WATERFORD – More than 100 drivers pulled into the New London Waterford Speedbowl Friday for an open practice session prior to this weekend’s Bemer’s Super Bowl of Auto Racing.Included in the crowded paddock area is the new Whelen Modified Tour Rookie of the Year. Chase Dowling, however, won’t be competing in a Modified this weekend. He’ll be returning to his Legends roots.Dowling, a former Legends champ, will be competing in a car owned by Mike Molleur in the $2,000 to win Battle of the Sound. And Dowling just isn’t making a token appearance. He had the fastest car in practice.
More than 50 Legends cars are expected for qualifying today, including drivers from all over the East Coast. The field includes Devin O’Connell of Madison, who recently won the World Championship in the Legends Semipro Road Course division. Another fast car in practice was driven by Connor Pyle of Scottsdale, Arizona, who is now living in North Carolina. He has competed in events in South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas and California and has won eight races.
Another big story is taking place in the Granite State Pro Stock Division, which is making its first appearance at the Speedbowl. Jason Palmer, Waterford’s 2015 Late Model champ, has converted his car into a Pro Stock and will be trying to make the field for Saturday’s 150-lap race.
There still is plenty of talent in the Late Models. Gerald DeGasperre, who has won seven Late Model titles at Seekonk Speedway, will be competing at the Speedbowl for the first time. Also in action will be Ernie Larose, who has purchased the car driven to victory in the final Speedbowl race of the season by three-time champ Bruce Thomas.
“We made the deal as soon as the race was over,” Larose said, “and now this is going to be my car for next year.”
Among the SK Modified newcomers taking advantage of Friday’s practice session were Matt Hirschman, who will be trying to win the $5,000 first-place purse in the Sunday’s Modified Nationals. Ryan Preece, Ronnie Williams, Tommy Membrino, Kyle Trainer and Matt Galko were also on hand.
The action stars Saturday with qualifying at 1:30 p.m.Features are scheduled to get under way at 4:30.
The first feature will be a 20-lap Bandelros race, followed by the a 40-lap Mini Stock feature, paying $1,000 to the winner. Next will be a 35-lap feature for the New England Race Trucks feature, followed by the 150-lap Granite State Pro Stock feature. The X Cars and Super X Cars will be involved in 20-lap features, followed by a 40-lap Limited Sportsman feature with $1,000 going to the winner.
Sunday the drivers in the Tri Track Open Modified will arrive at the Speedbowl. The field will be divided into two 35-lap qualifying races. Each race will pay $3,000 to the winners. The top finishers will advance to the 65-lap main event, worth $5,000 to the winners.
Other features Sunday include the Legends 35-lap Battle of the Sound, a 25-lap SK Light race, a 30-lap Late Model race and the 75-lap Modified Nationals.
Contingency sponsor for the entire weekend is David Prinz of Prinzcision Racing, will be awarding two $50 bonuses for each of the 12 feature divisions.