PREPARING FOR EXTRA DISTANCE EVENT ON MAY 19
By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
THOMPSON, Conn. – Brian Tagg is no stranger to success at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
The Oxford, Massachusetts, driver won the championship in Thompson’s Late Model division in 2015 – one accomplishment that easily goes down as one of the top in his racing career so far.
He had competed in Thompson’s Sunoco Modified division previously, and also had winning success in the former Thompson Modified division and the ACT Tour before making the Late Model effort his top priority.
“It was pretty amazing because we were still learning the car. The Late Model is such a different animal and it was only my first season back at Thompson with it,” Tagg said about the title. “Racing on the ACT Tour teaches you so much, when you race against great drivers in a long race. You go back to Thompson and it gives you a different respect for it. It makes you a better driver.”
Winning Thompson’s Late Model championship was something Tagg will never take for granted. Four years later, it still feels like it was just yesterday that he sealed the deal.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it. You think about all of the good times, and there is really no better feeling than winning races, but to win a championship, you really need everything to go right for you,” Tagg said. “Not everyone gets the chance to have that feeling. I think about it all the time, and even though some people have more than one, just getting that one was amazing for me.”
This year, Tagg has refocused his efforts to look for another title in the competitive Division II class. In seven races last year, four drivers visited Victory Lane, including a division-high three wins by Ryan Morgan. Tagg knows a return to the top isn’t going to be easy against the likes of Icebreaker winner Tom Carey III and the remainder of the field, which includes multiple former champions.
He feels like the list of competitors is even better than it was when he won the title four years ago, making his path back to the top a difficult one.
“I knew Tom Carey III and Ryan Morgan and others were going to be tough, but with everyone so close, if you don’t start in the top five in a 25-lap race, you really have your work cut out for you. It takes you a few laps to get by someone most times,” Tagg said. “Before, there were some guys that weren’t as quick, but now, everyone is right there with you. It’s really tough. Things have changed in a good way. A lot of fans like our race because everyone is close and we really put on a good race.”
In the season opening Icebreaker, Tagg was up to eighth at one point, but fell back in the final circuits and finished 12th. It wasn’t exactly what he was looking for, but after starting back in 16th, he was able to make some moves and gain what could be crucial points when it comes down the stretch of the season.
The Late Model race at the Icebreaker followed the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150, and teams were given a few hot laps to get a feel for their cars with the Modified rubber on the track. Teams were then given a few short minutes to make adjustments before the feature.
“It was a mix of both for us, having a deep starting position and the rubber down on the track. Giving us the few hot laps after the Whelen Modified Tour race, we were really free and we decided to make two adjustments to tighten the car up, but, we ended up going so far that we were tight,” Tagg said. “But we are very close.”
With how close he feels like his team is, Tagg isn’t planning to make any major adjustments ahead of the next event.
“After what we learned at the Icebreaker and after looking at the lap times, we are right there. I need to be better in the heat races, and we need to improve the car, so I can make some moves out there. I just want to win races,” he said. “Taking pictures is a really good time. Worrying about the points this early is way stressful for me. Even going down to the last race back
in 2015, we didn’t change anything and it worked out for us.”
That next event for Tagg is going to be one of the biggest of the season for the Late Models. The upcoming May 19 race will be 40 laps in distance, as the division joins the Limited Sportsman (30 laps) as the two NASCAR Whelen All-American Series classes with extra laps planned.
“I am a huge fan of the longer distance races, coming from racing the longer events on the ACT Tour, you know you might not have to change the setup much but you do have to take care of the car,” Tagg said. “But you still have to attack this one as a 25-lap race, and you have to make sure the car is going to handle for the entire race.”
He has sponsorship from JV Mechanical Contractors, B&G Toys and Trains, Harvest Moon Health Foods, La Mountain Brothers, P&D Pizza, HMG Builders and others, and with this support, Tagg is able to compete at a high-level on the track.
For him, even though the first race of the season resulted in a finish outside the top 10, the confidence is still flowing for his race team.
“It is pretty high, the finish at the Icebreaker didn’t really show what we are capable of. We have a top five car,” Tagg said. “The confidence is really important in racing, and we have it. Especially with our ACT Tour racing last year, we know we are better than what we showed at the Icebreaker. May and June have been my good months in the past. I’m looking forward to it.”
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park returns to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action on Sunday, May 19, where the Late Models (40 laps), join the Limited Sportsman (30 laps) as two divisions with extra distance as part of the Fourth Annual Limited Sportsman extra distance and Military Night. All active military and veterans may enter the grandstands for free during this special event. The SK Light Modifieds®, Sunoco Modifieds and Mini Stocks also join the action.
Lock City Drift will begin their competitive drifting partnership with Thompson on the same day, as their Street Series begins. The schedule for the event has been completed and is available on the website under the event schedule tab.
For more information, fans are encouraged to visit www.thompsonspeedway.comand follow the track on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.