(Stafford Springs, CT)—Zack Robinson came into the 2019 Street Stock season at Stafford Speedway behind the wheel of a new car with a new team. Robinson was undeterred by the fact that he was driving a new car for a new team. He and the #89 RSMPCO.com / First Class Automotive team owned by Bill Anderson quickly showed that they had championship potential by winning their third race together and three of the first 7 races of the 2019 season. Robinson gained the points lead midway through the 2019 season and remained on top until the end of the year to claim his first track championship.
“It definitely feels good to win the championship,” said Robinson. “We were this close in 2017 and we had some mishaps, which was my own fault. We moved on from that and we came into this year with our heads held high for a new season. The Anderson family came to us over the winter and asked us if we could help fix their car. We went through a couple of things and we decided we would build a brand new car from scratch. We started with a bare frame from the side of my garage, we went to Joe Hamm for a roll cage, and then we did the rest of the car ourselves. We finished fourth in the first race of the season and we thought that was pretty good for a new car. The plan was to win as many races as we could and when we started clicking them off four or five weeks into the season we decided we were going to stick it out and see where we could go with it.”
Where Robinson and the #89 team went with their early season success was an almost permanent place in the top-5 every Friday night during the Street Stock feature events. After opening the year with a fourth place finish, Robinson finished the second race in 18th place, That 18th place finish on May 11 would turn out to be the only race of the 2019 season that saw Robinson finish lower than 7th. Robinson closed out the year with 5 wins, 16 top-5, and 19 top-10 finishes.
“Coming into the season our goal was to win the most races and I think we got that done,” said Robinson. “First of all I have to thank the Anderson family for giving me the opportunity to drive this car. Joe Brockett, he’s the one behind this car and he made it happen every week and got the car to the front for us. Ryan Churchill, his father, his whole family, my stepdad, my mom, my father, my grandparents, everyone that’s involved with this car, thanks to Jeff, Tick Mike, and all the sponsors. First Class Automotive, Jason with Royal Screw Manufacturing, Jet Electric, JSB, Hopkins Construction, Swanson Buick-GMC, Defenders of Charity, and everybody who’s involved with this car.”
Robinson’s victory on July 12 moved him into the Street Stock point lead for the first time. From there, Robinson slowly built his lead up to where he came into the NAPA Fall Final with a comfortable 30-point margin over Meghan Fuller. Robinson recorded a third place finish at the NAPA Fall Final, which was his 12th podium finish of the season in 20 starts and he claimed the championship by a final margin of 26 points over Fuller.
“My plan from the start of the last race was to do what we had been doing all year and that was to go for the win,” said Robinson. “The car started to fall off a little bit and I was kind of happy that we didn’t get a late caution flag. This is a great accomplishment and I’m proud of the whole team.”
Now that Robinson has claimed his first championship at Stafford, his plans for 2020 season are yet to be determined..
“Right now our plans are up in the air at the moment,” said Robinson. “We were thinking about possibly going to the Late Model division next season but now that we’ve won the championship, we might have to come back to try to defend it.”
Robinson will officially be crowned the 2019 Street Stock Champion at the 50th Annual Stafford Speedway Champion’s Awards Banquet, scheduled for Friday, November 15 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor. Tickets to the awards banquet are $50 and are on sale now. Tickets can be ordered by calling the track at 860-684-2783 or they can be ordered online at www.staffordspeedway.com.
For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.
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.
(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action on Friday, August 30th with the Valenti Modified Racing Series in the house for the Lincoln Tech VMRS 80. Keith Rocco was a winner for the second consecutive week in the SK Modified® feature, Tyler Leary won for the first time in nearly 2 years in the Late Model feature, Bryan Narducci scored his second consecutive and eighth overall feature win of the 2019 season in the SK Light feature, Duane Provost secured his second win of 2019 in the Limited Late Model feature, and George Bessette, Jr. took down his second consecutive and fourth overall win of 2019 in the Street Stock feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Troy Talman took the early lead with Joey Cipriano applying heavy pressure in second. Tyler Hines was third with Cory DiMatteo fourth and Glen Reen fifth. Hines got into the back of Cipriano on lap-5 with Cipriano recovering in 14th place. Talman still held the lead with Hines now in second, DiMatteo third, Reen fourth and Andrew Molleur fifth.
