Tag Archives: Kyle Gero

GERO, MONAHAN AND FULLER SET TO BATTLE FOR THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK LIMITED SPORTSMAN CROWN

By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park / Tom Morris/Myracnews photos

THOMPSON, Conn. — The Limited Sportsman division has three drivers, with three different backgrounds, all searching the season championship at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.  

Kyle Gero, in just his second full-time year in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division, leads the standings by 10 points over two-time and defending champion Shawn Monahan. Behind them, Meghan Fuller is just 16 back. The three drivers will battle it out for the final time as part of the Sunday portion of the 57th annual Sunoco World Series, October 11-13.  

Gero is a rather newcomer to the division, who says he still feels like a rookie contender. Monahan is a polished veteran, who knows how to get the job done in the championship battle, having won the last two. Fuller, who has extensive racing background in her family, is searching her first title, but has been successful across Connecticut this season at two tracks, and nationally in the NASCAR standings.  

“Obviously we want to win the race, but the goal was just to say consistent and be where we are at right now, having a chance at the championship,” Gero said. “I’m more than happy with how the season has turned out, and very thankful to be where we are at.” 

Gero’s year has been filled with consistent runs, as the Uncasville, Connecticut, driver has earned top five finishes in the last seven feature races — proving he knows how to be there at the end. He’s driving a car that Monahan sold him a few years back. It has the speed it needs. 

“I wouldn’t consider myself surprised, because we have put in a lot of work in the shop and I think the finishes prove that we are bringing a good piece to the track every week,” Gero said. “If you aren’t checking every bolt on the car, it gives a chance for parts to break and bad things to happen. We’ve had a lot of hard work.” 

With the Sunoco World Series the only race left on the schedule, and only a 10-point lead as his cushion, Gero thinks he might need to turn things up just a bit. 

“I haven’t been as aggressive as I need to be during the heat races, I always considered them as a good opportunity to prove what you have for the day, but I think I need to be more aggressive, knowing that if something does happen, we are going for it,” Gero said. “We’re going out with a must-win mentality.” 

Thompson competitors earn 50 points for winning a feature race, while each position down through the field earns two less, meaning second earns 48, third receives 46, etc. In heat races, the winner earns five points, with a one-point drop throughout the top five, with fifth earning just one. 

For Monahan, the season has been filled with checkered flags, bent up sheet metal, and broken equipment. In his first year driving the ‘Swaggin Wagon’, he’s been to Victory Lane in four of the nine races, but also has two finishes outside the top 10. Last year, he rolled to the championship. This year, he’s going to have to come from behind heading into the finale. And he’s perfectly OK with that. 

“With the one broken transmission, and when I took the ride through the infield a few races ago I damaged the brake line, and I had to run the rest of that race a half of a lap down because I simply wasn’t able to stop,” Monahan said. “To go through those types of situations and still have a shot at the championship, I would love to get the third one. But I’ve already decided that I’m also OK with not getting it – because respect that we have among the top running cars, the cards just have to fall where they will.” 

Monahan’s no stranger to this position. Winning the last two titles in one of Thompson’s most competitive divisions, he seems to know what it might take in the final 20-lap race of the season. But, as Gero mentioned, Monahan also agrees the heat race will matter in the final tally. 

“I’m going to perform my best, and I’m going to gain as much as I can,” Monahan said. “I would say as a spectator at the racetrack, you should enjoy the qualifying round just as much as the main event. I can’t afford to lose anything going into this race. If I can’t get there, I simply can’t get there. But if there is an opportunity, I know the value of holding the checkered flag in the qualifier just as much as the feature at the World Series.” 

The misfortune for Monahan during the season might have him coming from behind, but he seems more than ready to do it. 

“People are going to look into the record books 10 years from now and remember who the champion was, not so much who finished second,” Monahan said. “To win two-in-a-row has been an honor. If you took a vote, I probably would have been counted out mid-season. But a few things have gone our way. I never could have imagined this was going to take place. It could go either way.” 

For Fuller, this season has been filled with positives, both at Thompson and over at Stafford Motor Speedway. Between the two tracks, she has 24 top 10 finishes, and will be in contention to win both titles heading for the finales. On a NASCAR national level, Fuller is also inside the top 10 in both the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division V championship standings, and the UNOH Youth Achievement Award battle. 

“We’ve improved a lot since last year, we’ve had some good finishes, and my dad and uncle Jimmy have found a few things with the car that have really helped,” Fuller said. “The car is at the point where I feel comfortable enough to succeed with it.” 

At Thompson, Fuller has finished inside the top 10 in all but one race, which was early in the season. In the last two, she’s been inside the top five. She’s also earned heat race points in all but one race, allowing her to keep a tally that is helping her down the stretch. 

“I didn’t think I would be in contention for the championship, but it’s definitely a great experience to have,” Fuller said. “Everyone will know who they are racing against, with the points being close with all three of us. I don’t really think I need to change anything and be more aggressive – I think I just need to race the whole year and hopefully get it done.” 

The 57th annual Sunoco World Series will take the green flag on Friday, October 11, and roll through Sunday, October 13. The event begins on Friday, with practice sessions running throughout the afternoon, and qualifying heat racing set to begin at approximately 4:30 p.m. Feature racing on Friday includes the Granite State Pro Stock Series, Late Models, Open Vintage Modifieds and Senior Tour Auto Racers. 

Saturday, action begins early with practice at 9 a.m., while qualifying racing begins at 2:30 p.m. There are 10 different feature races planned for Saturday night. Sunday, action begins at 1 p.m., with the season-finale for Thompson’s Sunoco Modified division. The NEMA Lites, ISMA Supermodifieds and TSMP Limited Sportsman will also join the headliner of Sunday — the Sunoco World Series 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. 

Admission to the paddock area for the entire three days is $75, with grandstand general admission set at $55. Any seniors (65+), veterans and active military will have general admission tickets priced at $50, while kids 12 and under are free in general admission.  

Thompson’s annual breakfast and dinner buffets will also take place during Sunoco World Series weekend. The breakfast buffet runs from 7-11 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and is $14 per person. The dinner buffet runs from 5-11 p.m. on Saturday night only and is $24 per person. For any children 12 and under, the dinner buffet is $14.  

For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans should visit the track on the web, www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

KYLE GERO UP FRONT IN LIMITED SPORTSMAN TITLE CHASE AT THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK

Noah Watts/Myracenews photo

By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park 

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.