THOMPSON, Conn. — With just three races remaining in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season, Kyle Gero is right in the middle of a tight Limited Sportsman championship race.
The former Thompson Mini Stock competitor, and New London-Waterford Speedbowl X-Car champion, is second, just eight points out in the title fight. He’s trailing two-time and defending division champion Shawn Monahan, who has three wins in the first seven events.
For Gero, this season has been about improving the setup and continuing to seek his first victory after a little bit of a learning curve over the last few years. Moving to the Limited Sportsman division was a welcomed challenge for Gero, who seems to be excelling in his second season. Before returning to Thompson competition, Gero had been off for more than one decade at the Connecticut oval. His Mini Stock days were in the early 2000s.
“Going from a front-wheel drive car that made around 125 horsepower to a rear-wheel drive car that makes over 300 is definitely a huge difference. The track was familiar to me, and I had been up to Thompson watching races, but one of the things I’m just now starting to get down is what they had to do to the track in turns three and four for the road course,” Gero said. “When I ran before, there was a line there where you could gauge where you were in the turn, but now there isn’t. It was something I struggled last year with while trying to find some marks to stick with every lap.”
Even though he started his season with two finishes outside the top 10, since then, it’s been all about consistency. Gero finished fifth in the third race of the season and has followed it up with three second-place efforts and a fourth.
“I’ve always thought that we are going to the track with a chance to win, otherwise we wouldn’t go. We did a lot of work over the winter, so it doesn’t surprise me to be where we are at. What’s surprised me the most is my ability to see what has been going on out on the track,” Gero said. “The guys up front have been beating and banging a little bit more at the beginning of races, and I’ve just been sitting back and watching it and saying that I would capitalize when something happens. We’re very grateful to be where we are at.”
His career started at a young age, competing in go-karts for many years, winning races and countless championships. In fact, in one season, he was able to win all the races in his division, traveling from Connecticut to Maine to compete each week. After building the Mini Stock and competing for a few years, it was time for a step away.
“I needed a break, and my dad needed a break after that,” Gero said. “I had my eyes on something different at the time, but I wish I would have stayed with it. I raced four-wheelers for a few years competitively, then I started helping some guys out at the track with their cars and I decided I would step back into it slowly.”
His slow step back into racing saw him carrying a championship trophy at another Connecticut track, then decide it was time to step back to Thompson to try and chase a NASCAR championship.
“Just as much work goes into the go-kart compared to the race car,” Gero said. “The 10-race schedule isn’t too much for us – working full-time and having limited help, it works.”
Gero also knows competing in the Limited Sportsman isn’t easy. A total of 36 drivers have taken the green flag this season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a few more drivers enter the division before the end of the year. For Gero to be only eight points back with three races left, he’s pleased.
“We are starting to learn more about what we need to do with the setups,” Gero said. “The adjustments have been big for us. These cars are over 3,000 pounds and it takes a lot to wheel one of them. You have a big heavy race car with a decent amount of power, they aren’t going to handle that great. I’ve always been a smooth driver and being smooth in a Sportsman almost goes out the window. You have to manhandle them.”
For now, with the support of his dad, family and crew, as well as Advanced Overhead Door, Thames Electric, 1-800-blacktop, Tick Mike, Park Roway Commercial Doors, JS Landscaping, KLT Industries and Lathrop Construction, Gero is in a good position to chase two goals down the stretch.
He’s hoping to earn his first win and contend to become the Thompson Limited Sportsman champion as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
“Just have to take it race by race — I try not to points race because it can mess up your head and take a little bit of the fun away,” Gero said. “We definitely have to be a little better on the setups. We are doing a little bit different package for the last three races.
“There is always that chance of a championship, which would be amazing. I want to win a race but standing up there on the stage at the end of the year is why we are all doing this.”
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park returns to NASCAR racing action on Sunday, September 1, with all five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions and Lock City Drift. Race fans and teams are reminded that this is the make-up date for the June 30 show that was rained out.
