SEEKONK, Mass. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Seekonk Speedway photo –
The 2015 Seekonk Speedway Pro Stock season was one that saw sophomore contender Angelo Belsito dominate the class. Belsito, a native of Auburn, Massachusetts, sat down with Race Chaser Online when he collected his hardware back in January.
Now, just over two months after the conclusion of the season, let’s look back at each race during the 2015 year and find out who sat in victory lane and see who grabbed checkered flags during the year.
Opening Day: Sunday May 3
The 2015 season started with Radical Rick Martin and Kyle Casper on the front row, for the first green flag back under the NASCAR sanctioned banner. Casper edged out Martin from the outside lane and cleared him on lap three, setting sail to the point for the entire first half of the event.
Just after the halfway point, Martin looked to the inside coming off of turn four and got under a loose Casper. He took the advantage — but then had to deal with Tom Scully Jr. Scully used the outside lane on a late race restart to slide by the leader Martin and put himself in Opening Day victory lane. The victory was an emotional one, since Tom’s mom was fighting an illness and was in attendance for the big win.
Martin hung on for second, with Ryan Lineham, Angelo Belsito and early leader Casper finishing out the top five.
Race Two: Saturday May 9
Race two of the 2015 Pro Stock season was dominated by David Darling. Darling, a former multi-time track champion, started on the outside pole with Mike Brightman beside. Even though Brightman was able to take the early advantage, it didn’t take long before the Johnson’s Landscaping No. 52 took the point from the outside lane with a power move off turn four.
Even though much of the race went green, a caution for Mike Sullivan just passed the halfway point set up a duel between Darling and Ryan Lineham. The two made contact in turn three with about ten laps to go, sending Lineham spinning down into the grass and drawing the caution flag.
From there, it was clear sailing for Darling, who notched his first win, rebounding from a tough opening day race. Angelo Belsito made a late-race charge to finish second, with veterans Dick Houlihan and Freddy Astle crossing third and fourth. Polesitter Brightman finished in the fifth position.
Race Three: Saturday May 16
After David Hutchins Sr. lead the first few laps of the third race of the season, Kyle Casper pounced on the outside lane coming from his fifth place starting spot all the way to the front. An impressive move from the driver of the Bay State Sewage No. 7 put him to the top of the field and brought Freddy Astle right along with him.
It wasn’t long before Angelo Belsito made a run to the top groove, sliding by Astle, then Casper and taking the lead over just past the halfway point of the race. With that, the race was basically over for all of his closest challengers. He clicked off a lap time two tenths of a second faster than anyone else during the final laps of the event.
He scored his first season victory, with Astle second and Casper third — his second top-five in the first two weeks.
Race Four: Saturday May 23
Kevin Folan and Kevin Casper brought the fourth race of the season to the green flag, with Folan gaining the early advantage from the bottom of the track. While he did, the inside lane started moving up, with Jake Vanada looking under Casper for second, closely followed by Ryan Lineham.
The first caution flew when Dick Houlihan and Kyle Casper made contact sending Kyle spinning in turn four and Mike Sullivan spinning to avoid the wreck. At green, Vanada pounced, going from third to the lead in two laps with a three-wide move on the inside, bringing Mike Brightman in tow on the inside to second.
Lineham, who had dropped back to sixth, worked the outside lane and found himself leading the race just before halfway. A mid-race spin by Folan strung the field out around the track since there was no caution, however a last minute caution put the field right back close together. The dominance of the No. 48 loomed large, and it handed Lineham his first win of the 2015 season for car owner Rollie Lindblad.
David Darling finished second from the bottom lane, Kenny Spencer third, with Tom Scully Jr. and Nick Lascuola finishing out the top five spots.
Race Five: Saturday May 30
For the first time in a long time, the Pro Stocks went without a caution flag on Saturday May 30. Kevin Casper started from the pole in his Phil’s Propane No. 88 ride and jumped out front early on.
While Casper lead the race, the battle for second was hot in the first half. Rick Martin looked all over the back of Dick Houlihan, trying to do everything he could to notch the spot and put chase to Casper.
