WATERFORD, Conn. – Waterford Speedbowl returned to the race track for another NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program Saturday night highlighted by twin 35-lap SK Modified features, the premier weekly division at the track.
Tyler Chadwick of Ledyard won the first of the two races, his fifth of the year, while Tom Abele Jr. of Norwich won the night’s second feature, his first on the season. Cam McDermott of North Scituate, RI picked up his second checkered flag of the year in the SK Light Modifieds.
Dan Darnstaedt of Durham scored the Street Stock feature race win and Garrett Denton of Hope Valley, RI grabbed his first Mini Stock division victory of 2012. The X-Car division competed in an event for their Saturday Showdown Series, won by Wayne Shifflett of Preston.
The first of two 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified features was led to the green flag by cousins Adam and Joe Gada. Adam Gada got the jump and moved out to a comfortable early advantage. Adam moved out to an impressive lead over his cousin Joe with Nichole Morgillo in third position as the field settled in for a long opening stretch of green flag racing.
Morgillo made an inside maneuver on Joe Gada to take second position on lap-10. Behind the top three, Rob Janovic Jr. was on the move looking to challenge Joe Perry for fourth place. Chadwick and Jeff Rocco joined that group in a four-way battle for position, eventually claimed by Chadwick who was slicing his way to the front.
Once in fourth, Chadwick ran down Joe Gada for third and was by his inside on lap-12. The top three cars were singled out running by themselves with Morgillo unable to cut much off of Adam Gada’s lead and Chadwick trying to track down Morgillo.
Behind them several battles brewed all around the three eighths mile oval. Jeff Rocco was the next to make a move, getting to Joe Gada’s inside for fourth position on lap-17. Janovic was still looking for a way around Perry for sixth when the first caution finally waved on lap-22. Shawn Thibeault spun off the front chute, coming to rest off the apron of turn one, erasing Adam Gada’s advantage over the field.
A multi-car wreck was triggered on the restart attempt as Thibeault, Tom Abele, Joe Allegro and Todd Owen were among the collected cars with all driving away. The next restart was a successful one. Morgillo hung on outside Gada through turns one and two, but Chadwick seized the moment when Morgillo drifted up the track out of turn four to race to second position on lap-23.
Chadwick immediately went to work on Gada, looking for an inside move on the leader on lap-25 as caution waved again when Jeff Gallup was off the track in turn three and Wendell Dailey limped around the track with suspension damage. In a separate incident, Morgillo and Rocco came together in turn two just after the caution flag, sending Rocco around and to the pits during the caution period.
The restart pitted Gada against Chadwick. The point leader muscled into the lead off turn two down the back chute, taking the lead for good on lap-26. Morgillo got to Gada’s inside in turn three on lap-27, bringing Janovic with her into the top three as Gada dropped back to fourth. The field ran through the checkered flag and finished in order. Behind Adam Gada in fourth, Joe Gada completed the top-five. The victory was Chadwick’s fifth of the season.
The second 35-lap SK Modified race had Gallup and Abele on the front row for the initial green flag. The field rumbled to turn one for the first time but contact had Kyle James and Jeff Rocco in trouble before a lap was completed. Under the caution flag, both ducked to the pit area for service.
The second attempt to start the race was a clean one with Abele jumping out into the lead. He opened up a several car length lead over Gallup as Janovic raced his way to third by lap-8.
Janovic continued his progress to the front and by lap-13 had cleared Gallup for second. The field ran green through lap-13 when trouble just outside the top-five sent several cars hard into the wall between turns one and two. Among those collected included Thibeault, Chadwick, Rocco, Owen and Ed Puleo. Thibeault, Chadwick and Puleo’s cars received the heaviest damage and were towed from the wreck with only Chadwick able to resume after repairs, several laps down.
After the cleanup, Abele jumped to the lead back ahead of Janovic. Todd Ceravolo raced to third position, getting past Gallup on lap-15. One lap later, Janovic was inside of Abele and raced into the lead on lap-16. With Abele in the outside lane, Ceravolo filled the gap to his inside and followed Janovic past Abele into second, with Jeff Pearl also clearing Abele to streak into third. The top three cars pulled away and began to mix things up at the front as the race hit halfway.
On lap-19, Ceravolo took a look outside of Janovic for the race lead but tucked back in line. Over the next two circuits Ceravolo continued pressing in the outside lane opening the door for Pearl, who dove underneath Ceravolo on lap-21 looking to snatch away second. Just as things were really heating up at the front, James was stopped at the apron of the track in turn two to cool the action with a caution flag.
Trouble broke out among the leaders on the restart attempt. Janovic led the field off turn four however contact between the two leaders saw Ceravolo climb up and over the Janovic car as the two wrecked wildly into turn one. Janovic took a hard trip into the wall for the second consecutive week while battling for the lead while Ceravolo’s night was done as he retired his car to the pits. Pearl steered clear of the incident, which drew the caution and red flags. Janovic eventually climbed from his car after several moments with track safety workers on the scene.