For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans are encouraged to visit www.thompsonspeedway.com and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with the Late Model division taking center stage with their extra distance Late Model 50 feature event. Ryan Fearn came away the big winner on the night, capturing his first career Late Model feature win. Fearn’s winnings from the night totaled $3,450 with $1,200 in purse money, $1,900 from the Gaston Racing Enterprises High Roller Challenge that saw Fearn roll a 1 in victory lane for the winner takes all option, and $350 in contingency bonus money from iRacing, New England Racing Fuel, Sunoco, and Bob’s Painting and Del’s Vinyl Siding. Other winners on the night included Ronnie Williams in the SK Modified® feature, Bryan Narducci in the SK Light feature, Alexandra Fearn in the Limited Late Model feature, and Meghan Fuller in the Street Stock feature.
In the 50-lap Late Model feature, Tyler Leary took the lead at the green with Ryan Fearn lined up behind him in second. Fearn took the lead from Leary on lap-2 as the leaders came back to the line with Darrell Keane third, Kevin Gambacorta fourth and Tom Fearn quickly worked his way into fifth utilizing the outside groove. Al Saunders was applying heavy pressure to Tom Fearn for fifth and he nearly made a pass on lap-5 but fell back in line.
Gambacorta slid back to sixth in line as the order on lap-10 was Ryan Fearn, Leary, Keane, Tom Fearn, Adam Gray, and Gambacorta. The caution came out with 12 laps complete as Andy Marchese, R.J. Surdell, and Paul Varricchio, Jr. came together coming out of turn 4.
Ryan Fearn didn’t come up to speed on the restart and he fell from the lead back to third as Leary took the lead and Gray moved into second. Al Saunders was up to fourth behind Ryan Fearn with Michael Wray in fifth. Trace Beyer got around Wray to move into fifth on lap-18 while Leary was starting to stretch out his advantage over Gray and Ryan Fearn.
Ryan Fearn made a move to get around Gray to move into second right at the halfway point of the race on lap-25. Al Saunders was still fourth with Beyer in fifth. Leary’s large lead was erased by the caution flag with 26 laps complete as Keane got into the backstretch wall at the entrance to turn 3.
Ryan Fearn streaked into the lead on the restart, but the caution came out almost immediately as Marchese and Scott Bouley spun in turn 1 to bring the caution back out. Ryan Fearn again took the lead on the restart with Leary in second. Saunders was third with Beyer and Tom Fearn lined up behind him in fifth. The caution came back out with 26 laps complete as Saunders and Beyer spun coming off turn 4 and nearly collected the car of Cliff Saunders, who did a great job to avoid hitting either Saunders or Beyer.
Ryan Fearn and Leary ran a lap side by side for the lead before Fearn got clear. Tom Fearn and Wray were side by side for third but the caution came back out with 27 laps complete for spins by Surdell, Marchese, and Bouley coming out of turn 2.
The restart saw a wreck on the backstretch that collected the cars of Gray, DeMone, Keane, Michael Wray, Tom Fearn, Cliff Saunders, and Richard Ciriello to bring the caution back out. This made the restart order Ryan Fearn and Tyler Leary on the front row, Michael Bennett and Gambacorta in the second row, and Dave Wray and David Arute in the third row.
Ryan Fearn took the lead back under green with Bennett in second. Dave Wray was third with Gambacorta fourth and Michael Wray charged his way into fifth. Michael Wray took fourth from Gambacorta on lap-32 with Tom Fearn and Leary following him through to move into fifth and sixth and drop Gambacorta back to seventh.
With 10 laps to go, Ryan Fearn had a lead of a second and a half over Bennett in second with Dave Wray, Michael Wray, and Tom Fearn still making up the remainder of the top-5.
Ryan Fearn led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his first career Late Model feature victory. Bennett came home second with Dave Wray, Tom Fearn, and Leary rounding out the top-5.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tony Membrino, Jr. took the early lead with Dan Wesson and Stephen Kopcik lined up behind him. The caution flew with 3 laps complete as a multicar pileup in the middle of turns 3+4 brought the caution out.
Membrino took the lead back under green with Wesson right behind him but the caution came out with 7 laps complete for a spin in turns 3+4 by Marcello Rufrano. Kopcik took the lead from Membrino in the outside lane on the restart with Membrino and Cory DiMatteo side by side for second. DiMatteo took second going into turn 3 and he took the lead from Kopcik at the line on lap-9. The caution flew with 10 laps complete as Dan Wesson spun coming off turn 4.
Kopcik took the lead on the restart but DiMatteo went 3-wide with Kopcik and Ronnie Williams on lap-12 to take the lead. Kopcik came right back on lap-13 with a push from Williams to retake the lead. Keith Rocco was now in the mix for the lead as the top-4 cars were side by side two rows deep before the caution came back out with 18 laps complete for a spin by Tyler Jones at the exit of turn 2.
