JOHNSON, BENOIT, NEWCOMB, LEFORT & DION HOLD TITLES IN 2020
BY SOUZA MEDIA
SEEKONK, Mass. — After a COVID-19 abbreviated season at Seekonk Speedway, five Fast Friday champions were crowned for their success on the track. Jake Johnson (Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars), Doug Benoit (Pure Stocks), Isaiah Newcomb (Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero Outlaws), Mike Lefort (Sport 4) and Ethan Dion (Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero Bandits) have all earned the right to called champion as part of the 75th anniversary season.
Their championships were won as part of a 10-race Everett’s Auto Parts Diamond Jubilee Series. The Fast Friday season concluded October 9, with all 10 races seeing no fans in the grandstands due to COVID-19 regulations from the state of Massachusetts. Three of the champions earned their second crowns at the third-mile, who two others celebrated for the first time.
Johnson, a former winner in Seekonk’s Pro Stock and Late Model divisions, earned his second track title, both in the Legends Cars. Johnson was a 2016 champion in the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars, before taking his talents to Saturday night competition. He’s also spent time touring the East Coast competing in his Pro Stock, where he’s had success. This year, Johnson returned to the Legends Cars in a new ride and put on a show — winning four times, and finishing inside the top-five in eight of 10 races.
“We had a great season and I have to thank two people for that,” Johnson said. “My dad, without him I wouldn’t even be here, and Chase Pistone, because without him, I wouldn’t even have been relevant on the track.”
Benoit, the 2018 Pure Stock champion, returned to the top of the class this season with a new car and plenty of speed. The driver of the No. 2 beat Danny Massa by just six points, after entering the season-finale in a tie at the top of the standings. Benoit won four times, and finished inside the top-five in all races but one in 2020. The Pure Stock class continues to have some of Seekonk’s top competition, and Benoit deserves credit for besting his challengers two out of three years.
“I’m surprised I won, Danny had a faster car the second half of the year,” Benoit said. “Usually I’m a mild and timid driver, but the adrenaline was pumping. I want to thank my friends that run this division — we have a great group of guys. I have to thank my sponsors for this year, and my friend Paul Tavares, who helped me build the car.”
For Newcomb, winning the championship in the Bandolero Outlaw division was not an easy task. He trailed in the championship standings for much of the season, but when Nick Chaber Jr. struggled in the final three weeks, Newcomb took advantage. He entered the final night two points ahead, and left four points up front as the champion. Newcomb won two races and finished top-five in nine.
“It was scary at the end,” Newcomb said. “I would like to thank Jesus Christ, my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister, my other brother…(and many others).”
For Lefort, the path to a second Sport 4 title in two years was a lot more relaxed this time. Last year, Lefort went into the finale in the middle of a tight battle with AJ Manuel and Jordan Lopes — but this time — the driver of the Lucky No. 13 racing machine pulled away throughout the year, sealing the crown with one race remaining. He picked up one victory and finished top-five in seven of 10 races.
“It was a weird season this year,” Lefort said. “A few people staggered back and forth and I decided to come and see how we would do. It was a bit unusual.”
Dion, who trailed Richie Helger Jr. for much of the season, took advantage of a few struggles by Helger in the final three weeks and pulled away on the final night to take the No. 8 to championship form. He may have only picked up one victory, but he scored a top-five finish in all but two races — becoming a master of consistency in his orange machine.
“I’m super happy,” Dion said. “I’m just glad we could get a win and the championship here. I have to thank my mom, my dad, my grandpa, my sister… (and many others).”
Due to COVID-19, Seekonk Speedway will not hold any awards banquet from the 2020 season. Seekonk Speedway is already hard at work on the 2021 schedule, and more information will be released in the coming weeks. For more information visit seekonkspeedway.com and follow the track on social media.