PRO ALL STAR SERIES & AMERICAN CANADIAN TOUR STARS TO INVADE MASSACHUSETTS FOR MID-WEEK SHOW
BY KYLE SOUZA
SEEKONK, Mass. — As part of a major 75th anniversary season at Seekonk Speedway in 2020, three Wednesday night races will give fans a taste of both Late Model racing and open-wheel action.
On Wednesday, July 29, the inaugural Bay State Classic rolls out — with the stars of the Pro All Star Series set for 150 laps, and the drivers of the American Canadian Tour ready for 100. Both events will see a mix of locals fighting to defend the home track advantage, while touring series invaders look to steal the trophy away.
“It will be a big opportunity for a lot of drivers,” former Seekonk Late Model champion Ryan Kuhn, who plans to run double duty, said. “To do the double duty, it will definitely be a tough day… but it will be fun.”
This won’t be the first time Kuhn competes for glory in both races in the same day. In October, he ran both the PASS and Late Model features at the Haunted Hundred and faired well in both – leading countless laps and finishing second in the PASS race, while notching a third-place effort in the Late Models.
For a former track regular, who was the Rookie of the Year on the ACT Tour this year, the home track advantage could play a major role. He will have more laps at Seekonk than most of his competitors.
“It definitely helps a little bit, but I have a really good crew chief behind me — my dad — he does an amazing job on the car, making sure it’s right and the tires are right,” Kuhn said. “It takes a good car, good crew chief, good driver, to win there.”
For Seekonk Pro Stock competitors, it will be a bit of a different package compared to what they are used to running on NASCAR Saturday, but they will be up for it. Local races include a rules package that doesn’t allow drivers to use bumpstop technology, however, for the PASS race, they can use them. It creates quite the switch.
On the Super Late Model front, David Darling has been the dominant car in the NASCAR Weekly Series class over the last three years. Darling’s won three straight titles, countless races, and always runs well in the weekly extra distance races. In October’s Haunted Hundred, he was inside the top five before a late incident took him out of a chance to win, after coming from deep in the field. Darling has Jeff Belyea as his crew chief – a guy that has been around Super Late Models through the evolution of setups and knows how to get both packages up front.
“It’s definitely going to help having someone familiar with making both set of rules go,” Darling said. “Hoosier tires are a big difference as well, and the distance of the races... I’m normally running 40 or 50 laps, now running 150… not knowing the characteristics of the car and what it’s going to do at lap 150.”
For Darling, defending the home turf isn’t the only thing he wants to do. His goal, much like the rest of the field, is to hold that trophy at the end of the prestigious event. “They (PASS drivers) have good cars, good equipment and great crews, they’ve shown that the last few years. Any given day any number of those can win,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who, what, when or where – if there are 30 cars that start, whoever is racing wants to run the best they can. They can show up the day of the race and have two or three practices and be quick, we have seen that. It’s a completely different game than it was years ago. I go into it wanting to win and run well.”
Even though he did run the bumpstop package once in 2019, at the PASS race, Darling knows it’s going to be a challenge from all fronts.
“Saving your stuff, from a Hoosier standpoint, anyone that runs those has an advantage over me. They know what the car needs to do. Jeff knows what the car needs to look like, and he knows the tires… but it’s a team effort. I must be able to give the best information to him. It’s nice that we have a second PASS race – what we learned from October we can take to this one coming up.”
PASS invaders are always a major threat. Mike Hopkins used a late pass of Kuhn to win the Haunted Hundred PASS race, while in the past, it’s been a mix of Seekonk regulars and PASS invaders winning. Ben Rowe, the all-time PASS winner with 41 victories spreading across his tenure in the series, would love to add Seekonk to his winning resume.
In the Haunted Hundred, Reid Lanpher, Rowe, and Gabe Brown finished behind the top two. Alan Tardiff, Ben Ashline, DJ Shaw, Eddie MacDonald and Travis Benjamin were the top 10. Fred Astle was the first Seekonk regular in the finishing order, 11th.
Both major touring series divisions are happy to be able to add a date at Seekonk for 2020 and are pleased to be a part of the 75th season celebration.
“We’re really excited about it,” PASS owner Tom Mayberry said. “We had talked about doing something last year, but we took a year to think about it, and it all worked out. We’ve done some events together with ACT and we’re both excited. Seekonk fits these cars perfectly. The local guys run well, so it’s a good mix. It’s a win for everybody.”
“Seekonk and the cars and drivers are big supporters of the ACT model,” Chris Michaud, managing partner of the American Canadian Tour, said. “It’s important for us to support Seekonk and their drivers. Teaming up with Tom for a mid-week show has the potential to be a big hit, especially being Seekonk’s 75th season. It’s huge for us to be back, and we’re looking forward to it. When you compare the locals with ACT, it’s some really good competition with on both sides.”
Ryan Kuhn says winning would mean everything.
“It’d be a huge deal for my sponsor, Everett’s Auto Parts, to win with them on the car for both shows, to go to VL for them and our family,” he said. “If we can win at home, it’d be a huge accomplishment especially for a touring series.”