Tag Archives: Limited Sportsman

Veterans Return to Thompson Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman Division

Not much has changed in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman division at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and for anyone who follows the division closely, that’s a good thing. Last season, two of the all-time best in class Scott Sundeen and Larry Barnett battled for the championship right down to the final event. Sundeen came out the victor earning his 3rd title in 4 seasons.

When you listen to the drivers tell it, each will say that the competition in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman division is at an all-time high. Any mistake throughout the 10 race season puts any team quickly behind, but that’s why they all keep coming back. For these drivers the fierce competition motivates them to success.

Many point to Corey Hutchings as the one to beat who has been dominant the last two years winning 8 times, which is half of the 16 races contested. For Hutchings, the key for him is getting out of the upcoming Icebreaker weekend unscathed. In the last two Icebreakers, a wreck and a flat tire ruined what could have been solid finishes in the season opener, forcing the team to play catch-up all season.

“The Icebreaker has been my Achilles heel,” reflected Hutchens. “This year with having an expanded 10-race schedule you can maybe overcome a bad finish, but with a 7 race schedule it is difficult to overcome.”

The Archillies heel for four-time champion Larry Barnett has been keeping his equipment under him all season. Unfortunately for him, bad luck has already struck last year’s championship runner-up. During the open test held Easter weekend, Barnett’s engine expired forcing him to send it back to the engine builder just 11 days before the season begins.

Barnett openly says that he wasn’t prepared going into 2015. He waited to the last minute to get his car ready and said, “I just didn’t work hard enough to beat these guys last season.” That has changed in 2016.

“I had the most fun last year that I’ve had in a long time racing,” said Barnett who came up a mere 8 points or 4 on track positions from winning the title. “We’ve worked a lot harder this offseason because not winning a race and coming close to the championship proved to light a fire under me.”

For Sundeen, he expected to retire his championship winning car from a year ago and run it on the Northeast Street Stock Tour. However, his new Thompson ride isn’t finished yet making the 36 team a mystery heading into the season. Nobody, including Sundeen himself, knows what to expect or which car in his stable he will be driving.

Enter some of the other players who could make an impact on the division. Frank L’Etoile Jr. returns for his second season after registering two third place efforts in 2015.

“I feel more comfortable in the car, more conformable around each driver as I’ve learn their tendencies,” said L’Etoile defending Stafford Speedway Dare Stock Champion. “It makes it a little easier this year because I have more confidence.”

Another driver beaming with confidence is Josh Wood. He just needs a good dose of consistency. Last season, Wood earned a season best runner-up finish at the Sunoco World Series totaling 4 top-5s and 1 top-10 on the year. His other finishes were all 15th or worse.

“Last year was a learning experience and I am very comfortable in the car,” said Wood. “I think I need to be aggressive, but not too aggressive. Drive smart and not get myself into dumb situations and I know can pretty competitive.”

Jesse Gleason won in July last season and is in the process of starting a new business. 2016 will be his last for the foreseeable future as he transitions into a new phase of his career. Gleason has two goals with the first being a track championship and the other seeing his brother Brent Gleason get to victory lane for the first time. Brent is still seeking his first Thompson victory with a runner-up finish being his best effort to date.

The Icebreaker kicks off the season 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.

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Honors Champions at Mohegan Sun

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park celebrated the 2015 oval track season this weekend at Mohegan Sun at its annual award ceremony honoring four division champions in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Woody Pitkat celebrated his 2nd Sunoco Modified title, while Scott Sundeen was honored as a 4-time Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman champion. Late Model driver Brian Tagg and Mini Stock competitor Dave Trudeau each took home their first career championship.

For Pitkat, it was his first season driving for car owner Stan Mertz in the Sunoco Modified division and the combination found immediate success. The duo placed in the top-10 in every race this season including five 2nd place finishes. Pitkat won the Modified title in 2006 in his first full-time season in the division to compliment his 2002 Late Model crown. It is the first championship for Mertz as a car owner at Thompson Speedway.

Late Model driver Brian Tagg saw his childhood dreams come true when he accepted the championship trophy before a large group of supporters. Tagg grew up attending races at Thompson Speedway with his dad, a former Sunoco Modified champion, who won the championship in the Speedway’s 50th anniversary season. This year’s Late Model triumph came in as the 75th season was celebrated. 2015 was Tagg’s rookie season in the division.

Scott Sundeen defended his 2014 championship from one year ago to earn his 4th title in his 14th season competing in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman division. Each of his championships were won while driving the same race car, which was proudly on display Saturday night at Mohegan Sun. With the banquet complete, that chassis will be retired as a champion after winning two races in 2015.

Sundeen will be back next season to attempt his 3rd straight championship.

Dave Trudeau has been a long time competitor at Thompson Speedway, but 2015 was his first taste of the champion’s champagne after earning the Mini Stock title. Trudeau was a factor all season by finishing 2nd in 3 of the first 4 races. His two victories came in the month of August only to pad his point lead heading into the Sunoco World Series where he captured the crown.

Special awards were presented to the Rookie of the Year including Sunoco Modified driver, Ryan Morgan who finished 5th in the final standings on the strength of 4 top-5 finishes in 2015.  William Wall led laps and registered two podium finishes to earn Late Model Rookie of the Year honors. Xtra Mart Limited sportsman driver Josh Wood was the Rookie of the Year in his division with 4 Top-5 finishes and 5 Top-10s. Robert ‘Bob’ Ducharme earned the honor in the Mini Stock Division by earning 2 Top-10 finishes. Each rookie driver was measured by his performance both on and off the racetrack.

In 2015, Thompson Speedway introduced the new Triple Crown Series in the Mini Stock and Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman Division. The Series became a race within a race as points counted for both the track championship and the Triple Crown. In the Mini Stocks, the Triple Crown races were held on June 10th, July 29th, and August 26th and Eric Bourgeois was honored as the first Triple Crown winner. Xtra Mart Limited sportsman driver Corey Hutchings won two of the three Triple Crown races that were held on June 10th, July 8th, and August 12th to earn the award in his division.

The John Hoenig Memorial Award, which recognizes one individual for their hard work and dedication to the Speedway, was presented to Olivia Bouchard.

Bouchard was born into racing and grew up around racetracks along the east coast. She has spent countless hours working tirelessly at Thompson Speedway in many different capacities. She has been responsible for speedway marketing, NASCAR licensing, the redesign of speedway awards, coordination of autograph sessions and many behind the scenes tasks. She has shown unmatched devotion to Thompson Speedway and its competitors. Bouchard was presented with the prestigious award that is given in her great-grandfathers name as part of Thompson Speedway’s Awards Celebration.

As a final conclusion to the Awards Banquet, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park management announced that 2016’s schedule would expand to include ten NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races. The complete schedule will be released at 7PM E.T. on December 8th, through a live broadcast with Victory Lane Radio. Tune in at www.victorylaneradio.com.