Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park persevered through scattered rain showers to get in a full schedule of racing for the Food Bank Night & Late Model 20/20 Sprint. Rick Gentes of Burriville, R.I. stopped a sweep by Berlin, Conn.’s Keith Rocco, who won two 20-lap Late Model segments. Gentes’ third segment win was not enough to stop Rocco from winning the overall finish, however. In other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Robert Palmer earned his first career win in the Lite Modified division while Corey Hutchings checkered the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman division and Chad Baxter won the Monster Mini Stock feature.
The Sunoco Modified division ran 13 laps of their 30-lap feature before rain forced them to reschedule the remainder of the event until May 29. Woody Pitkat, Keith Rocco, and Ryan Preece made up the top-three when it was postponed.
Keith Rocco took the lead coming out of turn four on the final lap and won an exciting battle in the first segment race for the Late Model division. The race was a nail-biter with a tight door-to-door battle between Rocco and Boss that lasted 17 of 20 laps. He followed that up with a second segment win after starting dead last for the feature. Rick Gentes won the final segment of the evening after taking the lead from Rocco on a late-race restart. The overall winner
Boss jumped to the lead after a solid challenge by Damon Tinio, who was quickly relegated back to the fourth spot. Rick Gentes and Rocco moved up to second and third respectively. The top-three ran nose-to-tail until lap five when Gentes dropped to the bottom groove to challenge Boss for the lead. Boss held him off, but Gentes’ move opened the door for Rocco to challenge from the high groove for the second spot.
A three-car accident in turn three bought out the caution with Boss, Rocco, Gentes, and Tinio leading the way back to green. Rocco got the advantage off the high groove to take over the lead in turn one, but caution came out before the lap was complete when Tinio got out of line and spun into the outside retaining wall in turn three.
Boss and Gentes were dead even heading into turn one, but it was all Gentes at the line for the lead. Rocco attached himself to the back bumper of Boss before he dropped to the bottom groove to take over second on lap nine.
Rocco put the pressure on Gentes for the lead – again using the bottom groove for the challenge. Gentes held him off for several laps, but Rocco wasn’t giving any breathing room. On lap 14, Rocco got up alongside Gentes and the duo were door-to-door heading into turn four. Gentes once again held on to the lead and Rocco fell back into line on lap 16.
Rocco made another challenge on lap 18 and the two were once again side-by-side as they approached the white flag. Gentes had a slight advantage going into turn three, but Rocco got a run coming out of turn four to take the lead and the win at the finish line.
Jared Materas led the field to green in the second 20-lap segment for the Late Models, but Nick Ladyga was on a mission and drove by for the lead coming out of turn two. Once out front, Ladyga pulled out to a comfortable five-car length advantage. Jim Banfield rounded out the top-three.
The field strung out single file at lap five, but it didn’t last long as Rocco made his way through the field on the bottom groove. By lap eight, Rocco was up to fourth and still on the move. Up front, Banfield took over the lead on lap nine, but soon had Rocco on his bumper. On lap 11, Rocco drove deep into turn three and came out of turn four as the leader. By lap 17, Rocco was putting the tail end of the field a lap down. The race went under caution at lap 18 setting up a green-white-checker finish.
Rocco drove right back out front at the drop of the green with Boss driving by Banfield for the second position. Rocco could not be stopped as he soared to his second straight Late Model victory of the night.
Rocco didn’t lose much momentum between segments, and jumped right out front at the start of the third and final Late Model segment of the night. Boss and Gentes rounded out the top-three. On lap three, Gentes drove underneath Boss and the two battled door-to-door for a lap before Boss went high in between turns one and two opening the door for Gentes to take over second.
Rocco pulled ahead to a comfortable advantage over the rest of the field, but was reeled back in on lap seven when a car spun in turn four and brought out the caution. Gentes challenged Rocco from the high groove and took the lead coming out of turn two. Rocco persisted, but Gentes pulled ahead to a two-car length advantage before caution slowed the pace at lap eight.
