Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park hosted its second weekend of oval racing in 2019 with the annual Limited Sportsman Long Distance race and military night presented by Pepsi. The afternoon included five feature events comprising of all of Thompson’s local divisions as well as ceremonies to honor local veterans with members of the military past and present admitted for free to enjoy the races.
The afternoon started with the 4th Annual Limited Sportsman Long Distance feature, a 30-lap race, ten laps more than a normal Limited Sportsman event, that serves as the crown jewel of the division’s season at Thompson. The race proved to be eventful with ten cautions waving and a familiar name finding his way to the front. Defending champion Shawn Monahan took the #55 “Swaggin’ Wagon” to victory lane after debuting the station wagon-themed vehicle at the Icebreaker in April. Monahan benefitted from the race being changed to single-file restarts which allowed him to get some breathing room as Icebreaker winner Ryan Waterman tried to hunt him down. Monahan survived one final restart and a three-lap shootout to take home the trophy
“The division is pretty stout. It’s unfortunate how the race went today. A little on the boring side, but it was close for the first few laps,” Monahan said after the race. The reigning champion said he was proud to give the fans a show all the same and park his new car in victory lane. “We knew I could have kept the car just the way it was in that final race at the World Series and shown back up and ran well, but I’ve always been one to do something different. Really I wanted the fans to have something to cheer for. I think that the competitors maybe dislike it enough to make sure they put their own tire marks on the side of it which is all good. If I can finish the race I’ll take all the tire marks they can give me. To win you’ve got to finish.”
The Late Models experienced some drama earlier in evening to start off the racing action. Before the division’s 40-lap feature even took the green flag Tom Carey, III, who earned the first victory of the season in the Icebreaker and finished in the runner-up spot in points last year, crashed out of his heat race and thus was not featured in the main event. Carey was a favorite coming into the season and his absence made the feature a prime opportunity for other drivers to establish themselves as the frontrunners for the title in 2019.
Ryan Morgan and Woody Pitkat established themselves at the class of the field during the race with Morgan taking the early lead and Pitkat making the pass for the top spot several laps later. Pitkat held the lead until a restart on lap 24 when Morgan was able to wrestle away the top spot after a full lap of side-by-side racing between the leaders. Another restart on lap 12 set up another battle between Morgan and Pitkat with Morgan getting the jump. However, a third name worked his way into the mix as William Wall passed Pitkat for second and set his sights on the lead. The battle led to an epic finish as Wall made a dive bomb move for the lead on the final turns of the last lap racing side by side with Morgan in a photo finish. Morgan was awarded the win after scoring ruled he hit the line first with a difference of .002 seconds separating him from Wall.
“I think that’s the closest one so far in all of my racing days. I thought (Wall) got me to be honest. We were banging doors and everything,” Morgan said after the race. “It is what it is. We were just a little free up top. Will is a hard charger and I knew it was coming, but I was able to hold him off and that’s all we can ask for.”
The Mini Stocks were next with a 15-lap feature and Icebreaker winner Steve Michalski looking to establish himself as the early title favorite. The battle for the win came down to Michalski and Jared Roy with Roy having the edge for the bulk of the event. Roy was able to hold on for the win in a dominating effort while Michalski took second place. The win was Roy’s first in any division at Thompson in his third season of racing at the Big-T.
“I saw (Michalski) creeping up a couple times and I just kept my composure, hit my marks and acted like he wasn’t there. I saw him there with five to go and I told myself to take a deep breath and keep doing what I was doing,” Roy said after the race. “It took me from two years ago at the Icebreaker until now to win. I held second in points all year last year until the last race. Hopefully we get a championship this year.”
