The final division to crown its 2022 champion on the night of the DAV Fall Classic was the Pro Stock division, and 50 laps were allotted for the honors to be won between Mike Brightman, Tom Scully Jr., Mark Jenison, and Rick Martin.
Martin and Jenison had already had themselves a night to remember, both claiming championships earlier in the evening in the Sport Truck and Late Model divisions, respectively, but they were back for a double dose.
Scully was in it to win his second career Pro Stock title, and Brightman set out to become track champion again, having done so in 2005 in the Late Model division.
Brightman was the leader of the playoff drivers in the early running, but a miscue between him and Ryan Vanasse brought out the yellow with 24 laps complete and shuffled both drivers to the tail of the field. Just like that, Jenison was now the cream rising to the top of the playoff drivers with just half distance to go.
Colbey Fournier sat at the point while the battle for the championship raged on his outside and his rear bumper between Jenison and Scully for the next 25 laps. A late caution reracked the field for a five-lap shootout, and just like the Late Model race, Jenison had to make do with the outside.
Scully and Jenison see-sawed for the advantage as Fournier started breaking away for the win. Coming to the checkered, in near spitting-image fashion to the Late Model feature, Scully drove to the bottom underneath Jenison on the absolute edge, sliding up enough to barely tag Jenison to the outside.
“The hair stands on my neck as soon as you say that,” Jenison said when asked about the final turn. “I knew I had to try using the 16 (Fournier) as a pick. I was faster than the 16 and the 2 (Scully) was faster than him, but we’re not racing for the win. We’re racing for the championship. That’s why I rolled up on the outside to keep the 16 down, or else the 2 might be able to get by on the inside.”
This time, Jenison kept the handles on his hot rod, held his speed, and soared across the line ahead of Scully to collect the 2022 Pro Stock Championship.
“I thought for sure we were all gonna be in the wall,” said Jenison. “As soon as I corrected and I knew I hit the line first, I knew I had it… But if he put me in the wall, I never would have lifted. He woulda had to total me to take it from me.”
The moment marked Jenison’s second championship of the night, making him the first driver in the 77-year history of Seekonk Speedway to win two championships in the same season.
“It’s too unreal… still hard to believe.” Jenison said on attaining the feat. “It’s a tribute to the track, and an honor to be the first person to do it. There could be more people to do it. If I can do it from a rusted up, beat up Pro Stock, someone else can do it.”
Jenison had an outpouring of gratitude for track management and ownership in the wake of his two-championship winning weekend. “I can’t stop thanking Ed (St. Germain), Lenny (Ellis), Dave (Alburn), and the Venditti family for all they do to run this track and this season.”
It’s to be expected that Jenison will need some time to let the storybook weekend soak in, but that hasn’t stopped him from planning ahead.
“Coming back to compete in the Late Models is pretty definite, as well as the Pro Stocks,” Jenison commented on his 2023 racing plans. “We still need to figure out how much we’ll commit to one car or the other, but the only way to top two championships in one season is by going for three.”
The Seekonk Late Models were second in line to crown their champion on the night of the Annual DAV Fall Classic. For 40 laps, Gerry DeGasparre, Mark Jenison, Richie Murray, and Chase Belcher all battled through the field to get themselves up front. The final push for the championship sent both fans and drivers flipping.
DeGasparre, the seven-time track champion, including six Late Model titles, was in the hunt to tie Dave Darling for all-time Seekonk Speedway track-champion leader. Belcher and Murray both looked to double their championship totals, adding to their Sport Truck titles from 2015 and 2019, respectively. Jenison was out to earn championship honors for the first time in his career.
Jenison started front most out of his four playoff counterparts, and was pushed by Belcher to race his way by Vinnie Arrenegado, Josh Hedges and Corey Fanning for the race lead. A Lap 21 restart allowed Jenison to get a great jump around Fanning to take over the lead, and Belcher and Murray followed close behind. A last-gas effort by DeGasparre to get around Jacob Burn and Luke Lebrun prevailed, finally catching him up to the three championship challengers.
