WATERFORD, Conn. – Waterford Speedbowl returned to fast-paced motorsports action Saturday night with a six-division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program. Kyle James snatched his first victory of the year in SK Modified ranks.
Keith Rocco won his fifth straight Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature of the season, and Ken Cassidy Jr. continued his mastery of the Mini Stock division. Paul French won his first SK Light Modified race on the year and Paul Bigelo came away with the victory in the NEMA Lite feature. Josh Galvin won the night’s Street Stock race, his second in a row.
An emotional opening ceremony began the night’s program following a brief rain delay earlier in the evening. The track honored the memory of multiple-time track champion Danny Field with much of his family and closest supporters in attendance. Field, a long time Mini Stock competitor at the Speedbowl, passed away Wednesday after battling cancer.
He won Speedbowl Mini Stock titles in 2005, 2006 and 2009 and posted 28 career victories at the track and was active at the track through 2013. Field’s younger brother Eddie paced the Mini Stocks with an honorary pole-position behind the wheel of his brother’s No. 18 machine, pulling off the track before the start of the race.
Cassidy went on to claim an emotional win in the 25-lap Mini Stock feature that followed. He took the lead from Dave Trudeau on lap 6.
Cassidy, who has 54 career races at the track in the division, has won several big races but ranked Saturday’s win among his most memorable.
After the race, Cassidy reflected on his achievement and contributed some of his successes, in part, to Field.
“(The win) means a lot,” he said. “Danny was a tough competitor. I think (racing against him) made me a better driver”.
After dueling with Field for years, Cassidy won a national championship in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2010 and has been a dominant driver in the division. Trudeau finished Saturday’s race in second and Garrett Denton was third.
James exhibited patience over a long green-flag run in the night’s 35-lap SK Modified feature. He used the run to pick off competitors and sit third behind an escalating battle for the lead between Joe Gada and Ed Puleo.
After two separate crashes trying to get the race underway, the top three cars broke away from the pack as the race ran without a caution flag through lap- 25. James dropped back while Puleo turned up the heat on Gada. On lap 25 Puleo seized a chance to dive under Gada in turn three.
The two cars came together battling off turn four, bringing the caution flag out as Gada spun sideways in the middle of the track ahead of the pack, collecting Puleo and sending both to the tail of the field.
James had two heavy hitters behind him for the restart. Ted Christopher lined up to his outside. Keith Rocco was behind him in third.
Christopher got a good restart to stay with James for a lap, but James pulled ahead into the lead on lap 26. From there, James slowly distanced himself as the race ran uninterrupted through the checkered flag. Rocco was able to grab second at the finish and Rob Janovic Jr. got by Christopher in the closing laps to take third.