The second night of the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing weekend, presented by XtraMart at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park saw eight champions crowned over the span of nine feature events throughout the evening with the centerpiece of the night’s racing action being the long awaited return of the American Canadian Late Model Tour (ACT) for the first time since 1992.
The 100-lap feature saw some of the best Late Model drivers in both the United States and over the border in Canada take to the track as the series crowned it’s latest champion, Wayne Helliwell, Jr., and saw the possible end of a storied career for one of the series most successful stars. While Helliwell took home the big trophy at the end of the night the race itself saw a victory for Brian Hoar who scored his 42nd career victory in the series and capped off the night with a major announcement.
“I’m just really excited,” said Hoar who expanded on his record setting series-high win total. “It’s been a really emotional road for me the past couple of weeks because I made the decision to hang the helmet up for a while. This is it for a little while.”
The win was Hoar’s second of the year after only making four starts on the season in the series. Hoar took the lead following a late race restart and escaped a pileup in turn one in the closing laps to dominate the final ten laps of the race.
While Hoar celebrated in victory lane Wayne Helliwell celebrated his own victory with his third series championship. Helliwell avoided several accidents and overcame fluid being sprayed on his car to claim a top ten at Thompson and the title.
“Anything can happen. This week at the shop was every night just checking and finding things and it was amazing how many little things that we could find that had been there all along, but it’s a big deal now,” he said. “Overall it was a great day.”
The Valenti Modified Racing Series crowned its champion on October 17th as well in Woody Pitkat who started on the pole for the 50-lap feature and ran in the top three for the duration of the event to clinch the title. Pitkat only needed a top three finish to best Chris Pasteryak for the championship and after starting on the pole Pitkat’s victory was seldom in doubt. Pasteryak gave it his best shot, finally cracking the top five after a lap 35 caution, but Pitkat held on strong and finished second in the event to Keith Rocco to claim his first Valenti Modified Racing Series title. The championship is also a first for car owner Peter Kulessa.
After the feature race winner Keith Rocco congratulated Pitkat and spoke about his dominating performance on his way to the checkered flag.
“We had a great car all year at all the races we ran. We should have contended for a lot more wins, but I’ve got to thank everyone on my team they worked real hard,” said Rocco. “This thing was just fast tonight.”
Pitkat, who overcame a 21-point deficit to Pasteryak in the last two races of the season, said he wasn’t even sure he would be in the running for the title when the season began. “We came out of the box and we were really consistent. We were good all year. We faltered a little bit in the summer months – Chris had such a bad start to the season but then he picked it up when we had a bad time,” he said. “Hat’s off to those guys. They did an awesome job. They won five races and we won two. Obviously they were really good. It’s just unbelievable.”
The NEMA Midgets kicked off the evening with the Shane Hammond Memorial Race, a 25-lap feature honoring Hammond who lost his life in a NEMA Midget in 2008 at Thompson. John Zych only had to turn the key and start the race to clinch his second championship in three years. Zych last held the title in 2013 and started eighth in the 25-lap race, working his way up to third in the first five laps. Zych would settle for third while Randy Cabral, who started at the rear of the field, would take the win, passing teammate Todd Bertrand with less than two laps to go. Cabral finished runner-up to Zych for the title and said it was an emotional win for him in honor of his good friend Shane Hammond.
“I started out the day with a little bit of bad luck and I think we just turned it around,” said Cabrel. “Shane was one of my best friends and to this day he’s still my best friend. I tell everybody and it feels good to finally win it.”
Champion John Zych said that while he wanted the race win he was more than happy to walk away with the biggest trophy of the night for the NEMA Midgets instead.
“We’re happy with third. Just too tight at the end of the race,” he said. “I’m really excited about the championship and I want to thank NEMA and all the fans for coming out but especially my dad who puts a ton of time in the car and that’s really why I won the championship.”
The Monster Mini Stock feature provided a bit of drama and a great story as a first time champion was crowned and a winner was honored for the final time in his career. Despite numerous crashes throughout the fifteen-lap event, Dave Trudeau of Mansfield, CT held on for his first championship in the series despite getting caught up in a wreck of his own. While Trudeau celebrated his accomplishment as the champion, Louis Bellisle put a fitting cap on his own driving career. The driver held on to win in dramatic fashion to claim a win in his final race before retiring from the sport.
In its premier season the North East Street Stock Tour crowned its first champion after several heavy hitters saw their championship hopes fade in the 20-lap feature. Joe Arena took home the hardware after entering the event third in points but benefited from cautions that took his closest competitors, Geoff Rollins and Chris Douton who entered the event first and second in points respectively, out of the running. Ed Puleo would also benefit from the many cautions spread throughout the event to claim a win in the series finale at the Big T.
