Hebert Claims ACT Win, Points Lead at Thompson
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Parks hosted its second of three afternoons of racing scheduled for the month of June as the American Canadian Tour, or ACT, highlighted an evening of on-track action at the nation’s oldest paved oval racetrack. Four of Thompson’s track divisions also took center stage throughout the afternoon, but it was the best Late Model drivers in the Northeast who were the stars of the night with the Thompson 75 serving as the first of two ACT events at the Big-T in 2019.
With the Thompson 75 on the schedule Thompson did not host a Late Model feature for its track division. Instead Thompson’s regular Late Model drivers were allowed to enter the ACT race free of charge and test their skills against some of the best drivers in New England and Canada. The event served as the fifth race on the ACT schedule with four different winners visiting victory lane in the first four events of the year. One driver that had yet to earn a win though was Jimmy Hebert who sat second in points heading into the Thompson 75. Hebert started up front but if he was going to claim his first win of 2019 he was going to have to earn it as he had to battle a tenacious Ryan Kuhn who led early and challenged Hebert through numerous restarts as the race went on.
As fate would have it, Hebert and Kuhn lined up side by side once again in the final restart on lap 64 and engaged in one of many side-by-side multi-lap battles for the top spot in the closing laps. Hebert managed to finally wrestle the lead away for good with less than ten laps to go and never looked back securing his first ACT win at Thompson and his first series win of the season. By earning maximum points Hebert unofficially took the points lead from Rich Dubeau who finished seventh.
“I can’t thank my guys enough. We’ve had some decent cars here, we just never put it all together,” Hebert said in victory lane. “Today a couple things went out way. I knew it was going to be tough on the restarts. (Kuhn) was really quick, all the local guys were really quick. I knew once I could clear him I could run away but we kept seeing cautions. I can’t thank my guys enough. The worked their butts off on this thing. We built it this spring and worked the bugs out of it.”
Woody Pitkat finished second followed by Bryan Kruczek and Scott Payea in second and third respectively. Despite battling hard for the lead most of the race Ryan Kuhn had to settle for a fifth-place finish after his car went away from him in the final laps. Jonathan Bouverette, Ruch Dubeau, Derek Gluchacki, William Wall, and Ryan Morgan rounded out the top ten. The ACT drivers will return to Thompson Speedway in October for the World Series of Racing and their final event of the season, the World Series 75.
Hebert was one of many winners to thank his father in victory lane, appropriate seeing as Sunday June 16 is Father’s Day. He continued a trend that started earlier in the afternoon as many feature winners took the time to thank, acknowledge and pose for photos with their fathers to celebrate Father’s Day a day early. But no moment seemed quite as special as the scene that unfolded after the Sunoco Modified 30-lap feature. Mike Christopher, Jr. continued the family tradition by claiming his first ever Thompson Speedway win in a wild last lap pass of Troy Talman who had dominated much of the race to that point. The nephew of the late Ted Christopher who won 99 races at Thompson, Mike Christopher, Jr. celebrated his win in a victory lane baring his uncle’s initials dedicating his victory to the racing legend before posing for photos with his father, Ted Christopher’s twin brother Mike.
“It feels good. I’ve been coming here since I don’t even know how young I was watching my uncle win all of these races here,” Mike Christopher, Jr. said. “His names not here in victory lane because he was a nobody, so it feels good to finally be here and get number 100 for Ted Christopher.”
Earlier in the day Bryan Narducci looked to continue his incredible winning streak in the SK Light© Modifieds and once again he had to work his way through the field as he did earlier in June. Narducci started outside the top five but moved into the fifth position by the fifth lap before a caution slowed the field. Narducci quickly worked his way to second place where he found himself battling Steven Chapman for the win. Narducci and Chapman have developed a rivalry over the course of the season with Narducci making a lap last pass to defeat Chapman at Thompson on June 5 and using a bump and run on June 14 at Stafford to pass Chapman for another final lap win. However, Narducci found himself black flagged at Stafford and his win revoked. He arrived in Thompson with a chip on his shoulder using his loss as motivation to pass Chapman again at Thompson, this time with five laps remaining, to claim his eighth consecutive win in the SK Lights©.