However, Houlihan was stronger and ended up gapping Martin over the second half of the event while chasing the blue No. 88 ride. He got to the back bumper in the final laps, but couldn’t find the way to slide around for the win.
Casper hung on for his second career Pro Stock victory, with Houlihan, Martin, Angelo Belsito and Tom Scully Jr. finishing the top five.
Race Six: Saturday June 13
For the first time in 2015, a long-time veteran sat in Everett’s Auto Parts victory lane on Saturday night June 13. Dick Houlihan took his Cotter Machine, Bob’s Sunoco ride to the top of the leaderboard on lap 17 from the outside lane and never looked back from then, scoring his first win of the year for car owner Len Ellis.
David Hutchins Sr., a Somerset, Massachusetts native, brought the field to green for the 40 lap main event with Houlihan up alongside him on he front row. While a few early caution flags slowed the event, while Houlihan continued to try and work the outside, sliding around the track trying to find a way by Hutchins to the lead.
Though Houlihan was not in the lead until lap 17, he had some tough fighters right in behind him battling for second spot. Freddy Astle grabbed second on laps 12 and 15, but quickly gave it back to Houlihan who worked the outside to the lead and never looked back. A late charge from Ryan Lineham allowed him to cross the stripe second at the checkers, with Angelo Belsito working through the field nicely to finish in third. Hutchins hung on for fourth, with Kevin Casper finishing out the top five.
Race Seven: Saturday June 20
The anticipation was at an all-time high when the Pro Stocks took to the track on June 20 for round one of the three race Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series. After heat race wins by Craig Weinstein, Freddy Astle and Mike Brightman, Astle was awarded the pole position for the 75 lap feature.
Astle jumped out to the lead early on, while Weinstein was a close second, knocking on the back door and trying to find a way by for a better part of the first third of the event. Once the race got settled in single file, Tom Scully Jr. and Ryan Lineham quickly charged through the pack and into the top three by lap 37. Lineham moved by Scully Jr. for second on lap 42 and set forth his efforts trying to catch Astle out front.
Once Lineham got there — the unthinkable happened. A look to the inside going into turn one sent Astle spinning after some contact was made on lap 51 — sending Lineham was sent to the tail of the field for what officials deemed as reckless driving.
Tom Scully Jr. inherited the lead and had to fight off two top challengers in the process of closing out the victory. Ryan Vanasse and Kyle Casper had come out of no where and were all over the duece, but it was not to be. Scully Jr. grabbed the crown in race one, with Vanasse second and Casper a solid third. Weinstein hung on for fourth and rounding out the top five was Kevin Folan.
Race Seven: Saturday July 11
After rain forced the cancellation of the Saturday June 27 event and the track took a week off to celebrate Independence Day, the Pro Stocks returned to action on July 11 for a 40 lap feature. Some thought the drivers would be a little overanxious after a couple of weeks off — and that was surely the case. Jake Vanada and Kenny Spencer lead the field to green, but Vanada was quickly swallowed up by Spencer and Fred Astle, who set the pace for the first 15 laps in positions one and two.
Though Astle made the pass to the lead on lap 16, Spencer hung right on his back bumper for many laps — until some contact was made. Astle looked to slow down to turn his Everett’s Auto Parts ride just as Spencer was getting back in the gas in turn three — and around went Astle. Spencer was sent to the rear for what officials deemed as reckless driving, handing the lead over to Coventry, Rhode Island driver Ryan Lineham.
Lineham went on to collect the checkered flag, holding off Rick Martin, Dick Houlihan, Kyle Casper and Mike Brightman.
Race Eight: Saturday July 18
The second race of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series saw Fred Astle notch the checkered flag in dominant fashion. Astle started third behind Kenny Spencer and Nick Lascuola — but it only took 11 laps for him to take the advantage.
Though he was out front, Astle was not about to slip away from the field easily. He was forced to deal with challenges from Spencer and Angelo Belsito through much of the race, then a late restart with a challenge from David Darling. Astle eventually drove his No. 30 machine into Everett’s Auto Parts victory lane, with his first win of the season.
Darling finished in second spot, with Spencer, Belsito and Tom Scully Jr. rounding out the top five.
