Story Courtesy of Souza Media
Waterbury, VT & Naples, ME — The 59th Annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing arrives at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Friday, October 8 to Sunday, October 10. As part of a 17-division card spread across three full days of action, point championships will be on the line in all five of Thompson’s local divisions.
Inside the main storylines of the weekend, headlined by the return of the historic Sunoco Thompson 300 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series worth $20,000 to the winner, drivers will be chasing championship glory on the big stage.
Continuing a World Series tradition, the Thompson Late Models will wrap their title battle on Friday night to open the weekend. This allows teams to compete with the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) on Saturday, October 9. In four events this year, Ryan Morgan has one victory and joins runner-up Woody Pitkat as the only driver with top-five finishes in all races. Morgan leads Pitkat by seven points headed to the finale in search of his first track title.
Pitkat, a polished veteran of racing in New England in both Late Models and Modifieds, is a former Thompson champion. Pitkat won the Late Model title in 2002 and Sunoco Modified titles in 2006 and 2015. Winning a fourth Thompson Speedway title would continue to bolster his resume, as the Stafford, CT native would join just nine other drivers who have won four or more. Behind them, feature winner Mark Jenison is 28 points back in third.
The Vandi Auto Supply Limited Sportsman championship battle is the one everyone will have their eyes on Saturday, as they are the only Thompson division to close their title fight that night. They will join the ACT Late Model Tour, Pro All Star Series (PASS) Super Late Models, and five other classes to headline Twisted Tea World Series Saturday. And with the battle at the top of the standings being one of the closest in Thompson’s history, it’s sure to get twisted.
Larry Barnett, who is looking for a fifth track title, is tied with Corey Fanning for the lead heading into the finale. Both drivers have a victory this season, but they aren’t the only two in the battle. Feature winner Ryan Waterman is third, just one point back, while Brent Gleason is only two points out. Those four drivers are likely to settle it amongst themselves, with fifth-place Scott Sundeen, a four-time champion himself, more than 20 points out. But if they all stumble, it could get even more interesting.
Barnett is aiming for history. He could become just the sixth driver to win five or more titles, joining the likes of Keith Rocco, Ted Christopher, Richie Evans, Glen Boss and Rick Gentes. Fanning, a former Sportsman champion at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts, looks for his first track title. Waterman won the crown in 2016 and has been a contender for multiple years while Gleason’s potential title run would likely be the most surprising of them all. This battle is going to be one of the highlights of the entire weekend as the Sportsman division continues to showcase some of the best racing on Thompson’s high banks.
The Sunoco Modifieds will compete in their third, fourth and fifth events of the season at the World Series, which will be their first races since June due to the national tire shortage. In the first two races of the season, Keith Rocco dominated both, taking down wins in his familiar No. 57. The victories have pushed Rocco closer to the top-three in the all-time track wins list as the eight-time champion will look for a ninth at the World Series.
Sunoco Modified teams will be part of a Triple Crown Series with one race on each day, which includes qualifying and a 30-lap feature. Each feature will pay out a normal race purse as they are being deemed as three separate events. This means prizes each day of $1,500 to win and $900 for second with nearly $9,000 in posted awards are on the line. Rocco leads Mike Christopher Jr. by 19 points and Danny Cates by 22 in the championship battle.
Anthony Bello is likely on his way to the championship in the SK Light Modifieds, as the driver of the Paul French-prepared No. 2 leads by 28 points. Bello has been a top contender in all four events with two wins and a perfect record of top-five finishes. Paul “Buddy” Charette, who enters the race second, is also a two-time winner.
Bello is more than excited to chase his first Thompson championship, one that would mean a lot to the Connecticut native. It will be a busy Sunday for the Newtown, CT native, as he also plans to compete in the $20,000-to-win Thompson 300 along with the SK Light Modified finale.
“It would mean so much to me to put my name down as a champion at Thompson,” Bello said. “A lot of great Modified veterans and legends have had so many wins and titles there. To put my name on that list would be a dream come true.”
And even though he’s ready to roll to chase the title, Bello isn’t changing his driving style.
“I’m going to go into the World Series just like the last four races, with 100% confidence and go out there flatout,” Bello said. “To be chasing my first SK Light Modified championship at Thompson in my rookie year there… it just seems unreal.”
In the Mini Stocks, Jared Roy has been the dominant force, winning three of the four races and leading the standings by 27 points. Roy, Russell Barboza and Steve Michalski are the only three drivers that have been inside the top-10 in all four events. Roy leads Barboza, then Dave Trudeau by 31 and Michalski by 39 points. The Mini Stocks, SK Light Modifieds and Sunoco Modifieds will all join the Thompson 300 as part of the Sunday action.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park presents the 59th annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing from Friday, October 8 to Sunday, October 10. The weekend is highlighted by the $20,000-to-win Sunoco Thompson 300 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series. The 17-division program also includes the Sunoco Modified Triple Crown Series, ACT Late Model Tour, PASS Super Late Models, NEMA Midgets and Lites, all local divisions, and much more. Visit www.acttour.com/thompson-speedway(link is external) for the full schedule of events.
Advance tickets are available at www.happsnow.com/event/Thompson-Speedway-Motorsports-Park-YHPQ(link is external). Three-day general admission to the Sunoco World Series is $75 for adults, $20 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. Fans can also purchase single-day tickets or a two-day Saturday-Sunday ticket. All three days of racing will be televised live via pay-per-view on Speed51.TV.
Both three-day and single-day pit passes are being offered. These can only be purchased at the track on race days. Camping spots can be reserved by visiting www.thompsonspeedway.com.
For more information about the American-Canadian Tour, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, email@example.com, or visit www.acttour.com. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ACTTour.
For technical information concerning all PASS divisions, and for media or marketing questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.proallstarsseries.com. Don’t forget to “Like” the Pro All Stars Series on Facebook or follow on Twitter @PASSSLM14 to keep up with breaking news as it happens.
For general Thompson Speedway inquiries, call (860) 923-2280, email email@example.com, or visit www.thompsonspeedway.com. You can follow Thompson Speedway on Facebook and Instagram at @ThompsonSpeedway or on Twitter at @ThompsonSpdwy.