Williams powered his way into the lead back under green with Rocco and Kopcik fighting side by side for second. DiMatteo was fourth in line with Michael Gervais, Jr. up to fifth. Rocco cleared Kopcik for second on lap-26 and he began to set his sights on Williams in the lead. The caution came back out with 30 laps complete for a spin by Eric Berndt in turn 4 and Andrew Molleur came to a stop against the turn 2 wall.
Williams took the lead back under green while Kopcik and Rocco resumed their side by side duel for second. Rocco got clear of Kopcik on lap-33 and DiMatteo was now side by side with Kopcik for third with Gervais in fifth. Kopcik took third on lap-34 with Gervais pulling alongside DiMatteo for fourth. Up front, Rocco pulled to the outside of Williams on lap-35 and the two leaders were once again side by side. Williams cleared Rocco on lap-37 with Kopcik diving to the inside of Rocco for second. Coming to 2 to go, Rocco was right on Williams’ back bumper. Rocco tried a crossover move but Williams was able to fend off his challenge. The two cars touched going into turn 3 but Williams was able to maintain the lead with Rocco still in second. Rocco made one last bid for the lead in turns 3+4 but Williams took the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive win and fifth of the 2019 season. Rocco finished second with Kopcik, Gervais, and DiMatteo rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature, Amanda West took the lead at the drop of the green with Chris Matthews in second. The action was fast and furious behind the two front runners as Teddy Hodgdon, Bryan Narducci, and Robert Bloxsom were three-wide for third. Alexander Pearl came through to second with Narducci, Jonathan Puleo, and Hodgdon making up the top-5.
Narducci took the lead from West on lap-9 and with that move West began to slide backwards as Pearl took second, Puleo third and Hodgdon fourth with West finally getting back into line in fifth place.
With 5 laps to go, Narducci, Pearl, Puleo, and Hodgdon were locked in a four car nose to tail train in the fight for the race lead. Hodgdon made a move to the inside of Puleo on lap-17 but Puleo was able to hold him off. Hodgdon tried the move again on lap-18 and this time he was able to make the pass stick and take over third place.
Narducci led Pearl to the checkered flag to pick up his sixth win of the 2019 season. Hodgdon finished third with Puleo and West rounding out the top-5.
In the 15-lap Limited Late Model feature, the caution came out at the start as Matt Clement got on the brakes to avoid getting into the back of Gary Patnode and spun after contact from Kevin Crosby. Alexandra Fearn took the early lead on the restart with Duane Provost giving chase in second. Patnode was third in line with Jeremy Lavoie fourth and Clement was fifth in line.
Lavoie made a move on lap-8 to get by Patnode for third. Lavoie’s move opened the door for Clement and David Tefft to follow Lavoie by Patnode and drop Patnode back to sixth in line. Provost was still giving chase to Fearn for the race lead while Tefft nearly made a pass on Clement for fourth on lap-12 but settled back into line in fifth.
With 2 laps to go, Provost was right behind Fearn in the fight for the lead. Provost couldn’t get close enough to Fearn to make a move as Fearn took down her third win of the 2019 season. Lavoie finished third with Clement and Tefft rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Meghan Fuller took the lead at the drop of the green with Zack Robinson working the outside lane to take second. Adrien Paradis, III slotted into third with Travis Hydar fourth and Tyler Trott and Dave Secore side by side for fifth place.
Hydar took third from Paradis on lap-3 while George Bessette, Jr. got around Secore to move into sixth behind Trott. Bessette took fourth from Trott on lap-4 and he then went by Paradis to take third on lap-5 as Fuller was starting to stretch out her advantage over Robinson at the front of the field. Jason Lafayette took fifth from Paradis on lap-7 and the caution flag came out with 8 laps complete for a spin in the middle of turns 1+2 by Trott. Tim Morse was sent to the rear of the field by NASCAR Officials for making contact with Trott.
Fuller took the lead back under green with Hydar taking second. Bessette and Robinson were side by side for third and Paradis in fifth. Lafayette nearly spun in turn 4 on lap-13 but he was able to gather his car up and remained in sixth. Robinson got clear of Bessette for third and with 2 laps to go, Bessette was glued to the back bumper of Robinson.