Race Nine: Saturday July 25
The Everett’s Auto Parts 100 took the green just after 8:15 p.m. on Saturday July 25 and it was a battle right to the end. Ryan Vanasse and Nick Lascuola took the green out front, but Lascuola was struggling with the handles on his No. 39 Champion’s Spark Plugs machine.
He slid all the way towards the back end of the top fifteen, before he got crashed down the front stretch and had heavy damage that would keep him out of action for multiple weeks to come. Angelo Belsito was able to grab the lead just before halfway from Mike Brightman — but the challengers behind him were ready to pounce.
Tom Scully Jr. took the lead on lap 64 on the outside lane, but Belsito was just settling in. He moved in on Scully Jr. over the final third of the race and passed him for the lead on lap 90 — grabbing another checkered flag on the season and maybe the biggest of his career to that point.
Scully Jr. hung on for second, with David Darling third, Brightman fourth and Ryan Vanasse rounding out the top five.
Race Ten: Saturday August 1
Did someone say back-to-back? Angelo Belsito did just that on the first Saturday night in August, taking his Belboy’s Trucking machine into victory lane for the second straight week.
“The Beast” started ninth in the field and after contact between Kevin Folan and Kevin Casper just before halfway, Belsito pounced, grabbing the lead and never looking back in the 40 lap feature event. He became the first driver to score back-to-back wins in the division in 2015.
Ryan Lineham crossed the stripe in second, with Ryan Vanasse third, Kevin Folan fourth and Mike Brightman rounding out the top five.
Race Eleven: Saturday August 8
The finale of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series saw a familiar face celebrate with Phil in victory lane. Veterans Rick Martin and Ryan Vanasse brought the field to the green flag, racing hard, side-by-side for the first few laps before Martin was able to take the advantage. Contact between Mike Mitchell and Angelo Belsito sent both into the grass, drawing the first caution before lap 10.
Tom Scully Jr. spun after cutting down a tire drawing the second caution as the field closed on lap 25, but the ensuing restart changed the entire complexion of the event. Dean Petty and Martin got together battling for the lead, handing it over to Kevin Casper and his Phil’s Propane No. 88 ride.
Casper pulled away from the field in what was a long green flag stretch — but the race wasn’t over. David Darling made a few moves and put himself inside the top three before long and was chasing Casper down in the final laps. Though he gave every effort he could, Darling came up just short. It was a dream come true night for Casper, who won the finale of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series and celebrated with his sponsor on his birthday.
Race Twelve: Saturday August 15
The Pro Stocks took the green flag a little bit earlier than normal on August 15, with Rick Martin and Ryan Vanasse on the front row. Vanasse took his No. 11 Team V Racing machine to the lead early, followed on his back bumper by Mike Brightman and Ryan Lineham.
Those two drivers grabbed second and third before long and were followed by Fred Astle, who took himself into the fourth spot. After a brief interruption for a spin in turn three, Vanasse, Lineham, Astle and new challenger Angelo Belsito decided it was time to pounce. They pulled away from the rest of the back and Belsito made moves to find his way to second spot, behind Vanasse.
After the move to second — Belsito completed the deal. He slid by Vanasse to the lead in the final fifteen laps, grabbing another victory in his Belboy’s Trucking No. 8. Vanasse finished second, with Astle third, Lineham fourth and Tom Scully Jr. finishing the top five.
Race Thirteen: Saturday August 22
Fred Astle grabbed his second checkered flag on August 22, after an epic battle with fellow Pro Stock veteran Rick Martin. The two drivers ran in the top three for all 40 laps that evening, going side-by-side many times including a late race restart.
Though it seemed Martin would have the run on the outside with under five laps to go on a restart, it was not meant to be. It was Astle scoring the checkered flag, Martin coming home second, with Tom Scully Jr., Angelo Belsito and David Darling rounding out the top five.
Race Fourteen: Saturday August 29
After a long time drought in the Pro Stock division, Rick Martin finally put his machine into Everett’s Auto Parts victory lane on the final Saturday night in August.
