The ice is breaking and racing is back at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The 43rd Annual Icebreaker got underway on Saturday with six feature races at the historic motorsports facility.
The Lite Modifieds, Street Stocks, NEMA Lites, Mr. Rooter Pro Truck Series and Vintage Outlaws all ran feature races on Saturday, and for the first time a “Race of Champions” event was held featuring all four Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park track champions from 2016 in equally-prepared race cars.
The Vintage Outlaws was the first feature of the day. Jim Lowrey walked away with the win repeating his success from the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing in 2016.
The Race of Champions event was the next feature of the day. It was a 12-lap affair featuring Keith Rocco (Sunoco Modifieds), Wayne Burroughs Jr. (Mini Stocks), Ryan Waterman (Limited Sportsman) and William Wall (Late Models) in equal race cars that were prepared by The Racing School.
Burroughs’ race didn’t last long as he crashed hard in turn one, backing his No. 19 car into the wall. Rocco’s race didn’t go much better as his car suffered mechanical issues a few laps later.
That set up a two-car match race between Wall and Waterman. Wall battled hard with Waterman to try to take the lead and the win, but Waterman ran a clean enough race to take the victory over Wall, Rocco and Burroughs Jr.
The Race of Champions event would not be Waterman’s only race on Saturday, nor would it be his only victory. Waterman also ran the 20-lap Thompson Open Street Stock feature, which he won from the pole position ahead of Scott Sundeen, Joe Arena, Larry Barnett and John Bercham.
The 35-lap Mr. Rooter Pro Truck Series feature was the first of two touring series events on Saturday evening. In last year’s feature, it was Roger Turbush from Long Island taking the victory; this year it was a different Long Islander heading to victory lane. Frank Dumicich Jr. held off Gerard Giordano Jr. in a heated late-race battle to take the checkered flag. Josh Stringer, Duane Noll and Rick Ashlaw rounded out the top five.
The 20-lap feature for the NEMA Lites was the second touring series feature of the evening. Todd Bertrand and Dan Cugini put on a thrilling late-race battle for the win. Bertrand was able to work his way by Cugini with three laps remaining. Cugini gave it one last try on the final lap, but Bertrand was able to hold him off at the checkered flag. Chad Labastie, Jim Chambers and Ryan Bigelow completed the top five.
The final feature of the evening was a 20-lap event for the Lite Modifieds. Just like in the NEMA Lites race, this event went down to the wire. Three cars battled for the win on the last lap. Brett Gonyaw, Glen Griswold and Cam Sontag could fit under a blanket on the final lap, but it was Gonyaw taking the victory in a true photo finish. Chris Veins and Joe Graf Sr. rounded out the top five.
Also in action on Saturday were the Pro All-Stars Series, Sunoco Modifieds Mini Stocks, Limited Sportsman and Late Models as they all ran their heat races for Sundays events. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ran two practice sessions with four-time series champion Doug Coby setting fast time in the first session and Chase Dowling pacing the final practice session.
The second day of the 43rd Annual Icebreaker kicks off at 7 a.m. with the breakfast buffet at the clubhouse. The grandstands will open at 10 a.m. with the champion’s banner rising at 10 30 a.m. and the Annual Fan Appreciation Party kicking off at 11a.m. Pre-race ceremonies will begin at 12:15 p.m. with racing set to follow at 12:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com.
-Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com/Duane Canfield