THOMPSON WELCOMES LITE MODIFIED DIVISION FOR 2019
MIX OF NEW CHALLENGERS CHASE FIRST DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP STARTING WITH 45TH ICEBREAKER
By Kyle Souza for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
THOMPSON, Conn. – One of many substantial changes at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in 2019 is the addition of the Lite Modified division to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule.
A division Thompson has welcomed to the facility on select occasions in the past, including on the Icebreaker and Sunoco World Series weekends, the Lite Modifieds now have become the Division III class at the Connecticut oval. This means the Limited Sportsman will drop to Division IV and the Mini Stock drivers will have a chance to chase the Division V title.
With a minimum weight of nearly 2,700 pounds, the Lite Modifieds nearly mirror the appearance of the Sunoco Modifieds, but have a few technical differences.
With a newly revamped 10-race NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule also added to the equation this season, Lite Modified drivers will have to find Victory Lane, but also put together some consistency if they want to go down as Thompson’s first-ever Lite Modified champion. Drivers will compete in 20-lap events throughout the duration of the season.
“I think it’s great,” Bryan Narducci, who has four wins in four Lite Modified starts at Thompson previously, said. “Last year it didn’t count towards the national points, but with the Lite Modifieds being Division III, I know there are a lot of guys that are going to go back to Thompson, with the purse raised as well. There are going to be a lot more cars this year.”
As Narducci mentions, a jump in the Lite Modified purse will see the driver that visits Victory Lane collect $500. Thompson becomes the third Connecticut oval to bring Lite Modifieds into the equation, meaning drivers from across the state will be able to take their cars to the high-banks in search of the checkered flag.
Narducci, who also won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III national championship last year, is hoping to run the full schedule behind the wheel of the No. 01. Narducci runs a car out of the same stable at Sunoco Modified winner Todd Owen, and with the support of his sponsors, Narducci has been able to dominate in the previous Lite Modified events held at Thompson.
His knack for the high-speed racing doesn’t hurt.
Narducci’s first victory came in his first start on the .625-mile high-banks in 2017 as part of the Sunoco World Series weekend. Last year, the Colchester, Connecticut, driver won all three races contested during the season, including the Icebreaker and World Series events.
“I have been going there as long as I can remember, going on Thursday night to watch Ted Christopher race,” Narducci explained. “I had experience watching and I was able to learn how passing works. It’s a lot more difficult to complete a pass at Thompson without knocking into the other cars door. The first time I ever ran there, I started on the pole and won the race. There was definitely some stiff competition there that night and last year. The track definitely fits my driving style.”
Early on, entries are already rolling in with the season still a month from taking the green flag. Upcoming modified competitor Anthony Marvin, the son of Sunoco Modified contender Burt Marvin, has entered behind the wheel of the No. 07. With Marvin’s Midway Auto and Thirty Two Signs supporting the Connecticut driver, Anthony is hoping to find his way to the top of the class before long.
Additional entries for the division include John O’Sullivan and Eric Bourgeois. O’Sullivan has been a standout in Connecticut at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl competing in their Legends Cars division, and has also been successful in his Legend Car at Seekonk Speedway, over in Massachusetts. Last year, O’Sullivan tested the waters of the Lite Modified division at Thompson, finishing inside the top-10 in all three of his starts. That experience could put him ahead of some of the competitors for the upcoming campaign.
Bourgeois is truly a name that should be familiar to those in the Thompson Speedway landscape. Eric Bourgeois recently celebrated another Mini Stock title in 2018 after a consistent season put him at the top of the division. Now, with his focus in the Mini Stocks turned to his son Evan, Eric has registered behind the wheel of the No. 78 Lite Modified for at least a partial schedule.
Alexander Pearl, a regular in Stafford Motor Speedway’s SK Light Modified division, is also among the earliest registrations.
“By making the Lite Modifieds our Division III class, we wanted to send a signal that the division is very valuable to Thompson Speedway,” Terry Eames, Thompson’s General Manager, said in a release during the winter.
Thompson is looking forward to having the youth talent of the Lite Modified division combine with some racing veterans to create thrilling racing in the 20-lap events throughout the 10-race schedule.
Lite Modified drivers will find themselves on the same stage as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on four occasions this year, where they will compete in their events just before the Tour takes the green flag. Fans will want to keep an eye out for some of the youth talent as they look to make a name for themselves before making the step into the Sunoco Modified division.
With just about one month remaining before the 45thannual Icebreaker, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park officials are hard at work as the season begins to close in. Before April, teams will have an opportunity to take to the track on Saturday, March 23 as part of a test and tune session. The Icebreaker, a prestigious weekend in New England, will take place April 5-7 this year. The weekend will include the opening event for all five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions and the third race of the season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, along with additional divisions that will be announced in the very near future.
Thompson’s overall 2019 schedule, set for 10 races, includes the return of the NEMA Midgets, Pro All Star Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and more. Fans can find all of the latest information by visiting www.thompsonspeedway.comand following the track via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.