Kenny Spencer and Bob Hussey made contact early on and both were forced to the tail of the field, which handed the lead over to Ryan Lineham. He had issues while battling with Kyle Casper, who was driving the Phil’s No. 88 ride for that night.
In the end, Martin took the checkers, with Craig Weinstein second, Angelo Belsito third, Ryan Vanasse fourth and Casper finishing out the top five.
Race Fifteen: Saturday September 5
After driver’s sat trackside for the Pit Party earlier in the day, Mike Brightman and Ryan Vanasse took the Pro Stock field to green. It was an early advantage for Brightman — but Vanasse was up to the task. After a quick caution for a spin by David Hutchins Sr., Vanasse used the outside lane to power by into the lead of the event.
A lap 16 restart gave Vanasse a chance to pull away from the lead — but he was not allowed to do that. Veteran driver out of Bridgewater, Massachusetts Dick Houlihan used the outside lane to put his Bob’s Sunoco machine into the lead — and eventually into victory lane.
Houlihan held off the challenges of Fred Astle and Angelo Belsito in the final laps — but it was what happened in turn four on the final lap that was the talk of the pit area after the event. Astle and Belsito made contact, sending Astle spinning before the line and Belsito to the back for the assist. That gave Ryan Vanasse the second spot, with David Darling third, Tom Scully Jr. fourth and Mike Brightman rounding out the top five.
Race Sixteen: Saturday September 12
Mike Brightman and Kenny Spencer brought the field to the green flag in the second to last race of the regular season and Spencer was not to be denied. He jumped out front using the outside lane in his Lin’s Propane machine, before trouble started for points leader Angelo Belsito, who went spinning in turn one.
Luckily for Belsito, Mike Sullivan had spun before him and that was the reason for the caution, so officials gave Belsito his original position back. Though there was some battling throughout the middle part of the field, including an impressive drive by Mike Brightman holding off his challengers, Spencer was long gone.
He crossed the stripe at lap 40 more than two seconds up on Brightman, who finished second. Tom Scully Jr. gave his best shot at closing the championship gap with his third place finish, while Fred Astle and Belsito finished out the top-five positions. For Spencer, it was a long-awaited win since he hadn’t won a feature event in over a full year.
Race Seventeen: Saturday September 19
Championship night in the Pro Stock division saw Ryan Vanasse finally break through — ending his season with a victory. He took the lead only eight laps in and only gave it up one time to Craig Weinstein, who lead four laps on September 19.
Contact near the finish of the event sent Angelo Belsito spinning, cutting the points battle down, but it still wasn’t enough. Though Vanasse grabbed the victory, Belsito was crowned the champion.
It was the first championship for the youngster in just his second season in a tough and competitive Seekonk Pro Stock division — one that includes multiple former champions.
D.A.V. Fall Classic: Saturday October 3
The best Pro Stock drivers came out on the final weekend of the season to compete for a $5,000 prize that was eventually won by Rehoboth, Massachusetts driver Dave Darling. He started in the middle of the field and worked his way up to the front, slicing through traffic and avoiding a few wrecks. He took the lead before the halfway point and never relinquished it all the way to the checkered flag.
2015 Pro Stock Champion: Angelo Belsito (Auburn, Massachusetts)
2015 Phil’s Propane TC Champion: Tom Scully Jr. (Cranston, Rhode Island)
The 2016 Seekonk Speedway Pro Stock season will kick-off on Sunday May 1, 2015, with a 40 lap season opening NASCAR Whelen All-American Series main event. The track will also hold a U.S. National Pro Stock Championship race on Tuesday July 12, 2016 for the drivers to showcase their talent for $10,000 against some of the best Pro Stocks in New England.
For more information on Seekonk Speedway, fans are encouraged to visit www.seekonkspeedway.com
About the Writer
Kyle Souza is an aspiring Journalism major at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Souza is Race Chaser Online’s New England motorsports insider, covering everything from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and the PASS North Super Late Models.
When not writing, Souza works at the Seekonk Speedway as the track’s Friday night public address announcer and press writer, and is also the Media Director for the Tri Track Open Modified Series, managed by Dick Williams and the ‘Long Island Mod Maniac,’ James Schaefer.
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