Tommy Barrett, Jr. gave the fans leaving Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) something to talk about following the conclusion of the 75-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event held at the track on Thursday night.
Barrett, of Millis, Massachusetts, used a controversial last-lap pass on Todd Szegedy to win the King Cadillac GMC 75.
Szegedy, who led 74 of the 75 laps Thursday night, held the top spot on a lap-69 restart with Barrett to his outside. Barrett made a run at the lead on that restart, but a slip-up with four laps to go allowed Szegedy to pull away. The 18-year-old Barrett battled back in the closing laps to pull right to the back bumper of Szegedy’s No. 85 as they crossed under the white flag.
Smelling the scent of victory, Barrett powered his No. 9 to the inside of Szegedy as the top two made their way into turn one. Hoping to use the high banks of the Thompson Speedway oval as an additional braking device, Barrett made contact with Szegedy as they made their way through the turn. The contact forced Szegedy up into the marbles, relegating him to a sixth-place finish and allowing Barrett to cruise to the checkered flag.
“I came to the white flag and had a good run down the frontstretch, so I just sent it in,” said Barrett on his last lap pass for the lead. “He’s probably upset, most people would be, but we’re going for the win and I’d expect him to do the same thing.”
After almost seeing his hopes of winning go down the drain after washing up towards the wall with four laps remaining, Barrett wasn’t about to let what he called “his race” get away.
“When I was in fifth with nine to go, I was like, ‘Alright, it’s time to be aggressive,’” said Barrett. “I got the lucky jump and I followed Keith (Rocco) into third. I got by Keith and there was another caution.
“After I went high there in turn four, I was pretty much yelling at myself and told myself, ‘This is my race, I’m not letting it get away.’”
Barrett, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, has had a tough start to his 2014 season and hopes to use Thursday night’s win to build momentum for the rest of the racing season.
“We had a couple rough starts in the first two races on the Mod Tour,” Barrett said following Thursday night’s race. “We’ve had bad luck and things just haven’t been going our way. It feels great to get a win here finally.”
As a result of the contact between Barrett and Szegedy, 2013 VMRS champion Rowan Pennink was able to slip into the second position. Ted Christopher, who ran at the front of the field all night, grabbed the final podium spot with a third-place finish. Richard Savary of Canton, Massachusetts finished fourth and Dave Etheridge capped off a strong run with a fifth-place finish.
Sixth-place finisher Todd Szegedy wasn’t able to be reached for comment following the race, but was heard over the radio telling his team, “I couldn’t even turn” following the last lap contact with Barrett.
Leaving Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Thursday night and scrolling through social media on Friday, differing opinions were heard on Barrett’s last lap pass. While some may hate it and some may love it, the driver of the No. 9 had people talking when all was said and done that night.
Valenti Modified Racing Series King Cadillac GMC 75 Results
Thompson Speedway – May 29, 2014
|1||9||Tommy Barrett, Jr.|
|7||42||Tom Carey, Jr.|
|14||38||Mike Willis, Jr.|
|16||45||Dan Meservey, Jr.|
|18||32||Tom Abele, Jr.|
|25||22||Roy Seidell, Jr.|
By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51. Photo Credit: Speed51.com Photo