By Souza Media/Kyle Souza
SEEKONK, Mass. — Tradition continues on Saturday, May 8, when Seekonk Speedway opens the gates to fans and competitors for the first NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Saturday night throwdown of the 2021 season. Coming off an exciting opening day on May 2, where fans and the four NASCAR divisions were welcomed back for the first time in 18 months, competitors are set for round two on Saturday.
Grandstand capacity remains at 12% due to guidelines in place by the state of Massachusetts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, tickets are being sold in advance through and expected to sell out prior to the event. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $5 for those ages 6-12. Children ages five and under are free.
The night will mark the opening of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series for the season — a three-race series, with extra laps and a separate point championship battle. The points accumulated during the Phil’s Propane races will count towards the season champion, but will Seekonk will also crown a Phil’s champion. The Chaz Auto Body Sport Trucks have the honor of starting it off with a 35-lap feature on Saturday.
The Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series produces added excitement all summer long. The championship format will remain the same as previous years with a “Chase” system in place. The final four drivers will be made up of the winner of the first race, winner of the second race, and the two highest point getters that have not yet won a race. In the event that one of the finalists can not compete in the finale, the next alternate in the standings will become a finalist. In the event of a tie for non-winning qualifiers, the tie-breaker will be the championship standings. In order to be eligible, the driver must compete in all three events.
Four opening day winners will look to start their campaigns with back-to-back checkered flags: David Darling, Vinnie Arrenegado, Chad Baxter and Barry Shaw Jr. Each have a different story to tell from opening day, but all four ended carrying the trophy.
Shaw, who started the year with a dominating win, looks to get back to Victory Lane, this time coming from further back in the field. Driving the No. 85 Everett’s Auto Parts Truck, Shaw was clearly the fastest truck on the property during opening weekend — but is going to have a stout list of challenges chasing him down. Defending Chaz Auto Body Sport Truck champion Richie Murray, who finished fourth in the opener, looks to get back to the front, while names like rookie Amy Arsenault, former champion Mike Cavallaro and Brittany Campbell will also be threats in the extra-distance feature.
Darling, who started his quest for an eighth Pro Stock title in Victory Lane, is the clear favorite to chase the crown this year in the Pro Stocks. However — if opening day is any indication — a few former Seekonk champions are going to make it tough on him. Tom Scully Jr. charged from the back to the front in the 45-lap Power 5 race presented by American Racer to finish third in the opener, while Dylan Estrella — a two-time Late Model champion — and Kenny Spencer — the 2014 title-holder who is back out of retirement — also finished top-five. Add Fred Astle Jr., Rick Martin, Mike Brightman, Ryan Vanasse and others to the mix and it should be an exciting 40-lapper on Saturday.
Vinnie Arrenegado may have been victorious in the opening day Everett’s Auto Parts Late Model feature, but it doesn’t mean he was the dominant force. It was 2019 champion Tommy Adams who started on the front row and led the first 29 laps, before getting sideways off turn two. Adams and Arrenegado got together while he tried to straighten it out, slammed a few times, and when the dust settled, it was Arrenegado hoisting the trophy and Adams spinning in turn three. The defending champion will look to get revenge on the field on Saturday night — joined by Arrenegado, seven-time champion Gerry DeGasparre Jr., Josh Hedges, Chase Belcher and more.
The Helger’s South Coast Sportsman field will be chasing Chad Baxter, who unloaded with plenty of speed and dominated their opening 30-lap feature. This time around, the drivers are set for 25 laps — with names like Craig Pianka, Steve Axon, and defending division champion Corey Fanning looking to grab their first victory of the season. Watch for Joe Kolher, who finished second on opening day, to be a threat in week two, along with others.
NASCAR Saturday night showdown practice begins at 3:45 p.m., with qualifying heat racing set for 6 p.m. The grandstand gates will open to spectators at 4 p.m.
Seekonk Speedway will hold a Fast Friday only practice session on Friday night, May 7, from 4-7 p.m. This practice is open to the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero cars, Nick’s Pit Stop Legends, Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Pure Stocks and Sport 4’s. The grandstands will not be open to the public for the practice rounds.
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