by Kyle Souza
Mother Nature was finally ready to see some racing at Seekonk Speedway this past Saturday night. And so was every single race team, driver and fan in attendance.
After a long offseason, the 74th season of Seekonk action started off on a Saturday after the original opening day was rescheduled following rain on Sunday, May 5. Although fans had to wait a week to watch the first races of the season, they didn’t leave the track disappointed.
In the Seekonk Sports Trucks, Barry Shaw Jr. took a new sponsor to Victory Lane in his first time back on the track. Shaw, who is now working inside the Everett’s Auto Parts stable, dominated the first race of the season and picked up the checkered flag in both his qualifying heat and the feature. Shaw didn’t roll to the victory easily though, as newcomer Rob Bryant was trying to chase him down in the final laps. Bryant would settle for second, while Mike Cavallaro, a former division champion and one of the best the class has ever seen, was third in the final tally.
The Everett’s Auto Parts Late Model feature may have started off rough, but it was a welcomed return to Victory Lane for seven-time champion Gerry DeGaspere Jr. at the end of 30 laps. DeGaspere started on the outside pole in his qualifying heat, but after slight contact with eventual heat winner Derek Gluchacki, he finished third. In the feature, the veteran started at the front, and led the entire distance. After a few years of struggling with setup, it looks like he is back in prime form. Mark Jenison was second, followed by Chase Belcher.
In the Helger’s Southcoast Power Equipment Sportsman, it looked as though Ant Kohler was going to roll into Victory Lane with his first career feature win. However, after post-race technical inspection, it was former champion Scott Bruneau who was carrying the checkered flag. Kohler started from the pole and was at the point for the entire event, but, Bruneau started eighth and had to work his way to the top. Even though the win comes after another driver failed inspection, Bruneau will certainly take it. Tyler Lallier was second and Corey Fanning third.
It was another former champion working his way into Victory Lane in the Pro Stock opener, as David Darling, who has dominated the last two years, didn’t let the offseason rules changes slow him down. Darling started fourth, but passed Ryan Vanasse for the lead early, and never looked back. He didn’t quite have a Sunday drive, though — as former champion Fred Astle was closing in the final laps with a brand new car, and did the best he could to make a race of it. Astle would finish second, while Vanasse settled for third. It looks like the new rules package and a new car put Astle back in prime form.
With one week down, Seekonk returns to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action next Saturday, May 18.