By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
THOMPSON, Conn. – The American Canadian Tour Late Model stars invade Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Saturday for their first of two races at the Connecticut oval this season.
Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models will have the night off from competition, giving drivers a chance to compete in the ACT race and chase the checkered flag in front of their hometown fans.
William Wall, who currently leads Thompson’s Late Model standings, has one victory on the season, and is planning to compete in the ACT race. Wall won the Sunoco World Series ACT feature last year and certainly has plenty of experience running at the front in the division.
Saturday’s 75-lap feature will pay $5,000 to winner, and is the second round of the Summer Kickoff Series for ACT teams. Thompson names like Tom Carey III, Mark Jenison, Ryan Morgan, Woody Pitkat and Brian Tagg are expected, and they won’t be the only local competitors in competition.
Rich Dubeau leads the list of ACT drivers with one victory and the early lead in their standings. Other drivers who have been victorious early in the season include Jason Corliss, Scott Payea and Bryan Kruczek. In the last four years of Thompson competition, four different drivers have captured wins – with Wall being the only Whelen All-American Series competitor to triumph. All four of those races were part of the Sunoco World Series.
Dubeau is running his fifth season of ACT competition and is coming off his first career win last time on the track.
“It’s awesome, I feel super fortunate,” Dubeau said. “When I was racing Super Streets at Canaan Fair Speedway, and the ACT Tour showed up, I’m not going to lie, I was really intimidated by them. I remember saying there was no way that we were ever going to be on that tour. It was awesome to even get a chance to start running on the tour, but do be at the point where we are now, it’s really cool.”
For Dubeau, Thompson didn’t start off as one of his strongest tracks. He says a slight motor problem hurt his speed on the long straightaways Thompson offers, but last year, the engine builder found the problem. That was clear in the Sunoco World Series, as Dubeau rolled to the lead and led 68 of the 75 laps before being swept up in a wreck.
“Thompson is my second favorite track. I love the high-speed tracks, and this has always been seen as one of my strongest tracks,” he said. “Going into the race last year at Thompson, I don’t think anyone inside the team had strong expectations, but I told them we were going to run well. I’m super confident going there, but at the same time, it’s racing.”
ACT’s championship battle invades Thompson with a list of regulars looking to keep gaining crucial points. Jimmy Hebert is joined by Dylan Payea and Ryan Kuhn at the bottom of the top five in the current standings, and all three of them are expected Saturday. Names like Jonathan Bouvrette, Christopher Pelkey, Stephen Donahue will also compete. Jake Johnson, who crossed the finish line first in the Sunoco World Series race last year, but later failed post-race inspection, is expected to come back to the track.
Four of Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions are also going to be in action. In the Sunoco Modifieds, there is no doubt that Keith Rocco is the early favorite to hoist another title trophy. Rocco has three podium finishes in the first three races, including a victory, and leads the title chase by 28 points already. Mike Christopher Jr. and Todd Owen are trying to close in the gap.
Bryan Narducci’s impressive streak lives on another day as the Colchester, Connecticut, driver leads by 36 points with victories in the first three races. Dating back to last year, Narducci has now been victorious in seven straight SK Light Modified® races at Thompson. Slipping a bit under the radar, Cornelius Flynn and Albert Ouellette round out the current podium.
With three races down in the Limited Sportsman, no drivers have finished inside the top five in every event. And that just goes to show the competitive nature of Thompson’s Division IV class. Ryan Waterman, Brent Gleason and Shawn Monahan have already been victorious this season, but Waterman’s three top 10 efforts have him at the top of the championship standings by 26 points over Gleason. Zachary Robinson, who has one top five, is third, 27 points back.
And in the Mini Stocks, all eyes are on three drivers who have separated themselves from the rest early in the year. Jared Roy, Scott Michalski and Steve Michalski are the three winners so far, and they lead the standings in that order, all separated by just eight points.
Saturday’s action gets underway at 3:15 p.m. when the grandstands open. Practice will roll until approximately 3:30 p.m., followed by qualifying racing taking the green flag with the SK Light Modifieds® first at 4:45 p.m. Feature racing will follow the conclusion of qualifying, and will begin at approximately 6 p.m. The final race of the night will be the 75-lap showdown for the ACT Tour division.
Tickets for this event are just $25, while seniors (65+), veterans and active military can enter for just $20. All kids 12 and under are free into the grandstands. For those interested in getting up close with the cars and stars of Thompson, a paddock pass is available for $40. Camping is allowed for the weekend and is $25 per spot. Those reservations can be made once arriving on Thompson property.
For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans are encouraged to visit www.thompsonspeedway.com. For the latest news, follow the track on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter