Nicholas Johnson Captures Thompson Late Model Title
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park kicked off the 2018 Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing weekend on Friday, Oct. 12, the biggest racing weekend in New England crowning champions in all of Thompson’s local racing divisions and the Whelen Modified Series Tour. The first night of racing served as a warmup for the action still to come with the crowning of Thompson Late Model Champion and the penultimate race of the 2018 Granite State Pro Stock Series season as the highlights of the evening.
The Late Models have been the most competitive division all season at Thompson Speedway both in terms of points and the variety of winners. Four different drivers entered the season finale with wins to their credit but one without a victory was Nicholas Johnson who used consistency to open a slim seven-point lead on Tom Carey, III coming into the final race of the year. Carey entered the race with momentum having won the September feature event at the Big-T. Mathematically four drivers had a chance at the title in the final race with a mere nineteen points separating fourth from Johnson in the lead.
In the end though it was a battle between Carey and Johnson with Johnson starting the 25-lap feature from ninth position while Tom Carey, III, worked his way into the top five in the early going. Carey was in the top three by lap ten engaging in a hard-fought side-by-side battle with Paul Charette for the second position which would continue throughout the rest of the event. Meanwhile Mark Jenison opened up a sizable lead out front looking for his second win of the season. With ten laps remaining Johnson worked his way into the top five as Carey continued his pursuit for the runner-up spot. Carey was unable to complete the pass despite taking the battle to the line while Johnson finished fifth completing a season of perfect top five finishes and winning the division championship in the Late Models. Mark Jenison took advantage of the hard racing behind him to charge to the race win.
With a season built on consistency Nicholas Johnson said he didn’t expect to be in the running for a title, but he was more than happy to celebrate once the checkered flag waved. “I really can’t believe it. I never thought I’d be running for a championship,” Johnson said in victory lane. “We just kind of fell into it this year and did what we could every race. We ended up on top and just never gave up. It’s unreal. To be able to race at a track where your family raced at and do well, it means a lot.”
In victory lane Mark Jenison celebrated ending his season on a high note taking the same “Support the Troops” scheme he won with during Thompson’s For the Veterans weekend to victory lane. “It’s a tough day and good racing,” Jenison said. “I want to thank our troops and veterans. They do so much for us and they don’t get much reward, but they get it tonight from all of us.”
The Granite State Pro Stocks took to the track later in the evening with a 50-lap feature and the second-to-last race of the season for the New England touring series. With a 20-point lead in hand Connecticut native Davin O’Connell looked to continue his momentum after a win and a top five in the last two races allowed him to erase a 22-pt deficit with Joey Doiron close behind.
As fate would have it both championship frontrunners experienced their share of turmoil over the course of the race. O’Connell’s bad luck came first as the points leader was involved in a multicar incident on the seventh lap sending him to pit road for repairs. It looked like this opened the door Joey Doiron to have a big points day but on the twelfth lap of the race Doiron’s car experienced a tire failure where the left rear wheel came off of the car, ending his day and effectively ending his chance to win the Granite State Pro Stocks title. O’Connell recovered to finish eleventh while Doiron was scored finishing sixteenth. O’Connell still takes a significant points lead heading to the final race of the season at Waterford.
As for the race win it was all Eddie MacDonald who dominated the event to score his first win of the season in the Granite State Pro Stocks. MacDonald will race again at Thompson on Saturday evening in the American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model feature and said getting an early win has helped prepare him for the next challenge ahead. “The guys gave me such a good car – It’s great to be able to come down here and get a win,” MacDonald said after the race. “I’m just happy that the car was fast today. It was good to get out there, get a few laps on the track and hopefully tomorrow night it will be just as good.”
The Lite Modifieds held a 20-lap feature that saw the battle for the win become a family affair with cousins Bryan Narducci and Alexander Pearl duking it out in the front row for much of the event. Narducci was able to hold off Pearl and get the jump on a restart with two laps to go to take the checkered flag for his third win of 2018 at Thompson and repeat as a World Series weekend winner after claiming victory in 2017 which was his first race in the Lite’s at the Big-T. Narducci, who has persevered through cerebral palsy to become a rising star on the local racing circuit, was named the Whelen All-American Series Division III national champion last month.
“I think that was our eighth win of the year and we’re four for four at Thompson. There’s something about this place that I just love,” Narducci said after the win. “I just want to thank everyone on the crew and all the sponsors that made this possible. It’s nice to cap the season off on a high note.”
The evening concluded with the Vintage Modifieds representing the history of local racing on the Big-T. The Senior Tour Auto Racers also capped off the night showcasing legendary modified and sportsman vehicles from racing’s past.
World Series weekend continues on Saturday with a loaded schedule of events throughout the afternoon. Racing begins with the NEMA Midgets and ACT Late Models before moving to the Valenti Modifieds, Pro 4 Modifieds, Exit Realty Pro Trucks, North East Mini Stock Tour, the Street Stock Showdown and the crowning of the Thompson Mini Stock Division champion.
LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Mark Jenison (Warwick, R.I.); 2. Paul Charette (Woodstock, CT); 3. Tom Carey, III (New Salem, MA); 4. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 5. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 6. Ryan Kuhn; 7. Ryan Morgan (Gales Ferry, CT); 8. Joey Parker (Weymouth, MA); 9. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 10. Chad Baxter (Pascoag, R.I.)
LITE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1, Bryan Narducci; 2. Alexander Pearl; 3. Mark Bakaj; 4. Chris Viens; 5. Brett Gonyaw; 6. Wesley Prucker; 7. John O’Sullivan; 8. Cassandra Cole; 9. Ed Chicoski; 10. Jason Hanson
GRANITE STATE PRO STOCK FINISH TOP-10: 1. Eddie MacDonald; 2. Todd Stone; 3. Tommy O’Sullivan; 4. Ray Christian, III; 5. Mike O’Sullivan; 6. Brad Babb; 7. Dave Farrington, Jr.; 8. Scott MacMichael; 9. Jimmy Renfrew, Jr; 10. Josh King