Ronnie Williams went wire-to-wire in the Valenti Modified Racing Series season finale at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Saturday, leading all 50 laps on his way to a dominant victory at the 57th Annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing. It is Williams’ third MRS win on the season.
Williams started on the pole for Saturday’s race, jumping to the lead off the initial start and never looking back. He survived two quick restarts early in the race and was able to fend off a late charge by Chase Dowling to secure the trophy – a second chance at a race that got away from him earlier this year.
“Every time I show up to the race track with these guys, I know I’m going to have a fast race car,” Williams said in victory lane. “Just to be able to get it done after finishing second in the spring means a lot, and I just can’t thank these guys enough.
"We had a fast race car, we’ve had a fast race car all weekend. I’m confident in these guys, and I think we showed at the end how much speed this car actually has.”
Chase Dowling hauled his way up the field to finish second, and he brought Craig Lutz with him every step of the way. Regular Thompson competitor Todd Owen drove like a man possessed and challenged Williams for the lead early, but used too much of his tires and fell back to fourth position. Stafford Motor Speedway regular Joey Cipriano came home in a very strong fifth place.
The VMRS came into this race looking to crown their 2019 season champion, and at the end of the night, it was Grantham, New Hampshire’s Mike Willis, Jr. holding the championship trophy. It is Willis’ first title with the VMRS, and serves as a bit of redemption from last season.
“We had a good shot at it last year, I thought we were going to get it last year and it didn’t come our way,” Willis said. “It’s really important to get this championship for me, because we’ve always run at a local track, so to go out here and win on a touring series at many different tracks is pretty good.”
Willis started on the outside pole, but was shoved high early in the race and fell back through the field. He made some contact with another driver during the middle stages of the event, and decided to park the car instead of risk destroying it out on track.
“The car was the best car I’ve ever had here, but then I got dive bombed there and hit me in the left front and the car wasn’t handling well after that. I started to get run into and said it wasn’t worth wrecking the car for nothing so we pulled it in.”
Willis came home 22nd of 25 cars, 20 laps down, but had enough points coming into the race secure the title.
While the VMRS season might be over, many of the drivers will be heading to Seekonk for the final round of the Tri-Track Open Modified Series on Saturday, October 26th.
Updates from this race can be found on Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage presented by HMS Motorsport.
A video recap of the VMRS feature will be available on the Speed51 Network in the coming days.
1 25 Ronnie Williams
2 00 Chase Dowling
3 56 Craig Lutz
4 81 Todd Owen
5 1 Joey Cipriano
6 17 Donnie Lashua
7 13 Cameron Sontag
8 10 Joey Mucciacciaro
9 12MA Rob Richardi
10 66 Andy Shaw
11 09 Brad Vanhouten
12 34 Dave Etheridge
13 76 Shelly Perry
14 27 Derek Robbie
15 45 Dan Meservey, Jr.
16 27NJ Andrew Krause
17 1A Artie Pederson III
18 25CT Anthony Flannery IV
19 F16 Colbey Fournier
20 93 George Sherman
21 62 Les Rose
22 83 Mike Willis
23 47 Dylan Rock
24 99 Richard Savary
25 27MA Kevin Iannarelli
-Story by Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo