Preece charges to a win in Thompson 125
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park continued its oval racing season on Wednesday, June 14 with the Whelen Modified Series making its second appearance of the year at the track for the main event of the evening, the Thompson 125. The race featured the second group qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour this season and saw Donny Lia take the pole, but it would be another familiar name that would come out on top at the end with Ryan Preece claiming his second win of the season and second career Whelen Modified win at Thompson.
Preece certainly had to work to claim his victory as he led multiple times over the course of the event, enduring a hard fought battle with sophomore driver Chase Dowling, a lengthy red flag period, and battling Rowan Pennink for the lead in the closing laps to come out on top. Preece outran Pennink and Bobby Santo, III to cross the line first adding to his already extensive Whelen Modified Series resume.
After the race Preece thanked his team, specifically owner Eddie Partridge and his wife Connie, for taking a chance to welcome him back to the Whelen Modified Tour fulltime in 2017 and giving him the equipment he needed to get a win. “It’s definitely special. I have a great bond with everybody on that time. A couple guys have been with me sense I was a little kid,” Preece said. “My mother gave me a great piece of advice earlier in the year before things started and said ‘Ryan you’re not going to have a perfect car every race, so if it’s close you need to just deal with it and do what you’ve been trained to do all your life.’ I’ve kind of lived by that motto now and it seems to be working out alright.”
Rowan Pennink held on for a second place finish and credited his team for giving him a car he could compete with, admitting he just didn’t have the equipment to overpower a hard charging Preece in the final laps. “I had a good lead out there and he ran me down. When he got to me he went right by me. He had a really good car. We were just a little bit tight towards the end of the race there. Can’t be more proud of this team. We brought a brand new car here - (My team) did an awesome job preparing this thing and giving me the shot to win the race ,” said Pennink.
Finishing third, Bobby Santos, III said he too felt he had a good day and was proud his team was able to get him to a top three finish by the end of the day. “The guys did a good job. We were just a little too tight to start the race. We pitted early to work on it and made some good adjustments that gave us a better racecar. Our strategy with the tires really seemed to work out for us ,” said Santos.
The NEMA Lites made their second stop in Thompson in 2017 with a first time winner taking the top spot at the end of the 20-lap feature that kicked off the day’s lineup of events. Part-time driver Chad Labastie, who also happens to be a crew member for Whelen Modified driver Bobby Santos, wrestled away the lead in the first half of the event and never looked back holding on to collect his first NEMA Lite win.
“It feels pretty good. We’ve only run a handful of races and to get one this quick is great. We used the handful of races last year as a learning curve and this year we’ve come out flying. We have two third place finishes and a win already in three races so I think we’re doing pretty good,” Labastie said.
In the Late Models Ray Parent took home his second Thompson win in a car painted different shades of green to resemble Tom Cruise’s vehicle from the popular film “Days of Thunder”. Parent took the lead after a hard fought three-way battle following a caution with five laps remaining, beating Tom Carey, III and Buddy Charette to the finish line in epic fashion.
Parent said he felt like he may have waited too long to make his move when the caution flew with five laps remaining in the 25-lap feature. However, when the green flew for the final time he said it was no holds barred all the way to the end. “It was a slugfest. It really was. I mean I was sideways every corner the last five laps,” Parent said. “It was really good racing up front. I’m glad I made the commitment to come here and race.” Carey and Charette held on for second and third respectively while William Wall and Matt Lowinski-Loh, who led much of the early half of the race, rounded out the top five.
The Limited Sportsman saw a fan favorite finally make his return to victory lane with Larry Barnett, the winningest driver in series history at Thompson, claiming his first win in at least three years at the Big-T. Barnett said his team made several changes leading into the 20-lap feature, adjusting springs and the transmission after the qualifying heats, and was happy it paid off.
“We rolled the dice and changed a spring before the heat race and another three after the heat race – It worked. I think my last win was in 2014 so it’s been a long haul since,” Barnett said. “It’s a tremendous weight off my shoulders. You work so hard and try to figure out if you could still do it and I wasn’t sure of the answer anymore. I guess it happens at every level from the (Monster Energy) Cup series on down and you start to wonder if the car is bad or if it’s just me and you’re not really sure.” Shawn Monahan, points leader Scott Sundeen, Ryan Waterman, and Brent Gleason rounded out the top five in the Limited Sportsman feature.
