Category Archives: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

Four Track Champions Will be Crowned at Sunoco World Series

75 Logo FINALThe Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing presented by Xtramart at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is the biggest short track event in the northeast. As a result, winning the event is prestigious to say the least. In each of the 4 weekly divisions it is likely a win this weekend will equate to a track championship.

Xtramart Limited Sportsman

The closest battle is in the Xtramart Limited Sportsman division where two of the best in speedway history are separated by only 2 points or 1 position on the race track. Scott Sundeen is a 3-time track champion and he holds the upper hand over 57-time feature event winner Larry Barnett. If Sundeen wins the title, the two will be tied for the most championships in the division with 4 apiece.

The championship chase could come down to what happens during qualifying on Saturday with such a slim margin between the two. Points are awarded to the top-5 finishers of the heat races. 5 points go to the winner, 4 points to second, and so on through the top-5 meaning the point lead could change hands on Saturday before the green flies for the feature on Sunday afternoon.

Barnett has been absent from victory lane all season, which is a rarity in his career. Sundeen won the 2nd of 2 features on Icebreaker weekend and tallied a win in the most recent event contested. In that race, he was involved in an early incident on track that forced him to come from the back before driving to victory lane.

“I’m sure it will be fun,” said Sundeen. “It’s always a rough race and if it’s anything like last year it is going to be a war out there. I’m not worried about Larry; Whatever happens, happens.”

For Barnett it hasn’t been an easy season mechanically. For one reason or another, mostly voluntary, the engine has been out of his car 6 times and there have been 7 events to date. His season started with a borrowed engine, before he could put his power plant under the hood. Then it was problems with the valves and the camshaft that resulted in starting the process all over again. This weekend Barnett comes in with an entirely new drivetrain that has been untested.

When asked about racing Sundeen for the title, Barnett said “He’s rougher than what some people think and way cleaner than what other people think. He’s not going to give you an inch. We can race pretty cleanly near each other and not give up any extra space.”

Sunoco Modifieds

Woody Pitkat, Keith Rocco, and Ryan Preece are household names not only in modified country, but nationwide for their success at the Connecticut short tracks. It’s no surprise that the Sunoco Modified championship comes down to three of them.

Pitkat has a 14-point advantage over Rocco and 18 tallies over defending champ Preece. Preece has a division high 4 wins this season yet Rocco has momentum on his side coming off two straight victories in the previous two events. Pitkat is still winless so far.

At the end of the 2014 season, Pitkat was left without a ride when his car owner decided not to field an entry at the track. In January, Stan Mertz announced he would turn the reigns of his fledgling Sunoco Modified team over to Pitkat. The move marked a significant step for the racing operation after spending several years in the Pro-4 Modified ranks before dabbling in the more powerful Sunoco Modifieds with Mertz and Max Zachem behind the wheel.  Although the two have yet to visit victory lane at the Big T, the pair have collected 4 runner-up finishes and have had luck on their side.

Mertz’s team is a small team that doesn’t garner the attention as other teams do. They don’t use the same engine builder as most teams, instead they really on power from Norm Perry. Perry works tirelessly on the cars and is a key component to the team’s success.

As for Mertz, he’s been a fan of Pitkat for years. “When I brought Woody on board I knew we would be right in the hunt,” said Mertz. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined my team would be in position to win the championship heading into the World Series.”

Moving up to the Sunoco Modified division has been an eye opener for Mertz, but the little team that could might just be the Cinderella story of 2015.

Pitkat will be chasing 3 modified titles this weekend all in prestigious divisions. Headlined by his quest to become a first time Whelen Modified Tour Champion, he also holds the point lead in the Valenti Modified Racing Series standings.

Each of the title contenders is in the midst of more than one title bout this weekend. Preece is tied for the lead in the Whelen Modified title chase as Rocco is in the running to capture the Late Model title.

Late Model

Rocco trails Brian Tagg by only 7 points with one race remaining. Tagg is no stranger to Thompson after running five seasons in the Thompson Modified division, but this is his rookie season in a late model. Although Rocco has 4 Sunoco Modified crowns at Thompson, this will be his first Late Model championship should he come out on top.

“Rocco has the advantage for being there before, but circumstances dictate everything,” said Tagg. “My attitude is the same. Just get out there and keep going. Keep your head down and focus on us.”

Tagg’s first and only Late Model win came in the second segment of the Dunkin’ Donuts Late Model 20/20 Sprint. Rocco has not gone to victory lane in 2015, but his twin brother Jeff has won 4 of the last 5 events.

“I’ve been there before and I know where I need to be,” said Rocco. “I don’t have to worry about cracking under pressure. In both divisions we are in the same position so I need to go out win the heat race and win the feature and hope the other guys have trouble.”

With full late model fields each week, Jeff Rocco and Rick Gentes both still have an outside chance at the title sitting 29 markers out of the lead. William Wall is 5th trailing by 36 points.

