Saturday, July 28, 2012
Christopher Wins Valenti Modified Racing Series Action; Career First Win for Steve Violette
by Russ Dowd
THOMPSON, Conn. -- Ted Christopher earned his 97th career victory at Thompson International Speedway when he scored the checkers in the 75-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series wins were captured by Ryan Preece in the Sunoco Modifieds, John Falconi in the Late Models, Cam McDermott in the Lite Modifieds, John Lowinski-Loh in the Thompson Modifieds, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman, and Steve Violette in the Mini-Stocks.
Ted Christopher survived a caution-filled 75-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event to take the victory behind the wheel of the No. 00 Joe Brady-owned machine. It was his second win of the season in the division. Christopher came from deep in the field to earn the win.
Christopher inherited the lead after Rowan Pennink was black flagged for a leak.
“I was behind him and I could never get throttle up and off and then I saw him spraying the water,” said Christopher about Pennink.
Rowan Pennink took the early lead, but had to prove it all over again after Todd Owen made contact with Chris Pasteryak and sent him spinning into the infield grass to bring out the caution with only one lap completed. Pennink drove straight to the front again on the restart followed by Jon McKennedy and Louie Mechalides. Owen was quickly approaching and drove by Max Zachem on lap six for the fourth position, and didn’t have any signs of slowing down. The action came to a quick halt on lap nine, however, when four cars were involved in a tangle that put Steve Masse and Doug Coby into the backstretch wall. Todd Szegedy, who was also involved, stopped in turn three and also had to be towed off the track.
Pennink and McKennedy dragged raced into turn one, but it was all Pennink in the turns followed by Mechalides and Owen. By lap 20, the top-four – Pennink, Mechalides, Owen, and McKennedy – remained the same, but Ted Christopher, who had started 30th in the 34-car field, had broken into the top-10. The top four maneuvered through lapped traffic, and began to spread out as the race approached the 30-lap mark. Caution emerged at lap 43 after Les Hinckley hit an inside retaining wall on the backstretch.
Pennink, Mechalides, Owen, McKennedy, and Richard Savary made up the top five for the restart with Pennink holding on to the lead at the drop of the green. McKennedy drove by Owen for the third spot before caution flew again for Tommy Barrett at lap 44. Mechalides challenged Pennink when racing resumed, but could not hold off the momentum of Pennink and his No. 25 machine. Owen, meanwhile, drove by Mechalides for second but could never get a run on Pennink as the caution flew for Stefanik, who hit the turn-one wall.
Owen took the lead on the restart, but Pennink wasn’t giving it up easily. Pennink dove to the bottom and reclaimed the top spot before a seven-car pile-up happened in turn four behind him. The accident started when Savary broke loose, spun, and took up the real estate in the corner.
The race resumed at lap 46 with Pennink still leading the charge, but behind him, Christopher used the outside to get by Mechalides for the fourth position. On lap 58, Christopher went underneath McKennedy to challenge for the third spot and contact was made. At the same time, Dave Etheridge slid into the infield grass on the front stretch and caution flew allowing McKennedy to retain his third place position.
Owen had momentum at the line when the race resumed, but Pennink fought hard to hold on to the lead and drive comfortably ahead when Christopher made a charge on Owen and drove by for second. Officials threw the black flag to Pennink on the 64th circuit because his No. 25 machine was leaking and took him off the scoreboard at lap 66 handing the lead to Christopher. Caution flew for the final time at lap 69 when Melissa Fifield slowed on the track.
Christopher led the field to a single-file restart, but caution was out almost immediately when Max Zachem backed his machine into the turn one wall. Christopher led the charge when the race resumed with Timmy Jordan and Jon McKennedy in tow. Tommy Barrett challenged McKennedy on lap 71 coming down the backstretch and took over the third spot coming out of turn three. Christopher, meanwhile, went on to take the checkers unchallenged.
Ryan Preece earned the victory in the caution-filled Sunoco Modified feature event after initially taking the lead from Kerry Malone on lap two. Preece had to reclaim the lead on a lap 12 restart, and from that point on dominated the event despite a late-race caution.
