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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Championships on the line

October 11. 2017 11:48PM
Russ Hersey won the Valenti Modified Series Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday. Second-place finisher Anthony Nocella clinched the series championship. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE USA SPEEDWAY)
On Track This Weekend
Thompson Speedway (Conn.): Friday, 5 p.m.

Oxford Plains (Maine): Saturday, 1 p.m.

Thompson Speedway (Conn.): Saturday 2, p.m.

Thompson Speedway (Conn.): Sunday, 1 p.m.

Hudson Speedway: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Big doings this weekend at Thompson Motor Speedway’s 55th Annual Sunoco World Series of Racing — a three-day event at which several 2017 Series/Tour championships will be decided, including the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

The Whelen Modifieds and the ISMA Supermodifieds headline Sunday’s card. The Whelen Modified championship battle is tight. Doug Coby is the point leader. Justin Bonsignore trails him by 10 points. Timmy Solomito is two points behind Bonsignore and seven points ahead of Ryan Preece.

The top two ISMA title contenders Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass., and Timmy Jedrzejek of Independence, Ohio, are each chasing their first winged supermodified championship. McKennedy has driven the P&L Motorsports No. 21 to a win at Jennerstown (Pa.) and a second in the Star Classic, good for a 24-point advantage over Jedrzejek, who pilots Howie Lane’s No. 97.

Saturday’s lineup includes the American Canadian Tour, the New England Mini Stock Tour, NEMA Midgets and the Valenti Modified Series.

Scott Payea of Colchester, Vt., a five-time winner on the ACT circuit, is trying to nail down his first ACT title. He finished one point shy of title in 2008 after Patrick Laperle earned the crown by winning Thunder Road’s Milk Bowl on the last day of the season. Payea’s only threat is Dillon Moltz, winner of the season opener at Lee USA. Should Moltz win both his heat race and the 75-lap feature as well as lead the most laps, Payea can still clinch by placing ninth or better.

Emerson Cayer of Contoocook is the New England Mini Stock Tour leader. Nick Anderson of Oxford, Mass., Cody LeBlanc of Waterville, Maine, and Kodi Sabins of Windsor, Vt., are all within reach.

The NEMA Midget title contenders are Randy Cabral (1251), Jim Chambers of Atkinson (1201) and Avery Stoehr (1171).

Anthony Nocella of Woburn, Mass., clinched the Valenti Modified Series championship with a controversial second-place finish last Sunday at Lee USA.

Russ Hersey took the checkers in the 75-lap Oktoberfest and was ultimately declared the winner despite having joined the field on the back stretch (cars were pitted in the infield) after a tire swap and after the field had taken the green. Not being out there to take the green along with everyone else would put you a lap down in many a series. Questions about tire replacement procedures also came up.

The win was the second of the season for the veteran from Swanzey and his car owner, Warren Mordenti. Nocella and Tony Ricci were second and third, ahead of 15-year-old Sammy Rameau of Westminster, Mass., and Mike Willis Jr. of Grantham.

“We’re a low-buck race team,” Hersey said afterwards. “The car was great. It was a new car for Kenny Barry back in 2002.”

The Valenti office had received 30 entries for the Thompson event by midday Wednesday.

The Granite State Pro Stock Series’ next-to-last race of the season goes Friday night at Thompson. The Series’ finale is set for New London-Waterford Speedbowl Saturday, Oct. 21. Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, Mass., is the current points leader, 14 points ahead of Scott MacMichael of Newbury.

MacMichael already has sewn up GSPSS Rookie of the Year Honors in his Dale Shaw Race Cars No. 72 and is looking for more.

Jeremy Davis of Tamworth won the Pro Stock feature at Lee impressively. Davis was wheeling a car he built himself that was making its third ever appearance.

“I’m very proud of this car,” Davis said. “He was greeted in victory lane by his wife, Tasha, and his three-month-old son Mason, who fell asleep three laps before the finish.

Bobby Timmons of Windham, Maine, was a stout second in the Pro Stock feature. Joe Squeglia, Jimmy Renfrew Jr. and Grant Aither were next.

Erick Sands of Farmington hung on to a loose car to win the Late Model/Sportsman Super Street feature. Robbie Bryant topped the Northeast Classic Lites main event. Multi-time track champion Tommy Tombarello won for the first time this season in the Supermodified main.

Bryan Mason of Stark earned over $8,000 in purse and lap leader bonuses with an emotional win in the Moms of Lancaster Fall Brawl 151 at Speedway 51. Stephen Donahue of Graniteville, Vt., was second. Corey Mason of Groveton was third.

Mason took the lead for keeps from Canadian Steve Cote on lap 21. The win came days after the passing of his grandfather.

“It’s the best car I ever had,” Mason told VT Motor Mag’s T.J. Ingerson. “I think he was the one setting it up or in the cockpit. But this one is definitely for him and my whole family.”

The Pro All Star Series champion will be known after Saturday’s race at Oxford Plains. Travis Benjamin leads Glen Luce by 25 points. Both drivers have two wins.

“Super” Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, N.Y., passed Australian Peter “Batman” Britten on the last lap to win the Super DIRTcar Series 200 at Oswego Speedway. The winner’s check was $50,000. Sheppard, who was suspended in July for two races for an on-track incident (tackling a fellow competitor after a wreck) took over the Series point lead with two races left.

Star Speedway’s Halloween Howler, a two-day event, closes out the year next weekend Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21.

This is the final Trackside for 2017. Drive carefully and pace yourself when shoveling wet snow this winter.

Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at