Even though this date was not on the original schedule, when Mother Nature washed out the May 20th Limited Sportsman Extra Distance race, track management listened to feedback from the teams and rescheduled the highly anticipated event.
As the division gets set to take the green flag, with only six races remaining in the championship chase, consistency is going to be the name of the game for any driver who wishes to capture the big trophy.
And with one race in the rear-view mirror, the defending champion already finds himself at the top of the pack. Shawn Monahan, a native of Waterford, Connecticut, holds a scant one-point advantage in the championship standings behind the wheel of his No. 55 Critical Signs Limited Sportsman.
“Anything can happen at any point in time, you could have an outstanding race car and be caught up in a situation that could ruin your night, or your season. You just have to tighten you belts, do the very best that you can, treat other people the way you want to be treated,” Monahan said. “What makes the Limited Sportsman the best division at Thompson Speedway is the fact that there are many cars that can win a race on any given night, and there are drivers who can pass it out, dish it out, and take it.”
Heading into the extra distance race, Monahan is hoping to both show some patience and be aggressive at the same time.
“On (Icebreaker weekend), I was just blessed to be in Victory Lane, I didn’t have the best car. The best car normal wins these extra distance races... you have a better chance of the best car winning during an extra distance race compared to a normal race. You still have to be somewhat aggressive on the starts, because on a place like Thompson, you have to get every position you can. Outside of that, you have to be patient because you do have some extra time to run someone down.”
An early look at some of the favorites to take Monahan off the top brings up Brent Gleason, who finished inside the top five at the Icebreaker. Last season, Gleason visited Victory Lane on multiple occasions. He was able to win the extra distance event in 2017, but was disqualified from his victory – however, he is excited to get the chance to capture the win again.
“There is a lot more than what meets the eye, and when I started putting the work in, getting the setup right, and getting the car how I like it to drive, I started going faster and faster,” Gleason said of his success. “These cars take a while to get used to it... once I started getting everything right, I started going pretty well.”
For Gleason, the opportunity to drive in the Limited Sportsman class comes with him knowing he will have the chance to run some extra laps during the season.
“I really like the extra distance races because my background comes from go-karts and road course racing, so I’m used to having to save some equipment and be smooth over a long period of time,” Gleason said. “I like these races because I’m patient... these fit my driving style well.”
And just like all of the competitors that will take the green flag on Thursday, June 7, Gleason is proud to be able to race on a night where the 0.625-mile oval will honor active and past military members.
“I really appreciate this event, and I really want to win on that night,” Gleason said. “I have a lot of family and friends who are veterans. This hits home for me. I like running on that night. It’s really cool.”
Monahan is also happy to be on the track on a night where the military members will be honored, but, also a night where fans can get into the gate for just $12.
“Not only are we honoring the veterans, but those people who may be on a budget, it’s an inexpensive day to get into the track,” Monahan said. “That combination with just the hometown divisions can put a great audience together. We do this, not just for a trophy, but for the love of putting on a show.”
“We love the passion and enthusiasm that our race fans, car owners, drivers, and teams have for our events,” Josh Vanada, the General Manager of Thompson Speedway, said when discussing the chance to reschedule the race. “We heard loud and clear from them that they wanted to ensure we got this event in, as many had special plans to honor our military.”
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park continues their NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season on Thursday, June 7, as the Limited Sportsman class takes center stage with a 30-lap extra distance feature. On the same night, which is presented in full by PEPSI, all active United States military, and all veterans, are FREE to enter the front gate.
For more information, be sure to follow Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on social media, or visit the website, www.thompsonspeedway.com.