“After last night (at Stafford) I got to the shop and worked on my car to get it switched over for here. I didn’t get home until almost 3 a.m. – I was very mad about not winning that race. We crossed the line first. It’s a little redemption tonight and to make it eight in a row is pretty cool,” Narducci said after his win.
The Limited Sportsman division held a 20-lap feature with plenty of side-by-side racing creating for some very competitive battles for the top spot. Scott Sundeen showed strength early taking the lead only two laps into the feature. With seven laps to go however the complexion of the race changed when Sundeen lost control of his car coming out of turn four sliding right in front of second place Brent Gleason forcing both cars to the back of the pack with damage. Shawn Monahan inherited the lead when the race went to green and fought off a challenge from points leader Ryan Waterman who spun in turn two. Monahan survived the next restart and another challenge, this time from Kyle Gero, to claim his second win of the 2019 season. Despite being the only multi-race winner in the division so far in 2019, Monahan, the two-time defending division champion, sits 18 points out of the lead after an equipment failure on June 5 sidelined his car. Looking ahead, he knows he must continue to win if he wants to hold the title for a third consecutive year.
“I want to run these guys with the utmost respect, but I had that DNF here (on June 5) so I’m coming here to win. There’s no way I’m going to get three championships in a row without winning every race and I don’t plan on settling for second,” Monahan said. “I will do all strategy in the shop to get me to the front and when I show up at the track you will see nothing but the A-game.”
Finally, the Mini Stocks saw a first-time winner head to victory lane. Charles Canfield, a part-time driver in the division and former Waterford Speedbowl Mini Stock champion, took the lead three laps into the event and never looked back earning his first victory at Thompson Speedway in dominating fashion. The Mini Stocks remain the closest points battle in Thompson’s track divisions with only four points separating the top three drivers in the standings, Scott Michalski, Jared Roy, and Steve Michalski, who have all earned victory in the first four races of the year.
Thompson Speedway Motosports Park will close out the month of June with another afternoon of racing on Sunday, June 30. The stars and cars of Thompson’s five track divisions will take to the track once again looking to pick up important championship points as the race for the 2019 track titles continues.
ACT THOMPSON 75 FINISH TOP-10: 1. Jimmy Hebert (Williamstown, VT); 2. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 3. Bryan Kruczek (Newmarket, NH); 4. Scott Payea (Colchester, VT); 5. Ryan Kuhn (East Bridgewater, MA); 6. Jonathan Bouverette (Blainville, QC); 7. Rich Dubeau (Plainfield, NH); 8. Derek Gluchacki (Dartmouth, MA); 9. William Wall (Millbury, MA); 10. Ryan Morgan (North Franklin, CT)
SUNOCO MODIFIEDS FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Mike Christopher, Jr. (Wolcott, CT); 2. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 3. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 4. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 5. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 6. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 7. Kyle James (Westerly, RI); 8. Adam Gada (Bozrah, CT); 9. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 10. Paul LaPlante (Situate, RI)
SK LIGHTS© MODIFIEDS FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 2. Steven Chapman (Ellington, CT); 3. Brett Gonyaw (Vernon, CT); 4. Bert Oulette (Ellington, CT); 5. Andrew Les (New York, NY); 6. Mikey Flynn (Hampden, MA); 7. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 8. Keith Caruso (Millbury, MA); 9. John O’Sullivan (Salem, CT); 10. Nathan Pytko (Oxford, MA)
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 2. Kyle Gero (Baltic, CT); 3. Meghan Fuller (Auburn, MA); 4. Ryan Morgan (Franklin, CT); 5. Zachary Robinson (Putnam, CT); 6. Jason Chicolas (Sutton, MA); 7. Randall Waterman (Danielson, CT); 8. Tommy Shea (New London, CT); 9. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 10. Kevin Mason (West Warwick, RI)
MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Charles Canfield (East Haven. CT); 2. Russ Barboza (Griswold, CT); 3. Doug Curry (Norwich, CT); 4. Scott Michalski (Danielson, CT); 5. Evan Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 6. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 7. Jared Roy (Sterling, CT); 8. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI); 9. Mike Anzalone (Plainfield, CT); 10. Mike Anzalone (Plainfield, CT)