GROTON, CT — The exclamation point was placed on the 2017 New London-Waterford Speedbowl season Saturday when champions were crowned in seven divisions at the “Stars of the Speedbowl” banquet held at the Mystic Marriott.
More than 400 competitors, crew members, sponsors and fans were on hand to witness the festivities, hosted by track general manager Gorge Whitney.
The night’s big winner was Keith Rocco, who added two championships to his resume, the SK Modified and Late Model titles. Rocco has 12 track titles, more than any driver in Speedbowl history.
Whitney started the festivities by addressing the crowd. He said plans are under way for a great 2018 season and he thanked the competitors for all their support.
Then the awards were presented. By winning the SK crown, Rocco tied former champ Dennis Gada for most SK titles (7) and most consecutive titles (5). Rocco has won seven SK championships in the last eight years.
This was Rocco’s closest battle ever, winning by just one point over Kyle James.
In the special awards, Josh Zentek was the rookie of the year, Paul Buzel was most improved, Rob Janovic Jr. won the sportsmanship award and the James No. 21 team won the pit crew of the year trophy.
Rocco has won four Late Model titles, including the last two. His winning margin was eight points over runner-up Anthony Flannery.
Tyler Chapman, who finished third in the standings, was rookie of the year. Mike Benevides was the most improved driver, Ryan Morgan was the sportsman of the year and Flannery’s No. 25 team captured pit crew of the year honors.
Dana DiMatteo, a former Speedbowl Legends champ, won his first SK Modified Light title. His margin was just two points over Andrew Molleur.
Wayne Burroughs Jr. was rookie of the year, Alan Gombos was most improved, John O’Sullivan was the sportsman of the year and DiMatteo’s No. 176 team earned pit crew of the year honors.
Chris Meyer was honored for his first Sportsman championship, winning by 41 points over runner-up Al Stone. Meyer led the division with seven wins.
Bo Norman received the rookie of the year and sportsman award winner. Adrien Paradis was the most improved winner and Al Stone’s No. 52 team was honored as pit crew of the year.
Charles Canfield won his first Ministock championship by eight points over two-time defending champ Wayne Burroughs Jr.
Matt Brown received the rookie of the year trophy, Matthew Guertin was most improved driver, Ken Cassidy Jr. was the sportsman winner and Sean Caron’s No. 52 team won for pit crew of the year.
Duane Noll captured his second straight Speedbowl Truck championship, winning seven of eight races.
Jim Boyle, who finished second by 24 points, received rookie of the year honors. Shane Young was most improved, Jordan Churchill was sportsman of the year and Todd Taylor’s No. 21 team received the pit crew of the year award.
Kyle Rogers won his second straight Saturday Legends title. He became the first Speedbowl driver to win back-to-back Saturday Legends titles.
Corey Caddick, who finished third in the standings, was the rookie of the year, Jonathon Puleo received most improved honors and his team also was honored for pit crew of the year. Scott Limkemann was the sportsman of the year.
The winners received championship jackets from Hoosier tire and special Sunoco gas cans from Gary Byington of New England Race Fuels.
Starter George Decoster received the “Above and Beyond” award from Whitney for his dedication to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
Ed Thompson, representing the Speedbowl employees, presented a special award to George and Tiffany Whitney for their hard work during the 2017 season. The Whitneys also received an award from Ryan Gilbert and Melanie Thomas of Mod Squad Racing Media.
The 2018 season will be getting under way May 5-6 with the annual blastoff.
-New London-Waterford Speedbowl Press Release
-Photo Credit: New London-Waterford Speedbowl