Category Archives: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

LOOKING BACK, AND AHEAD: JUSTIN ALBERNAZ FINISHING RECOVERY FOLLOWING SUNOCO MODIFIED WRECK LAST AUGUST

ON PACE TO RETURN TO RACING ON ICEBREAKER WEEKEND

By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

THOMPSON, Conn. – Sitting in the cockpit of his Sunoco Modified, unbuckling his belts, and preparing to climb out, Justin Albernaz was simply rolling on adrenaline. 

He was in the immediate aftermath of being involved in a vicious crash in turn one during practice for the 30-lap Sunoco Modified event as part of the Bug “King of Beers” night at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park last August.

When he rolled on the .625-mile oval and put the car in high-gear, he was hoping to continue to gain experience on a tough, high-banked track. When he exited the facility in the back of an ambulance, Albernaz turned his attention to the long recovery he had ahead of him.

It was turn from the positive of racing, to the negative, in a matter of just a few seconds.

“It was a pretty hot day, and there were a lot of cars out there for practice,” Albernaz recalled. “We went about five laps, and we went down the frontstretch and I think the rear-end broke on Jay Sundeen’s car. I was following the No. 19, and when he dived to the bottom, I didn’t see Sundeen. He rolled up the track and I hit him. I heard another car come from behind and hit me. By the time I opened my eyes, I was pretty much down in the infield.”

After being transferred to a local medical facility, Albernaz was soon diagnosed with a fractured L1 and L2 vertebrae. He was crushed. 

Not only was he frustrated with the end result of the wreck, but, just as any race car driver would be, he was immediately wondering how long he would be out of the car.

Since then, it’s been all about the recovery in hopes of returning to competition.

“I could feel the pain in my back,” the 21-year-old said of the immediate moments after the wreck. “When you’re in a big wreck like that, your eyes just close. It’s just straight adrenaline. I did the number one thing you’re not supposed to do and I took my helmet off. By the time I realized the pain in my back, I was able to climb out, but the rescue workers were holding me up. The pain was so bad.”

Fast-forward seven months and the Rehoboth, Massachusetts, driver is back to feeling himself. The recovery process was long – and one he hopes he never has to go through again. 

But he’s just happy to be back on the right track.

“It’s been a slow process. The first two months really weren’t great, I couldn’t move, just a lot of pain in my back. After that, you actually feel like yourself again, and you feel like you can start doing some things, but you really can’t or you’ll hurt your back again,” he said. “A lot of physical therapy, and I think it was about four and a half months before I was back to work. I feel like I’m 100% now.”

Over the winter, the team took the opportunity to make some improvements in the shop after the car he drove last year wasn’t going to be in racing condition. Albernaz has a brand new Troyer chassis set for action, and he’s going to debut it as part of the first and only Test and Tune session of the season on March 23, right back at Thompson.

The Test and Tune will be his first time back buckled in the race car since that day in August where experienced exactly what every race car driver never hopes they will. 

“I always get the butterflies at Thompson, but as soon as you get out there and get the gas down on the floor, they are gone,” he said of moving forward. “You have to just put it behind you as a driver. You have to send it in that corner. You can’t go in there looking at that wall.”

After the Test and Tune, Albernaz will be looking forward to returning to racing action under green flag conditions at the 45thannual Icebreaker weekend. The Sunoco Modifieds will have practice on Friday, run their qualifying races on Saturday and compete in the 30-lap season opener on Sunday. The event is the first in a new 10-race schedule for Thompson in 2019.

“I know we are going to that test and tune to try to shake the car down and get back going into the groove I was in last year,” he said. “I just put it behind me. Even if you just go to Thompson for the three days when you’re not racing, it’s a great time and a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to it.”

With just over one month until the drop of the first green flag, registrations for the Sunoco Modified division are starting to flow in. Early on, it looks like a mix of returning veteran challengers will battle against some of the rising talent in New England’s Sunoco Modified ranks. Last year, Connecticut native Keith Rocco added another Sunoco Modified title to his resume in dominating fashion.

Even though Mother Nature dropped a significant amount of snow in the New England area this week, track officials are working hard to prepare for the 45thannual Icebreaker weekend. The Icebreaker begins on Friday, April 5, and the three days of action-packed battling on the track concludes on Sunday, April 7, with the third race of the season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. 