Todd Owen got around Molleur for fifth on lap-7 with Michael Gervais, Jr. in sixth. Gervais took fifth from Owen on lap-10 and Hines was given the black flag for making contact with Cipriano. This put DiMatteo into second with Reen third, Keith Rocco fourth and Gervais fifth as Talman was still in the lead on lap-14. Reen got around DiMatteo to take over second on lap-15 but DiMatteo came right back and nearly retook the spot on lap-17. DiMatteo continued to look high and low for a way around Reen while Rocco and Gervais were closing in and Talman was still in the lead. DiMatteo made a pass stick on lap-20 to move back into second and drop Reen to third.
With DiMatteo now in second, he was slowly starting to eat into Talman’s lead with Reen and Rocco right behind him. Ronnie Williams and Owen were waging a thrilling side by side duel for sixth place with Williams taking sixth on lap-26.
With 10 laps to go, DiMatteo had closed the gap to Talman and was right on his back bumper. Rocco and Reen weren’t far behind in third and fourth and DiMatteo took the lead from Talman on lap-32 with a pass coming out of turn 2. DiMatteo’s pass for the lead allowed Rocco and Reen to close right up to the back bumper of Talman and Rocco took second on lap-33 with Reen taking third as Talman fell back to fourth.
Rocco took to the outside lane and ran side by side with DiMatteo for lap-36 before falling back into line. Rocco again went to the outside of DiMatteo on lap-38 and the two were virtually even at the line. The three leaders touched going down the backstretch with DiMatteo spinning and Reen hitting the wall to bring the caution out with 38 laps complete. Rocco brushed against the wall as he had white stripes all around his right side tires but he stayed on track in the lead for the restart. Williams was now second for the restart with Gervais and Talman in the second row.
Rocco took the lead with Williams right behind him in second. Williams couldn’t get close enough to Rocco on the final lap to make a move as Rocco took down his second consecutive win and fifth overall of the 2019 season. Gervais finished third with Owen and Talman rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, Tyler Leary took the lead at the drop of the green with Richard Ciriello in second. Michael Bennett held off Al Saunders for third with Michael Wray and Cliff Saunders side by side for fifth place. Tom Fearn and Ryan Fearn were slicing their way through traffic in the early going and with Wray taking third on lap-4, Tom Fearn took fourth from Bennett and Ryan Fearn took fifth on lap-5 as Bennett slid back to sixth in line.
Wray got by Ciriello to move into second on lap-6 and his move opened the door for Tom Fearn, Ryan Fearn, Al Saunders, Kevin Gambacorta, Wray, and Bennett to all get by Ciriello as he fell back to outside the top-10. Leary had built up a large lead of almost a full straightaway over Wray and Tom Fearn.
Tom Fearn took second from Wray on lap-9 and Ryan Fearn followed him through to take third and drop Wray back to fourth in line. At the halfway point of the race, Leary still held nearly a full straightway lead over Tom and Ryan Fearn with Wray fourth and Gambacorta fifth in line. Al Saunders was sixth followed by Wayne Coury, Jr., Cliff Saunders, Bennett, and Dave Wray. Bennett’s car began to drop off the pace on lap-19 and he brought his car to pit road on lap-20 where his team went under the hood.