Malone shot to the lead at the start of the race with Preece attached to his back bumper. On lap two, Preece shot to the inside and drove by Malone in the middle of turns three and four to take over the top spot. Ted Christopher used his infamous bottom shot in turn three to challenge Malone for the second spot, and completed the pass on lap five in turn two. Caution flew at lap six when Adam Norton hit the wall in turn one. Christopher gave up his second place position to pit with Woody Pitkat inheriting the spot for the restart. Preece remained out front as the race resumed, but Pitkat was anxious to get out front. On lap seven, Pitkat dropped to the bottom and made his move, but Preece shut the door. Pitkat went low again on lap nine, but like before, Preece closed the door. On lap 11, Pitkat and Preece were side-by-side heading into turns one and two when Preece went high in turn two allowing Pitkat to capitalize and drive to the front.
Caution followed and set up Preece and Pitkat side-by-side for the restart. Preece wasted no time and drove back out front when the race resumed. Todd Ceravolo took over the second position from Pitkat and set his sights on Preece. Ceravolo kept the pressure on Preece, whose torrid pace was slowed at lap 21 by a caution for Nikki Ouellette. Preece jumped to the front, but behind him the field bunched up when Ceravolo apparently had mechanical issues. Ceravolo pulled to the infield immediately and Malone’s car was towed off the track during the caution period. Preece and Pitkat were back together again for the restart with Preece leading the charge to the front. Preece pulled ahead to a commanding lead as Pitkat, Dennis Perry and Ted Christopher ran nose-to-tail a full second behind him. Preece continued his dominating ways throughout the remainder of the event and extended his point lead by claiming the checkered flag.
John Falconi earned his first season win after a late race charge on Mike Scorzelli paid off with the lead and eventual checkers. Randy Tucker jumped out front at the start of the Late Model feature, but Mike Scorzelli used the bottom groove to get by for the lead coming out of turn two. Falconi followed Scorzelli’s line as Tucker had to contend with the challenge of Tommy O’Sullivan. Once by Tucker, O’Sullivan picked up the second spot by using the bottom groove to get by Falconi. Damon Tinio made a charge on Tucker on lap four, but Tucker closed the door on his challenge. O’Sullivan chipped away at Scorzelli’s lead and, just as he began a challenge out of turn four on lap seven, the caution flew and slowed his progress. Scorzelli and O’Sullivan were side-by-side for the restart with Scorzelli pulling ahead coming out of turn two. O’Sullivan wasn’t letting up and challenged for the lead from the bottom. The two banged doors around the speedway with Scorzelli holding on to the top spot. Falconi sat patiently in third as O’Sullivan pressured Scorzelli for the lead. O’Sullivan continued to pressure Scorzelli at every single lap, but Scorzelli wasn’t giving it up. On lap 17, the two made brief contact coming out of turn two allowing Falconi to get by for second. Tinio closed in on the battling O’Sullivan and Falconi as Scorzelli put a comfortable three-car lengths advantage over the rest of the field. On lap 21, O’Sullivan made another run on Falconi for the second position, but like the previous attempts, Falconi shut the door. On lap 23, Falconi found his momentum and challenged Scorzelli on the inside coming out of turn two and took over the lead to drive to the checkered flag.
Cam McDermott earned his seventh season victory after a nail-biting battle with Troy Talman in the Lite Modified 15-lap feature. Eric Leclair took the early lead with Talman driving by Nikki Ouellette for the second position. Talman used the bottom groove to take over the front position on lap two coming out of turn two with McDermott following his line. On lap four, McDermott dropped to the bottom to challenge Talman, but Talman shut the door. On lap six, McDermott used the same move heading into turn three, and again, was unsuccessful.