The schedule for opening weekend is nearing completion and will be available on the track website and social media channels once it is finished. Fans will once again be able to visit the campgrounds on the property for the duration of the weekend, and fans also have the opportunity to purchase a pit pass and get up close with the stars and cars of Thompson Speedway. Sunday, fans will have the opportunity to walk on the track for the annual Fan Appreciation Party — an event that has become one of the most highly anticipated of the season.

For more information on the track, visit www.thompsonspeedway.comand follow the track on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Additional information about the 2019 racing season is coming in the near future.

Photo : Michael Jaworecki Myracenews

THOMPSON WELCOMES LITE MODIFIED DIVISION FOR 2019

MIX OF NEW CHALLENGERS CHASE FIRST DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP STARTING WITH 45TH ICEBREAKER

By Kyle Souza for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

THOMPSON, Conn. – One of many substantial changes at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in 2019 is the addition of the Lite Modified division to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule.

A division Thompson has welcomed to the facility on select occasions in the past, including on the Icebreaker and Sunoco World Series weekends, the Lite Modifieds now have become the Division III class at the Connecticut oval. This means the Limited Sportsman will drop to Division IV and the Mini Stock drivers will have a chance to chase the Division V title.

With a minimum weight of nearly 2,700 pounds, the Lite Modifieds nearly mirror the appearance of the Sunoco Modifieds, but have a few technical differences.

With a newly revamped 10-race NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule also added to the equation this season, Lite Modified drivers will have to find Victory Lane, but also put together some consistency if they want to go down as Thompson’s first-ever Lite Modified champion. Drivers will compete in 20-lap events throughout the duration of the season.

“I think it’s great,” Bryan Narducci, who has four wins in four Lite Modified starts at Thompson previously, said. “Last year it didn’t count towards the national points, but with the Lite Modifieds being Division III, I know there are a lot of guys that are going to go back to Thompson, with the purse raised as well. There are going to be a lot more cars this year.”

As Narducci mentions, a jump in the Lite Modified purse will see the driver that visits Victory Lane collect $500. Thompson becomes the third Connecticut oval to bring Lite Modifieds into the equation, meaning drivers from across the state will be able to take their cars to the high-banks in search of the checkered flag.

Narducci, who also won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III national championship last year, is hoping to run the full schedule behind the wheel of the No. 01. Narducci runs a car out of the same stable at Sunoco Modified winner Todd Owen, and with the support of his sponsors, Narducci has been able to dominate in the previous Lite Modified events held at Thompson.

His knack for the high-speed racing doesn’t hurt.

Narducci’s first victory came in his first start on the .625-mile high-banks in 2017 as part of the Sunoco World Series weekend. Last year, the Colchester, Connecticut, driver won all three races contested during the season, including the Icebreaker and World Series events.

“I have been going there as long as I can remember, going on Thursday night to watch Ted Christopher race,” Narducci explained. “I had experience watching and I was able to learn how passing works. It’s a lot more difficult to complete a pass at Thompson without knocking into the other cars door. The first time I ever ran there, I started on the pole and won the race. There was definitely some stiff competition there that night and last year. The track definitely fits my driving style.”

Early on, entries are already rolling in with the season still a month from taking the green flag. Upcoming modified competitor Anthony Marvin, the son of Sunoco Modified contender Burt Marvin, has entered behind the wheel of the No. 07. With Marvin’s Midway Auto and Thirty Two Signs supporting the Connecticut driver, Anthony is hoping to find his way to the top of the class before long.

Additional entries for the division include John O’Sullivan and Eric Bourgeois. O’Sullivan has been a standout in Connecticut at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl competing in their Legends Cars division, and has also been successful in his Legend Car at Seekonk Speedway, over in Massachusetts. Last year, O’Sullivan tested the waters of the Lite Modified division at Thompson, finishing inside the top-10 in all three of his starts. That experience could put him ahead of some of the competitors for the upcoming campaign.

Bourgeois is truly a name that should be familiar to those in the Thompson Speedway landscape. Eric Bourgeois recently celebrated another Mini Stock title in 2018 after a consistent season put him at the top of the division. Now, with his focus in the Mini Stocks turned to his son Evan, Eric has registered behind the wheel of the No. 78 Lite Modified for at least a partial schedule.

