Chase Dowling ducked last season’s second-place curse to find victory lane Saturday night, winning the Valenti Modified Racing Series’ portion of the 2019 Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsport Park. Dowling prevailed a fierce late-race battle with Ronnie Williams to score his first career VMRS victory and his first career win at Thompson.
“Last year we finished second four times in a row, we were so close,” Dowling said after the race. “Our car was really good on the long runs; on the short runs Ronnie obviously was better. I wasn’t going to lose this one. These guys really needed the win, they’ve been busting their tails week in and week out. We’ve got a small group, but it’s got big heart.”
The win has added significance to Dowling, who was driving the Jimmy Paige-owned No. 00 – a car also driven by one of Dowling’s heroes and Thompson’s all-time winningest driver, the late Ted Christopher. In a special moment for everyone at the track, the No. 00 crew walked out to Dowling after the race and handed him a Christopher tribute flag, which Dowling flew out the window on his way to victory lane.
“You know, I’m just a small part of this team, but this team’s been with Teddy for SKs, Tour-types, working on Tour cars with him, and just seeing that group of guys walk out with the flag, you just stop in your tracks and you’re like, ‘This is for Ted,’” Dowling stated.
“It’s almost like he was telling me I better win this thing for him. It’s obviously really cool. Those guys walking out on track as a group and giving me the flag, I know that means the world to those guys and I’m just happy to be behind the wheel of that race car.”
Ronnie Williams was the other half of the heroic duel for the lead, charging up from the 13th starting position to race wheel-to-wheel with Dowling for about 30 laps before eventually having to settle for second.
“We started thirteenth, I think we got up there around halfway and I knew (Dowling) was going to be the car to beat all day and it was going to come down to him or me,” Williams remarked. “He just got me on that final restart. I was awful on the restarts, so that’s something for me to work on, but we definitely had a fast car and wanted to win today for these guys.
“It’s cool to be battling with him, but I like to come out on top of course. But it is what it is, we’ll get ‘em next time.”
Mike Willis, Jr. held station all afternoon to finish third, while 2018 VMRS World Series winner Todd Owen made a tremendous late-race charge from 13th to finish fourth. Dylan Rock gained 11 places on the day, moving from 16th to finish fifth.
Jeff Gallup, Artie Pederson III, Dan Meservey, Jr, Carl Medeiros, Jr, and CJ Bolton rounded out the rest of the top 10.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series will have a month off before heading to Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire on May 4 for the second round of their 2019 campaign.
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Saturday's race by visiting Speed51.com's Trackside Now.
Highlights from the race will be available soon on the Speed51 Network.
-Story by: Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Valenti Modified Racing Series Unofficial Results
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) - April 6, 2019
1 00 Chase Dowling
2 25 Ronnie Williams
3 83 Mike Willis Jr
4 81 Todd Owen
5 47 Dylan Rock
6 4 Jeff Gallup
7 1A Artie Pederson III
8 45 Dan Meservey Jr
9 50 Carl Medeiros Jr
10 63 CJ Bolton
11 17 Donnie Lashua
12 66NH Andy Shaw
13 09 Brad Vanhouten
14 20 Max Zachem
15 79 Robert Bloxson III
16 79CT Mike Pares
17 19 David Schneider
18 13 Cameron Sontag
19 25CT Anthony Flannery IV
20 25NH Brian Robie
21 6 Glen Grizwald