RPW Column: The Champ Trail: NASCAR Mod Tour & Other Divisions Put On A Show At Thompson

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed to the Thompson Speedway on Oct 9.

With 14 of the 16 events run Jon McKennedy holds a three-point lead over Justin Bonsignore and Ron Silk who are tied for the second spot.

Eric Goodale is a distant fourth, some 22 points back. Rounding out the top five is rookie Austin Beers, 47 points in arears. Sixth thru 10th include Tommy Catalano, Kyle Bonsignore, Craig Lutz, Doug Coby and JB Fortin.

The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park ends the 2022 season with the 60th Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing which could very well have been last at the northeast Connecticut oval. The weekend racing series was highlighted by three-straight days of Tour-type Modified racing including the Modified Racing Series on Friday, the $10,000 to win Thompson Outlaw Open Modified Sunoco 100 on Saturday and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Sunday with the Sunoco World Series 150. It’s a known fact that the leasing of the speedway by the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and PASS has not been a money maker. Trying to run non-sanctioned Modified events was a disaster in the pit area. The Late Models and Street Stocks had good showings but they don’t pay the bills. Despite all the rumors it was announced at a pit meeting with competitors that PASS and Act (Cris Michaud and Tom Mayberry) would lease the Thompson track in 2023.

World Series action began on Friday night the Thompson Late Models, 18 of them, took to the field led by Mike Benevides and Brian Tagg. At the green flag, following heat race qualifications, Derek Gluchacki held a narrow seven-point lead over defending champion Ryan Morgan as the 18-car field thundered to the starting line. Benevides went on the defense early, squeezing Woody Pitkat into Nick Johnson coming three-wide out of turn two, sending Johnson careening into the wall while collecting Tagg and Donald Macrino.

A late race restart would pit Derek Gluchacki against Ryan Morgan as the two came to the line dead-even before three-wide racing in turns one and two involving both John Lowinski-Low and Tom Carey. Morgan would sneak through the tangle and lead all the way to the end to claim the World Series victory over Gluchacki and Tom Carey III. Both Ryan Morgan and Derek Gluchacki were tied atop the Late Model standings.

Incorrectly given the championship in victory lane, further investigation and multiple scoring re-checks found that both Derek Gluchacki and Ryan Morgan had two wins and two second-place finishes, bringing the tie-breaker down to Morgan’s next highest finish of 5thon Icebreaker weekend over Gluchacki’s next-best of 8th on August 17th. Morgan is officially the 2022 Thompson Speedway Late Model champion.

In other action, The Modified Racing Series, thirty-two strong, took the green flag with Craig Lutz taking the early lead over Anthony Bello and Mike Christopher Jr. Also starting early, Ronnie Williams quickly sliced his way up to third and then second in the early goings around Christopher Jr. in the Tommy Baldwin ride and Bello.

The first caution would come out on lap 41 for the stopped Tommy Barrett ride in turn three with steering issues plaguing the #17 machine. The restart would pit Williams outside of Lutz before a big caution on the frontstretch sent Mike Collins up and over the hood of Tyler Berry at the start/finish line and Kevin Iannarelli making contact that ruined his night. The second restart would see Williams power away with the lead, Max Zachem following him around Lutz before the final caution-flag flew on lap 52 for the spinning RJ Marcotte in turn four.

On the final restart, Ronnie Williams again pulled away on the outside lane over Max Zachem and never looked back, taking the win followed by Zachem and Eric Goodale at the line. Matt Swanson and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Anthony Bello, Jake Johnson, Mike Christopher Jr, Todd Owen and Spencer Davis. With Jacob Perry’s finish over Kirk Alexander, the young Pawcatuck, Connecticut driver would take down the 2022 Modified Racing Series championship with his 11th place finish.

Saturday was a busy one at the Thompson oval. Twenty five cars were in the 100 lap Outlaw Modified event. Ryan Preece scored a convincing win over Woody Pitkat and pocketed $10,000 for his efforts. Matt Swanson finished third with Austin Beers and Eric Goodale rounding out the top five.

In other action, Mike Christopher Jr beat out Todd Owen and Cory DiMatteo in the Sunoco (SK) mods, Matt Swanson scored in the Supers, Garrett Hall. won the 75-lap Pro All-Stars Series feature, Tom Carey III took the win in the 75-lap American-Canadian Tour feature, Dave Trudeau won the 20-lap Mini Stock feature and Brett Meservey. won the 22-lap Harry Kourafas Memorial Pro-4 Modified feature

In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series qualifying twenty four cars were on hand. Ronnie Williams surprised the troops as he garnered the pole position. Williams toured the .625-mile Thompson Speedway oval to the tune of 19.073 seconds. Second fastest was Ron Silk with Patrick Emerling, third. Doug Coby and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.

Eric Goodale left little doubt that he is a credible member of the Long Island Gang as he won the Phoenix Communication 150. In an event that went almost non-stop, only one caution for a minor tangle on lap 12, Goodale started 13th and methodically charged his way to the front passing early leader Doug Coby onlap 78 for the lead. As Coby’s car faded Goodale opened up a sizable lead. After contemplating a late race pit stop for fuel and a tire Goodale opted to stay out and took a chance that he would not run out of fuel. With ten laps to go both he and second place runner Mike Christopher slowed considerably but didn’t run out of fuel. Anthony Nocella finished a distant third with Patrick Emerling, fourth and Kyle Bonsignore, fifth. Jon McKennedy, the last driver on the lead lap, finished sixth.