Gentes pulled ahead at the drop of the green, but Rocco was right on his bumper. Boss got into the mix by using the bottom groove to challenge for second. Rocco could not catch Gentes, who took the final Late Model checkers of the evening.
Woody Pitkat pulled out to the early lead in the Sunoco Modified feature with Keith Rocco and Ryan Preece rounding out the top-three. Pitkat pulled away to an impressive six-car advantage over Rocco before caution flew at lap five and reeled him back in.
On the restart, Pitkat drove to the front with Rocco attached to his rear bumper, who had just as much pressure from Preece in third. The top-three pulled away from the rest of the field with Pitkat holding a mere half-a-car length over Rocco.
Two cars spun on the backstretch on lap 12 and brought out the caution. Pitkat and Rocco took the green side-by-side, but it was all Pitkat coming out of turn two. Rocco and Preece once again rounded out the top-three.
A light drizzle started to fall upon the track forcing officials to throw the yellow flag 13 laps into a 30-lap feature. After several pace laps, officials deemed the race would be completed when action returns on May 29.
Robert Palmer took the win in the Lite Modified division after the race was shortened to 12 laps from its original scheduled 20-lap distance. It was Palmer’s first career win in the division. Glenn Griswold jumped out to the lead at the drop of the green and immediately put ten car lengths over the rest of the field. John Studley attached himself to the bumper of Ryan Pellerin before taking over the second position on lap five. The field strung out before caution flew at lap seven and tightened them back up again.
Griswold jumped to the lead again, but this time with Studley right on his rear bumper. Coming out of turn two, Studley got a run on Griswold and took the lead on the backstretch. Griswold retaliated and the duo battled wheel-to-wheel until lap 10 when they made contact that resulted in both drivers hitting the turn three wall.
Pellerin inherited the lead, but Palmer took the top spot when racing resumed. On lap 12, rain began to fall hard enough to stop the race and have officials declare Palmer the winner.
Corey Hutchings held off a hard-charging Larry Barnett on a restart on lap 16 en route to his first victory of the season in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman feature. Barnett jumped to the early lead with Corey Hutchings making an early challenge on the bottom groove coming out of turn one. Barnett held him off to lead the first lap before caution slowed the pace. On the restart, Barnett and Hutchings came out of turn two abreast with Barnett holding on to the lead at the line.
Barnett and Hutchings continued their fierce battle over the next several laps with Hutchings taking the lead at lap six. Barnett held on to the outside groove, but was relegated back to fifth at lap nine. With Barnett further back in the field, Hutchings was able to pull out to a ten-car length advantage. Chris “Moose” Douton and Icebreaker winner Shawn Monahan rounded out the top-three. On lap 15, Monahan went off the pace on the backstretch as smoke billowed out of his No. 51 machine and brought out the caution flag.
Hutchings jumped back to the lead when racing resumed with Douton getting a lot of pressure from Barnett. Caution flew two more times setting up the final restart with only four laps remaining.
Hutchings muscled his way back to the front with Barnett a mere car length behind coming out of turn two. Hutchings pulled away to a more comfortable lead by lap 18 as the rest of the field ran single file, and the Salem, Conn.-native went on to take the checkered flag.
Chad Baxter took the lead on lap 10 of the Monster Mini Stock feature securing his first win of the season.
The Mini Stock feature was run in honor of Danny Field, who competed in the division for several years before he passed away last week. Eighteen cars took the green for 18 laps of competition. Leo DeFevers took the early lead, but a wreck in turn two brought the yellow out before the lap was complete.
DeFevers drove back out front on the restart with Joe Baxter and Mike Viens rounding out the top-three. Viens used the bottom groove to make a challenge for second, but caution postponed his efforts.
Chad Baxter failed to come up to speed on the restart and caution was displayed. Rain forced officials to park the Mini Stocks with only seven laps on the board, but they returned after track drying efforts paid off.
DeFevers took the lead at the drop of the green, but Joe Baxter used the outside groove to get an advantage and take over the lead at the line. A car spun three times coming across the start/finish line bringing out the caution once again.