A Lap 35 caution set up a five-lap shoot out for the ages. The Championship Four fired off, with Belcher and Jenison on the front row, Murray and Degasparre just behind. Jenison had speed on the outside, gradually edging ahead of Belcher as the laps counted down.
Approaching Turns 3 and 4, Jenison and Belcher drove their cars in as hard as their tires could physically handle.
“I started thinking about what was going to happen going into (Turns) 1 and 2, “ Jenison said in the moments leading to the finish. “Once I realized I was too far up in Turn 4, I knew I wasn’t gonna clear the exit, all I could hope is that (Belcher) was gonna give me the room to clear the wall, which would have meant he was gonna lose.”
As the checkered flag waved Belcher slid up into Jenison, pinching him into the wall at such an angle that Jenison was now a passenger in his Late Model which was sliding on its driver’s side door. Both cars grinded across the finishing line, fused at the hip, and coming to a halt in Turn 1.
“Neither one of us can deny it -- we were both on the floor with the gas pedal.” Jenison commented on crossing the line with Belcher. “When I went up on the wall, what propelled me was I was still on the throttle until I stopped. Neither one of us was gonna lift. It was almost a sign of respect, what he did. He knew he had to do that to beat me. If it were me, I would have backed out of it. But he wanted to beat me so bad.”
The championship hung in limbo as safety crews rushed to the scene high on the entrance of Turn 1. According to the timing and scoring system, Belcher had crossed the line first, by .07 seconds. That said, Race Control had a decision to make on whether they felt the action on Belcher’s car off Turn 4 was significant enough to cause the wreck. A decision was made to penalize Belcher for the incident, and complimented by a roar of applause, Jenison’s name was announced over the P.A. system as the 2022 Late Model Champion and feature winner.
“I was in the ambulance getting checked out when the call was made,” Jenison reflected on the moment he learned the result. “ My brother Glen swung the door open and told me ‘Let’s go champ!’ I was in shock. I was like ‘What do you mean?’”
After 24 years of racing, and after many close calls at tracks like Thompson and Star Speedway, the championship marked his first.
While Jenison’s victory was one for the ages, his day at the office was only half done by that point. After being cleared by medical personnel and interviewed on track by Kevin Boucher, Jenison needed to get right back into the zone to compete for his second championship of the night in the Pro Stock Division.
To the unknowing eye, Saturday’s Sportsman race might have looked like just another race. In reality, it was the championship round of the Sunoco Race Fuels Drive for the Cup for the Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman division. But to one particular driver, the 35-lap feature was a game of chess.
Odds might have seemed steep for Craig Pianka, who sat as far back as 13th overall while he trailed other playoff drivers Chad Baxter, Ed Perry, and Colby Lambert.
Pianka took one lap at a time, getting to the bottom when he could, avoided Cody Tripp’s Lap 17 wreck, and took advantage of restarts on the inside. After working his way by Lambert at about half distance, Pianka passed Perry who was stuck on the outside. Before long Pianka had found himself on the tail of Adam Pettey and Baxter battling hard for third overall.
All Pianka needed to do was find some way to get his nose ahead of Baxters at the wave of the checkered.
Diving into Turn 3 for the final time, Pianka was presented with his one opportunity to make it happen. Using Pettey as a pick in the middle to stall out Baxter, Pianka sent his No. 4 car down the inside. Sandwiched together off of Turn 4, Pianka emerged with the most momentum, crossing the line ahead of Baxter, stealing the championship in absolute shocking fashion.
“Tonight, I played chess,” said Pianka in victory lane. “I knew when it was time to really push it, (it) was this race right here. And that’s what you get!’
After battling mid-pack with half way to go, Pianka had pulled off the improbable, passing Baxter, the hottest driver in the division of the last two years, in the final seconds of the race.
“This is the move, if I’m gonna do it, I gotta do it right now,” Pianka said when asked about his championship winning move. “I needed to make sure I was close enough to take advantage of my position and make the move… I put myself in the right positions all race to give myself that opportunity, and I had to make it work.”
Pianka started the year on a hot streak, winning three of four races to start the season, but as the summer heated up, Pianka cooled off, biding his time until the start of the playoffs.
“The bad crash in Week 5 changed everything,” Pianka reflected. “Right after that, Chad (Baxter) was just dominating.”