McDermott challenged Talman lap after lap entering the third turn, but it wasn’t until lap 10 when McDermott used a crossover move in turn four to take the lead at the line. Talman returned the favor to lead lap 12 with McDermott driving out front at lap 13. Heading into turn two, however, Talman spun and brought out the first caution. Corey Barry challenged McDermott when racing resumed, but McDermott rocketed out to the front coming out of turn two and drove straight to the victory.
John Lowinski-Loh, Jr. extended his point lead in the Thompson Modified feature division in a late-race bid for the lead. “I didn’t think I was going to get him,” Lowinski-Loh said about his pass of Chad LaBastie, who led the most laps of the day. Lowinski-Loh passed him on the final circuit of the 20-lap race.
Brian Tagg jumped out in front at the drop of the green flag, but when Chad LaBastie got loose in turn two and brought out the caution flag, the field was lined back up to do it all over again. Tagg drove back to the front, but got high in turn two and allowed Danny Gamache, Jr. to drive by for the lead. Behind them, Corey Barry wrecked in turn three and brought out the second caution of the event. LaBastie challenged Tagg on the restart and drove out into the lead by inches and comfortably settling out front in turns three and four. John Lowinski-Loh, Jr. was fast approaching in third but his efforts would be slowed at lap four when Jay Sundeen hit the wall in turn two. LaBastie inched ahead of a hard charging Tagg on the restart, and quickly pulled ahead to a two-car length advantage over the rest of the field. Tagg quickly refocused to the pressure put on him by Lowinski-Loh, who was riding the bumper of his No. 9 machine. On lap eight, Lowinski-Loh made a run on Tagg entering turn two using the bottom groove, and by lap nine, had secured the position. LaBastie had pulled away to a commanding lead, and Lowinski-Loh began to chip away at his lead. With only five laps left, Lowinski-Loh had closed in to within four car lengths. With two laps left to go, Lowinski-Loh was in a position to challenge, and went low coming out of turn four to get side-by-side with LaBastie as they took the white flag. Lowinski-Loh drove ahead by inches driving into turn three and took the checkers for the eighth time this season.
Scott Sundeen held off Jesse Gleason to score his seventh win of the season in the Limited Sportsman feature. Sundeen took the lead from Chris Bisson on lap four and never relinquished it for the remainder of the 20-lap event. Corey Fanning took the lead at the drop of the green with a fast approaching Steve Kenneway taking second before a multi-car pile-up involving Art Moran prevented the first lap from being completed. Bill McNeil took his place back up front for the restart followed by Fanning, Steve Kenneway, and Lloyd Anderson, Jr. McNeil won the race into turn one with Kenneway getting by for the second spot. Kenneway challenged McNeil coming off of turn four and took the lead, but McNeil fought back and the two were side-by-side when the No. 45 of Tom Shea got turned around coming out of turn four of lap two. Kenneway took over the lead on the restart while Chris Bisson challenged McNeil for the second spot. Bisson completed his pass at lap four but Scott Sundeen was able to get underneath him and take over the second position coming out of turn two. McNeil was spun to the infield grass as the race completed six laps, but he was able to drive right back out and keep the race going. Up front, Sundeen was putting a lot of pressure on Kenneway for the lead, and dove to the bottom heading into turn three to take over the lead at lap eight. Jesse Gleason also gained momentum to drive by Kenneway for the second position while Sundeen put some distance over the battling duo. Sundeen was slowed by caution at lap 16, but even the hard-charging Gleason couldn’t stop him from driving right back out front on the restart. Gleason kept his No. 81 machine glued to Sundeen’s bumper, but couldn’t stop Sundeen from driving to the checkers.
The threat of rain certainly did not damper Steve Violette’s mood Sunday afternoon. The Canterbury, Conn.-native earned his first career victory in the Mini-Stock division after he inherited the lead from Eric Bourgeois on lap seven.
Steve Michalski took the early lead with Travis Jurcik and Violette rounding out the top-three. Bourgeois, however, was fast approaching, and planted his front fender on Bourgeois’ bumper. Violette dropped to the bottom and allowed Bourgeois to use the outside groove to take over the third spot. On lap three, Jurcik used the bottom in turn three to drive by for the lead.