Joe Baxter led the field back to green, but DeFevers had a slight advantage heading into turn one. DeFevers settled in out front coming out of turn two while Veins challenged for second on the bottom groove. Veins took over second on lap 10 and set his sights on DeFevers. Heading into turn three on lap 10, Veins made a challenge for the lead, but it was Chad Baxter who came out on top advancing from fourth to first.
Chad Baxter continued to lead the field with Joe Baxter in second. Ed Field, brother of Danny Field, took over third and that is how they would finish the 18-lap event.
LATE MODEL SEGMENT ONE FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Keith Rocco, Berlin, CT; 2. Rick Gentes, Burriville, RI; 3. Glenn Boss, Danielson, CT; 4. Chad LaBastie, Uxbridge, MA; 5. Larry Gelinas, Buxton, ME; 6. John Materas, Voluntown, CT; 7. John Lowinski-Loh, Milford, MA; 8. Marc Curtis, Jr., Worcester, MA; 9. Jim Banfield, S. Glastonbury, CT; 10. Christopher Garside, Waterford, CT.
LATE MODEL SEGMENT TWO FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Keith Rocco, Berlin, CT; 2. Glenn Boss, Danielson, CT; 3. Jim Banfield, S. Glastonbury, CT; 4. Rick Gentes, Burriville, RI; 5. Chris Curtis, Rutland, MA; 6. John Lowinski-Loh, Milford, MA; 7. Chad LaBastie, Uxbridge, MA; 8. Larry Gelinas, Buxton, ME; 9. Jared Materas, W. Springfield, MA; 10. Christopher Garside, Waterford, CT.
LATE MODEL SEGMENT THREE FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Rick Gentes, Burriville, RI; 2. Keith Rocco, Berlin, CT; 3. Glenn Boss, Danielson, CT; 4. Larry Gelinas, Buxton, ME; 5. Chad LaBastie, Uxbridge, MA; 6. John Lowinski-Loh, Milford, MA; 7. Chris Curtis, Rutland, MA; 8. John Materas, Voluntown, CT; 9. Derek Anderson, Jr., Coventry, RI; 10. Jim Banfield, S. Glastonbury, CT.
LATE MODEL OVERALL SEGMENT FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Keith Rocco, Berlin, CT; 2. Rick Gentes, Burriville, RI; 3. Glenn Boss, Danielson, CT; 4. Chad LaBastie, Uxbridge, MA; 5. Larry Gelinas, Buxton, ME; 6. John Lowinski-Loh, Milford, MA; 7. Jim Banfield, S. Glastonbury, CT; 8. Chris Curtis, Rutland, MA; 9. John Materas, Voluntown, CT; 10. Derek Anderson, Jr. Coventry, RI.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Corey Hutchings, Salem, CT; 2. Larry Barnett, Moosup, CT; 3. Chris Moose Douton, Waterford, CT; 4. Scott Sundeen, Sutton, MA; 5. Jesse Gleason, Lisbon, CT; 6. Steve Kenneway, Lowell, MA; 7. Jason Chicolas, Sutton, MA; 8. Ryan Waterman, Danielson, CT; 9. William Wall, Shrewsbury, MA; 10. Steve Cole, Brooklyn, CT.
LITE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH: 1. Robert Palmer, Lisbon, CT; 2. Ryan Pellerin, Dayville, CT; 3. Bob Vojtila, Southington, CT; 4. John Studley, Framingham, MA; 5. Glenn Griswold, Vernon, CT; 6. David Richardi, Easton, MA; 7. Jordan LaMothe, Woodstock, CT.
MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH (TOP-10): 1. Chad Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 2. Joe Baxter, Pascoag, RI; 3. Eddie Field, Deep River, CT; 4. Jeff Moffat, Smithfield, RI; 5. Mike D. Veins, Putnam, CT; 6. Todd Lajeunesse, Putnam, CT; 7. Mike Veins, Seekonk, MA; 8. Steve Michalski, Brooklyn, CT; 9. Bill Schoeler, Warwick, RI; 10. Jim Helger, Rutland, MA.