SEEKONK, Mass. – After a 73rdseason filled with thrilling finishes, three-wide racing and weekly competition at the highest level, Seekonk Speedway will crown nine different 2018 champions as part of the awards banquet and celebration next month.
The annual event is slated for Saturday, January 19, at the Venus De Milo in Swansea, Massachusetts, and begins with cocktail hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and awards to follow.
Tickets are available immediately, are $45 per seat (eight seats per table) and can be purchased either online at www.seekonkspeedway.comor by contacting Gail at the track office during normal business hours.
Leading the list of NASCAR Whelen All American Series champions, David Darling will officially earn the hardware for his sixth championship at the third-mile. Darling joins Vinnie Annarummo, Mike Cavallaro and Fred Astle Jr., with six titles at Seekonk — and now draws just one title away from the all-time record of seven, held by Gerry DeGaspere Jr. Darling has completed all of his title seasons with Gary Johnson as car owner and Ronnie Pond, one of the most recognized crew chiefs in Seekonk history, at his side. Over the last few years, Jeff Belyea has been perfecting the setup on the No. 52 Johnson’s Landscaping machine.
Darling finished the 2018 campaign with 30 more points than Jake Johnson. Johnson, who captured his first two Pro Stock wins this season, will also be honored for capturing the Rookie of the Year – which includes a $500 bonus from Columbus Energies.
Just down the head table, third-generation driver Ryan Kuhn will etch his name into the Seekonk record books as he accepts the Late Model trophy. Kuhn captured a handful of wins driving the Everett’s Auto Parts No. 72 and he defeated 2017 champion Ryan Lineham by just 10 points.
Kuhn’s Late Model championship comes just a few years after he busted onto the scene in the Fast Friday Legends Cars division, winning races before making the move to the full-fendered stock car on NASCAR Saturday night. Tommy Adams, who finished ninth in the final championship standings, will earn $400 from Columbus Energies as the Rookie of the Year.
Heading for retirement from full-time racing, Paul Lallier will have one more accomplishment to add to his resume. Lallier bested 2017 champion Scott Bruneau by 18 points to score another Sportsman title this year. Lallier will be honored as Sportsman champion for the second time in a division that is known for intense competition throughout the field — with three-wide racing expected weekly.
Just after clinching the championship, Lallier announced he was going out in style – retiring from full-time racing and shifting his racing plans to competing in select events throughout New England and Seekonk’s Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series. Ed Perry, who finished ninth, will be honored as the Columbus Rookie of the Year.
Josh Hedges, who clinched his first championship in the NASCAR Sports Truck division, will also be honored. Hedges won races throughout the year driving his family-owned truck with the help of former Pro Stock competitor Rob Murray, but after a final night disqualification of Bob Tripp, Hedges was crowned the champion for the first time. He defeated 2017 champion Mike Duarte by just 12 points in the final tally, proving that consistency on the track throughout the season was what it took to win the crown. Former Pure Stock champion Andrew Kun will earn his Columbus Rookie of the Year honors in the Sports Trucks.
Seekonk’s Fast Friday champions will earn hardware, along with the top competitors from each of the five Friday night classes.
In the Pure Stocks, Doug Benoit will accept the trophy after a season of complete domination. He won more races than anyone else, had the consistency to finish inside the top five in nearly all events, and defeated DJ Pires by 60 points – more than one full race of competition. Benoit’s first Pure Stock championship came with help from another former champion in the division, Scott Cestodio.
A dream season will conclude for AJ Manuel, as he dominated the Fast Friday Sport 4 division and clinched the championship in honor of his late father. Manuel found the No. 88 at the front of the field more often than not, and pulled away in the standings over the final month to win by over 60 points.
In the INEX Legends class, the point battle went right down to the final laps between Jake Matheson and Josh Parsons. In the end, Matheson beat Parsons by just two points, the equivalent of just one position on the third-mile track. Matheson made the long haul from New Hampshire to Massachusetts each Friday night and earned the right to be the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars champion.
And finally, two Seekonk Speedway youth talents will be crowned champions in the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero divisions. Both Evan Marchand and Devin Deshaies had previous championship experience, but their paths to the 2018 title were both in dominating fashion. Deshaies won more than half of the races in the Bandit division, while Marchand stormed onto the scene in the summer months, capturing checkered flags and pulling away in the standings.
Kevin Farnum will pick up the first place hardware in the Troy City Tactical Spectator Drag series. This exciting young series gains popularity with each season featuring an eleven race schedule split between special events and NASCAR race nights.
Seekonk’s ten champions will be honored along with special award winners from all nine classes of racing. The banquet is slated for Saturday, January 19, 2019, and tickets are available immediately by visiting www.seekonkspeedway.comor calling Gail at the track office.