Alexander Pearl, a regular in Stafford Motor Speedway’s SK Light Modified division, is also among the earliest registrations.

“By making the Lite Modifieds our Division III class, we wanted to send a signal that the division is very valuable to Thompson Speedway,” Terry Eames, Thompson’s General Manager, said in a release during the winter.

Thompson is looking forward to having the youth talent of the Lite Modified division combine with some racing veterans to create thrilling racing in the 20-lap events throughout the 10-race schedule.

Lite Modified drivers will find themselves on the same stage as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on four occasions this year, where they will compete in their events just before the Tour takes the green flag. Fans will want to keep an eye out for some of the youth talent as they look to make a name for themselves before making the step into the Sunoco Modified division.

With just about one month remaining before the 45thannual Icebreaker, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park officials are hard at work as the season begins to close in. Before April, teams will have an opportunity to take to the track on Saturday, March 23 as part of a test and tune session. The Icebreaker, a prestigious weekend in New England, will take place April 5-7 this year. The weekend will include the opening event for all five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions and the third race of the season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, along with additional divisions that will be announced in the very near future.

Thompson’s overall 2019 schedule, set for 10 races, includes the return of the NEMA Midgets, Pro All Star Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and more. Fans can find all of the latest information by visiting www.thompsonspeedway.comand following the track via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Photo Credit: Tom Morris Myracenews

THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK ANNOUNCES DIVISION RULES & PURSE STRUCTURES FOR 2019 ADDITION OF THE LITE MODIFIEDS ADDS NEW DIMENSION TO THOMPSON SPEEDWAY

By Kyle Souza, for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

THOMPSON, Conn. – Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park announced division rules and purse structures for the 2019 NASCAR Whelen All American Series season on Tuesday.

With the Lite Modifieds adding to an already strong base of divisions at the Connecticut oval, Thompson Speedway is excited to welcome a new class – one that already has plenty of support from drivers and teams in the New England region. The weekly class will begin their season as part of the 45th annual Icebreaker weekend in April.

“By making the Lite Modifieds our Division III class, we wanted to send a signal that the division is very valuable to Thompson Speedway,” Terry Eames, Thompson’s General Manager, said.

With the addition of the Lite Modifieds as a weekly class, the purse for the Division III class has increased from what it was during their few select events last year. A 20-lap feature event will pay $500 to winner.

In the rules department, the addition of the Lite Modified class weekly required Thompson’s technical inspection staff to take a close look at the rules for 2018 and make a few slight changes in preparation for a 10-race schedule. There are also rules changes for the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks, but all are minimal. Teams can find the updated rules on the Thompson website, where any changes from the 2018 rules are outlined in red on each page.

“The Thompson Speedway technical staff takes great pride in making sure the rules packages for every division are scrutinized, not only in the offseason, but throughout the season,” Mark St. Hilaire, Thompson’s Chief Technical Inspector, said. “Tech officials are always available to the competitors and are welcoming of any and all suggestions that would help make racing more competitive.”

With the cost of racing seemingly rising each year, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is committed to making sure all drivers have equal ground to race on. Rules changes often come with an added expense for race teams, something Thompson doesn’t want to happen.

“The officials are always looking to stay current with the technological advances in our field, which helps the competitors by keeping cost down,” Mark St. Hilaire said. “We realize that changes cost money and we look to make sure expensive parts or technology do not limit the times a competitor can race throughout the season. We also strive to make the complete field of cars as competitive with each other as possible so we can provide a great experience for our fans.”

Each division rulebook will be available on the Thompson website, and teams are encouraged to read through them and direct any questions to Thompson’s Technical Director Mark St. Hilaire prior to the start of the season.

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park officials are already hard at work preparing for the 2019 season, one that begins with the 45th running of the Icebreaker from April 5-7. Icebreaker weekend will include the openers for all five NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions and the third race of the season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The Pro All Star Series was recently announced as an addition to the Icebreaker schedule. The remainder of the divisions for the weekend will be announced in the near future.

Thompson’s 2019 10-race schedule includes the return of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, along with multiple other touring divisions that will join Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All American Series classes.

You can find all of this information at thompsonspeedway.com.