Belchertown, MA’s Christopher Buffone was both good and lucky on his way to the $1,000 win in the Street Stock Open at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Friday, October 9. Buffone inherited the lead with less than two laps remaining in the 25-lap feature and took the victory on the first night of the 58th Annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing.
The youngster had surrendered the lead to Pascoag, RI’s Chad Baxter on the 17th circuit. With laps winding down, it seemed Buffone could only watch Baxter drive off into the night. However, as the field entered turn one after getting the two-to-go signal, Baxter’s engine went up in a cloud of smoke. His loss was Buffone’s gain as the latter sped to a thrilling victory in his first-ever start at Thompson Speedway.
Incredibly, it was the third time one of Buffone’s challengers had been waylaid by mechanical troubles. Buffone earned the pole by charging from 12th to 4th in his qualifying race, netting him a +8 under the “plus-minus” system. After leading the first seven laps, Buffone gave way to Candia, NH’s Jimmy Renfrew Jr., who came from seventh on the grid to sweep underneath him.
Coming out of turn two on the 10th lap, though, Renfrew’s car shut down, handing the lead back to Buffone. A caution then came out for an unrelated incident involving Ed Flanagan Jr.’s stalled car. Renfrew’s teammate Alby Ovitt, a many-time 8-cylinder Street Stock winner, lined up alongside Buffone for the restart. But Ovitt shut down as well after the green, taking another contender out of the running.
After trading some paint on the next restart, Buffone led a five car breakaway with Baxter, Corey Hutchings, Devon McConologue, and Kyle Gero. Baxter made his move on the 17th circuit, sticking his nose out front and then clearing Buffone a lap later. The final yellow flew with five laps to go when Flanagan again stalled his automobile. Baxter easily handled Buffone when the green flag flew, but his engine could not go the distance, letting Buffone snatch the win.
Hutchings grabbed second followed by McConologue and Gero. Christopher Smith, Corey Fanning, Shawn Monahan, Jon Porter, Paul Williams, and Don Perry completed the top-10.
Like Buffone, Sterling, CT’s Jared Roy also made the most of some good fortune to get the win in the Thompson Mini Stock feature. Roy took the green flag in fourth for the 20-lap main event. Entering turn two on the first lap, though, polesitter Dave Trudeau drifted high and looped it. Second- and third-place starters Tommy Silva and Steve Michalski made hard contact trying to avoid him, sidelining both for the night.
As a result, Roy suddenly found himself in the lead. He darted away from the pack once, then did so again following another yellow on lap nine for Jeff Mazzella’s spin. Trudeau tore back through the field and tried to chase down Roy in the closing laps. He could get no closer than three car lengths, though, as Roy capped the season with a victory.
Trudeau finished second. Chris Taylor came in third while Dave Trudeau Jr. topped a dogfight with Russell Barboza for the fourth spot.
Ben Levangie of Plymouth, MA went wire-to-wire to win the 15-lap Vintage Modified Open feature. Hauppauge, NY’s Mark Miller moved up to second early and was gaining on Levangie at the halfway mark.
However, as the field came down the backstretch for the ninth time, Miller’s engine expired and set him to the pits. It was smooth sailing from there for Levangie as he won by half a straightaway over Unionville, CT’s Gary Byington. Bobby Gegetskas completed the podium.
Rick MacDowell of Sheffield, MA held off a snarling pack of Senior Tour Auto Racers Late Models to win the 15-lap feature. MacDowell got the jump over Nassau, NY’s Robert Keefner following the race’s only caution at lap five when Bob Seward shut down in turn three. He then led a multi-way battle down the stretch with five cars under a blanket at the front.
Housatonic, MA’s Joseph Keefner chased MacDowell over the final laps, but could not do anything with him and crossed the finish line in second right on MacDowell’s bumper. Bob Guyon, Joe Henderson, and Gary Moore rounded out the top-five.
Alan Zemla made the trip from Windham, ME worth the drive with a victory in the Senior Tour Auto Racers Modifieds. Zemla went nose to nose with Higganum, CT’s Skip Swiantek throughout the 20-lap event as the top six ran door-to-door and bumper-to-bumper.
Swiantek poked a wheel out from entering turn three multiple times, but Zemla came back each time, beating him the checkered flag by a few feet. Thomas Trempe edged Gregg Massini for third with Darryl Dutch taking fifth.
The 58th Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing continues Saturday, October 10 at 2:15pm. Fourteen divisions will be in action at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park with the Budweiser Modified Open 75 and ACT-type Late Model Open 50 highlighting the card. Features are also scheduled for the 350 Small Block Supermodifieds, Exit Realty Pro Truck Series, North East Mini Stock Tour, NEMA Midgets, and Pro 4 Modifieds. Seven other divisions have qualifying for Sunday’s action, including the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and ISMA Supermodifieds.
General admission tickets and pit passes will be available at the gate. For those who can’t make it to the track, Speed51.TV is offering a live pay-per-view broadcast of all divisions except the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
For more information about the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing schedule, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, [email protected], or visit www.acttour.com/thompson-speedway. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ACTTour.
For camping information and general Thompson Speedway inquires, call (860) 923-2280, email [email protected], or visit www.thompsonspeedway.com. You can follow Thompson Speedway on Facebook and Instagram at @ThompsonSpeedway or on Twitter at @ThompsonSpdwy.
For technical information concerning all PASS divisions, and for media or marketing questions, please contact [email protected] or visit www.proallstarsseries.com. Don’t forget to “Like” the Pro All Stars Series on Facebook or follow on Twitter @PASSSLM14 to keep up with breaking news as it happens.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Thompson
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