Mini Stocks Looking To Crown New Champion in 2019
Rising Bourgeois Looks To Continue Family Tradition of Championships Against List of Challengers
By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
THOMPSON, Conn. – With defending division champion Eric Bourgeois moving on from full-time action this season, a new champion will be crowned in the Mini Stock division at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
That champion could be right inside the Bourgeois family, as Evan looks to continue the family tradition of winning championships and hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father to the top of the class. Last year, in his rookie season, Evan was able to finish eighth in the championship standings with three top-five finishes.
“The beginning of the year and most of the year, was all about seat time, getting used to the car and the track,” Evan said. “As the year went on, we just tried to get better, get faster and run up towards the front. We were able to pass more cars as the year went on, so there isn’t much for me to complain about.”
Evan, who started his career racing at Stafford Motor Speedway before the transition to Mini Stocks, is hoping with one year on the high-banks under his belt, the crucial experience he gained will help him chase Victory Lane this year.
“I’m not really so sure what to expect, but I know we are going to run as fast as we can and get up there as high in the points as we can,” Evan said. “That’s the whole reason we go there, is to win. We have to just run for the best position we can, and if the win comes, it comes.”
With his father, Eric, moving on from full-time action and having registered for the newly-formed SK Light Modified® division, Evan is going to have even more assistance from his father at the track. Last year, it was the two of them fighting tooth and nail for each position against each other on the track, but now, they will be able to work together to figure out what will be best for Evan.
“Even in the shop, he’s always there working and I’m by his side while he shows me things about the car,” Evan said. “Going out on the track, he’s always showing me where to be, where to pass.”
But, if the Bourgeois name will stay on top, it’s going to have to run through a long list of challengers. Thompson’s Mini Stock division is well known for a long list of veterans, and Steve Michalski, of Brooklyn, Connecticut, is one of them.
Michalski has been around the Mini Stock division for just about a decade – maybe even longer – and has not been able to seal a championship yet to this point. This year, he’s hoping to change that.
“It would mean a lot to me because I’ve worked at it for a long time,” Michalski said. “It’s like a big family with all of the drivers out there. We have a lot of upcoming drivers as well. Just to go there every week and finish in the top three, hopefully win… we’d really like to rip off a couple of wins and get the championship this year.”
Michalski, who started racing at the go-kart track, seems to have found a home in Thompson’s Mini Stocks – a division centered around driver ability and one that usually warrants building your own cars. Recently, he’s hooked up with Mark and Suzanna Woodcock as car owners and with the support of his wife, Julie, he’s enjoying every second he spends at the track and in the shop as part of the racing family.
“The highest I finished in the points was third, and even though that was a while back, it’s an entry level division that still takes a lot of experience to run up front even today,” Michalski said. “There are a lot of tricks to the trade in every division. We found something wrong in the engine department last year, and after we fixed that, we were competitive looking for the win for the last half of the year.”
Joining Bourgeois and Michalski, Jared Roy, who finished third in the point standings last year, are also expected to battle for the title. The roots run deep for the Trudeau family as well, as Dave and David Jr. both finished inside the top five in the championship standings last year. Additional entries at this point in the offseason include Russell Barboze, Keith Ballou, Joseph Bavolacco, Stuart Besser, with more to come before the 45thannual Icebreaker weekend opens the season.
The Mini Stock season consists of 10 races – as the Division V class will compete as part of the entire NASCAR Whelen All-American Series slate.
With the 45thannual Icebreaker weekend closing in, track officials remind fans to make sure they have reserved their camping spot before this Friday, March 29. for $50. Any camping spots reserved following that deadline will be for $75. Camping check-in hours will open this weekend and will last through the duration of the event. Please check the website for specific times for each day of the week.
Icebreaker weekend begins on Friday, April 5, with a Test & Tune session for all cars competing during the weekend except the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Pro All Star Series. Admission into the paddock area for the day is $20, and teams are reminded this pit pass is separate from the rest of the weekend.
Action kicks into high gear on Saturday, where qualifying begins at 12:15 p.m., and feature action is scheduled to get underway at 3:35 p.m.
Sunday, the annual Fan Appreciation Party returns on the track at 11 a.m., and pre-race ceremonies follow with racing starting promptly at 12:30 p.m., ending with the third race of the season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans are encouraged to visit the website, www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.