Championship night has arrived, and 10 names have been added to the record books as champions for our 72nd season.
Fast Friday champions include Joe Marfeo in the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends, Colby Lambert in the Pure Stocks, Dave Westgate in the Sport4, Mason Tessier in the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandoleros Outlaw class, Devin Deshaies in the Bandolero Bandit division and Ava Chouinard in the Mini Cup division.
NASCAR Whelen All American Series Champions include Dave Darling in the Pro Stocks, Ryan Lineham in the Everett’s Auto Parts Late Models, Scott Bruneau in the Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman, and Mike Duarte in the Sport Trucks.
Darling picked up a track leading 8 wins this season, including the final four weeks in a row. Dave was money all year long, only finishing outside of the top five once all year. He brought Jeff Belyea into the team over the winter, and Jeff, along with Ron Pond, had that car literally on a rail all season long.
Speaking of Ronnie Pond, I asked him how many championships this made for him over the course of his career. He didn’t have an answer, but did tell me he has won championships in every decade since early 70’s. He has won titles with several different drivers, and even as a car owner. His talents setting up a car are legendary at Seekonk, and he shows no sign of slowing down.
Ryan Lineham started the season sitting behind the wheel of Rollie Linblad’s infamous #48 in the Pro Stocks, and was planning a part time schedule in the Late Model division, driving a second car out of the Nick Uhrig stable. It’s the same car that Ryan Vanasse drove over the past few seasons for the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series. Opening night saw him carrying the checkered flag and atop the standings after the first week. From there, it was a let’s see where this goes attitude. His spot on the top of the points never wavered, and he kept coming back week after week. As the season wore down, the reality was starting to set in, and on Saturday, he was named champion of the Everett’s Auto Parts Late Models. Sometimes, when there is no pressure, there’s no reason not to.
Scott Bruneau came into the season coming off his second Sportsman championship. While he had to wait until the month of September before he was able to carry a checkered flag, his consistency propelled him to the top of the standings early, and he never looked back. In a season that saw 15 different drivers win a race, Scott sat consistently in the top five. As he got to the track on Saturday, the title was clinched. With all of that, he finished third in the national NASCAR Whelen All American Series Division III standings. Congratulations to Scott.
Mike Duarte came into the final night of the year only 4 points behind Chase Belcher, who had led the standings all season long. He needed some luck and maybe some misfortune to get by the former Sport Truck Champion, and he received both. We’ll talk about the misfortune part in a minute. With four drivers separated by 16 points, there wasn’t much wriggle room for mistakes. The night started with a transmission change during practice, and ended with a top five finish and a championship. He held off Josh Hedges by 2 points, who went on to win the final point event of the season.
Congratulations of ALL of our champions for 2017. I look forward to celebrating with all of you in November at our annual awards banquet at the Venus de Milo in Swansea.
Ok, let’s talk about the misfortune part. Yeah, many of you know what happened over the final laps of the truck race. Actually, some of it has popped its ugly head around several times throughout the past few seasons. I am absolutely disgusted at some of the things I witnessed. The petty differences some drivers have against other drivers for whatever reason they have has put a black eye on the division and the individuals involved.
It’s no secret that racing is a very emotional sport. Over the years, we have seen similar instances of “payback” or revenge on somebody done somebody wrong. I am not on ANY side on this issue. I am sick over this.
I remember Geoff Bodine would come to New England and beat the Bouchards, Stevens, Summers, Evans’, and anyone else that competed weekly at Stafford, Seekonk, Thompson or any other track that was in action. He would do someone wrong from time to time, being an aggressive driver, things would happen. There would be retaliation, and it would be over. They wouldn’t carry it from month to month, year to year. Remember the Martinsville incident between Geoff and Richie? It didn’t follow them to the next race. It was over, one was celebrating, one was disappointed.
It’s time to be an adult and get over it. Forget the pettiness, jealousy, revenge or whatever it is clouding your judgement.
The DAV Fall Classic is coming over the next two weeks, and I am hoping that the weather Gods are on our side. Then the Pumpkin Smash, and finally the Haunted 100, featuring the Tri Track Open Modifieds, the Late Models, and the Legends. What a way to close out the season.