With the month of June finally upon us, we FINALLY got some actual racing in, and what a weekend of action. Who would have believed that it would have waiting until the first week of June to get it in?

The Whelen Modified Tour came to town, and we had a great field of racers on hand to compete. There was plenty of side by side racing in the Tour event Chase Dowling did an awesome job coming from 13th to finish in the runner up spot, only to run out of tires to take a shot at winner Justin Bonsignore. Matt Hirschman, who won both Tri Track Modified races here last year, was once again unable to duplicate that magic with the Whelen Mods. Another great run however, as he finished third.

Last year, when the Tour came to town, the locals stole the show. This year was no exception. The Late Models put on a tremendous clinic at the front of the field. Officially, there were two lead changes between two drivers. Realistically, it was one of the best races I have ever had the privilege of calling. It was so much fun watching Ray Parent hold off Jake Johnson for most of the 50 laps, then Vinny Arrenegado over the final couple.

Parent and Johnson raced side by side for the lead over and over again. While as exciting as that was, it was the final six laps that had EVERYONE on the edge of their seats. Now, I mentioned those drivers, as they finished in the top three, but to be honest, with Jeramee Lille and Ryan Lineham running fourth and fifth were just as much a part of the outcome as the top three.

At one point, they were 4 wide for the lead, but briefly. Three wide for a lap and a half. Lille and Lineham were right there in the fight. If you missed it, there are a couple of videos out on social media showing the skill of the three.

What impressed me the most, was after the race, all three were smiling and enjoying the moment of what they were just a part of. To them, it may have been just a race, but the fans won’t soon forget it.

By the way, Jake’s spotter for the race was Ray Parent Jr.

Unfortunately, both Parent and Johnson won’t be running many LM races this season. Ray is running only a couple of races, while Jake’s schedule will have him in the Pro Stocks, which, by the way, will start this week.

Scott Bruneau hasn’t lost a step over the winter, and started his title defense in fine fashion, dominating the Sportsman main event. Even over several restarts, there wasn’t much pressure on him, allowing him to be able to relax out front.

The most exciting part of the race was watching Kyle Casper and Corey Fanning work their way through the field. They both qualified well, but ran into issues in tech after the heats. Whatever the issues, they were minor and easily fixable, and they showed what they could do. If they were able to start where they qualified, they may have been able to challenge Bruneau.

Bobby Tripp returned to the racing wars, and the former Pro Stock Champion hasn’t lost his edge at all. He was quick during the practices, and held on to pick up the opening day win in the Sport Truck feature. He held off challenges from Josh Hedges for most of the event. Defending champion Mike Duarte was second with Barry Shaw third.

There were a lot of good stories from opening day from the teams, and some not so good stories. Some teams struggled that aren’t used to struggling. The best news? While there were accidents, there weren’t any major ones. Repairs can and will be made that won’t break the bank.

It was good to see Ed Flanagan Jr running well for a change. He’s subbing for Vinny Pangelinan while Vin heals a broken wrist suffered over the spring. While it’s only for a couple of weeks, it’s a confidence booster for Ed.

Another driver with a good run was Mark Hudson. He looked good on the original opening day, but seemed to struggle a little in qualifying Saturday night. He made it right for the feature, and moved his way into the top ten by the end of the race. It looks like Mark will be with us weekly this year.

Even with his misfortune, Josh Hedges showed he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. He made it back up through the field pretty quickly in a short period of time. Watch out for him.

Bob Clark made his return to Late Model racing, and will only be running a handful of events this season. He qualified through the consi, and made it into the top ten before he bounced off the wall late in the race. He was confident he had a top five car.

Charlie Rose suffered something breaking on his car Saturday. He was running well before shooting up the track in turn three, just barely keeping it off the wall. Charlie has been fast during the practices, and will be tough to beat.

When you make a mistake, you apologize and move on. When it keeps happening, it has become habit, and makes it hard to break. That is something I have fallen under with one competitor, where I have called him by his fathers’ name too often. My apologies to you, Andrew Kun, you fans and your sponsors for misrepresenting you. I will get it right.

Fast Friday kicked off this past week as well, and the competitors were up to the task. It was a little weird with the absence of the Mini Cups, but many of the competitors are still competing, so that helped.

The Bandeleros put on a good show in both classes. Devin Deshais picked up the win in the Bandit division, while Evan Marchand won the Outlaws. All of the drivers put out their best effort, and that’s the most important thing they can do.

The Sport4’s had one caution early in the race, and went non stop until the checkered. Rookie contender, and third generation racer, Richie Murray set fast time and led the field through the first 15 laps until the transmission jumped out of gear. That allowed Dave Westgate to get past and take down the win. Richie will be trading the drivers seat weekly with his sister Crystal. Dad Rob assured me that she is every bit as confident as Richie is. This will be exciting.

Doug Benoit had a great season last year, with a trip abroad keeping from a serious push for the championship. He kicked off this season sitting in Everett’s Auto Parts Victory Lane for the Pure Stocks. Good run for him, and everyone in the division.

 

Casey Call used a late race restart to pass former Nick’s Pit Stop Champion Shaun Buffington and pick up his first career win at Seekonk. It was a good showing for the Legends as they kicked off the season.

This week, we welcome the Pro Stocks back into the fold for their second attempt at a season opener. If May 6th is any indication, this should be another exciting race.

Who will it be taking down the win on opening day? The top bet is 5 time and defending champion Dave Darling, and that I a good choice. Over the past ten seasons, he’s picked up opening day win in over half of them.

Could Angelo Belsito make a triumphant return? What about Kevin Casper? Or Todd Annarummo? Tom Scully Jr is ready, as is Ryan Vanasse, Fred Astle, Rick Martin, Mike Brightman, and Bobby Pelland III. Then there are the rookies, Dylan Estrella, Jake Johnson and Austin Blais.

It will be a great show, I can feel it.

On top of the Pro Stocks kicking off their season with a 65 lap Phil’s Propane Triple Crown event, we induct Vinny Annarummo Ed St. Angelo onto the Wall of Fame. They will now forever be a permanent part of the speedway.