Fuller led Hydar to the checkered flag to pick up her second consecutive win of the 2019 season. Robinson finished third with Bessette and Paradis rounding out the top-5.
For more information contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at (860) 684-2783, or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
As hard as it is to imagine the final month of the 2019 NASCAR Whelen All American Series at Riverhead Raceway will kick off this Saturday night August 24th at the historic quarter mile speed plant. Highlighting the 7 for 1 program will be a 75-lap feature event for the NASCAR Modifieds and the second and final School Bus Demolition Derby of the season. The 2019 campaign at Riverhead will conclude with a doubleheader weekend Saturday September 28th NASCAR Champions night and a Sunday afternoon Enduro show Sunday September 29th.
Heading into the August 17th NASCAR Modified contest defending Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper of Manorville enjoyed a commanding 80-point margin over his nearest rival Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead. Soper in 14 starts heading into the 17th has won 7 times and with his comfortable cushion he enjoys in the championship chase he and his team can focus on attempting to tie or surpass the single season NASCAR Modified win total of 10. That mark was set twice by the late “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek (1976 & 77) and once by Gary Winters (1962). Kyle is also the reining New York State NASCAR Whelen All American Series champion and there too he is a sure bet to repeat leading Rogers by 98 markers.
Aside from Soper seeking to capture the 75-lap affair Saturday Tom Rogers Jr. would like to get another win for car owners Denise & Ken Darch having won twice as of press time. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick is another driver winning twice in 2019 while John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville and Dave Brigati of Calverton have scored one victory each hoping for a return to victory lane at the conclusion of the 75-lap contest. Meanwhile several other drivers and teams are hoping to make their first visit to the winners circle Saturday including Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills, Chris Young of Calverton, CJ Lehmann of Shirley, David Schneider of Huntington and Eric Zeh of Selden. With the field to be set by time trials drivers who have run part time in 2019 might look to make another start Saturday including Dave Sapienza of Riverhead, Craig Lutz of Miller Place and Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck.
Late Models will go 25-laps Saturday with Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead dominating the winners circle in ’19 winning 8 of the 11 races to date. Yet McDermott only enjoys a 33-point bulge over two time winner Chris Turbush of Wading Riverhead as the class returns after a week off. Jarrod Hayes of Calverton became only the third different winner in the LM ranks on August 10th in his first start of the year. Also back after a week off are the Figure Eight daredevils with defending champion Tom Rogers Jr. dominating victory lane winning 6 of the 9 races run propelling him to a 36-point lead over teammate Eric Zeh who has yet to win this season and would love to do so Saturday. Only Ken Hyde Jr. of Yaphank (2) and Vinny Delaney of Holtsville (1) have broken Rogers stranglehold on victory lane.
The closest points race among the classes racing this week can be found in the Mini Stocks with former Figure Eight driver Chris Elixson of Riverhead leading 4-time winner Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge heading into the 20-lapper. Not only does Warren’s four wins lead the division for the season but it also ties him with Bryan Kelly and Mike Mujsce Jr. for the all time lead in victories in the new division. Warren will trail Elixson by 15 markers with third place Jamie Meyer of Riverhead just 21 back of the leader and defending champion Paul Wojcik of Centereach fourth 24 points back. Justin Squires of Flanders (-45) and Tom Puccia of Shirley (-47) are also still in the championship hunt.
After another wild 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro will hit the track with most recent winner Woot Lawrence of Southampton leading the troops into battle. Looking to recover from his flip in the most recent race won by Woot will be defending champion Christian Conklin of Riverhead.
Once all the racing is in the books the 13-ton School Buses take to the track for another bus destroying Demolition Derby event. In July popular “Cheesebox” Michael Rommeney of Bohemia out slugged “The Punisher” Paul Fox of Riverhead for the win. Also expected to compete are “Irish” Mike O’Keefe of Manorville, “The Stalker” Scott Phillips of Bay Shore and “Mach Chicken” Rob Savoy of Medford.
Time trials for the NASCAR Modifieds kick off qualifying at 6:00 pm with heat.races to follow while opening ceremonies and feature racing to start at 7:00 pm. Adult admission is $30, kids 6-12 are $10, 5 & under free. Further information can be found by visiting www.riverheadraceway.com. E-mails reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and the phone number remains 631-842-RACE.