Eric Bourgeois made a statement with a dominant win in the Mini Stocks, leading the most laps and beating championship rival Wayne Burroughs, Jr. to the checkered flag. Bourgeois admitted he was hoping to have a successful night at Thompson as he was considered stepping away from full-time driving duties to focus on his son’s career in mini stocks. With his win putting him back in contention for the title he said he would continue to take to the track at Thompson in an effort to grab the championship.
“It’s a very special win. The car was on a rail. We got to the front and took off. If I did good I said I was coming back,” Bourgeois said. “Hopefully this is a momentum builder toward the championship at the end – (Wayne) Burroughs is very consistent. I think if I stay consistent and he has a bad night we’ll all be in the hunt one way or another. It’s all with the weeks to come.”
The final event of the night was a 30-lap feature for the Sunoco Modifieds where a new face found his way to victory lane. In only his second start driving for fellow Sunoco Modified driver Keith Rocco, Troy Talman claimed a dominant win at Thompson and said he hopes to continue that success to cement his own legacy in the Sunoco Modified series.
“It’s unbelievable. I didn’t think I’d win the second time out. I grew up at this track, watching racing here with my family. It’s cool to be out here racing,” Talman said. “I think it’s great to put my abilities to the test with the best drivers in this series and I want to put my name up there eventually and build a career up.”
Coming up next for Thompson Speedway in the exciting return of the K&N Pro Series East after and eight-year absence from the Big-T for the Busch North Throwback 100 on . The inaugural throwback event will feature cars painted to resemble historic paint schemes from the history of the NASCAR Busch North Series. The night will also feature the Sunoco Modifieds, the Late Models, the Limited Sportsman series, the Lite Modifieds, and the Mini Stocks all racing for championship points over the course of the afternoon.
Whelen Modified Tour Thompson 125 Top-10 Finish: 1. Ryan Preece (Berlin, CT); 2. Rowan Pennink (Huntington Valley, PA) 3. Bobby Santos (Franklin, MA); 4. Doug Coby (Milford, CT); 5. Eric Goodale (Riverhead, NY); 6. Jon McKennedy (Chelmsford, MA); 7. Ted Christopher (Plainville, CT); 8. Timmy Solomito (Islip, NY); 9. Andrew Krause (Holmdel, NJ); 10. Max Zachem (Preston, CT)
NEMA Lites Feature Top-10 Finish: 1. Chad Labastie (Uxbridge, MA); 2. Ryan Bigelow (East Hampton, CT); 3. Randy Cabral (Plymouth, MA); 4. Dan Cugini (Marshfield, MA); 5. Jim Chambers (Atkinson, NH); 6. Todd Bertrand (Sturbridge, MA); 7. Anthony Payne; 8. Paul Scally (Raynham, MA); 9. Ryan Locke (Raymond, NH); 10. Ben Mikitarian (Northborough, MA)
Late Model Feature Top-10 Finish: Ray Parent (Tiverton, RI); 2. Tom Carey, III (Orange, MA); 3. Paul “Buddy” Charette (Woodstock, CT); 4. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 5. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 6. Rick Gentes (Burriville, RI); 7. John Lowinski-Loh (Millville, MA); 8. Woody Pitkat (Sturbridge, MA); 9. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 10. Ryan Morgan (Pawcatuck, CT)
Limited Sportsman Top-10 Finish: 1. Larry Barnett (Moosup, CT); 2. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 3. Scott Sundeen (Sutton, MA); 4. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 5. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 6. Jason Chicolas (Sutton, MA); 7. Jack Aquilina (Oakdale, CT); 8. Steve Kenneway (Lowell, MA); 9. Troy Waterman (Danielson, CT); 10. Kevin Bowe (Smithfield, FI)
Mini Stock Feature Top-10 Finish: 1. Eric Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 2. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 3. Doug Curry (Groton, CT); 4. Mike Anzalone (Plainfield, CT); 5. Jacob Perry (Pawcatuck, CT); 6. Mitch Bombard (Willimantic, CT); 7. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Nick Matera (Warwick, RI); 9. Jared Roy (Sterling, CT); 10. Dave Trudeau, Jr. (Mansfield, CT)
Sonoco Modified Feature Top-10 Finish: 1. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 2. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 3. Ryan Prece (Berlin, CT); 4. Woody Pitkat (Sturbridge, MA); 5. Timmy Jordan (Brooklyn, CT); 6. Rowan Pennink (New Egypt, NJ); 7. Tod Owen (Somers, CT); 8. Steve Masse (Bellingham, MA); 9. John Studley (Framingham, MA); 10. Andrew Charron (East Greenwich, RI)
Preece charges to a win in Thompson 125
Preece charges to a win in Thompson 125