With the new playoff format, Pianka knew he had time to let the season come to him.
“Just be in the top four by the end, that’s all I gotta do,” Pianka said in reference to the lead up to the final round of the Drive for the Cup. “I really let the big picture of everything settle in, almost like a game of chess.”
An avid fan of chess, Pianka couldn’t help but draw parallels between the chessboard and the race track.
“In chess, you can make good moves and bad moves, mistakes and sacrifices, have wins, ties and losses. Like AK (Andrew Kun, Pianka’s long-time teammate) said to me before the race: no ties, no losses, just go and get checkmate!
Now a champion in the inaugural season of the playoff era at Seekonk Speedway, Pianka had some fond feedback on the new format. “Kudos to Ed St. Germain for talking Dave into going in the playoff direction. It made it alot more stressful as a driver, that’s for sure, but it was a lot of fun. This is going to work, no doubt about it.”
The title marks Pianka’s first ever Seekonk track championship. “Now that I won one, I feel like I won’t need to chase it for a bunch more years,” Pianka said on plans for future racing efforts. “It’s up to the powers at be if I’m gonna do this again next year. I would love to. It takes a lot, I have a great team… everyone surrounding me…it’s the perfect situation. None of this is possible without everyone I have surrounding me.”
Before any decisions are made on Pianka’s 2023 racing plans, he says for now, he’s “...just really enjoying this (championship), and I’m looking forward to the banquet and the speech in January.”
Sport Truck glory was on the line to start the night at the DAV Fall Classic this past weekend. For Rick Martin and Barry Shaw, and Mike Duarte claiming the season title would double their Sport Truck championship count, while Brittany Campbell set out to earn the honor of “champion” for the first time.
With momentum on his side following back-to-back wins, Martin just needed to beat the rest of the Fastest Four for one more week. Duarte fell out of the competition by Lap 4, suffering too much damage to continue after a brief stack up in Turn 2. Only Campbell and Shaw remained to try and deny Martin his sixth career track championship, and Shaw especially proved to be no small hurdle for Martin to clear on his way to the front.
Shaw and Martin raced nose-to-tail in that order, from Lap 16 to Lap 26, escalating to rubbing fenders and tapping bumpers as the laps wore on. When Martin decided it was time to go, he made his No. 14 truck squeeze between the burm and Shaw into Turn 1, sliding up just enough to stall out Shaw’s No. 85 machine. Martin put his foot down and won the inside, and there was nothing Shaw could but watch Martin outpace him for the championship.
“When you’re trying to take the crown from the top dog you don’t expect him to just roll over,” Martin said about the move for the championship. “Me and Barry Shaw had a few pushing matches this year, but nothing but hard racing. We race hard - the way I like it - but always congratulate each other after.”
Coming off yet another marquee year in his illustrious racing career, Martin put together seven feature wins and led the division in points the entire second half of the year in 2022.
“Of course none of it would be possible without the support from sponsors and friends,” Martin said. “ To me, the Seekonk truck division is one of the best divisions around. The racers have more respect for each other than other divisions I've competed in.
Though he’s been racing for more than 40 years, Martin hardly shows signs of slowing down.
“Obviously, I'm towards the end of my racing career, and with age it gets much harder to compete each weekend,” Martin commented. “But when so many people come up to me and say they can't wait already to watch me compete next year, or that they have been a fan since they were a kid, that is what makes all the time and work feel like it has a purpose.”
Martin’s 2022 Sport Truck Championship is his second ever in the division, and combined with his four titles in Seekonk’s Pro Stock division, now owns six total titles, joining the ranks of Vinnie Annarummo, Fred Astle Jr., and Mike Cavallaro.
Save the Date!
Summer 2023 is already heating up as Seekonk Speedway is excited to announce the return of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour!
NASCAR’s Mighty Modifieds 🏁 make a return to the 1/3 mile Massachusetts oval on Saturday June 10 2023. Stay tuned for more info and special Pre Holiday Ticket release info!
