Three Drivers Separated By Three Points in Thompson Mini Stock Title Battle
Scott Michalski, Steve Michalski & Doug Curry Set To Fight For Crown at Sunoco World Series
By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
THOMPSON, Conn. -- The closest of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship battles is going to go right down to the final lap of the Mini Stock feature on Sunoco World Series weekend.
Right now, just three points separate the top three drivers in the Division V class – with former champion Scott Michalski showing the way over Steve Michalski and Doug Curry. Scott is the only one of the three to have previous championship glory, but the other two are no stranger to Victory Lane. Steve has eight career Thompson wins, while Curry, who busted onto the scene in 2019, has two victories in the nine races so far this season.
All three drivers will battle it out for the crown as part of the 57th annual Sunoco World Series at Thompson, October 11-13. The Mini Stocks will qualify on Friday night and run their 15-lap finale as part of the Saturday program.
“My car hasn’t really been up to speed,” Scott Michalski said. “I parked my car for two years, so when I went back racing, I went to the Icebreaker to have fun and turn some laps, and I said, ‘why not, I’ll go back and run another race’. It kind of hooks you in.”
Scott Michalski has one victory this season, which came during the Thompson 125 in June. Other than his win, Michalski has finished inside the top 10 in all nine races. His worst finish is a seventh-place effort.
“I’ve been working trying to better the car,” Michalski said. “I had my front end destroyed, and it was basically starting from square one again. I was like four tenths off for the whole season and the last race I was three tenths off. I need those three tenths and I think I might have found them."
As he looks to earn a second track title, Michalski is feeling confident going into the finale.
“I have just as good of a shot as they do,” he said. “All three of us have a great shot. It’s anyone’s show.”
For Curry, the season has been about getting a full grip on Thompson, while also finding the speed he needs under the hood. His original plan wasn’t to run Thompson full-time, but now, he’s right in the thick of a championship battle he doesn’t want to lose.
“It just worked out,” Curry said. “Despite the bad luck, we’ve been fast, and had some good runs. Just a few races ago we were 35 points out, and here we are now, one point out. Win or lose, it says a lot about our team and our attitude. We never give up. We just keep digging no matter what the situation is.”
Curry’s season has been filled with success. He might have switched to a different car early in the year, but since then, he’s been on fire. In the last six races, he’s finished inside the top three all but once, and he finished 15th with a car failure in the other.
“It’s never over until it’s over, until the last checkered flag flies,” Curry said. “We just have to keep doing what we are doing. Ever race is a little bit different – sometimes you must be a bit more on the defensive, and sometimes you have to be more on the offensive. I just approach the World Series the same I have approached the last nine races – go out there and try to win, and if you can’t win, get what you can get.”
For Curry, the rebound in the standings has partly been because of his success in heat races, where he’s earned crucial points. He knows the Sunoco World Series heat race on Friday night is going to be important in the points battle.
“The heat race is huge, we’ve gained a ton of points in those this year,” Curry said. “In total, we’ve won over half of the heat races. Five points is five points, and for me, the heat race is going to be just as important as the feature. I could have the point lead going into the feature, which would change how I approach it, but I could also come out of the heat race more points out. It’s going to be important.”
One year after coming close to the Mini Stock title over at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Curry just wants to seal the deal.
“It would be everything to me. This is all I’ve ever wanted – I just have wanted to be a champion,” Curry said. “When I lost at the Speedbowl last year, it was like someone ripped my heart out of my chest. I’m really hoping this is my year of redemption.”
Steve Michalski is no stranger to success in the Mini Stock division. He’s accomplished plenty of checkered flags in his career at Thompson, but not the championship quite yet. He’s hoping to change that this year, after what’s been a trying few months for his team.
“We’ve been through a few different cars,” Steve Michalski said. “My throttle hung in a heat race, and I demolished the primary car, and that was a stretch where there were a few races in a row, so we had to hop into another car in our stable. We ended up blowing that one up that night, but we got a top 10. We just had bad luck after bad luck.”
Even with all those failures, Steve Michalski still has found a way to be in contention going into the finale. He’s third, just three points back, and he’s got some extra motivation and an old friend coming with him to the last race.
“The good news is the primary car is back and I feel more comfortable in that, we are bringing our best piece to the show and it should be a really good one,” Steve Michalski said. “The backup cars, one was a little bit under power, and the other we had some break issues. In the primary car, we’ve been dialed in well and we know where it wants to be. I’m very confident in the car.”
He just hopes all the bad luck is behind him in time for the champion celebration.
“We just go out there and race and get the best finish we can,” Steve Michalski said. “It’d be great to win. I’ve always ran out there for fun. We put a lot of time and a lot of work and effort into this. I’ve never won it, but I’ve come close. We’re in position to win it, so we have to take advantage.”
The 57th annual Sunoco World Series will take the green flag on Friday, October 11, and roll through Sunday, October 13. The event begins on Friday, with practice sessions running throughout the afternoon, and heat racing set to begin at approximately 4:30 p.m. Feature racing on Friday includes the Granite State Pro Stock Series, Late Models, Open Vintage Modifieds and Senior Tour Auto Racers.
Saturday, action begins early with practice at 9 a.m., while qualifying begins at 2:30 p.m. There are 10 different feature races planned for Saturday night.
Sunday, action begins at 1 p.m., with the season-finale for Thompson’s Sunoco Modified division. The NEMA Lites, ISMA Supermodifieds and TSMP Limited Sportsman will also join the headliner of Sunday -- the Sunoco World Series 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Admission to the paddock area for the entire three days is $75, with grandstand general admission set at $55. Any seniors (65+), veterans and active military will have general admission tickets priced at $50, while kids 12 and under are free in general admission.
Thompson’s annual breakfast and dinner buffets will also take place during Sunoco World Series weekend. The breakfast buffet runs from 7-11 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and is $14 per person. The dinner buffet runs from 5-10 p.m. on Saturday night only and is $24 per person. For any children 12 and under, the dinner buffet is $14.
For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans should visit the track on the web, www.thompsonspeedway.com