By Kyle Souza
The Fast Friday season kicks-off this week.
The five divisions that will compete on Friday’s throughout the summer months will showcase some of the upcoming talent Seekonk Speedway has to offer. If previous history is any indication, many of the competitors you see racing on Friday’s will eventually end up part of the NASCAR Saturday program.
The list of storylines entering the new year is endless. AJ Manuel is back to defend his crown in the Sport 4 class, as the Tiverton, Rhode Island, native was the dominant car throughout last season. But his quest to return to the top isn’t going to be easy. In the Sport 4 Blastoff at the Memorial Day Thrill Show, Manuel passed Mike LeFort in the final laps to take the win. LeFort is going to look to grab his own checkered flags, and he is hoping he can knock his first title off his bucket list.
Former champion David Westgate is back for another season of competition, as the veteran has been a threat to score the title just about every season he has run. Names like Tim Bolger Jr., Samantha Mattera, Crystal Murray, Jordan Lopes, Henry Lavallee and Tyler Almeida are just some of the large field of drivers who will contend this season.
This could be the year for Greg Perry to breakthrough into Pure Stock championship glory. The Taunton, Massachusetts, driver has been close before, and he always has the speed to get the job done. But defending champion Doug Benoit isn’t going to let that championship trophy just slip away. And names like Ava Chouinard, Amy Arsenault, Lenny Sousa, Mike Henriques and Danny “The Outlaw” Massa aren’t going to give up without a fight.
In the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars, the title might run through Joshua Parsons. He came just a few points short of the title last year, but was one of the fastest cars each week he unloaded at the track. He will have names like Brendon Hammann, Reagan Parent, Connor Souza, Mason Tessier and John O’Sullivan hunting him down. Moving up from the Bandolero class, defending Bandit champion Devin Deshaies unloads with a Legends Car for the first time, while Isaiah Newcomb makes the jump as well. Additional entrants will include Don Parsons, Matt Carpenter, Andrew Carpenter, Mason Levesque and more.
Seekonk Grand Prix returns for another year as the primary sponsor of the Bandolero division, as the youth racers at Seekonk Speedway have a chance to showcase their talent once again. The youth racing program is known for producing Saturday night champions in the past. Dylan Estrella, a two-time Late Model champion and Pro Stock winner, started his career racing on Friday night. This year’s field of competitors is going to be one of the largest in the short history of the division. Entering their third year, the class is broken down into two divisions — the Bandolero Bandits and the Bandolero Outlaws.
Among the favorites in the Bandit division, newcomer Brenden LeBelle was towards the top of the speed charts in pre-season testing. The Taunton, Massachusetts, native will look to put the consistency he needs together to capture his first win early in the season — and possibly even make a run at the championship. The Vanasse family history continues as both Collin and Ryan Vanasse Jr. will compete in the Bandit division, looking to follow in the footsteps of “The Rocket” Ryan Vanasse, who captured the Pro Stock win just a few weeks ago.
In the Outlaws, if the pre-season practice sessions are any indication, the battle for the championship is going to be close right to the wire. Nathan Smith and Giovanni Ruggerio paced many of the sessions, but Isaiah Newcomb, moving up from the Bandit division, is certainly going to be a major threat. He was one of the only drivers to defeat Devin Deshaies last year in the Bandit class.
Additional Bandolero competitors across both divisions will include names like Brent Robidoux, Samantha Dell, Adam Harrison and Colin Floyd. The family name lives on for the Hanafin’s as Mike takes his first laps, and in the Murphy family, Robert Murphy Jr. takes to the track with the familiar No. 82 colors that Rob took to Sports Truck Victory Lane.
These are just a few of the many drivers who will take to the track for Fast Friday.
The Fast Friday event is a family-friendly event with just $7 admission at the front gate. The series runs nearly every Friday starting May 31 through September.