The 2022 season might be just ending but 2023 is already heating up 🔥
The Pro Stocks capped off an incredible night of championship racing with 50 laps of their own, with Mike Brightman, Tom Scully Jr., Mark Jension and Rick Martin all in the hunt to reign victorious over the division. By this point, both Martin and Jenison were going for their second championship of the night.
The field settled into a groove early, knowing time was on their side with the extra distance. Brightman was first in the line of playoff drivers until he and Ryan Vanasse got together on Lap 24, sending both drivers to the rear. This shuffled Jenison to the front of the playoff drivers, putting him on the outside of Colbey Fournier on the front row on the following restart.
Scully was inline behind Fournier, working desperately to move by Jenison on the outside off the restart. Jenison managed to get in line behind Fournier, shutting the door on Scully, and would go on to play defense against Scully for several laps as they ran nose-to-tail.
A final restart with five laps to go set up a similar situation, putting Fourner right in the middle of the championship battle between Jenison and Scully. Fournier had the lead, and Jenison on the outside worked to keep his nose ahead of Scully’s who rode in line behind Fournier.
Coming to the checkered, Fournier broke away, but Scully and Jenison both slid sideways, pushing their American Racer tires to the bitter edge. By .1 seconds at the line, Jenison had the edge, becoming the 2022 Pro Stock champion, taking down his second championship of the night.
At the line, Fournier took down the win, followed by Jenison, Scully, Bobby Pelland III, and Dave Darling to round out the top five. Brightman crossed in sixth with Martin behind in seventh.
#NASCAR #NWAAPS #TRACKCHAMPION #SEEKONKSPEEDWAY #DAVFALLCLASSIC #SUNOCODRIVE4THECUP #CHAMPION
MARK JENISON SURVIVES LAST LAP BATTLE TO WIN LATE MODEL DAV FALL CLASSIC AND CAPTURE TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP
The Late Models were given 40 laps to duke it out on Seekonk’s high banks, and Gerry Degasparre Jr., Mark Jenison, Richie Murray, and Chase Belcher all entered with championship aspirations.
The four playoff drivers wasted no time picking their way forward from mid-pack, and by Lap 21, Jenison had made his way to the front to challenge Corey Fanning for the lead, bringing Belcher right through the field with him.
A Lap 22 caution gave the field a chance to reset, and off the restart, Jenison cruised around Fanning’s outside to become the new leader. One more caution washed over the field, but not before Murray and DeGasparre worked their way into the third and fourth spots, hot on the heels of Belcher and Jenison.
The four playoff drivers started door-to-door, nose-to-tail on the final restart, and Belcher was able to gain inside position on Jenison shortly after the green flag waved. Jenison drew closer and closer around Belcher’s outside as the season championship hung in the balance.
Rounding Turn 4 for the final time, Belcher and Jenison collided in spectacular fashion, sending Jenison sliding down the wall on the driver’s side of his late model, fused with Belcher as they crossed the finish line, Belcher having the edge by .07 seconds. Race control determined that Belcher would need to be penalized for causing the contact in the final turn, meaning that Mark Jenison was both the race winner and the 2022 Late Model Champion.
Richie Murray came home second, followed by Gerry DeGasparre Jr. in third. Luke Lebrun and Jacob Burns rounded out the top five.
#NASCAR #NWAAPS #TRACKCHAMPION #SEEKONKSPEEDWAY #DAVFALLCLASSIC #SUNOCODRIVE4THECUP #CHAMPION
RYAN LINEHAM WINS DAV FALL CLASSIC AND CRAIG PIANKA TAKES HOME THE CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE HELGER’S SOUTH COAST POWER EQUIPMENT SPORTSMAN
HELGER’S SOUTH COAST POWER EQUIPMENT SPORTSMANS
The Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsmans took to the third-mile for the final time in 2022, and 35 laps were afforded to settle the championship between Chad Baxter, Craig Pianka, Ed Perry, and Colby Lambert.
Perry was first in line out of the four playoff drivers for much of the first half of the feature, but a couple of mid-race restarts played into Baxter’s favor. Baxter restarted on the inside in seventh with half distance to go, while Perry restarted on the outside in sixth and stalled out slightly. Lambert and Pianka were chasing closely just off their tail.