With 5 laps to go, Leary was still out front by a wide margin with Tom and Ryan Fearn still in second and third. Gambacorta was fourth in line with Coury up to fifth. Leary led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2019 season in dominating fashion. Tom Fearn finished second with Ryan Fearn, Gambacorta, and Coury rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, Joey Ferrigno took the lead at the green and he led the first lap before Chris Matthews went to the front on lap-2. Teddy Hodgdon followed Matthews by Ferrigno to move into second with Amanda West taking third, Alexander Pearl fourth, and Mark Bakaj fifth as Ferrigno slid back to sixth in line. The caution came out with 3 laps complete for a multicar incident in turn 2 that involved the cars of Ed Chicoski, Glenn Bartkowski, and Sami Anderson.
Matthews and Hodgdon were side by side for the lead back under green with Pearl in third. West and Bob Charland were side by side for fourth. Hodgdon got clear to the lead on lap-6 with Matthews and Pearl now side by side for second while West and Charland were still side by side for fourth place. Pearl took second from Matthews with Charland getting the better of the duel with West for fourth. The caution came back out for debris on the frontstretch with 10 laps complete.
Hodgdon and Pearl were side by side for the lead but the caution came back out with 11 laps compete as Norm Sears, Robert Bloxsom, III, Glenn Griswold, and Ethan Durocher all spun on the frontstretch.
Matthews and Hodgdon were side by side for the lead with Narducci and Pearl side by side for third on the restart before Narducci went 3-wide with Hodgdon and Matthews before backing out and settling back in to second alongside Matthews as Hodgdon got clear to the lead.
Narducci made a move to the inside of Hodgdon on lap-15 to take over the lad. Hodgdon spun on lap-16 going down the backstretch and rejoined at the rear of the field as the race stayed green. Matthews was now second with Pearl third, Charland fourth and Wesley Prucker fifth as Narducci started to stretch out his lead. Narducci led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his eighth win of the 2019 season. Matthews finished second with Pearl, Charland, and Prucker rounding out the top-5.
In the 15-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Gary Patnode led the first lap before giving way to Duane Provost, who took the lead on lap-2. Jeremy Lavoie pulled alongside Provost on lap-4 for the lead and the two cars ran side by side for two laps before the caution came out with 5 laps complete as Alexandra Fearn slid into the turn 4 wall with a flat right front tire.
Lavoie and Provost resumed their side by side duel for the lead on the restart with Patnode in third. Matt Clement was fourth and Devon Jencik was fifth in line. Lavoie got clear to the lead on lap-8 with Patnode now side by side with Provost for second place with Clement right behind them. The caution came out with 8 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Kevin Crosby.
Lavoie took the lead on the restart with Provost slotting into second. Clement took third with Patnode fourth and Dave Gargaro, Jr. up to fifth. Provost made a move to the inside of Provost on lap-12 and he took the lead on lap-13. Clement was right behind Lavoie in third to form a 3-car train for the lead. Provost led Lavoie and Clement to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2019 season. Patnode finished fourth with Gargaro rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature event, Marvin Minkler led the first lap before Tyler Trott went to the lead on lap-2. Zack Robinson took second with Meghan Fuller third, George Bessette, Jr. fourth, and Adrien Paradis, III fifth as Minkler fell all the way back to ninth place.
Bessette made a move to the inside of Fuller on lap-6 and he was able to complete the pass on lap-7. Bessette then took the lead from Trott on lap-12 before the caution came out for a spin by Fuller in turn 3 that collected the car of Paradis.
Bessette took the lead on the restart with Robinson right on his back bumper in second. Paradis was third in line with Travis Hydar taking fourth from Trott on lap-15. Nicole Chambrello spun on the frontstretch to bring the caution back out with 15 laps complete.
Bessette took the lead back under green with Robinson still glued to his back bumper in second. Hydar took third from Paradis on lap-18 with Trott and Fuller side by side for fifth. Fuller took fifth on lap-19 but no one could catch Bessette as he took down his second consecutive and fourth overall feature win of the 2019 season. Robinson finished second with Hydar, Paradis, and Fuller rounding out the top-5.
For more information contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at (860) 684-2783, or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.