Non-tour regular and recently crowned Riverhead Raceway Track Champion Kyle Soper finished seventh with Doug Coby, eighth. Ron Silk and Bobby Santos III rounded out the top ten. Pre-race favorite Justin Bonsignore finished 14th, two laps down. Pole sitter Ron Williams faded right from the start and ended up 16th, three laps down. Ryan Preece suffered a flat right front after the lap 12 caution and never recovered as he finished 17th, three laps down. Craig Lutz was running third in the early going and was forced to pit under green for a loose left rear wheel and ended up in 23rd spot.

By virtue of Mike Christopher’s second place finish, Tom Baldwin Jr wrapped up the 2022 Whelen Modified Tour Owners Championship.

A replay of the Phoenix Communications 150 can be seen on USA Network on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will wrap up the 2022 season on Thursday, Oct. 27 at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway with the running of the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 200.

In other Sunday action at Thompson Scott Sundeen was the Limited Sportsman winner. Larry Barnett, still going strong at 60 clinched his sixth division title after finishing ninth. Mike Christopher made it two out of three in the Sunoco (SK) Mods. Todd Owen finished second with Cory DiMatteo, third. Alexander Pearl scored his first ever win at Thompson as he beat out Tyler Barry for the SK Light win. Shawn Monahan won the Exit Realty Truck feature and Avery Stoehr was the NEMA Lite winner.

With the Thompson World Series completed Riverhead Raceway would like to remind all WMT, ROC, MRS & Tri-Track Tour Type Modified teams of the Islip 300 Saturday November 12th. $32,650 will be up for grabs with teams for any of the above series eligible to run the 6th annual Islip 300 under their home series rules. Please note once a team declares a series, they must run that series rules package to the letter. Purse breakdown: 1. $7,000 2. $2,500 3. $2,250 4. $2,000 5. $1,750 6. $1,500 7. $1,400 8. $1,300 9. $1,200 10. $1,100 11. $1,000 12. $1,000 13. $900 14. $850 15. $750 16. $700 17. $650 18th-25th, $600. Qualifying is via time trials, rain date Sunday November 13th.

Kevin Rice of the Union Leader in New Hampshire reported an impending sale of the Lee USA Speedway. LEE USA Speedway finished its auto racing season on Sunday with questions looming about what the future of the three-eighths mile paved oval will be. Lee has been in operation since 1964 and talk of another potential sale surfaced as cars circled the track a week ago.

Wrenn’s son, Norm III, was operating the track until his unexpected passing from a brief illness due to an internal infection in November of 2020. Since his death, it has been an admitted struggle for both dad Norm and mom Shirley to be at the track. Wrenn said he has spoken with Ben Bosowski, who owns and operates Hudson Speedway — and is also the co-owner with Wrenn of Claremont Motorsports Park — about a potential sale.

Norm Wrenn, a Nashua businessman. purchased the track from Red and Judy MacDonald in February of 2018. They had owned the property since 1986 before deciding to retire from racing. When asked Sunday by the Union Leader about the potential sale, Wrenn said that a sale was possible, but he added that no purchase- and-sale agreement has been signed.

With the cooperation of the Arute family a book has been published with pictures and biographies of the 50 Greatest Drivers at Stafford.

The Stafford Motor Speedway had become the epicenter of NASCAR Modified racing in the northeast by the late 1980’s. From its dirt beginnings to its lightning-fast asphalt, Stafford had become the toughest and most gratifying track to score a victory. The Arute family which has owned and guided the destiny of the facility commissioned their thousands of loyal fans to name their favorite drivers. In alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone:

Tom Baldwin, Gene Bergin, Brett Bodine, Geoff Bodine, Ken Bouchard, Ron Bouchard, Mario “Fats” Caruso, Rene Charland, Ted Christopher, Leo Cleary, Tim Connolly, Jerry Cook, Corky Cookman, Pete Corey, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans, Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Flemke, Sr., Jeff Fuller, Rick Fuller, Ernie Gahan, Bill Greco, Bo Gunning, Ray Hendrick, George “Moose” Hewitt, Tony Hirschman, George Janoski, Charlie Jarzombek, George Kent, Buddy Krebs, Randy LaJoie, Jan Leaty, Jerry Marquis, Mike McLaughlin, Ray Miller, Steve Park, Bob Polverari, Bob Potter, Brian Ross, John “Reggie” Ruggiero, Greg Sacks, Ollie Silva, “Wild” Bill Slater, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Stefanik, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, George Summers, Jamie “The Jet” Tomaino, Maynard Troyer and Satch Worley.

Books are priced at $17.95 each and be purchased at the track at the Novelty Booth or at the Stafford Motor Speedway on line store. Books are also available at Amazon.com and at Coastal181 (877-907-8181.

error: Thanks For Visiting Race Pro Weekly ... Like what you see? Tell your friends to check us out!