THOMPSON, Conn. —
The fans took center stage at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as the venue hosted its “For The Fans” night on Saturday, July 9th with several racing series taking to the track throughout the evening to provide for a great show, despite a little bit of input from Mother Nature.
The event saw several on-site promotions for fans to enjoy as well as a special barbecue and celebration for the women of racing as well to compliment the theme of the day. Despite a late shower that pushed the final event back by two hours and forced the rescheduling of the night’s Sunoco Modified event, the evening proved to be a fun one for all who attended and saw a few familiar names reach victory lane for the first time this season.
The second triple crown event for the Limited Sportsman series was the main feature for the night, closing the evening after the two-hour rain delay halted action on the track. When drivers finally got onto the track however, the action was worth the wait with a popular name returning to victory lane.
After two dominant seasons, series regular Corey Hutchings has had a tough go in 2016, but his luck finally turned around after the man known to many as “The Entertainer” made a strong push during the second half of the 20-lap main feature to return to victory lane, overcoming some tough competition from other regulars Al Stone, Scott Sundeen, Ryan Waterman and Jesse Gleason.
Following the race Hutchings said he was thrilled to finally celebrate another win and regain some of the momentum his team had lost in the early part of the season.
“We’ve had such a dominant two seasons prior to this one thinking we had a great shot at doing it again this year,” Hutchings said. “All the competition caught up to us this year and we just had to go home and work harder. I tried not to look in my mirror too much during the race, but at a big track like this you always have to glance to see where the others are. As long as I hit my marks I knew I’d be alright.”
After enduring the extensive rain delay Hutchings said he was surprised that the personnel at Thompson Speedway did such a great job making sure the track was dry and getting whatever they could of the night’s schedule in for both the fans and drivers to enjoy.
“This is my 20th season doing this and when you usually get a good, heavy shower that late at night you’re done for the night and that was my opinion. I really thought we were done for the night as humid as it is,” Hutchings said. “I didn’t think the track was going to dry, but I have to give them credit. They did a great job – They got the show in.”
The rain actually put a pause to the Mini Stock event prior to the Limited Sportsman feature, which continued after an extensive track drying effort by the crew at the Big-T. The 25-lap feature spelled disaster for reigning champion David Trudeau who retired early in the event due to mechanical issues and left the door open for his closest rivals in the points to make up some ground, an opportunity they certainly took advantage of.
While Trudeau was left wondering what could have been, Brad Caddick continued his momentum after nearly winning the last Mini Stock race at Thompson, claiming the checkered flag after the two-hour delay. Caddick had a hard fought battle against the man who beat him and Trudeau to the checkered flag nearly a month ago, Wayne Burroughs, Jr. Burroughs did hold on for a second place finish to compliment his first win in the series in June and after his win Caddick talked about the rain delay and how the track transformed after the downpour creating a clean surface for the second half of the 25-lap feature.
“It actually helped me. They let us go for fuel and reset our air pressures. With a green track like it was it helped free the car up, maybe a little too much in the last couple laps, but it helped,” Caddick said. He also commented on Trudeau’s bad luck and his rematch with Burroughs in the closing laps. “It’s two races of running up front and once we get a little better we’ll be even stronger. After running with Dave for the last five laps in June door to door it built my confidence that we can run with him on a weekly basis. I’m sorry he had that bad luck tonight. That helped Wayne (Burroughs) too. He’s the new points leader now. It boosted us up to I think 4th in points. It’s slowly coming around.”
The Lite Modified Series kicked off the evening as two stars of the series battled it out to the very end in a dramatic fight for the win. Tony Membrino and Corey Barry went bumper to bumper through much of the 20-lap feature with Membrino coming out on top only 24-hours after his car was wrecked in an event at Stafford Motor Speedway. Membrino and his crew worked overnight to get the car ready for the race and in the end their efforts led them to victory lane.
“It was definitely a rough battle. Me and Corey talked before the race and he said it was going to be fun and he didn’t lie. It was pretty hairy. I expect some good and exciting racing from here on out. I hope we understand each other now,” said Membrino in victory lane after trading paint with Barry in the closing laps. “We wrecked last night at Stafford. We wrecked a lot worse than everyone thought we did and we were up until three in the morning getting this thing ready for today and we parked it in victory lane. We probably weren’t the best car, but the best car doesn’t always win the race. The best team won the race today…and I’m so grateful for everything they do.”
The Texas Roadhouse North East Mini Stock Tour held a 20-lap event bringing their own special brand of racing entertainment to the Big-T. Three wide battles were commonplace throughout the feature and while points leader Haywood Harriott was hoping to continue his strong season with a good finish in Thompson it was his closest competition, Emerson Cayer, who gained the upper hand after claiming a top five finish. Harriott’s championship hopes took a bit of a hit after an early incident left him with an 18th place finish.
While the points battle tightened up over the course of the race it was a young star of the series, Jarrod Soucy, who took the checkered flag after a tough battle with Glen Thomas in the final five laps. Thomas held on for a second place finish but Soucy celebrated in victory lane thanking his team and family for their support in what has so far been a very successful season for the rising star.
