Thompson, CT – There is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been a long hard winter and the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP) is only 23 days away. The first race weekend of 2015 includes two 15-lap features for the Mini Stock division, which creates a common theme among the contenders. The need to come out of the box strong is more important than ever and as a result teams have been feverously preparing their machines for battle with one goal in mind: win the Icebreaker.
Nick Anderson comes into the new season fresh off a victory at the World Series in October. However, the Icebreaker won’t be his first event of 2015. Anderson has elected to travel over 900 miles to compete in the CRA Street Stock Series event in Brownsburg, IN the last weekend in March. Like many, he has a bit of cabin fever motivating him to tow 16 hours to compete in a short track event that is 40 laps in distance.
Anderson pilots one of the few Chevrolets in the TSMP Mini Stock division, which serves as a challenge for both him and his crew. He faces the same stiff competition while running a push rod motor compared to the overhead cam power plant utilized by the Ford camp. He’s proud to carry the banner for the bowtie brigade, and believes he has found the gremlin that kept him out of victory lane all but once last season.
“We sent the carburetor out to get rebuilt and the car felt like it was missing something so we put the old one on and the car came right to life,” said Anderson. “Now that we found that, our car was like a night and day difference.”
Most teams will return in 2015 with the same tried and true piece that they competed with a year ago. That’s not the case for Dave Trudeau who will bring a two-year-old 1997 Mustang to the Icebreaker, the same car he built brand new and ran at Waterford last year. After going through the car from top to bottom, TSMP will become it’s home in 2015.
“I like doing my own thing and building my cars in house,” Trudeau said. “I like to go down and beat the guys with the professionally built car.”
With one win last season and years of full body experience at TSMP, a strong start to 2015 is his focus. Trudeau first made a long awaited trip to victory lane during the penultimate event of 2014, a trend he wants to change. Sandwiched around his day job as an auto body mechanic, Trudeau works on his equipment day and night. He’ll be a busy man in 2015 not only competing at TSMP and Waterford, but also has plans to compete in the inaugural Stock Car Road Race Challenge scheduled for the TSMP road course on September 11-12.
Mike Veins comes in as the reigning champion and has now won multiple track titles in the class, with his first championship dating back to 2003 while driving a Volkswagen. The championship was nice, but there was one thing missing from his mantle at the end of the year, and that was a 2014 race winner’s trophy.
“(Winning is) as much of a goal as trying to win the championship,” said Veins. “Winning a championship is hard. It’s pretty competitive now and they are not easy to come by. The goal though is to win a race or two this season and defend the title.”
Jeff Moffat was the 2014 championship runner-up and he had the coveted consistent season, with 3 top-5s and 4 top-10 finishes. Moffat is poised for a championship run with two cars in his stable for 2015.
“We have consistency down,” said Moffat. “We just need to finish higher in the field and turn the top-10 finishes into top-5s.”
If your last name is Baxter, the Icebreaker is a weekend you hope to get through with minimal issues. Brothers Joe and Chad are separated by only 17 months in age, but their blood hasn’t mixed to create Icebreaker success in the past. Neither has tasted the sweets of victory in the April opener, instead both have repeatedly fallen on bad luck time and time again.
Joe Baxter will have a brand new look to his No. 24 and a freshened motor to begin the season. Had it not been for an engine failure during the Icebreaker and a 16th place finish in second feature of the weekend last season, the year could have looked different for the driver who came just 18 points or 9 positions shy of the title.
For younger brother Chad, he’s optimistic about 2015 on the strength of two victories and a top-5 at the World Series in 2014. Last season it seemed to be feast or famine resulting in a disappointing 7th place points finish. For Chad Baxter, consistency will make the difference in his quest for Mini Stock glory.
The Icebreaker is scheduled the weekend of April 10-12 and will include two 15-lap features for the Mini Stock division, beginning with rotating practice session on Friday, April 10. For more information, including an event schedule, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube for the most up to date news and updates about Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
-Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Press Release. Photo Credit: Crystal Snape photo