Josh Wood comes into the race after finding victory in the season opening Icebreaker, doing so in dominating fashion and is expected to be strong again for event number two. Even though he is one of the younger competitors in the class he is still considered a favorite and speaks with a veteran’s perspective.
“You need to go easier on the tires for the first 20 laps or so to save them (for the end) and be patient,” says Wood.
Parity is one word used to describe the XtraMart Limited Sportsman division, consisting of several teams with equal chance to get to victory lane. Corey Hutchings has finally gotten the monkey off his back by getting through the Icebreaker unscathed, but the question remains to be answered if he can keep the momentum rolling into the heart of the season. Regardless he still comes in as the championship favorite based on past success; that is at least until another competitor can prove otherwise.
Then there is Larry Barnett who is more determined than ever to rise to the top of the class. “I have been preparing for weeks for this race,” said the multi-time champion. “I’m more than ready for this event.”
The XtraMart Limited Sportsman race is just one of the four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions that will be on hand Wednesday night. The nightcap for the racing card will feature a rematch of Keith Rocco and Jeff Rocco in the 25-lap late model feature. The twin brothers tangled after a fierce battle for the lead the last time out, destroying both machines. The impact was so ferocious that it peeled the roof straight off Keith Rocco’s No. 88.
Jeff Rocco has since partnered with Don Barker, former Whelen Modified Tour championship car owner and current crew chief for Donny Lia, to acquire the assets of Eric Grant’s Late Model team. Rocco now enters the event as an owner-driver wheeling the same equipment he competed with during the Icebreaker.
The Sunoco Modified division sees Keith Rocco leading the standings with defending champion Woody Pitkat off to a slow start. Pitkat finished 17th in the first race after completing just 6 laps. It was his worst finish since joining the Stan Mertz owned team at the start of 2015.
While Pitkat looks to rebound, both Ronnie Williams and Adam Norton look to build upon top-5 finishes. Williams finished 3rd in his first outing in the Sunoco Modified at Thompson showing he is a quick learner. Williams does have multiple wins in this type of Modified at other speedways, although he is running regularly at Thompson for the first time this year.
Norton is a familiar face around the speedway and is looking for a breakout victory to solidify his name among the contenders. He showed good race pace during the bright sunshine of Icebreaker weekend and now he’ll look to dial it in for the night setup.
The first feature scheduled to roll onto the racetrack Wednesday evening will be the Mini Stock division. Dave Trudeau comes as the only defending champion to start his title defense in victory lane. All eyes point to him to be the favorite once again, but he will face a new challenger in Wayne Burroughs. In the opener, Burroughs was involved in a lap one incident and drove from the back to 3rd in just 14 laps.
The XtraMart Limited Sportsman Long Distance event, presented by Circuit One Events takes place on Wednesday, May 18. Grandstands will open at 4:30PM, qualifying is at 6:30 PM and feature races will follow.
For more information about Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park events or to order tickets, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com.