(THOMPSON, CT) – First time Mini Stock champion Dave Trudeau will attempt to defend his championship beginning Icebreaker weekend on April 8-10, at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP). It’s not the championship that defines the driver’s reputation, but instead it’s his aggressive no-holds-barred approach to every event.
“I always have a target on my back,” said Trudeau. “A lot of people are intimidated by me and I’m like Earnhardt. You give it to me and I’ll give it back to you. I try to run people clean and I don’t want people to fear me.”
The fear must not run that deep considering the fact that, since the last race of the season, Trudeau has serviced several of his competitors cars including body work, chassis rebuilds and providing race day setups.
This year, the usual cast of characters returns to the competition along with some fresh faces that are bound to make the division interesting. One of them is 3rd generation driver Doug Curry who made two appearances at TSMP late last season and made an immediate impression. He won his first heat race and finished third in the August 26th event. At the Sunoco World Series, driving the car he will run this year in the title chase, he ran in the top-5 until a crash ended his night.
“We are shooting high and going for the championship,” said Curry. “The two races we ran last year gave us the idea that we could run competitively. My motor setup works good and I have a knack for running well (at Thompson).”
Curry comes off two top-5 points finishes and two victories at the Waterford Speedbowl. He will continue to run half of the events at the shoreline oval in 2016, but notes part of his decision to run for points at Thompson is the convenient 10-race schedule.
“With limited sponsorship, running 10 races with 2 or 3 weeks in between each, helps financially and takes the stress level off racing,” Curry said.
While Curry looks to lighten the stress load, multi-time Mini Stock race winner Eric Bourgeois has his stress level rising. That’s because this season he will transition from being just a driver to being an owner/driver. For the past few seasons Bourgeois has campaigned the No. 33 for car owner Bruce Stevens. Shortly before Christmas, Stevens indicated he would not return and Bourgeois stepped in to purchase the team’s equipment.
Along with 3 racecars and equipment he needed a new place to store it all, which resulted in him buying a fully loaded garage with a lift already in place. Well actually, like any good racer would do he bought a new house, which just so happened to have a garage the perfect size for a new race shop in the backyard. One of the three cars he is preparing in his new shop is for his now 13 year old son who will eventually get behind the wheel himself once he meets the age requirement.
Bourgeois will bring back his former number 87 with a new look including different colors and new graphics. The car itself will be the same one he campaigned last season.
Veteran Steve Michalski is optimistic about his chances for success this season. Heading into 2015, he planned to debut a newly rebuilt car although it wasn’t ready in time to start the season. Seeing how he shares shop space with Jeff Moffat, Michalski competed in one of Moffat’s cars and one from Mike Anzalone until his was ready later in the season. The cars weren’t setup for Michalski and he struggled to get comfortable in the borrowed rides.
At the end of 2016, his new car was finished and was purpose built for him. Running at another track at the end of last season, the car was badly damaged forcing him to rebuild it again. The open test at Thompson on Saturday March, 26 will be the first opportunity he has to dial in the car for the new season. Michalski came home 7th in division points last year.
Retuning to the competition for his second full season at Thompson is the driver of the familiar red and white numbered #18 driven by Ed Field. The colors pay tribute to his late brother Danny who successful campaigned the car for years.
“There are 8 or 9 guys who could win every week,” said Field. “It depends on where you start and if you can keep it going. You have to be right there because if you slip up a little they got you.”
It’s that level of competition that makes the Mini Stock division one to watch this season. With accomplished new drivers joining in line to challenge track veterans, this year’s title chase could be one of the most dramatic ever.
Thompson Speedway opens its gates for the first time this season on Saturday March 26, for an open practice. The Icebreaker kicks off the season on the weekend of April 9-10. An additional practice day is scheduled for Friday, April 8. For more information on Thompson Speedway news and events, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com.