The new lineup had Pearl leading Abele on the front row. The field was unable to restart cleanly yet again as Shawn Monahan spun from fourth position exiting turn four, collecting Gallup in the aftermath. The next restart attempt was clean with Pearl leading Abele to turn one. Matt Gallo and Morgillo were locked in a battle for third, with Morgillo using the outside lane to power into the spot on lap-22.
Things settled in over the next several laps with Pearl distancing himself from the pack. Abele held second over Morgillo as Pearl had lapped traffic looming in the distance. While Pearl appeared to be in control out front, the slower car of Adam Gada bobbled into the racing groove just as Pearl exited turn two with his full momentum on lap-29.
With nowhere to go Pearl made contact with Gada, damaging his left front suspension. As Pearl slowed on the track with an ailing car the field caught him, resulting in Morgillo spinning off turn four after tangling up with Pearl. Caution was back out after another wild sequence among the lead pack, dropping Pearl and Morgillo from contention.
Abele found himself back in the top spot for the restart, which proved as the race’s final. He bested Gallo on the final green flag, going on to win his first race of the year. Owen rebounded from his earlier troubles to claim second at the finish line, getting by Gallo over the final six lap sprint. Rocco came back to finish in third, while Gallo and Joe Perry rounded out the top-five.
In the championship hunt, Chadwick bolstered his lead over Pearl with a victory in the first race, coupled with a seventh place effort for Pearl. In the second race, both championship hopefuls encountered trouble, keeping Chadwick’s lead over Pearl at 21 points with two events remaining.
In the evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified feature, Alan Benincaso brought the field to green for their 25-lapper. Trouble headed into turn one saw four cars pile into the turn one wall on the initial green as Larry Goss, Rob Gallaer, Frank Scimeca and Paul Tommasino all needed to be towed from the racetrack.
Benincaso led Corey Larson when racing finally got underway, with Larson making a move to the lead on lap-3. Tyler Jackson and McDermott found their way to second and third when caution waved again on lap-5 for defending champion Chris Correll, who spun exiting turn two.
The restart saw Jackson bolt into the lead on the outside of Larson. Randy Churchill powered around the outside groove to come to second position on lap-7 while McDermott got by Larson to move to third on lap-8. As the field raced into turn one working lap-9, Paul French challenged Larson for fourth with the pair making contact.
Larson spun around and caution was back out, with French being penalized to the rear of the field for overaggressive driving. Larson created a scary scenario when he wrecked French while the race was still under caution, drawing a red flag for the situation. Larson was disqualified.
Once restarted, the race ran through the checkered flag. Jackson led over Churchill to lap-9, but McDermott got by Churchill to move into contention on lap-10. Only one lap had gone by before McDermott pulled into the race lead inside of Jackson. Churchill moved to second position while Jackson recovered to tuck back in line third. The trio ran through the checkered flag in that order with no further delay. Corey Barry finished fourth with Correll coming back for fifth.
The 25-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Street Stock feature ran from the green to checkered flags without interruption. Darnstaedt led from the start, however needed to hold off a challenge from Bill McNeil over the early going. Josh Galvin motored his way into contention, moving to third position on lap-6. After Darnstaedt fought off an inside bid by McNeil, Galvin challenged McNeil’s outside for second position on lap-9. By halfway, Darnstaedt led Galvin, who had completed the move on McNeil.
Behind the top three, several cars battled for top-five efforts including two former division champions, Corey Hutchings and Brandon Plemons. That proved as the most entertaining battle on the speedway as point leader Walt Hovey, Joe Arena and Chris Meyer were also in the mix.
Galvin spent the better part of the second half of the race looking for any opportunity to pull alongside Darnstaedt for the lead. Galvin’s chance never came and he blanketed Darnstaedt’s rear bumper through the checkered flag. Behind the top two, McNeil was third while Hutchings and Meyer rounded out the top-five.
The night’s 25-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Mini Stock feature had Jeffrey Lee out front to lead the opening laps. Lee showed the way as Nick Pappacoda held second ahead of a battle for third between Denton and Doug Curry, eventually taken by Denton. Behind the top three several cars raced in a tight group side-by-side looking for racing room to advance to the front. A three wide scenario in that group on lap-13 began to turn things chaotic, which carried over on lap-14.
Through turns one and two a three wide battle forced contact, resulting in Ian Brew bouncing off the back stretch wall exiting turn two. He clipped Ken Cassidy Jr. who nearly escaped the incident. The first caution waved as those two, along with others, were collected in the back chute.
Pappacoda got by Lee on the restart, bringing Denton to second and Bill Leonard into third position. Denton moved to Pappacoda’s rear bumper on lap-18, spending three laps there before making his move to Pappacoda’s inside in turn three on lap-21. Denton smoothly completed the pass and had Leonard on his bumper the rest of the way in second place.
Denton held back the charges of Leonard to claim his first checkered flag of 2012. Leonard and Wayne Burroughs Jr. completed the podium finishers. One year ago, Denton became the youngest winner in NASCAR Whelen All-American series history at fourteen years of age.
In the night’s 20-lap X-Car race Shifflett outran the competition in another green-to-checkered flag race. Brad Voglesong was second and Pete Zaikarite was third. Shifflett took the lead on the opening lap.