By Souza Media/Kyle Souza
After he joined the rest of the Seekonk Sport Trucks division taking a year off due to COVID-19, Richie Murray leads the group back looking for another crown in 2021. The Tiverton, Rhode Island, third-generation driver, became a quick study of the Truck division in 2019, winning a handful of times and scoring the championship in his debut year. But, repeating as champion won’t be easy.
Murray will be back, and will be fast, but has a stout list of competitors set to challenge his chase for another crown. Barry Shaw Jr., who won multiple-times himself in 2019, is the odds-on favorite to knock him off the top. The Abington, Massachusetts, native, who drives for Everett’s Auto Parts in the No. 85, is a veteran, has a new truck, and has speed. Watch for him to be a threat to win each week, and be there at the end when it comes to the championship battle.
Making a return to the division: former champion John Paiva. As a multiple-time race winner and proven title holder, Paiva has been running select events in the Late Model division over the past few years. His return to the Trucks is likely going to mark a return to Victory Lane quickly, and he should be one in the discussion to knock Murray off the top.
Be on the look out for some other returning drivers who are going to have a say: Brittany Campbell, Jake Vanada, Mike Cavallaro and Lenny Guy. Campbell, who became the second female to score a NASCAR Saturday night win in the 2000s when she rolled the Watermark Electric No. 8 into Victory Lane in 2019, is going to win races. With a new truck at her disposal, look for quick speed out of her to open the season.
Vanada, who jumped back to the Sport Trucks after a stint in the Pro Stocks, earned a victory to close the 2019 season. With the experience in that crew, look out for him to be a threat. He’s joined by Cavallaro, a multiple-time track champion who continues to compete towards the front of the field, and Guy, a veteran that always seems to be around the top-five at the end of the night.
Look out for for Ed Perry, Darryl Church, Darryl Dutch and Elias Dib this year. Amy Arsenault, the daughter of former Sportsman champion Sparky Arsenault, and former winner in the Fast Friday Pure Stocks, will finally make her Sport Truck debut after waiting a whole year due to COVID-19. She will need some time to gain experience, but should be a quick study.
Watch for 2017 Truck champion Mike Duarte to run a partial schedule, while the Sousa family, with Lenny starting the year at the controls of the Richie’s Insulation No. 31, while see son Brad primed to take over at some point during the season. Former Sport 4 winner Sam Mattera makes her jump to the Sport Trucks, while names like “J” Fortin, Rick Albernaz, Bobby Busch Jr., Anastasia Lebrun, Connor Souza, Daniel McGee and Sam Poazzo are also registered.
The Sport Truck season will include the return of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series, a three-race series with extra laps and cash on the line, and its own champion.
Seekonk’s 75th anniversary season of racing is scheduled to kick-off on Sunday May 2, under capacity restrictions due to COVID-19. For more information on Seekonk Speedway, visit seekonkspeedway.com and follow the track on social media channels.