TOM CAREY III LOOKS TO KEEP LATE MODEL SUCCESS ROLLING
WATERMAN OFF TO STRONG START IN LIMITED SPORTSMAN
By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
THOMPSON, Conn. -- After coming up just three points short of the championship last year, it looks like Tom Carey III isn’t going to be messing around in the Late Models in his quest for his first crown.
Sunday, Carey started from the outside pole, and found himself chasing the back bumper of former champion William Wall in the early stages of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series opener at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
At the halfway point, Carey used a quick move to get around Wall, and set the stage for the remainder of the race, taking the No. 5 Brookside Equipment Sales machine into Victory Lane at the 45thannual Icebreaker.
“Will is always a top-notch competitor, any time I have gone up against him, it’s a good show for the fans and it’s fun for us because we can race each hard and clean,” Carey said. “I knew I had a car that wasn’t really going to drop off, and after the first run, I could tell he was really started to get loose off the corners. I knew where I had to be on the restarts, and I knew if I could clear him, it was going to be lights out after about three laps.”
It was lights out, and in the end, it was Carey taking the early advantage in the Late Model championship standings by two points over Wall. Ever since the second half of last year, Carey’s team has found just a little bit more speed that they needed to get to the front of the field and win races.
“We really have put a lot into our program, and we felt like we should have been up to this speed a long time ago. The luck never came around until late last year, where everything seemed to start clicking,” Carey said. “Over the winter, we found the little weak points that it had and we focused on fine-tuning. It’s just finally all paying off. It’s a fun ride to be on.”
Sunday’s Late Model race marked a new venture for some competitors, and one they didn’t expect until just minutes before the green flag was scheduled to fall. With the time closing in on the start of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race, the decision was made to run the Late Models after the tour’s Icebreaker 150, therefore, some drivers were thrown for a curveball because of the rubber left on the track from the Modifieds.
Teams were awarded a short few laps of practice on the track prior to the green and were given the opportunity to come down pit road and make adjustments. It could have ultimately been the decision by Carey not to make any adjustments to his car that helped him win.
“The Whelen Modified Tour rubber makes it so you really don’t know what it’s going to be like going into it. When you’re in a situation like that, I don’t think there is even any point in making changes to the car. It’s just a matter of the track not having enough grip for the tires, there really isn’t much to do to your chassis,” Carey said. “I was just going to figure out the best line on the track and drive it with the cars we were being dealt. A lot of people made adjustments, and I think that hurt a lot of them.”
For Carey, the opportunity to work with his dad, and more close friends, has given him the chance to take his racing game to the next level. The group competed down south at Richmond Raceway just one week before coming north for the Icebreaker to begin his title quest.
“I’m at the point where I’ve only been driving in my sixth year now, and they can trust me in order to know what I need to feel in my race car. It’s just a really good program right now,” Carey said. “All of the ducks are in a row and everything is falling together for us. We are going to ride it out as long as we can.”
Waterman Off To Good Start in Search For Second Title
While some of the talk prior to the race was about the ‘Swaggin Waggon’, a new car that defending champion Shawn Monahan was debuting, the battle at the front of the field at the Icebreaker surrounded Ryan Waterman. And he might be a name fans will be watching when it comes time to crown a champion at the end of the year.
The Danielson, Connecticut, driver started third, but didn’t waste any time, taking the lead on lap three and driving into Victory Lane to open the season. Three years after winning his first title, Waterman is in one of the best positions he’s been in years, he thinks.
With a new car, a new car owner, and a refreshed mindset, Waterman isn’t letting anything get in his way.
“That new car is just sweet,” Waterman said. “I can’t even put it into words. It just took off and I never had to look back. Hopefully, we can stay consistent, and smooth, and clean… keep this going.”
The partnership with a new car owner started over the winter.
“I’ve always driven for myself and my family, but my new car owner Randy Chamberland, he came to me and asked me if he build a brand new car if I would drive it for him,” Waterman said. “I couldn’t pass that up.”
With the 10-race NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule not returning to the track until May 19 with the Limited Sportsman Extra Distance event on tap that day, Waterman will have a little bit of time to ponder how to make the car even faster, so he can slice through traffic.
“Winning, that’s always the goal for me, but I’d like to get my second championship. I won in 2016 with no wins and I’d like to get it with a good handful of feature wins this year,” he said. “With a new car and a fresh start, that should be in the cards.”
In Thompson’s other three NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions, Keith Rocco started another Sunoco Modified season in Victory Lane as he looks to make it four straight titles this season, while Bryan Narducci continued his perfection in the SK Light Modifieds®, winning a fifth straight and opening their title chase at the top. In the Mini Stocks, veteran Steve Michalski opened the season with the checkered flag.
Over the next month, Thompson officials will begin to prepare the facility for the Limited Sportsman Extra Distance & Military Night, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, May 19. All five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will compete over the course of the day.
For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans are encouraged to visit www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.