Opening Day 2017
Week one is in the books. If you looked at the weather earlier in the week, you would have had your doubts. It certainly did put a damper on the first day of the weekend. With a total washout on Saturday, teams did not get a chance to practice and get their cars ready. And it sure showed in some instances.
The day started off under sunny skies and we introduced out 2017 Wall of Fame Inductees. Fred Astle Sr, Rollie Linblad and Nat Chiavettone. These three deserving men will be officially inducted on Saturday, May 27th. Be sure to be on hand to congratulate these fine men.
Let’s take an overall look at the show from opening day. Car counts were up in the Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman and in the Everett’s Auto Parts Late Models. 27 cars in each of the divisions had the teams prepared for a battle. They just didn’t anticipate the difficulties that lie ahead.
In qualifying for the Late Models, we saw Fred Bonolowicz hit the turn 2 wall A TON! While the car is most likely a total, his safety gear kept him from any injury. While I am sure he is sore today, he owes a huge than you to the head and neck restraint company. On an inline post from his son Miles, he said the safety equipment did exactly what it was supposed to do in that instance, and he is glad they made the investment.
Let that be a reminder to ALL competitors, that while it is not cheap, neither are the hospital bills if you are in a similar accident and don’t have the safety equipment. Invest in your safety. It cannot be compromised.
While that was the one hard hit, it wasn’t the only one. The Late Models had a rough go of it with a caution laden 30 lap feature. Which is too bad, because the racing at the front was excellent. The battle between Ray Parent, Jeramee Lillie, Nick Uhrig and eventual winner Ryan Lineham kept the fans at the edge of their seat. It was a great battle between them. Unfortunately, Ray didn’t pass post race tech. We’ll get to that later.
Ryan is running part time with Nick Uhrig this year, and he said that was about the most fun he’s had in a long time behind the wheel. It showed with his smile at the end of the night. It was great to see Nick Uhrig have a great run. He’s going to be tough to beat this year.
There were a few new names in the LM ranks, and it was great to see. Matt Carlson, Anthony Flannery, Ray Christian III and Mark Jenison are planning on running at least part time this season. They are a welcome addition to the division for the season. It will be fun to watch.
In the Sportsman, they too had a similar fate with trouble getting any type of rhythm going. But when they did, they too put on a great show. Paul Lallier and Scott Serydynski batted back and forth for the win, with Lallier coming out on top. Well, at least until the post race tech. Again, we’ll get back to that.
New drivers in this class included Anthony Belfiore, Austin Erickson, and Gage Maron. Again, it was great to see the continued growth of this class. They did put on a good show overall.
The Sport Trucks saw a couple of new drivers, and the racing was competitive. It was no surprise that Mike Cavallaro and Chase Belcher were the ones to watch, with the 2015 title holder coming out on top. But beware, as Josh Hedges and Mike Duarte are up for the challenge, with both drivers running competitive.
Rookie Anastasia LeBrun didn’t have a good debut. She was having a hard time getting her truck up to speed, and her day ended just several laps into the qualifier. She had a cooling system failure, dropping water everywhere. Hopefully there aren’t any major problems to repair, and she can get back out soon.
The Pro Stocks showed there are some teams that have really upped their game for this season. Ryan Vanasse and Bobby Pelland III were very strong, with both leading a lot of laps. But in the end, it was Dave Darling taking down the win, with a pass on Vanasse with only a couple of laps remaining.
The field, for the first time in a long time, was a short one. Only 14 cars made the grid for opening day. There were several notable absences, including 2015 champion Angelo Belsito. I do know he just graduated from the MA. Fire Academy and that may be a major reason for him being absent. Whatever the reason, he was missed by many fans.
Jake Vanada was another on the sideline. While it is sad to see the low count, it is understandable. It’s part of the ebb and flow of the sport. Will we see an increase in the cars? I am sure we will.
Now, let’s get to the elephant in the room. We mentioned earlier about two drivers getting disqualified. Let’s go over why.
Paul Lallier failed post race tech with a crankshaft height infraction. The rules give a specific height that it has to be. Well, a minimum anyways. His engine was too low according to the tech officials. I didn’t ask how far off he was, it didn’t matter. Was it an oversight as he was working until the final days to get his car complete and ready? Possibly. But the reason doesn’t matter. It did not meet the rules, therefore he did not get to keep his win.
Ray Parent failed post race tech on a fuel issue. Ray raced at Thompson in their season opener, picking up the win. Where he finished didn’t matter, as this was a different track. The rules package for the Late Models fall under the ACT rules. However, many of the other speedways run Sunoco fuel. Seekonk has a contract with VP fuels, and this is outlined in a specific rule for the Pro Stocks and Late Models. Here’s the link in case you want to see. http://seekonkspeedway.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2017-Pro-Stock-Late-Model-Fuel-Rule.pdf
There is a lot of controversy on social media about this. Some say it shouldn’t matter the fuel he was running. That the specific gravity should be the final say. Others say that because the car is built under ACT rules, it should be grandfathered in under those rules. Well, while I agree, let’s take a look at their rule, out of their rulebook:
“ACT US Tour and Thunder Road competitors must run approved VP C9 (unleaded) or VP 110 leaded fuel. Fuel must not mix with water or any additives, and must be approved by track officials. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL TEAMS TO HAVE VP RACING FUEL IF RACING FOR 100% STATUS (i.e. point fund participation, etc.). Weekly racers who participate in ACT events may run Sunoco fuel, if they choose.”
Now, their rule says if you are a weekly runner who competes at a track that runs Sunoco, you can run Sunoco, if they choose. Thompson Motorsports Speedway Park is a track that has a contract with Sunoco Race Fuels. To run regularly at Thompson, you need to run Sunoco.
Waterford Speedbowl, before their controversy sent out a memo that the Late Models, which run under the same ACT rules, will be running Hoosier tires at that speedway for the regular events. So, I guess, under the online community belief, that you could show up running American Racer tires and still be legal. This is for weekly competition only. An ACT sanctioned EVENT will run under the complete guidelines of ACT.
I can not recollect any instance in the 20 plus years that I have known Ray for him to be disqualified for any reason. He is a former champion, and carries that wherever he goes. I hate to see a great competitor in Ray, and a solid car owner, and someone I consider a friend in Don Parsons decide that they feel that they were wronged. The fuel, in my mind, gave no advantage in his performance. It wasn’t the reason he was so quick. I would love to see them return and show everyone how great that team can be.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
On Monday, several Pro Stock and Sportsman teams headed up to Loudon, NH to practice on the Magic Mile. It was a necessary practice for all who intend to compete on July 1st, in the first annual Short Track Showdown. This day will feature a Street Stock open comp, the NorthEast Mini Stock Tour, the Granite State Pro Stocks and the Valenti Modified Racing Series. Only a handful of drivers have experience on the Loudon mile, so it was imperative that they get up there and try their hand. Good luck to all that compete.
This week, we kick off our NASCAR under the lights schedule. You don’t want to miss any of the action.