SEEKONK, Mass. — official series release — Seekonk Speedway photo —
Thursday night’s NEMA Boston Louie Memorial Classic did not disappoint any of the 4000+ fans in attendance at Seekonk, MA Speedway and turned out to be the perfect event for NEMA’s second nationally televised races in its 61 year history. Both the NEMA Midgets and the NEMA Lites provided all the action and drama a spectator or viewer could want and brought an impressive field of nearly fifty cars from up and down the East Coast to Seekonk Speedway.
The season’s largest field of midgets turned out for the series’ most prestigious race of the season. Something the late “Boston” Louie Seymour – the “man who traveled a million miles” would have been proud of.
In the NEMA event, pole sitter Jim SantaMaria jumped out into an early lead. He was quickly pursued by reigning NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, Doug Coby – in the Bertrand Motorports #74. Coby, a heat winner, looked to catch SantaMaria in lapped traffic on the tenth circuit, but then began fading, with what ended up being a mechanical issue that ended his night later in the race.
Eleven laps in, Coby was overtaken by 5 time champion and defending race winner, Randy Cabral, and then Cabral quickly moved by SantaMaria into the lead. Further back, Todd Bertrand in the Bertrand Motorsports #39, was making a charge to the front. He moved into second on the fourteenth circuit, and began to chop away at Cabral’s ten car length lead.
Bertrand’s break came when the caution would fly with six laps remaining.
“I had been running the high line, letting the car ‘float’ through the corners, and saving my tires. I saw Randy haze the right rear tire a few times, and knew if he kept doing that, I’d have a good shot,” said Bertrand.
And a shot he did have. When the green flag flew, Bertrand rocketed by Cabral for the lead, and set a blistering pace over the final circuits, turning in an amazing 11.03 fast lap of the day on the 26th lap. He went on to claim a prestigious and impressive victory over Cabral, and John Zych, who also had a very strong run in the JZ Racing #9. Avery Stoehr and former race champion Jeff Abold rounded out the top five.
“This is like a dream come true,” said Bertrand. “I can’t believe we are here in victory lane. The car was absolutely perfect today, and we got some good breaks. I can’t thank my Dad, brother, and girlfriend (Mariah) enough for all they do to get me here to victory lane,” he concluded.
In the Lites race, defending race champion PJ Stergios started the race from the pole, but didn’t have an easy task at hand. He jumped out into the lead early, but his day didn’t start with a perfect car.
“We struggled all day with a tight car. We made some really big changes before the feature to try to free the car up, and they worked out perfect,” he said.
Stergios fended off a strong field of 26 competitors over three restarts through out the course of the feature.
An impressive run was put forth by Dylan Duhaime, who chased Stergios home in second, and also started deep in the field, in thirteenth spot.
“We discovered that the shock tower on the car was cracked right before practice. We were going to go home, and Bobby Seymour came over and didn’t want to hear it. The Keith Rocco team helped us fix the car in the pits, and we made it out for the second practice. The car was loose, but fast,” he went on to say.
Duhaime’s break came with three laps to go, running fourth, when second and third place runners Randy Cabral and Richie Morrocco came together trying to get around a lapped car, and brought out the caution.
On the restart, Stergios held off Duhaime and claimed the victory. Ryan Bigelow had an exceptional run for a podium finish in third, followed by Anthony Payne, who also had a great run from deep in the field. Jim Chambers rounded out the top five.
NEMA heads to the Oswego Speedway this coming Saturday for the King of the Wings race, an “open” event with time trials, to encourage outside competitors to compete.
CREDIT: NEMA Midgets