2023 seekonk speedway helgers south coast power equipment sportsman PREVIEW: Sportsman Slide Into New Year With Pianka As Defending Champion
SEEKONK, Mass. – For the first time in Seekonk Speedway history, Craig Pianka enters a new season as the defending champion of the Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman. After making the Final Four in the inaugural Sunoco Drive For The Cup, Pianka made a last-lap pass to cement his first title into the track record books last season. And as the 2023 season begins, Pianka is one of the many favorites to make it back to that point for a new year.
Pianka has been in the division longer than most, and knows the way around the track, and his car, well. As with any champion, he needed a little bit of racing luck on his side to be able to do the job last year. With Andrew Kun as his crew chief, the speed will be there, and Pianka could put the whole thing together and go back-to-back if the cards fall.
Behind him, the battle is on to close the gap and knock him off.
Chad Baxter has dominated the Sportsman division the past few years, winning the 2021 title and coming up just one spot short last year. It was in the middle of the summer when he returned to his old faithful car and she was a rocket to push him into the finals a year ago. Expect Baxter to win multiple times during a new year and be right there when it comes time to crown a champion, if he runs enough races to qualify for the playoffs.
Ed Perry, Adam Pettey, Steve Axon, Ryan Lineham, Scott Serydynski Jr., Cody Tripp and Tyler Almedia are a few others to watch. Perry is one of the most exciting drivers at Seekonk Speedway on a weekly basis, hands down. He’s shown the speed over the last few years to win races and it could certainly correlate into him contending for the title in 2023.
Steve Axon might not run full-time every year, but when he’s there, he’s in contention to win races. If he runs enough, he would certainly be in contention for the championship. Same can be said for Ryan Lineham, who has bounced around between the Late Models, Pro Stocks and Sportsman in the last few years. Quite the difference between the divisions – but he always seems to be there in contention.
Pettey is a proven winner, but hasn’t quite shown the consistency to be called champion yet. With countless years in the division now under his belt, is the new season the time for him? Another Pettey is also registered for the season in the No. 43 – Dean Pettey – a name many track fans are familiar with.
Scott Serydynski Jr. had arguably the best year of his short career last year and looks to build on that going into 2023. Cody Tripp, with a new car, looks to get the consistency he needs to chase his first feature win. Almedia, who really came into his own during the 2022 season, also has consistency in mind, but wants that first checkered flag.
Other names to watch include Chris Rioux, a veteran who has multiple career wins, Andrew Gomes, who is moving back to the Sportsman from the Late Models after a year away and Doug Benoit, a former Pure Stock champion who looks to break into Sportsman Victory Lane this season.
Although he hasn’t run full-time lately while helping his daughter Amy Arsenault race for wins in the Chaz Auto Body Sport Trucks, former multiple-time Sportsman champion Sparky Arsenault will be back to chase feature wins. Names like Jimmy “Pepe” Silvia, Jay Steely, Don Perry, Crystal Serydynski, Mike Rotondo (former Pure Stock driver), Tim Watson, Randy Moretti, Kaleb Marcou, Kyle Casper and others have also registered for the season.
Before the year starts, you never know who else might have their name thrown in the ring, too.
The Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman will open their 2023 season on Sunday, May 7, as part of Seekonk Speedway’s 77th season opening weekend. On Saturday, May 6, the annual Car Show & Go returns to the Action Track of the East, while opening day roars the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series divisions to life at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 7. Tickets for opening day and all Seekonk Speedway 2023 events are available today at SeekonkSpeedway.com.
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