Violette was quickly alongside him to challenge for the position. The two were side-by-side, but it was all Jurcik out front as they completed five laps. Bourgeois challenged Jurcik and took over the lead before contact between the two on the backstretch brought out the caution at lap seven. Violette inherited the lead for the restart and remained out front when the race went back to green. Violette pulled ahead to a commanding lead as Steve Michalski and Mike Viens rounded out the top three. Viens had his hands full with Alicia Thatcher on the inside groove. Joe Baxter muscled his way by Viens and Thatcher to take over the third position, but Thatcher continued to challenge on the bottom. On lap 12, Thatcher, however, slow spun into the infield grass sending her to the rear of the field. Violette was dominating out front while Dave Trudeau passed Michalski on the bottom for the second spot. Violette was too far ahead for Trudeau to make a difference, and Violette drove on to his first victory at Thompson Speedway.
VALENTI MODIFIED RACING SERIES FEATURE FINISH: 1. Ted Christopher, Plainville, CT; 2. Tim Jordan, Plainfield, CT; 3. Tom Barrett, Millis, MA; 4. Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, MA; 5. Doug Coby, Middletown, CT; 6. Chris Pasteryak, Jewett City, CT; 7. Louie Mechalides, Tyngsboro, MA; 8. Todd Owen, Somers, CT; 9. Norm Wrenn, Nashua, NH; 10. Mark Bakaj, Lebanon, CT.
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH: 1. Ryan Preece, Berlin, CT; 2. Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs, CT; 3. Dennis Perry, Pawcatuck, CT; 4. Ted Christopher, Plainville, CT; 5. Richie Gallup, Feeding Hills, MA; 6. Corey Barry, Plainfield, CT; 7. Eric LeClair, Easthampton, MA; 8. George Wilkinson, Pawcatuck, CT; 9. Todd Ceravolo, Gales Ferry, CT; 10. Kerry Malone, Needham, MA.
LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH: 1. John Falconi, Oakham, MA; 2. Mike Scorzelli, Malta, NY; 3. Tommy O’Sullivan, Wilbraham, MA; 4. Damon Tinio, Mendon, MA; 5. Randy Tucker, Millis, MA; 6. Jared Materas, Palmer, MA; 7. Robert Palmer, Lisbon, CT; 8. Robert O’Connell, Jr., Wrentham, MA; 9. Ryan Waterman, Danielson, CT.
THOMPSON MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH: 1. John Lowinski-Loh, Jr., Milford, MA; 2. Chad LaBastie, Uxbridge, MA; 3. Brian Tagg, Oxford, MA; 4. Jay Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 5. Danny Gamache, Jr., Woonsocket, RI; 6. Corey Barry, Plainfield, CT.
LITE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH: 1. Cam McDermott, Scituate, RI; 2. Corey Barry, Plainfield, CT; 3. Troy Talman, Oxford, MA; 4. Eric LeClair, Easthampton, MA; 5. Nikki Ouellette, East Granby, CT.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH: 1. Scott Sundeen, Douglas, MA; 2. Jesse Gleason, Lisbon, CT; 3. Steve Kenneway, Lowell, MA; 4. Chris Bisson, Putnam, CT; 5. Corey Fanning, Mapleville, RI; 6. Lloyd Anderson, Jr., Wauregan, CT; 7. Mike Palin, Dudley, MA; 8. Tom Shea, New London, CT; 9. Matt Lowinski-Loh, Milford, MA; 10. Bill McNeil, Putnam, CT.
MONSTER MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH: 1. Steve Violette, Canterbury, CT; 2. Dave Trudeau, Mansfield, CT; 3. Joe Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 4. Chad Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 5. Steve Michalski, Brooklyn, CT; 6. Mike Viens, Seekonk, MA; 7. Eric Bourgeois, East Haddam, CT; 8. Nick Anderson, Oxford, MA; 9. Brad Caddick, Wyoming, RI; 10. Travis Jurcik, Chaplin, CT.