SEEKONK, Mass. -- The NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series got back to action on Saturday, August 6 after a week off for Seekonk Speedway’s annual Midsummer Thrill Show.
Saturday’s program served up extra-distance racing across all four divisions, as round three of the Everett’s Auto Parts Triple Crown underscored the evening's entertainment. Each division had four drivers in the running for the crown, providing a little race within a race for fans to keep an eye out for through Saturday’s event.
While the culmination of the Everett’s Auto Parts Triple Crown upped the excitement for Saturday’s show, season-long points battles certainly loomed large for those drivers sitting close by the bubble leading into the inaugural Seekonk Speedway Drive For The Cup presented by Sunoco Race Fuel. Let’s take a look at how Saturday’s features unfolded for the drivers who are still in the hunt for the playoffs.
Chaz’s Auto Body Sport Trucks
The Chaz’s Auto Body Sport Truck Division took to the third-mile for 35 laps this weekend and saw Rick Martin take down the win as well as the 2022 Everett’s Triple Crown for the division. Martin’s win keeps him at the top of the standings by nine points, but seven spots down is where things really get interesting.
Tom Scully III and Jake Vanada continue to stare each other down for the last spot in the top eight, and fittingly enough, the two drivers were staring each other down for those points on track during the feature.
With Scully leading the field to green and Vanada starting right behind him, the battle was on right from the start. The two drivers battled for nine laps, with Scully leading every one of them, until Scully spun exiting turn four with a little bit of help from the front bumper of Vanada. As a result, both drivers were sent to the rear of the field for the restart.
Vanada and Scully went to work trying to recoup their losses, and a caution just five laps later allowed Vanada to restart seventh, and Scully on Vanada’s bumper in ninth. The two drivers trended forward during the remaining 24 laps, and Vanada finished fifth to secure his sixth top-five finish on the season, while Scully finished seventh, matching his season-best feature result.
All said and done, Vanada’s outing on Saturday yielded him five more points than Scully’s. This includes the points they earned during heat races earlier that evening (four for Vanada, and three for Scully.) Vanada’s performance shaved his deficit to just 14 points behind Scully.
As far as other drivers who are yet to be locked in, Amy Arsenault finished just behind Scully on track for the 35-lapper, and earned just one point during her qualifying heat. Arsenault earned four fewer points than Scully with her drive on Saturday, but remains seventh in points with a 20-point advantage over Scully on the bubble.
Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman
The 35-lap Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman feature saw Chad Baxter continue his torrid pace around the rest of his competitors as he scored his fourth feature win in five races, and claimed the division’s Everett’s Triple Crown in the process.
The drive of the night however may well have been executed by Adam Pettey, who started at the rear of the 19-car field, and drove himself all the way up to a third-place finish, earning himself a much needed 46 points (plus four more from his heat) as he chases after Tyler Almeida’s eighth-place standing in the points. The drivers were separated by 24 points going into the weekend.
Almeida on the other hand had a complete opposite kind of night. Starting on pole, Almeida led laps early and tried as best as he could to hold off a hard-charging swarm of front runners led by division rising star Cody Tripp. On a lap 12 stack up between the leaders that stayed green through turns one and two, Almeida ended up getting into the back of Steve Axon, incurring some front end damage. Almeida continued to circulate in an effort to hold out for as many points as possible. Meanwhile, Pettey was storming his way towards the top 10.
The two drivers crossed paths when Pettey sent his No. 57 machine three-wide on the inside of Almeida and Kyle Casper into turn one on lap 16. Pettey successfully pulled off the two-for-one move and set his sights on the top five, while Almeida ceded the positions, and ultimately retired after 22 laps complete. The early exit scored Almeida 17th overall. Including his heat run which earned him five points, Almeida earned just 23 points on the night.
As a result, Pettey had an incredibly efficient night in the points standings, making up 27 points and eclipsing Almeida for eighth place; Almeida now on the outside looking in by three points. Next to the good of the bubble is Colby Lambert, who went into the weekend 14 points ahead of the bubble, and came out the other end 23 points to the good. Next to Almeida on the outside looking in is Jim “Pepe” Silvia, who entered the weekend 49 points out, and after finishing 16th overall, now owns a 52-point deficit to Pettey.
