); 4. Kyle Gero (Baltic, CT); 5. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 6 Scott Sundeen (Sutton, MA); 7. Jenn Van Pelt (Pawtucket, RI); 8. John Carpenter (N. Grosvenordale, CT); 9. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 10. Ed Correia (Raynham, MA)

SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Ryan Preece (Broad Brook, CT); 2. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 3. Woody Pitkat (Sturbridge, MA); 4. John Studley (Framingham, MA); 5. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 6. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 7. Marcello Rufrano (North Haven, CT); 8. Joey Gada (Uncasville, CT); 9. Kyle James (Ashaway, RI); 10. Kyler Cafro (Chaplin, CT)

MINI STOCKS FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Wayne Burroughs (Oakdale, CT); 2. Eric Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 3. Dave Trudeau (Mansfield, CT); 4. Jared Roy (Sterling, CT); 5. Dave Trudeau, Jr. (Mansfield, CT); 6. Chris Taylor; 7. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Tommy Silva (Gales Ferry, CT); 9. Evan Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 10. Nick Matera

LATE MODELS FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Ryan Morgan (Gales Ferry, CT); 2. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 3. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 4. Tom Carey, III (New Salem, MA); 5. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 6. Ray Parent (Tiverton, RI); 7. Paul Charette (Woodstock, CT); 8. Glenn Boss (Danielson, CT); 9. Woody Pitkat (Sturbridge, MA); 10. Randy Tucker (Millis, MA)

LITE MODIFIEDS FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 2. Wesley Prucker (Stafford, CT); 3. Jon Puleo (Branford, CT); 4. Chris Viens (Putnam, CT); 5. Glenn Komer (Bloomfield, CT); 6. Keith Caruso (Millbury, MA); 7. Teddy Hodgdon (Danbury, CT); 8. John O’Sullivan (Salem, CT); 9. Glenn Griswold (Vernon, CT); 10. Calvin Therrien

Stars Of NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East Headed For Thompson Speedway

By Kyle Souza, for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

 THOMPSON, Conn. – For the second-straight year, the stars of NASCAR K&N Pro Series East are headed for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Connecticut this weekend.

The King Cadillac GMC 100 will be the one, and only, Throwback event on the schedule for the K&N Series in 2018. Teams will have the opportunity to use their paint schemes to throwback to something in their past, or something that caught their eye. For example, Anthony Alfredo, who enters the race fourth in the current K&N championship standings, will throwback to Sterling Marlin’s No. 40 Monster Energy Cup Series ride as he looks for his second career victory on Saturday.

Spencer Davis, who will drive the No. 13 Horton Avenue Materials Chevrolet for Danny Watts, will throwback to Ted Christopher with Christopher’s famed paint scheme he ran most recently in the SK Modifieds at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Brandon McReynolds, who drives for Visconti Motorsports, has a paint scheme on his car that is a throwback to Visconti’s father’s ride from more than three decades ago. McReynolds will be seeking his first K&N Series victory this season, and will be making his first career start at Thompson.

The event is the eighth race of the season for the division as they begin to get ready for their championship chase to hit the final stretch. Tyler Ankrum, who has one victory, holds a 16-point advantage in the standings over Tyler Dippel. Both drivers have the best average finish among all competitors, and have put together an impressive start to the season as they both look to become first-time champions.

The entry list for the event includes multiple former winners on the series, and one NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regular. Chase Dowling, who has just one prior start in the series, will drive the No. 31 for Ted Marsh Racing. In his only previous start, Dowling finished inside the top 10 at Dover in 2016.

And even though the series returned to Thompson for the first time since 2009 last year, plenty of races were already in the record books at the 0.625-mile oval. In 28 prior events, including last year, Ricky Craven and Mike Stefanik (three) hold the record for the most wins. Behind them, multiple drivers have captured the checkered flag at Thompson on two occasions.

Most recently, Harrison Burton captured glory in 2017, winning the Thompson Throwback 100 en route to his first career K&N Pro Series East championship. Burton is listed as the youngest winner at Thompson in the series, at age 20. Back in 2001, defending Monster Energy Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. drove into the winner’s circle, while the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, Trevor Bayne, was able to win the event in 2008.

In fact, more than a few drivers who won in K&N action at Thompson went on to run at least select events in the top series of the sport.

Along with the K&N Pro Series East teams, a full slate of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing is on the card for Saturday night. The Late Models, Mini Stocks, Limited Sportsman and Division I Sunoco Modifieds will all compete in qualifying and feature racing. As an addition, the Lite Modifieds and Open Vintage Modifieds will also compete in feature racing as part of the Throwback night.

In the Sunoco Modifieds, Keith Rocco will look to continue his dominant start, having won all three events so far in 2018. The Late Model championship chase will heat up with Nick Johnson and Woody Pitkat both looking to gain a clear-cut advantage. Shawn Monahan will look to continue his dominant roll in the Limited Sportsman as he looks for his second-straight title, while the Mini Stock fight includes Eric Bourgeois and Jared Roy.

Fans can enter the grandstands for just $35, while those who are under the age of 12 will be allowed to enter for free. The paddock fee for the night is $50, and the opportunity to enter the paddock will give fans the chance to walk right through the garage area and see some of their favorite K&N Pro Series East drivers, and their cars.

For more information on the event, including some of the latest updates from the track, fans are encouraged to follow the track on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

RUFRANO FINDING EARLY SUCCESS IN SUNOCO MODIFIEDS

By Kyle Souza, for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

THOMPSON, Conn. – With only seven races on the oval track schedule for the 2018 season, consistency matters if you want to be part of the championship discussion.

For Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Sunoco Modified driver Marcello Rufrano, the start to this season has put him in striking distance of the top in the title chase.

Rufrano, a native of North Haven, Connecticut, finished 13th in the Icebreaker, but since then, has two consecutive runs up front. He finished fourth in the feature on June 7, and in the 30-lap feature as part of the Thompson 125 — Rufrano finished sixth.

“We’ve been doing pretty good the last couple of races, we started to hit on some different things with the setup,” Rufrano said. “We just built a whole new car over the winter – we started fresh with a whole new setup, a whole new everything. We came out at the Icebreaker and we were really fast and I’ve had a lot of confidence in it. We started this season with a whole new mindset.”

This season, he has watched one of his closest teammates – defending Thompson Sunoco Modified champion Keith Rocco – win the first three races in the competitive class. However, the guidance from Rocco off the track has helped Rufrano craft himself into a better driver.

“Just watching him on the track is all I would need, but between him giving me some advice and having him to lean on, it’s great to be able to work with someone like him,” Rufrano said. “I help him with his cars, I even did that when I was a kid.”

In the most recent 30-lap feature as part of the Thompson 125, Rufrano found himself chasing Ryan Preece for the lead in the early laps. The opportunity to race with Rocco, a former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion – and Preece – a two-time winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – has also helped Rufrano grow as a driver behind the wheel.

“I think it’s pretty cool, it must make them feel pretty old since I was watching them battle when I was young up in the stands,” Rufrano said of racing the two veterans. “I idolized them when I was a kid.”

Right now, Rufrano sits sits fifth in the championship standings, 43 points off the top with four races remaining. What is the goal for the rest of the year? Consistency.

Finish the feature events as close to the front as possible, in one piece, and hopefully sneak his first win in the middle.

Without sponsors like Wheelers Auto Service, Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair, Liguari Plumbing and many, many more supporters, Rufrano wouldn’t be able to hit the 0.625-mile oval.

“The more consistent we are the better off we will be. It would be cool to get that win, there is nothing more I look forward to having. Once you get the first, I hear the rest come a lot easier. We just need to keep the consistency going.”

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park returns to the high-banked oval for racing on Saturday, July 14 with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series Throwback 100. The Sunoco Modifieds will run another 30-lap feature on that night, along with the Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.