A late-race restart bunched the field up one more time, putting all four playoff drivers in a line on the inside from rows two to five. Baxter was first in the line, but hard battling with Scott Serydynski Jr. off the restart ended up putting Baxter on the high side.
As laps wound down, Pianka had driven past his playoff counterparts to put himself in a position to claim the championship for his own. Diving into Turn 3 for the final time, Pianka sent his No. 4 machine down the inside of Serydynski, needing to pass Baxter who was on the outside for the title, and Pianka made the two-for-one move stick to become champion of the 2022 Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman division.
At the line, Ryan Lineham took down the feature win, Serydynski Jr. second, Pianka third, with Baxter and Adam Pettey fourth and fifth. Lambert crossed sixth and Perry came home eighth.
#NASCAR #NWAAPS #TRACKCHAMPION #SEEKONKSPEEDWAY #DAVFALLCLASSIC #SUNOCODRIVE4THECUP #CHAMPION
JAKE VANADA WINS THE DAV FALL CLASSIC FOR THE 2ND STRAIGHT YEAR - RICK MARTIN CROWNED CHAZ’S AUTO BODY SPORT TRUCK CHAMPION
The Chaz’s Auto Body Sport Truck division rolled out for their extra-distance 35-lap feature to decide the championship between Rick Martin, Barry Shaw Jr., Mike Duarte, and Brittany Campbell.
Duarte was the first playoff driver to face trouble, as a Lap 4 stack up in Turn 2 caused enough damage to Duarte’s No. 50 truck to force him to retire, and in turn, end his championship run.
After the restart, the race was on between Shaw, Martin and Campbell as all three made their way forward. In the meantime, Jake Vanada began walking away from the pack in the lead. Shaw and Martin raced nose-to-tail, with Shaw defending with the bottom knowing his championship chances depended on it.
By Lap 27, Martin finally found a way around Shaw on the inside, pulling away in the closing laps, crossing the line first out of the remaining playoff drivers.
Rick Martin is your 2022 Chaz’s Auto Body Sport Truck champion, making it his second Sport Truck championship and sixth overall track championship.
As they crossed the line, Vanada took down his first win of the year, Martin second, followed by Ethan Heilborn, Shaw, Danny Thibeault, and Campbell rounding out the top six.
Pure Stocks Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Special
Capping off Friday night’s excitement was the annual Pure Stock “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
(WTF) race, featuring stars from Seekonk’s Saturday divisions and beyond at the wheel of a pure stock for a voluntary 25-lap exhibition.
13 cars joined in the fun, and the drivers headlining the excitement were Dick Benoit, Corey Fanning, Ed Perry, Gerry DeGasparre Jr., Colby Lambert, Adam Pettey, Barry Shaw, Kaleb Marcou, Derek Gluchaki, Mike Brightman, Tom Scully III, Jake Johnson, and Manny Dias.
Green flag waved and Fanning jumped out front fast, wheeling the No. 28 Austin Flanagan machine, quickly building a lead that held true for the entirety of the 25 laps. Perry and DeGasparre gave chase to the lead early on, using Mike Rotundo’s No. 12 and Don Courtemanche’s No. 77, respectively, to do so.
Lambert looked to ride the wave of his brother’s championship drive at the helm of the No. 15 Pure Stock, while Pettey wheeled the “Wild Man” Greg Perry’s No. 0, and Barry Shaw the No. 02 belonging to Joe Gardner.
After 25 laps in the books, Corey Fanning took down the win. Perry and DeGasparre threw down for an incredible battle for second place, with Perry prevailing in the end. Lambert followed closely, crossing the line fourth, as Adam Pettey rounded out the top five.
After 25 laps in the books, Corey Fanning took down the win. h Perry and DeGasparre threw down for an incredible battle for second place, with Perry prevailing in the end. Lambert followed closely, crossing the line fourth, as Adam Pettey rounded out the top five.
As they crossed the line, Shaw scored sixth, followed by Marcou, Gluchacki, Brightman, and Benoit, comprising the top ten. Scully, Johnson and Dias finished 11th, 12th, and 13th.
Seekonk Speedway Features stories on the Stars and Cars that race at Seekonk Speedway