Nine drivers will officially etch their name into the history books at Seekonk Speedway when they are honored, along with top finishers and special award winners at the 74th season awards banquet. The event will take place on Saturday, January 18, 2020, at the Venus De Milo in Swansea, carrying on a tradition that dates back many decades.
In the Pro Stocks, David Darling will officially celebrate another dominate campaign behind the wheel of the No. 52. Darling was able to earn another handful of wins in his Division I machine, scoring his seventh track championship, bolstering his name a bit more. With crew chief Jeff Belyea, Darling has been the dominant car for the last three years, winning all three titles and more than half of the races. Although Darling dominated, Dylan Estrella was able to grab three wins of his own in his No. 46 for Everett’s Auto Parts, and he will be honored with his second-place championship trophy. Ryan Vanasse, Tom Scully Jr. and Kevin Casper completed the top five.
A jump from the Sportsman division to the Everett’s Auto Parts Late Models might have looked difficult from the outside, and it was, but Tommy Adams wasn’t going to let that stop him from earning the championship in the Late Model class this year. Adams will be honored for the first-time as a track champion, after edging former division title-holder Ryan Lineham by just four points in the final tally. A mid-season crash derailed the chances for Adams, but he was able to rebound to capture the gold. Lineham finished second, while Vinnie Arrenagado, Gerry DeGaspere Jr. and Mark Jenison finished the top five.
After watching Scott Bruneau and Paul Lallier do it the last two years, Corey Fanning figured it was time he add his own name to the list of Helger’s Southcoast Power Equipment Sportsman champions in 2019. Fanning, who took the lead from Tyler Lallier in the final month, was able to edge Lallier by 10 in the final standings. The sponsorship from Everett’s Auto Parts might have helped things along in the final half of the season, but Fanning showed right out of the box he had the speed to get the job done. Steve Axon was third, followed by Scott Bruneau and Chad Baxter.
Being a Rookie of the Year contender in the Seekonk Sport Trucks is often enough for most drivers to chase for one season, but Richie Murray wasn’t going to let that be the only accomplishment of his first act on the big stage. Murray visited Victory Lane multiple times in his first season, and pulled away from Barry Shaw Jr. in the final two months, edging Shaw in the end by just eight points after a malfunction in his truck forced Murray to a backup from another competitor in the finale. Shaw would finish second, while Connor Souza, Ed Perry and Mikey Cooper completed the top five. Murray, Souza and Cooper were all in their rookie seasons.
The 2019 Fast Friday season saw some of the largest car counts in history, and five more deserving drivers will celebrate their accomplishments at the banquet. Giovanni Ruggerio (Outlaw) and Reese Bogue (Bandit) will be honored as champions of Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero divisions for the season.
In the Bandit class, Bogue gave a flashback to a year before, when Devin Deshaies dominated and won more than half of the races. Bogue would do the same — dusting through the competition throughout the summer and coasting to the championship in his first year at Seekonk. Ruggerio, who started out of the gate with plenty of success, struggled into the summer, but had built up enough of a lead to feel comfortable going into the finale. Ruggerio beat Samantha Dell, who earned her first win, by 14 points, while Bogue was on top by a whopping 84 points.
With 48 different cars taking the green flag, everyone knew the Sport 4 division was going to be anyone’s game — but it was three drivers who are no strangers to success battling for it in the final week. Mikey Lefort , the eventual 2019 champion, AJ Manuel, the 2018 champion, and Jordan Lopes, a multiple-time winner, went into the final week separated by mere inches. In the end, Lefort and Manuel tied for the top spot — but by virtue of his second win of the season on the final night, Lefort edged Manuel for the title in a tiebreaker. Lopes was third, just six points out. The three drivers put on a show all season, and each will be honored — but it’s Lefort who has earned the spot at the head table.
It was a long time coming for Greg Perry, who finally sealed his first championship in the Pure Stock division, nailing down the title by 12 points over teammate Danny Massa Jr. Perry has been no stranger to the Pure Stock class over the last decade, but had never quite been able to put the consistency together to search for the championship trophy. This year was different, as Perry didn’t win every week, but consistently found himself in the top five when it mattered. Doug Benoit, the 2018 champion, finished behind Perry and Massa.
And in the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars, a new track meant a fresh championship trophy for Peter Bennett, who sealed the Legends Cars title by 12 over Josh Parsons. Bennett wasn’t planning to run full-time when the season started, but after a few weeks of success, he found himself up front in the points, and couldn’t give up the opportunity. Bennett would struggle over the final two weeks, but his early success, including a win, saved him. Parsons was second, while Brendon Hammann earned his first win and finished third.
At the banquet, Cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m. and dinner will begin promptly at 7 p.m., served by the team at Venus. The awards ceremony will follow, where champions, top finishes, rookies of the year and more will be honored. For more information on the offseason, and the upcoming banquet, fans are encouraged to visit seekonkspeedway.com and follow the track on social media.