Category Archives: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

FansChoice.tv to Cover Thompson Opener

42nd Annual Icebreaker Headlined by Whelen Modified Tour

 

IMG_4221_2728DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 5, 2016) – The ceremonial opening weekend of NASCAR racing in New England is fast approaching, and fans across the globe will be able to catch the action live.

NASCAR and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park announced today that FansChoice.tv will stream Sunday’s short-track action from the 42nd Annual Icebreaker, headlined by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s season-opening Icebreaker 150.

The webcast will begin on Sunday with pre-race ceremonies at 12:15 p.m. The on-track action is set to commence with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sunoco Modified division’s 30-lap feature at 12:35 p.m. The Icebreaker 150 will conclude the program with green flag at approximately 3:30 p.m.

The famed northeast Connecticut oval will open its 76th season with 12 divisions in competition across Saturday and Sunday. For more event and ticket information, please visit www.thompsonspeedway.com.

 

North East Street Stock Tour Opens Sophomore Season at Icebreaker

STONINGTON, CT – Two years ago, the North East Street Stock Tour (NESST) was just an idea, known to the public only through a Facebook group. Now, the start-up stock cars series, which races later model Chevrolet, Buick, and Ford production cars, is readying to begin it’s sophomore season at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s (CT) 42nd Annual Icebreaker.  The NESST race, presented by RAD Auto Machine, kicks off a ten-event championship circuit, that also culminates at the 5/8-mile oval.

Defending Champion, Joe Arena (Bristol, CT), leads an experienced list of drivers into the 20-lap event. Arena, who competed at Thompson regularly for nearly two decades, finished second in the Tour’s inaugural event at the famed facility last October, en route to his first career championship.

Arena will be challenged by Chris “Moose” Douton (Waterford, CT). Douton, who has three championships to his credit—two at Waterford (1997 and 1999 Street Stock) and one at Thompson (2011 Limited Sportsman)—“can’t wait” for the season-opener. Since 2008, Douton has been a regular at Thompson, and without reservation said that the speed is what keeps him coming back. The 36-year veteran said, “The faster the better. . . .The speed you take into the corner is cool.”

Thompson’s 2013 Limited Sportsman Champion, Steve Kenneway (Lowell, MA), is also entering the season-opener.  Kenneway brings 13 years of racing experience and a strong passion for Thompson. “It’s always been home. It’s where I started racing,” the driver of the No. 38 explained.  Not only is he passionate about Thompson, but also about the type of car.  He argues, “The division has the best competition.” 

It’s likely that these three drivers will be competing against some of Thompson’s regulars: Scott Sundeen (Sutton, MA), Corey Hutchings (Salem, CT), Josh Wood (Palmer, MA), and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. (Wethersfield, CT).  In addition, northern drivers like Patrick Tanguay (Lebanon, ME) and Geoff Rollins (Groton, MA) are expected to compete for the first NESST win of the season. 

Three rounds of optional practice for NESST will begin at 1pm on Friday, April 8, for $15.  NESST will practice once again on Saturday morning, prior to qualifying and the feature event later in the day. For more information about the NESST race, presented by RAD Auto Machine, visit www.nestreetstocktour.com, and be social with us on Facebook and Twitter.  For more information about attending the 42nd Annual Icebreaker, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com.

 

Jeff Rocco Looks to Build on Thompson Speedway Late Model Success

(THOMPSON, CT) – With a full season under his belt driving the Eric Grant owned entry at Thompson Speedway, Jeff Rocco’s name ranks high on the list of contenders in 2016. Rocco drove to victory lane 4 times last season, in addition to winning the special Late Model 20/20 Sprint comprised of 3 distinct segment of racing on one night. It was the 14th, 16th, and 17th place efforts that spelled misfortune for Rocco that made him fade from the spotlight at the Sunoco World Series.

“It was a lot less pressure last year coming into a new series,” said Rocco. “If we ran in the top-5 it was a success for us. Now we have set the bar high to go back and achieve that. If you look at where we stacked up against touring competition (American-Canadian Tour) that set the bar of where we need to be. As good as we were for weekly competition we wanted to get better.”

Rocco’s team is one of several that take advantage of Thompson’s Late Model rules aligning with the American-Canadian Tour rules. Defending champion Brian Tagg honed his craft on the ACT circuit for a year before winning the title in his rookie season.

“The biggest thing for us and me the confidence; having the confidence of what happened last year and rebuilding the car throughout the winter, everything was a positive note,” said Tagg.  “It made the winter go through kind of slow because we want to repeat what we did.”

It won’t be easy to repeat in a division of so much talent. Keith Rocco returns for a full season after losing the championship by virtue of a last lap pass made by Tagg in the 2015 finale.

Six time division champion, Rick Gentes returns with a new engine package for 2016. After running a blue oval power plant last season, Gentes made the switch back to the bowtie seeking that competitive edge. Looking back on his years of racing at Thompson, he recalled the competition as being the same as it was back in the 1990s when there were 10-12 cars on the track who could win any given night.

“It is tough just to finish in the top-5 now let alone winning and we have probably fallen behind a little,” said Gentes. “We used to be right on top of it. We need to step of our game to get back to where we were.”

During the open test in March, Gentes backed his car into the outside wall forcing him to rebuild the car in time for the season opener.

While names like Rocco, Gentes, and Tagg are just a few of the proven winners in the division, there will be some interesting newcomers to the class this season. Well, relative newcomers that is. William Wall was among one of the first names Tagg noted as one to watch in 2016. Wall led laps last season as a rookie and is back for his sophomore season. A graduate of the Limited Sportsman ranks, Wall is looking for late run speed to propel him to his first victory.

“A lot of times I would get a good start and pick off a few cars in the early stages of the race,” said Wall.  As it went the car tended to fall off and I wouldn’t be able to complete a pass and you need to have it fast at the end.”

After the open test, Wall was confident in the speed his team gained in the offseason.

Returning to Thompson as a rookie is Corey Fanning who began racing in the Limited Sportsman division before spending two years racing at Seekonk Speedway. Fanning is back and for the first time will compete in a late model. Fanning finished 3rd in the standings during his last full season at the Big T in 2013. Last season, he managed a 4th in points at Seekonk after a dismal start backed by a late season charge that saw 7 consecutive runner-up finishes.

Michael Bennett will be running a three race schedule this season which includes the Icebreaker. Bennett is the defending Late Model champion at Stafford Speedway coming off a 7 win season and this year will be his first time competing on Thompson’s high banks. Bennett plans to run the Late Model 20/20 Sprint and the World Series, in addition to a slate of ACT events.

Thompson Speedway opens its gates for The Icebreaker on the weekend of April 9-10. An additional practice day is scheduled for Friday, April 8. For more information on Thompson Speedway news and events, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com.