The evening started with qualifying which saw record breaking speeds by the K&N Pro Series drivers. Points leader Tyler Ankrum looked to score his second win of the season and started the day with his first pole breaking the track record with a time of 19.882. However, Ankrum’s time was disallowed after he failed tech following qualifying putting Spencer Davis, driving a #13 car paying tribute to the late Ted Christopher, on point.
The first 75 laps of the race were relatively smooth sailing for Davis who secured a comfortable lead early and dominated the first 50 laps before Ruben Garcia, Jr. presented Davis with his first true battle of the evening. Meanwhile Tyler Ankrum worked his was through the field moving into the top three by lap 63 where he began to put the pressure on Davis and Garcia. After the only caution of the race a few laps later a restart changed everything for the frontrunners as Davis managed to lead up to lap 75 but was finally passed by Dillon Bassett while Ankrum once again found himself in a precarious position after spinning his tires on the restart.
Bassett opened up a decent lead in the ensuing final laps of the event, but Ankrum would not be denied using the top line to power his way past Bassett with six laps to go and charge to his second victory of the season, winning the event from last place.
“It was a little frustrating being sent to the back like that for something that was so minor. Our skew was off a few thousandths of an inch. We had an awesome racecar regardless. We flew through the field. Halfway through I was in the top five and I thought to myself ‘there’s no stopping us’,” Ankrum said after visiting Victory Lane. “Overall an awesome night. There’s not too many times you can come from the back like that and win. I’m super excited about it. Second win of the year. Hopefully that will extend our points lead by a lot.” Dillon Bassett, Tyler Dippel, Spencer Davis and Chase Cabre rounded out the top five.
Earlier in the evening the Limited Sportsman division turned into a battle of championship contenders in a 20-lap feature, but it didn’t start that way. After rookie Kyle Gero started up front and led the opening laps the fight for the lead became a battle of veterans as Jesse Gleason and Ryan Waterman tangled for the top spot. A caution that waved eleven laps in set up a restart that would alter the complexion of the race as Gleason and Waterman restarted on the front row and fought hard through the first half of a lap before getting into each other in turn three and wrecking, stacking up the field and essentially ending any opportunity for either driver to win.
The wreck opened the door for Shawn Monahan and Chris Meyer who inherited the top two spots creating a nine-lap shootout for the victory. Despite getting caught behind a slow car in lap traffic in the final turn of the final lap Monahan held on and defeated his closest rival for the title. The win was Monahan’s second of the season as he looks to win his second consecutive division title. After the race Monahan admitted he didn’t have the best car on the track but called the battle between himself and Meyer in the closing laps an exciting and nerve wracking one from the driver’s seat.
“I don’t think I had the car to beat tonight. I just wanted to keep it clean and get a good finish, but it got real funny looking down the back straightaway and what do you know,” Monahan said. The race winner offered some insight into the current relationship he has with second-place Chris Meyer after the two endured a rivalry in years past. “Chris Meyer and I have quite the history, but that history has turned in a positive direction over the past couple of years. We’re getting older. We respect each other. He had a real fast car. He was closing in there at the end and I was nervous, but I’ll take it. You can’t take a win for granted these days.” After the race Meyer took a moment to congratulate Monahan with a soft tap to the bumper on the backstretch that Monahan called an “exchange of love”.
The Sunoco Modified division closed the night with a 30-lap feature as Keith Rocco looked to remain perfect on the season and score his fourth consecutive win in the division at Thompson. It didn’t take long for Rocco to find himself where he is most comfortable as he had the lead in hand by lap five. Rocco led until halfway when things got interesting as Ryan Preece was able to work his way to the front and put pressure on the defending champion. A pair of cautions with 11 laps to go set the battle up to be an epic showdown in the closing laps of the night.
Rocco was able to hold the lead off the restart, but Preece would not let Rocco drive away staying glued to his back bumper and making several attempts to pass on the inside. Preece finally completed the pass out of turn four on lap 23 and fought off a rebuttal from Rocco to carry that momentum to his first win of the year in the division and prevent Rocco’s perfect season in the Sunoco Modifieds.
“It was a race that’s for sure,” Preece said. “I’m really proud of how good of a car we had on the long run. I feel like after ten laps we were really good so I’m just super proud of how good this car is right now.”
In the Late Model division is was a dominating victory by Ryan Morgan who started the 25-lap feature strong and finished over five seconds ahead of William Wall to claim his second win of the season. Morgan was a contender for the Late Model title in 2017, winning a race before an injury sidelined his chances at a title. The event was also bittersweet as it was the final run for defending champion Ray Parent who sold his #98 car and is moving his talents to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Current points leader Nick Johnson finished in sixth making him the only driver in the division to score top five finishes in all five features of 2018 despite not having a win.
The Lite Modifieds took center stage for a 20-lap feature where Bryan Narducci took home the trophy, his second in two nights of short track racing. Narducci is a perfect three for three in his races at Thompson and he did it all after a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Finally, in the Mini Stocks Wayne Burroughs showed dominance by claiming his second win of the season. The reigning champion is out of the running for a title after missing one of the two races in June. Points leader Eric Bourgeois finished second. The night also included a showcase of the modifieds of yesterday in a 15-lap vintage modified feature that helped kick off the festivities early on.
The Whelen Modified Tour returns to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the third time in 2018 on Wednesday, August 8 with the 29th Annual Bud “King of Beers” 150. The yearly mid-summer staple will feature the stars of the Whelen Modified Tour with points leader Justin Bonsignore looking for this third victory of the year at the Big-T as well as the NEMA Midgets and Thompson’s four track divisions with drivers looking to capture every point they can as the season winds down.
From: Taylor Therrien/ Sr. Manager, Event Services
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park