“Words can’t even describe it. We’ve had an awesome year this year,” Soucy said after the win. “I have to thank my parents – This is my fifth win in a row with this car. I’ve got to thank all the guys on the tour. Me and Glenn, we ran really clean.”
The drivers of the Late Model Series continued the trend of competitive three wide racing on the night with a great battle for the lead right from the start of the green for the 25-lap feature. The battle resulted in not only some great, intense racing for the top position, but also a lap one incident that damaged some heavy hitters including those battling for the lead.
Many of those involved in the incident were able to continue, but the crash changed the composition of the race with several drivers in the middle and back of the pack taking full advantage of the situation to run in the front for the victory. In the end it was a very familiar name that crossed the line first as Rick Gentes found his way back into victory lane in Thompson for the first time this season continuing to build on his record as the winningest driver in the series at the Big-T.
“We’ve been struggling the last couple of years,” Gentes said. “We’re starting to get things together. We’ve had better cars pretty much every race this year. Hopefully it will continue.”
Details on when the rescheduled Sunoco Modified race will be held are not availabe at the time. Next up for Thompson Speedway is the “For The Drivers Night” event on July 27th, a night that will see many of the traditional series take to the track in Thompson as well as the 3rd annual Sunoco Modified 20/20 Sprint event.
LITE MODIFIED FINISH: 1. Tony Membrino, Jr. (Berlin, CT); 2. Corey Barry Plainfield, CT); 3. Vinny Anglace (Ansonia, CT); 4. Nathan Pytko (Oxford, MA); 5. Marcello Rufrano (North Haven, CT); 6. Andrew Les (Boston, MA); 7. Cam Sontag (Sterling. MA); 8. Wesley Prucker (Stafford, CT); 9. Norman Sears (Andover, MA); 10. Mark Alkas (Berlin, CT); 11. Damon Tinio (Mendon, MA); 12. Carlos Gray (East Hartford, CT)
TEXAS ROADHOUSE NORTHEAST MINI STOCK FINISH: 1. Jarrod Soucy (Marlboro, MA); 2. Glen Thomas (New London, CT); 3. Nick Maniatis (Hooksett, NH); 4. Emerson Cayer (Contoocook, NH); 5. Jacob Rheaume (Rochester, NH); 6. Chris Ivory (Oakdale, CT); 7. Shaun Waites, Sr. (Raymond, NH); 8. Ed Field (Deep River, CT); 9. Glynn Roy (Sterling, MA); 10. William Schoeler (Warwick, ME); 11. Mike Viens (Seekonk, MA) 12. Derek Robbie (Bellingham, MA); 13. Cody LeBlanc (Gorham, NH); 14. Dana Shepard (Putney, VT); 15. Desmond Skillings (Antrim, NH); 16. Mitch Bombard (Willimantic, CT); 17. Pete Zakarite (Niantic, CT); 18. Haywood Herriot (Gorham, NH); 19. Nicholas Anderson (Oxford, MA) DNF: James Linardy (Malden, MA), Matt Sonnhalter (East Thetford, VT) and Justin King (Derry, NH)
LATE MODEL FINISH: 1. Rick Gentes (Harrisville, RI); 2. Mark Curtis (Brookfield, MA); 3. Tom Carey, III (Orange, MA); 4. Larry Gelinas (Buxton, ME); 5. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 6. Lloyd Anderson, Jr. (Wauregan, CT); 7. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 8. Jason Paquette (Canterbury, CT); 9. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 10. Jared Materas (Westfield, MA); 11. Brandon Warren (Chicopee, MA
MINI STOCK FINISH: 1. Brad Caddick (Wyoming, RI); 2. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 3. Ed Field (Deep River, CT); 4. Christopher Viens (Putnam, CT); 5. Roger Ducharme (Foster, RI); 6. Jeff Moffat, Sr. (Danielson, CT); 7. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Nick Matera (Warwick, RI); 9. Keith Ballou (Pascoag, RI); 10. Mike D. Viens (Putnam, CT); 11. Eric Bourgeois (East Haaddam, CT); 12. Nick Anderson (Oxford, MA); 13. Dave Trudeau (Mansfield, CT); DNS: 1RI Nathan Tyler (Brooklyn, CT)
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FINISH (UNOFFICIAL): 1. Corey Hutchings (Salem, CT); 2. Al Stone (Durham, CT); 3. Scott Sundeen (Sutton, MA); 4. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 5. Jesse Gleason (Lisbon, CT); 6. Phil Jacques (Dudley, MA); 7. Troy Waterman (Killingly, CT); 8. Larry Barnett (Moosup, CT); 9. Jack Aquilina (Oakdale, CT); 10. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 11. Frank L’Etoile, Jr. (Wethersfield, CT); 12. Mike Palin (Dudley, MA); 13. Ed Puleo (Branford, CT); 14. Jon Porter; 15. Jeff Van Pelt (Pawtucket, RI); 16. James Bendiak (Hopkinton, MA); 17. Dan Coutu (Canterbury, CT); 18. Hank Stott (Medway, MA); 19. Tommy Shea ( New London, CT); 20. Ed Correia (Raynhyam, MA); 21. Joshua Wood (Palmer, MA)
CREDIT: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park PR/Clarus Studios photo