The New England Truck Series held their penultimate race of the season before crowning their champion next week in Waterford. Bert Oullette would go on to dominate much of the race running a smooth line around the Big T on route to his third win of 2015 and his second in a row, but the win did not come easy. A late race caution bunched up the field leading to an intense battle in the final two laps between Oullette and Roger Turbush who actually took the lead off of turn two on the restart. Not to be denied, Oullette performed a dive bomb move in the final turn relinquishing the top spot and holding on for the victory.
Toby Wells finished his season strong in the North East Mini Stock Series claiming both the championship and the win in the 20-lap feature, while Andy Major took home his first Pro 4 Modified title after finishing the season in a tie with Derek Robbie and claiming the tiebreaker with the most wins on the season. The Lite Modified closed out the night with Tony Membrino, Jr. taking the win.
The action continues Sunday afternoon with open wheel action at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as the Sunoco Modifieds, Limited Sportsman, NEMA Lites, and Super Modifieds cap off the World Series weekend at Thompson, and of course a champion will be crowned in the final event of the weekend, the Sunoco World Series 150 Whelen Modified Tour event.
NEMA MIDGETS FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Randy Cabral; 2. Todd Bertrand; 3. John Zych; 4. Seth Carlson; 5. Avery Stoehr; 6. Cole Carter; 7. Jim Chambers; 8. Paul Scally; 9. Alan Chambers; 10. Jake Smith
VALENTI MODIFIED RACING SERIES FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 2. Woody Pitkat (Stafford, CT); 3. Dave Ethridge (Portland, CT); 4. Jon McKennedy (Chelmsford, MA); 5. Chris Pasteryak (Jewett City, CT); 6. Rowan Pennink (New Egypt, New Jersey); 7. Dylan Kopec (Palmer, MA); 8. Mike Keeler Danbury, CT); 9. Anthony Nocella (Worburn, MA); 10. Eric Berndt (Cromwell, CT)
AMERICAN CANADIAN TOUR FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Brian Hoar (Williston, CT); 2. Brad Babb (Windham, ME); 3. Jimmy Hebert (Williamsville, VT); 4. Ray Parent (Tiverton, RI); 5. Brandon Atkins (AuSable Forks, NY); 6. Rowland Robinson, Jr. (Steuben, ME); 7. Wayne Helliwell, Jr. (Dover, NH); 8. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 9. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 10. Emily Packard (E. Montpelier, CT)
MONSTER MINI STOCKS SERIES FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Louis Bellisle; 2. Mark Panaroni (Ivoryton, CT); 3. Christopher Viens (Putnam, CT); 4. Jordan Hadley; 5. Steve Michalski; 6. Mike D. Veins (Putnam, CT); 7. Ian Brew (Wood River Junction, RI); 8. Mike Anzalone; 9. Robert Ducharme; 10. Dave Trudeau (Mansfield, CT)
NORTH EAST STREET STOCK TOUR FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Ed Puleo (Branford, CT); 2. Joe Arena (Bristol, CT); 3. Steve Kenneway (Lowell, MA); 4. Josh Wood (Palmer, MA); 5. Tyler Janovsky (Whitingham, VT); 6. Jack Aquilina (Oakdale, CT); 7. Kyle Casagrande (Stafford Spring, CT); 8. Josh Galvin (Oakdale, CT); 9. Frank L’Etoile, Jr. (Weathersfield, CT); 10. Patrick Tanguay (Lebanon, ME)
NEW ENGLAND TRUCK SERIES FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Bert Oullette (Ellington, CT); 2. Roger Turbush (Riverhead, NY); 3. Frank Dumicich, Jr. (E. Quoque, NY); 4. Joshua Stringer (East Killingly CT); 5. Erin (Dumicich) Solomito (E. Quoque, NY); 6. Car #15JR (no name available); 7. Car #15 (no name available); 8. Todd Taylor (Stonegton, CT); 9. Brandin Chase (Concord, NH); 10. Tyler Chapman (Mystic, CT)
NEW ENGLAND PRO 4 MODIFIEDS FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Dave Richardi (Norton, MA); 2. Andy Major (Brookfield, MA); 3. Randy Cabral (Plymouth, MA); 4. Derek Robble (Bellingham, MA); 5. Phil Lausier (Hudson, NH); 6. Norm Wrenn, III (Amherst, NH); 7. Randy Clark, Jr. (W. Yarmouth, MA); 8. Doug Meservey, Jr. (Harwich, MA); 9. Mark Charette (Wolcott, CT); 10. Tom Royer (Swanzey, NH)
LITE MODIFIEDS FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Tony Membrino (Berlin, CT); 2. Brett Gonyaw (Vernon, CT); 3. Carlos Gray (Manchester, CT); 4. Payton Henry (Willington, CT); 5. Nick Salva; 6. Randy Churchill, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 7. Todd Douillard (Palmer, MA); 8. Andrew Molleur (Shelton, CT); 9. Nathan Pytko (Douglas, MA); 10. Wesley Prucker (Stafford Springs, CT)