WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN: SEEKONK DRIVERS EARNED INEX CROWNS IN 2020
BY SOUZA MEDIA/KYLE SOUZA
SEEKONK, Mass. — While COVID-19 impacted the racing community across the country in 2020, including at Seekonk Speedway, multiple Seekonk competitors earned enough points to become INEX state champions. Although INEX didn’t officially honor state champions last year in both the Bandolero’s and Legends Cars, due to COVID, Seekonk Speedway would like to recognize those drivers who would have been crowned.
A simple look at what could have been is below:
In the Bandolero Bandit division, across the Northeast region, Richie Helger Jr. (Rhode Island), Brent Robidoux (Massachusetts) and Ethan Dion (Connecticut) were the top point drivers in their respective states. In a normal year, they would have been crowned as state champions in the Bandolero Bandits. Doin finished fourth in the overall Northeast regional standings, with 1008 points, while Robidoux was sixth (781) and Helger was 10th (618). Additional Seekonk Bandolero drivers inside the top-10 included Darren Krantz Jr., Michael Hanafin, Milania Shilosky and Zacarias Kelley.
Dion and Helger each went to Victory Lane at Seekonk once in 2020, while Robidoux earned his best career finish (second) and was third in the track point standings. The three of them also made up the top three in Seekonk’s final trac points tally.
In the Bandolero Outlaw division, three more of Seekonk’s drivers would have earned national state championships. PJ Evans (Connecticut), Nick Chaber Jr. (Rhode Island) and Isaiah Newcomb (Massachusetts) were the top points drivers for each of their respective states. Evans finished second in the Northeast National chase with 1009 points, while Chaber was fourth (923) and Newcomb was sixth (839). Similar to the Bandits, Newcomb and Chaber were the top-two finishers in Seekonk’s points tally — while Evans ran a partial schedule and finished 10th in track points.
Additional Bandolero Outlaw drivers who finished in the top-10 in the regional standings include Brenden LaBelle, Nicholaus Bulkeley, Stephen Bowden and Reese Bogue. All of Seekonk’s drivers who finished inside the top-10 in regional points made up the entire season of winners in the Outlaws at the Massachusetts third-mile.
In the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars, Seekonk usually honors an overall champion at the banquet each year, along with four divisional champions. Those divisions include Young Lions, Semi-Pro, Pro and Master’s, as determined by age by INEX officials.
In a normal year, Giovanni Ruggerio would have been crowned the Young Lions champion. Ruggerio, a former Mini Cup and Bandolero competitor at Seekonk, made the move to the Legends Cars and found immediate success — scoring his first career win in just 10 races behind the wheel at Seekonk.
In the Semi-Pro class, Jake Johnson, who earned the Seekonk track championship in the COVID-shortened year, would have been the winner. Making the move back to Legends Cars, while continuing successful tenures in the Late Models and Pro Stocks touring the East Coast, Johnson won four races en route to the title in 2020.
Reagan Parent, who finished second in Seekonk’s track standings, would have been the Pro champion. Although Parent didn’t score his first career Legends Cars win, he was nearly a master of consistency, finishing inside the top-five often.
And in the Master’s division, which includes drivers aged 40 or more, Mike Floyd would have been the champion crowned. Floyd continues to tweak on the setup under the hood of the No. 65, and will tell you that competing with upcoming rising stars of racing is a difficult task. However, his push to compete at a high-level would have earned him a trophy.
Seekonk Speedway recognizes that INEX didn’t crown these state champions during the 2020 season due to COVID-19, but felt it was necessary to honor each of them publicly for their efforts. During a challenging year, each of these drivers deserve a sense of gratitude.
For more information on Seekonk Speedway, visit seekonkspeedway.com and follow the track on social media.