Noah Watts/Myracenews photos
THOMPSON, Conn. — The stars of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions took center stage on Labor Day Sunday, September 1, a makeup day after the original event was rained out in early summer. With only three races left in the championship battles, competitors in each division were seeking every advantage they could get as time runs out on the season.
Woody Pitkat had a big afternoon — earning two wins on the same day for the second time this year at Thompson, continuing his late-summer surge in his push for the Late Model and Sunoco Modified titles. In the Late Model division, former champion William Wall held a 13-point advantage over Pitkat coming into the weekend’s 25-lap feature, but Pitkat carried momentum having won two of the last three races. Wall took an early lead before a late-race caution allowed Pitkat to take the top spot.
It looked like Pitkat was well on his way to another win before another caution set up a two-lap sprint to the finish. Ryan Morgan, who sat third in points coming into the afternoon, wrestled away the lead from Pitkat with an aggressive move that left Pitkat frustrated after the checkered flag waved.
While Morgan was initially named the winner, his car was disqualified post-race after he refused inspection. That handed Pitkat his third win of the season, putting him within ten points of William Wall for the championship lead. The penalty also eliminated Morgan from the points battle — meaning the championship will likely be decided between Pitkat and Wall.
Pitkat was given the opportunity to speak in victory lane at the end of all of the feature events where he thanked his sponsors. “I can’t thank these guys enough. I felt like I pretty much had that race won and got used up there for the win. Some people want to race like that, but that’s not how I race. I’m glad we were able to get the win,” said Pitkat.
Pitkat also scored a dominating win in the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature, but his chances of earning that title are slim going into the final two events. Keith Rocco came in with a sizable 44-point advantage over Pitkat, and despite a dominating run, Pitkat left with a still-sizable 40-point deficit. Pitkat was proud that he was able to celebrate a victory with his family, having not yet learned he was the Late Model winner as well.
“I just wanted to win so bad,” Pitkat said. “I was really mad (about the Late Model finish) and wanted to win and when I get mad for some reason it makes me race a little harder. I just wanted to win one today really bad. My family is here, and they don’t get to come out every time. It’s nice to win when they’re here.”
The Limited Sportsman division has featured one of the most dramatic points battles all season at Thompson and that trend continued over Labor Day weekend with Shawn Monahan, who overcame a slow start to the season including a last-place finish in early June, looking to build on his eight-point lead over Kyle Gero.
The 20-lap feature proved to be disastrous for Monahan, who found himself involved in a three-car accident eleven laps in after fighting for the lead with Scott Sundeen and Ryan Morgan. It would not be the only spin of the night for Monahan, who was relegated to a 16th place finish, while his closest competitors for the title, Kyle Gero and Megan Fuller, each earned top-five finishes. Gero now carries a 16 points advantage over Fuller with two races remaining while Monahan finds himself 17 points behind in his journey for a third consecutive title.
Meanwhile, Ryan Waterman scored his second Limited Sportsman win of 2019 in a brand new car. Waterman, who is well out of the points battle, said the race was a good opportunity for his team to test out the new equipment in preparation for next season. He added that just because the title is out of reach doesn’t mean he will let off the gas in the final events of 2019.
“It was a blast today. I needed this after the last couple of weeks,” Waterman said. “This was kind of a shakedown to try some new stuff, so we didn’t have to mess with our primary car. We learned some more information for the other car too. I want to finish races and just be smart and patient. This race took a lot of patience to get to the front.”
The Mini Stock division continued the tightest points battle at Thompson, as Scott Michalski held a scant eight-point advantage over Steve Michalski coming into the 15-lap feature. Curry, who had won two of the last three events dating back to July, battled for the lead for much of the race and two laps remaining he made his move underneath leader Charles Canfield but was unable to complete the pass.
Canfield earned his second victory of the season at Thompson.
“It was definitely fun racing with Doug. With two or three laps to go, I knew he was there, and I saw him have a run. I got a little nervous, but I just had to drive a little harder. He’s got a really good car and a really good crew. It was tough holding him off,” Canfield said.
By virtue of his runner-up finish, Doug Curry cut his points deficit down to only seven points and Steve Michalski pulled within only a single point from Scott Michalski who failed to crack the top five.
Finally, the SK Light Modified® title has been all but secured by Bryan Narducci, who came into the Labor Day weekend 20-lap feature with five wins and a 65-point edge on Albert Ouellette. Narducci continued his domination, controlling the bulk of the race and earning his sixth win of the season at Thompson.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park jumps right back into the racing action on Sunday, September 8 with the penultimate races of the 2019 schedule, the Sunoco Modified 20/20 and For the Fans event.
LIMITED SPORTMAN FINISH TOP-10: 1. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 2. Jordan Hadley (Oakdale, CT); 3. Kyle Gero (Baltic, CT); 4. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 5. Meghan Fuller (Auburn, MA); 6. Al Stone (Durham, CT); 7. Jason Chicolas (Sutton, MA); 8. Steve Kenneway; 9. Corey Fanning (Mapleville, RI); 10. Randy Waterman, Sr. (Danielson, CT)
MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Charles Canfield (East Haven, CT); 2. Doug Curry (Norwich, CT); 3. Dave Trudeau, Sr. (Mansfield, CT); 4. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 5. Russ Barboza (Griswold, CT); 6. Al Stone, III (Durham, CT); 7. Scott Michalski (Danielson, CT); 8. Andrew Krzeminski; 9. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI); 10. Bill Sylvia
LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, CT); 2. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 3. William Wall (Millbury, MA); 4. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 5. Derek Gluchacki (Dartmouth, MA); 6. Tony Macrino (Waterford, CT); 7. Mike Nenevides (Westerly, RI); 8. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 9. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 10. Buddy Charette (Woodstock, CT)
SUNOCO MODIFIED FINISH TOP-10: 1. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 2. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 3. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 4. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 5. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 6. Todd Patnode; 7. Joey Gada (Uncasville, CT); 8. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 9. Paul LaPlante (Scituate, RI); 10. Justin Albernaz (Rehoboth, MA)
SK LIGHT MODIFIED® FINISH: 1. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 2. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 3. Bert Ouellette (Ellington, CT); 4. Anthony Marvin (Colchester, CT); 5. Nathan Pytko (Oxford, MA); 6. John O’Sullivan (Salem, CT); 7. Matt Janisch; 8. Todd Taylor (Stonington, CT)