Two months of racing down, three months remaining. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season is off to a strong start for all four divisions at Seekonk Speedway. A mix of veteran competitors and rookie drivers are leading their respective divisions into a week off to celebrate Independence Day.
In the Seekonk Sports Trucks, the Murray name continues to rise. It’s a familiar name to many in the grandstands at Seekonk, because multiple in the family have been successful winning races for many decades. This year, it’s Richie Murray showing the way, picking up his first win in the Trucks, and leading the championship standings heading for an week off. Murray has shown that the Truck has the speed to get the job done, consistently scoring finishes inside the top five and collecting some crucial points. It might be early, but his 16 point advantage in the standings shows he’s going to be a threat for the title.
Barry Shaw Jr., a veteran Seekonk competitor who has sponsorship from Everett’s Auto Parts this season, is going to try to use his experience to his advantage. Shaw’s been to Victory Lane already, and has been consistent enough to keep him within striking distance in the title chase. Behind him, former Pure Stock champion Andrew Kun is looking to jump closer to the top. Kun is 28 points back, while Ed Perry, a feature winner this year, and Lenny Guy round out the top five.
The Helger’s Southcoast Power Equipment Sportsman continue to put on some of the best short-track racing in the region. With three and four-wide action becoming the normal, everyone looks forward to watching this Division III class hit the track each week. Right now, the title chase runs through another Lallier. Last year, it was Paul Lallier who dominated en route to the title, but this season, it’s his son, Tyler, who is pulling away and flexing his muscle early. Tyler has just eight points on Corey Fanning, but he’s consistently been at the front of the field and been one of the fastest cars each week.
Fanning, who has two straight wins entering the Independence Day break, is looking to capture his first Seekonk title this season. If they can keep the speed they have under the hood, watch for him to be a major threat going down the stretch run. Craig Pianka, the one they call ‘Captain Fun’, is third, 14 points back, while Chad Baxter and former champion Scott Bruneau round out the top five. Inside those top five, Fanning, Baxter and Bruneau have victories. Outside of those five, Steve Axon (sixth, two wins) and Kyle Casper (seventh, one win) have also been to Victory Lane.
The Late Models are in prime form each week. With the ACT rules package in place, this division has a lot of cars with close setups, and the racing on the track is coming down to the driver behind the wheel. That has produced some of the best Late Model action at Seekonk in the last decade. Right now, former Sportsman regular Tom “The Bomb” Adams seems to have the hot setup. He leads the championship standings by 20 points on the heels of two victories in the first two months, and is showing no signs of slowing down. But he isn’t running away with it just yet.
Mark Jenison, who finally scored his first career Seekonk win, is hanging on tightly to second spot. Jenison is a veteran of Late Model racing, who also competes full-time in the division at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Former champion Ryan Lineham is third, 36 points back, while Mark Hudson and Gerry DeGasperre Jr. complete the top five. Outside of the front five, Vinnie Arrenegado (sixth, one win) and Paul Newcomb (ninth, one win) have carried the checkered flag.
Dave Darling continues to have a stranglehold on the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I Pro Stock class. He’s been the dominant car over the last few years, and a few offseason rules changes haven’t seemed to slow him down one bit. He’s been to Victory Lane, but, he isn’t the only driver to hold the checkered flag. So far, Ryan Vanasse, Dylan Estrella and Mike Brightman have joined him in the winner’s circle.
But, Darling’s consistency isn’t letting him fall from the top of the standings. He leads by 34 points over Vanasse, who quietly has been consistent enough to put himself back in title contention this year. Fred Astle, a former multiple-time champion of the division who has a brand new car this season, is third, 38 back. Former champion Tom Scully Jr. (fourth) is tied with Kevin Casper and Estrella for the fourth position. Behind them, Rick Martin is seventh. There are also multiple other drivers in the division who have been close to capturing a checkered flag, including Kevin Casper, who has finished inside the the top five on multiple occasions.