Waterford, CT – Waterford Speedbowl hosted a jam packed crowd for its Mr. Rooter 161 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event under ideal summer weather. The track’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions supported the regional touring race with four action packed races. Ed Puleo of Branford picked up his second SK Modified® win of the season and Bruce Thomas Jr. of Groton landed his second Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature win of 2014. Bill McNeil of Preston took his first Street Stock victory and Groton’s Ray Christian III won the Mini Stocks.
Puleo was in a hurry in the night’s 35-lap SK Modified® feature. He started the race in second position, outside Jeff Gallup. Gallup fought Puleo hard as the race began, with the pair trading the lead over the opening two circuits. Gallup spun off the inside of Puleo in turn four trying to remain in the battle for the lead as they raced to complete lap-3, collecting Joe Gada. Somehow those were the only two cars seriously involved and both returned to the race after a visit to the pit area.
Puleo inherited the lead for the ensuing restart, bringing Tim Jordan with him to second when back under the green flag. Kyle James moved into third and Ted Christopher to fourth as the race reached lap-10. James was all over Jordan as Puleo stretched his lead. James got around Jordan on lap-10, but when Christopher tried to duplicate the move he had to make a nice save out of turn two, dropping back to fifth. The chain reaction collected Paul Kusheba, whose car was in distress on the front stretch with 12 laps scored complete for the next yellow flag.
Puleo resumed his lead and pulled away again as Jordan and Christopher both got by the inside of James by lap-15. Keith Rocco was up to fifth position looking to carry that momentum even further into the lead cars. Some great racing by the top-five was slowed on lap-26 when Matt Hirschman, making his first start of the year, got into the turn two wall to bring out another caution.
Puleo had Christopher and Rocco each hot on his tail over the next two restarts, which brought the race to lap-31. There was no shortage of contact among the top three cars the rest of the way in a fight for the win. Puleo had to fend off Rocco’s bid on the outside over the final four laps to garner his second checkered flag of the year. Rocco was able to hold back the advances of Christopher, who stayed in tight formation with the side-by-side battle between Puleo and Rocco over the final sprint to the finish. Behind Christopher, Craig Lutz and Rob Janovic Jr. completed the top-five finishers.
Thomas picked up an exciting final lap victory in the 30-lap Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature. Vin Esposito was in control for the first 25 laps of the race, which ran without a caution flag. He took lead on the opening lap from Anthony Ryan and stayed a comfortable distance ahead of Keith Rocco as the green flag laps mounted. Once a yellow flag reset the field when Jason Palmer came to rest against the wall in turn two, Esposito had Rocco flanked to his outside. Esposito did not get a good start, enabling Rocco to take over the lead through turns one and two. Esposito charged back, rallying over the next three laps to run Rocco back down. As the pair raced towards the white flag, Esposito got into Rocco to make room to his inside and retake the lead as they began the final lap. Thomas was in striking distance, and when Rocco returned the favor to Esposito in turns one and two, he reaped the rewards of an opening to the inside of both. Thomas streaked to the checkered flag ahead of Esposito and Rocco, who finished in second and third in a wild finish.
McNeil made an infrequent appearance in the Street Stock division Saturday and walked away a winner. Phil Evans moved out to a big lead early on in the 25-lapper, as McNeil moved into contention after starting the race in 11th position. McNeil worked to second position and was catching Evans when the only caution flag of the race was shown on lap-11, when Steve Barrett was slow on the track in trouble. McNeil drove away from Evans after the restart, cruising to his first win of the year. Point leader Josh Galvin also came through the field to finish runner up, but could not run down McNeil. Evans ended a strong showing in third.
Christian came out on top of a fantastic Mini Stock finish. He battled Garrett Denton and Ken Cassidy Jr. over the final laps in a three car race for the 25-lap win. The trio nearly went three wide down the front chute on lap-22 for the lead. Denton was outside of Christian and actually led the white flag lap by a nose with Cassidy tucked tightly behind in third. Christian fought back on the bottom of the track, rallying over the final half lap to best Denton by a half car with Cassidy assisting him on his back bumper through the checkered flag.
Next Saturday, the Speedbowl returns to action with a six division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program. The SK Light Modifieds join the SK Modifieds®, Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks. The INEX Legend Cars also return for a Saturday night appearance. More information on the event schedule is available online at Speedbowl.com.
Waterford Speedbowl Saturday 6/21 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Results:
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modifieds® (35-laps): 1. Ed Puleo, Branford; 2. Keith Rocco, Berlin; 3. Ted Christopher, Plainville; 4. Craig Lutz, Miller Place, NY; 5. Rob Janovic Jr., Waterford; 6. Kyle James, Ashaway, RI; 7. Tim Jordan, Plainfield; 8. Diego Monahan, Quaker Hill; 9. Nichole Morgillo, Southington; 10. Joe Gada, Salem; 11. Cam McDermott, Scituate, RI; 12. Shawn Thibeault, Plainville; 13. Wendell Dailey, Ledyard; 14. Adam Gada, Bozrah; 15. Ryan Preece, Berlin; 16. Jim Larsen, East Hartland; 17. Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA; 18. Tom Pinson, Colchester; 19. Paul Kusheba IV, Monroe; 20. Shawn Monahan, Waterford; 21. Joe Mucciacciaro, Wolcott; 22. Jeff Gallup, Agawam, MA
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Valenti Auto Mall Late Models (30-laps): 1. Bruce Thomas Jr., Groton; 2. Vin Esposito, Seymour; 3. Keith Rocco, Berlin; 4. Anthony Ryan Jr., Danbury; 5. Jeff Smith, Old Lyme; 6. Marc Curtis, Spencer, MA; 7. Nicholas Sowa, Middletown; 8. Chris Garside, Waterford; 9. Mike Sweeney Jr., Meriden; 10. Joe Gada, Salem; 11. Rich Duranti, Quaker Hill; 12. Ken Morin Jr., Old Saybrook; 13. Jason Palmer, Berlin
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Street Stocks (25-laps): 1. Bill McNeil, Preston; 2. Josh Galvin, Franklin; 3. Phil Evans, Uncasville; 4. Norm Root Jr., Old Saybrook; 5. Ryan Waterman, Danielson; 6. Monte Gibbs, Higganum; 7. Chris Meyer, North Franklin; 8. Al Stone III, Durham; 9. Greg Moran Jr., Preston; 10. Scott Sundeen, Sutton, MA; 11. Dwayne Dorr, Ledyard; 12. Jake Bercham, West Greenwich, RI; 13. Brandon Fisher, Plainfield; 14. Nate Appell, Westbrook; 15. Lloyd Anderson Jr., Wauregan; 16. Matt Lowinski-Loh, Milford, MA; 17. Bill Hahnel, Uncasville; 18. Tom Shea, New London; 19. Steve Barrett, Preston; 20. Jeff Jolly, Wallingford
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Mini Stocks (25-laps): 1. Ray Christian III, Groton; 2. Garrett Denton, Hope Valley, RI; 3. Ken Cassidy Jr., Lisbon; 4. Wayne Burroughs Jr., Oakdale; 5. Joe Liskiewicz, Preston; 6. Christopher Ivory, Oakdale; 7. Dave Trudeau, Mansfield; 8. Nick Pappacoda, North Branford; 9. Doug Curry, Groton; 10. Dale Sherman, Charlestown, RI; 11. Larry Loomis Jr., Plainfield; 12. John Bowes, Willington; 13. Jeffrey Lee, Uncasville; DNS – Pete Zaikarite, Niantic; DNS – Ian Brew, Wood River Junction, RI