Seekonk’s Late Model division was afforded 45-laps in their extra distance feature on Saturday, and when the checkered flag waved, it was Gerry DeGasparre Jr. who crossed the line first, notching his second feature win of the season, and laying claim to his first ever triple crown title.
The closest points race of the night got a little bit closer when results were finalized, making the final spot in the top eight still very much up for grabs.
Jeramee Lillie went into the weekend as the bubble driver with 44 points separating him from Josh Hedges. Hedges, who had missed the previous two weeks of competition, was faced with a notable deficit to overcome if he wanted a shot at keeping his playoff hopes alive. That is unless disaster struck for any of the top eight.
Well, that is exactly what happened -- to Paul Lallier. Going into the weekend, Lallier sat seventh in the points, just four points ahead of Lillie, but 48 points ahead of Hedges. All this went into the blender when Lallier lost control of his No. 70 machine and backed it into the wall in turn one on a lap four restart. The impact did not look terminal, but clearly the resulting damage was enough to end Lallier’s night, scoring 14 points for his 19th-place finish -- add two more for his fourth place heat performance.
Lillie fought hard to keep his No. 3 car at the lead of the field, and did so until about lap 20, when he was caught and passed by DeGasparre, and ultimately held on for his third second-place finish of the season. Hedges made his presence known in his first week back by notching a seventh place finish, and was perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Lallier’s bad luck, as Hedges was able to make up a whopping 24 points on the bubble!
Another top eight driver who fell on hard times this weekend was Jacob Burns, who was scored 18th after completing just 12 laps before taking his Late Model to the pits for good. Burns now sits seventh in points, 9 points ahead of Lallier. Bill Goodrow lost ground on Hedges in the points, but made up ground on the bubble, cutting his deficit from 73 points to 54 points.
The Seekonk Pro Stocks took to the track for their third 60-lap feature of the season last weekend. After a lap one spin involving Tommy Adams, Daryl Stampfl,, and ultimately ousting Billy Joerres, Rick Martin had the task of holding off Dave Darling, Mike Brightman, and Tom Scully Jr during the race.
In an effort to catapult himself back into the top eight, Martin staved off the slew of Pro Stock heavyweights for a solid chunk of laps in the early stages of the race. Darling eventually made the high groove work to pass Martin for the lead, and sailed on to victory, claiming his second of the season, along with the division’s Triple Crown.
Martin’s effort wasn’t all for naught, however. After sliding back to fourth shortly after ceding the lead, Martin shared close battles with Bobby Pelland III all night, swapping for fourth and fifth positions. Taking advantage of a couple of strong late race restarts, Martin was able to solidify a fourth place finish on the night, making up 19 points on then-bubble driver Kenny Spencer. Martin now sits on the bubble, with just a five point edge over Spencer.
Speaking of Spencer, the woes continued for the No. 0 team. Spencer seemed to be trending in a positive direction on track Saturday evening, reaching as high as sixth place until significant handling issues found Spencer, and forced him to bow out of competition with 46 laps complete. While an 11th place finish on the night for Spencer certainly didn’t help his run up to the playoffs, there may be some consolation in knowing it’s only five points that separates him from taking back the eight place spot from Martin.
Scully’s third-place finish further insulated himself from the bubble, owning a 33-point cushion to the good of the hot seat. Tommy Adams took a slight hit in the points with his 12th-place finish, yet still sits sixth in points with a comfortable 50 point lead over the bubble. Danny Thibeault made strides in the overall points standings up to tenth, leaping Ryan Vanasse and Ryan Lineham, who were both absent from competition. Points wise, Thibeault gained on the bubble by a slim two points, still 47 points to the bad of the hot seat.
Only three weeks remain before the playoffs begin, and the battle of the bubble is only drawing tighter across all four of our divisions.
Come on out and witness for yourself who can rise to the occasion and lock themselves into the first ever Seekonk Speedway Drive For The Cup presented by Sunoco Race Fuel. The battle continues this Saturday, August 13 at. 6:00PM.
For tickets and more information on Seekonk Speedway, visit seekonkspeedway.com.
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