In the SK Light Modifieds® Bryan Narducci was looking to continue his unprecedented consistency seeking his sixth win in the division’s 20-lap feature. Narducci started mid-pack in his attempt to remain perfect in the division at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and had to work his way to the front eventually taking second place before a caution at the halfway point tightened up the field and set up a showdown between Narducci and Steven Chapman. The battle was short-lived as Chapman suffered equipment failure at the drop of the green giving Narducci the lead which he never relinquished. The win keeps Narducci perfect in his Thompson campaign in the SK Light Modifieds® with six wins in six starts.
“I knew I had something for (Chapman) but it’s tough to pass here. It would have taken me a couple laps to work him over. Luckily, we had the caution so we didn’t have to worry about it,” Narducci said after the win. He said the victory was even sweeter as it helped him silence his critics who felt he couldn’t win from the middle of the pack. “I’ve heard a lot of slack because every time I’ve raced here I’ve started in the top three and they say I only win because I have a fast car and I’m out front – We started tenth in the feature and we won so I guess it will quiet the haters so that makes it nice.”
Ending the night were the Sunoco Modifieds with a 30-lap feature littered with wrecks that took several big names out of contention. Troy Talman, Woody Pitkat, Joey and Adam Gada, and Todd Owen who was forced to a backup car prior to the race were all involved in incidents before the halfway point of the race. All the while Ronnie Williams fended off challenger after challenger to hold on to the lead and it all came down to the closing laps as Keith Rocco, who recovered from a penalty that sent him to the rear of the field for the final restart, stole the top spot. Williams would not be denied, pushing Rocco up the track in turns three and four on the final corner edging Rocco in a drag race to the line. Williams’ margin of victory was .03 seconds capping on an eventful day of racing at Thompson.
Up next for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is a slew of racing events in the month of June and it all stars on Wednesday, June 5 with the Thompson 125, the second appearance of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2019. All five of Thompson’s track divisions will also continue their seasons as the race towards championship glory continues.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN LONG DISTANCER FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 2. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 3. Larry Barnett (Moosup, CT); 4. Jesse Gleason (Lisbon, CT); 5. Jason Chicolas; 6. Zachary Robinson (Putnam, CT); 7. Corey Fanning (Mapleville, RI); 8. Kevin Mason; 9. Randy Waterman, Jr. (Danielson, CT); 10. Ryan Morgan (Franklin, CT)
LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Ryan Morgan (Franklin, CT); 2. William Wall (Millbury, MA); 3. Derek Gluchacki (Dartmouth, MA); 4. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, CT); 5. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 6. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 7. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 8. Rick Gentes (Harrisville, RI); 9. Jared Materas (Westfield, MA); 10. Jason Palmer (Berlin, CT)
MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Jared Roy (Sterling, CT); 2. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 3. Doug Curry (Norwich, CT); 4. Evan Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 5. Scott Michalski (Killingly, CT); 6. Charles Canfield (East Haven, CT) ; 7. Dave Trudeau, Jr. (Mansfield, CT); 8. JT Suprenant (Central Village, CT); 9. Glynn Roy (Sterling, CT); 10. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI)
SK LIGHT MODIFIEDS® FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 2. Noah Korner (Canton, CT); 3. Mikey Flynn (Hampden, MA); 4. Ethan Durocher (Canterbury, CT); 5. Chris Correll (New London,CT); 6. Andrew Lee (New York, NY); 7. John O’ Sullivan (Salem, CT); 8. Keith Caruso (Millbury, MA); 9. Albert Ouellette (Ellington, CT); 10. Nathan Pytko (Douglas, MA)
SUCONO MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Ronnie Williams (Ellington, CT); 2. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 3. Timmy Jordan (Plainfield, CT); 4. Corey Barry (Plainfield, CT); 5. Justin Albernaz; 6. Zachary Leone (Shrewsbury, MA); 7. John Berchum (W. Greenwich, RI); 8. Paul LaPlante (North Attleboro, MA); 9. Mike Christopher, Jr. (Wolcott, CT); 10. Jason Sundeen (Douglas, MA)
Photo Tom Morris Myracenews