Mini Stock

The mini stock title hunt has come down to a two horse race with Dave Trudeau up 30 points over Scott Michalski. Trudeau is peaking at the right time by capturing victories in the last two events. Michalski on the other hand won 3 of the first 4 races this season including a sweep of two feature events on Icebreaker weekend.

Trudeau brought a brand new car to the track at the start last season, but he elected to park it this year to run “old faithful,” his older but more trusted ride in 2015. That decision along with a move to put Engines by Andy motors under the hood has created the perfect combination.

“I’m trying not to think about it,” said Trudeau. “Everyone has been telling me to keep focused and concentrate. I’m not very patient; I’m aggressive, but if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be.”

Should Trudeau win the championship, it will be the first of his career.

Three days of racing action begins for the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing presented by Xtramart on Friday, Oct. 16th and concludes on Sunday, Oct 18th. For more information including the event schedule visitwww.thompsonspeedway.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@thompsonspdwy) and Youtube for the latest news and updates.

Tagg Seeking First Thompson Title in Rookie Season

75 Logo FINALTHOMPSON, CT (Oct. 7, 2015) There’s a saying in racing that you have to lose one before you can win one. 2009 was Brian Tagg’s sophomore season in what was the Thompson Modified division where he was in the middle of the championship chase. Inexperience resulted in him falling short then, but now he holds a 7-point edge over Keith Rocco in the late model division with one race remaining. It will all be settled on Friday night during the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP).

Tagg grew up going to the races watching his dad Tom Tagg race before getting behind the wheel himself. The first car Brian raced was a powerful Sunoco Modified before making the transition to Thompson Modifieds in 2008.  After 5 years in the division the team decided to take a year off and then redirected their efforts to focus on the American-Canadian (ACT) in 2014.

He completed a partial scheduled skipping only the races run in Canada. For Tagg, the experience he gained has made the difference in his rookie season competing in a late model at Thompson.

“When we went to Thompson for the Icebreaker, it made it a little easier because you have more room to race compared some tracks on the ACT circuit,” said Tagg.  “I matured as a driver and knowing that if I start 20th I could still work my way to the front.”

Early in the year Tagg was lined up for a restart when the car in front of him missed a shift forcing him to lose several positions.  His ACT experience allowed him to maintain his cool, be smart, and methodically work through the field. He hasn’t finished worse than 8th all season and that was during his late model debut at the Icebreaker. The rest of the finishes have been Top-5 performances including one victory.

The entire team grew through the experience as they learned the tendencies of a late model stock car for the first time. His dad spends 4 hours of meticulous preparation in advance of each race tweaking the setup.

Tagg has one of the most loyal group of supporters in attendance every time he races. Known as the “Taggettes,” or “Tagg Heads” depending on who you ask, a regular group of 15-20 fans position themselves on the turn 4 side of the start finish line in the main grandstand for every race. For the season finale, that number is expected to increase.

“I used to let the cheering section get to me a lot; I would let the pressure get to me,” Tagg said. “I don’t know if its me getting older, but I know they will support me no matter what happens and now I can keep the pressure off myself.”

Regardless of the outcome in the championship, a season will be celebrated with a feast at the Tagg camper in the parking lot. They just hope the championship trophy accepts their invitation to the party.

More than just racing at the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing

75 Logo FINAL(THOMPSON, CT) – Although fifteen thrilling divisions of racing are sure to keep fans busy at the upcoming Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing presented by Xtramart, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will also be offering a variety of activities to entertain fans throughout the three day event, October 16-18.
As the Sunoco World Series marks the culmination of the 30th season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and the 75th anniversary for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP), several special fan activities have been lined up. On Friday afternoon, fans are invited to come cheer on their favorite team as the Whelen Modified Tour haulers line up to parade into the track. The parade will leave from the Kmart on Route 44 in Putnam, CT at 3:30PM on Friday, travel north on I-395, and will come through the center of Thompson to arrive at the track at 3:45PM.
A lull in activity on Sunday morning will also be the perfect time for fans of all ages to jump on the TSMP Hay Ride for a tour around the paddock area. The Hay Ride will leave at 10:30AM from the main ticket booth, and will be hosted by a few special guest drivers.
Chris and Presto Pete, New England’s ONLY Two-Man Kid’s Magic Show, will be set up on the Midway on Saturday and Sunday, showcasing their high-energy performances and children’s games.  The show will take place on the Midway at 2PM on Saturday and Sunday.
Fans are also encourage to stop by the midway for Driver Autograph sessions. The International Supermodified drivers will be holding an autograph session on Saturday at 3:30PM, and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers will sign autographs at 2:15PM on Sunday, before their final race.
The Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing, presented by Xtramart, will take place Friday through Sunday, October 16-18, 2015 with feature races taking place all three days. For more information about the event or Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, please visit www.thompsonspeedway.com or call 860-923-2280. To stay up to date on the latest news and events, follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@ThompsonSpdwy) or Youtube.