Photo Noah Watts/Myracenews
THOMPSON, Conn. — Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s Sunoco Modified division headlined the penultimate races of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season on Sunday, September 8. A full day of racing, which also included Lock City Drift’s Street Series, was part of the sixth annual Sunoco Modified 20/20 sprint and the fourth annual For the Fans Night at TSMP.
The highlight of the day was Sunoco 20/20 sprint — which featured two, 20-lap points-paying feature races and a 10-lap shootout to decide the overall winner of the day. In addition to championship points in the first two races, drivers also received points to help determine the overall victor in the final sprint. The driver that earned the best finishes combined between the three races would be the handed the big trophy.
Ronnie Williams dominated the first race, earning his second feature win of the season, while in the second segment, Keith Rocco and Woody Pitkat duked it out for the win in the closing laps, but after a caution tightened the field, Williams took the lead away from both title contenders to take segment two. That meant Williams only needed to place in the top five in the final 10-lap sprint to take the overall win. Rocco spoiled Williams’ attempt at sweeping all three segments by winning the 10-lap sprint, but a fourth-place finish was enough to earn Williams the overall victory for the event.
“These guys gave me an awesome car and I just can’t thank them enough. We’re getting closer and closer to having a perfect car here. The last couple of races I think we’ve really figured it out,” Williams said in victory lane. “I just wanted to make sure we got a top five to make sure we got the win and we did it.”
The Late Models started off the afternoon with a 25-lap feature and two drivers in the running for the title — William Wall and Woody Pitkat. With only fourteen points separating the two coming into the race, Wall looked to continue his perfect streak of top-ten finishes in 2019 while Pitkat sought to maintain a late season surge that has seen him win three of the last four races. Pitkat took and early advantage into the main after Wall retired early from his heat race, allowing Pitkat to cut the points deficit in half after earning points for his third-place finish in his own heat race.
Wall continued to struggle in the feature, finishing tenth after surviving a near disastrous wreck with sixteen laps to go. Pitkat finished fourth, securing a five-point lead over Wall in the points heading into the season finale. Meanwhile, Mark Jenison dominated en route to his first win of the season.
“When you’re that much faster it’s not because you’re the greatest driver in the world, it’s because you hit the right setup and we did. We had great bite off the turn. I could drive it anywhere I wanted. Fortunately, the other guys couldn’t,” Jenison said.
For the entirety of the 2019 season, Bryan Narducci has been the class of the SK Light Modified® field with seven top-fives and six wins in eight races. It looked like Narducci had an opportunity to make a charge for a seventh win on Sunday. Fourteen laps into the race, Narducci looked to make a move for the lead against Steven Chapman when the two made contact, sparking a multi-car wreck in turns three and four. The incident opened the door for Brian Sullivan to race to his first victory of the season as he took the checkered flag. Sullivan is a former winner in the Thompson Modified division, but proved a bit of time away from the track didn’t slow him down.
“I kind of thought we were going to settle in for a third there. I knew if we had a short caution it would have been better. I saw everything unfolding with the front row and I was planning on going low. After that it kind of just fell into our hands,” Sullivan said.
Despite crashing out of the race, Narducci became the first driver to clinch a championship in 2019. Going into the Sunoco World Series, Narducci carries a 64-point lead, more than enough to guarantee the championship, since Thompson drivers can only earn a most of 55-points per event.
The Limited Sportsman division continued to be one of the most dramatic of the season with Kyle Gero coming into the race holding a 16-point lead over Meghan Fuller, while three-time season winner and defending champion Shawn Monahan sought to recover from a 17-point deficit. Monahan would not be denied another win, as he took the lead in his No. 55 car with five laps to go, crossing the line first for the fourth time this season.
“Last week bluntly just wasn’t even fun. I knew today I was going to wheel it to the front and if I couldn’t get there and I needed to tangle with some guys I’d remind them what I’m capable of,” Monahan said. “There’s nothing better than standing in victory lane after a day like that.”
With the win, Monahan closed his points deficit to ten points behind Kyle Gero going into the Sunoco World Series weekend. Meghan Fuller finished in the top three and stands sixteen points out of the top spot.
The Mini Stocks have been the most competitive division of the season for 2019 with six different winners in eight races prior to Sunday. Scott Michalski and Steve Michalski carried a tie for the points lead into the event while Doug Curry had only a ten-point deficit to overcome. In the end, another different winner was added to the season with former champion Dave Trudeau scored his first win.
Next up is the Sunoco World Series weekend spanning the second weekend of October, from October 11-13. In addition to crowning Thompson’s track champions for 2019, the ISMA Super Modifieds, NEMA Midgets, Valenti Modified Racing Series, Granite State Pro Stock Series, North East Mini Stock Tour, Pro 4 Modifieds and more will also be featured throughout the weekend all caped off by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series finale, the Sunoco World Series 150.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 RACE RESULTS:
SUNOCO MODIFIED 20/20 SPRINT SEGMENT ONE TOP-10: 1. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 2. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 3. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 4. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 5. Danny Cates; 6. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 7. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Tyler Leary; 9. Adam Gada (Bozrah, CT); 10. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT)
SUNOCO MODIFIED 20/20 SPRINT SEGMENT TWO TOP-10: 1. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 2. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 3. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 4. Danny Cates; 5. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 6. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 7. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Todd Patnode (Swanzey, NH); 9. Justin Albernaz (Rehoboth, MA); 10. Adam Gada (Bozrah, CT)
SUNOCO MODIFIED 20/20 SPRINT SEGMENT THREE TOP 10: 1. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 2. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 3. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 4. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 5. Danny Cates; 6. Todd Patnode (Swanzey, NH); 7. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 8. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 9. Tyler Leary; 10. Adam Gada (Bozrah, CT)
LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 2. Derek Gluchacki (Dartmouth, MA); 3. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 4. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, CT); 5. Buddy Charette (Woodstock, CT); 6. Jake Johnson; 7. Ryan Morgan (Franklin, CT); 8. Rick Gentes (Harrisville, RI); 9. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 10. William Wall (Millbury, MA)
SK LIGHT MODIFIED® FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Brian Sullivan; 2. Alexander Pearl (Salem, CT); 3. Glenn Griswold (Vernon, CT); 4. John O’Sullivan (Salem, CT); 5. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 6. Jon Puleo; 7. Ed Chicoski (New Hartford, CT); 8. Matt Janisch (Wind Gap, PA); 9. Bert Ouellette (Ellington, CT); 10. Matt McDougall (Derby, CT)
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 2. Ryan Morgan (Franklin, CT); 3. Meghan Fuller (Auburn, MA); 4. Kyle Gero (Baltic, CT); 5. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 6. Corey Fanning (Mapleville, RI); 7. Jordan Hadley (Oakdale, CT); 8. Jason Chicolas (Sutton, MA); 9. Jeff VanPelt (Pawtucket, RI); 10. Steve Kenneway
MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Dave Trudeau (Mansfield, CT); 2. Charles Canfield (East Haven, CT); 3. Doug Curry (Norwich, CT); 4. Scott Michalski (Danielson, CT); 5. Jared Roy (Sterling, CT); 6. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 7. Andrew Krzeminski; 8. Russ Barboza (Griswold, CT); 9. Bill Sylvia (Preston, CT); 10. Tom Silva (Gales Ferry, CT)