the years.  He’s looking to slow down a little bit now though and this Thompson 300 will be his last one.  He still has a few more events planned for later this fall though with the car now numbered as #71 [although if you look closely, there is the outline of an extra 1 after the number decal]..

“This is definitely my last 300.  There’s a chance that we’ll come back for the Thompson World Series.  I don’t know.  We’ve got two more True Value Modified shows to go – Seekonk and Lee and I’ll probably go to the North vs. South Shootout, but that will be it.”


Zach Sylvester had a good car in the Sunoco 300.  It might have even been good enough to carry him to his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory.  However, with just 14 laps to go, it went from one quick enough to be running in the lead pack, to one that was coasting into the pit area with ignition problems.
Polverari Had Awesome Run, Marquis All Over The Place

Many people were talking after the Sunoco 300 at Thompson about two young drivers who went too far with each other on the racetrack.  The feel-good story of the day thought was just the opposite.  It was of ageless (actually 60-something) Bob Polverari, finishing the race in the eighth position.

“We’re happy with that,” said Polverari.  “We didn’t get a jump on that last restart and I was lagging behind.  That hurt us a lot because we had just put new tires on and we could have really done something.  If I had been a little more aggressive there at the end, I might have been able to pick up a few more spots.  We’ll take it.  The guys worked really hard and I’m happy to finish in the top 10.”
Polverari had a lot of fun racing against the guys on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Thompson.

“These are all great guys.  I respect them and they respect me.  I didn’t want to endanger anyone going for points.  I just wanted to go out there and have some fun.  I’d run my groove and try not to get too piggish.  Maybe that cost me a few spots, but at least I can walk out of here and say that I didn’t cost anyone any points since I don’t belong here in a sense.”

Polverari started his racing career in 1946 with a soapbox derby car and graduated to Riverside Park Speedway, where he made a name for himself with the #711 through
Zach Sylvester (#15) races with Donny Lia. (Pete Montano Photo)
“We came out of turn two and the motor popped a couple of times before it shut right down,” said Sylvester.  “I don’t know what happened.”

On a day where teams tried all kinds of different strategies, Sylvester was very happy to the approach to the race that his #15 team took.

“We did exactly what we planned to do,” said Sylvester.  “We might have not led laps, but we were right up there all day.  We kept the track position and our pit strategy worked out the way that we wanted it to.  With 20 to go, we were just getting ready to go.  Two laps prior to this
Bob Polverari (#71) had a great run at Thompson;. (Howie Hodge Photo)
the race was turning around for us.  Whether we had enough to pass, I don’t know.  But I do know that we had enough to get back up to them [the leaders].”

As usual, Sylvester was smiling after the race.  He’s the kind of guy who always seems to find the positive in anything that happens on the racetrack.  But if you looked close, you could see that his smile was a little bit dimmer than usual and that this DNF really hurt a lot.

“It’s a disappointment,” said Sylvester.  “We’ve been so fast everywhere that we’ve gone.  Something is always happening and it’s out of our hands.  The crew did an awesome job all weekend.  They gave me everything that I wanted in the pit area and on the track.  They made it happen and we just came up short.”


Eddie Flemke won the Thompson 300 last season.  It was one of his two victories last year as he rode to the runner-up spot in the standings.  This year has been a little bit tougher for Flemke.  His #10 Gary Teto-team has shown plenty of promise, and probably more heart than any team out there, but has been struck down by bad luck time and time again. 

So when the team was able to walk away from the 2005 running of the 300, they were very satisfied.
Eddie Flemke (51 Photo)
“It was a good day,” said Flemke.  These guys work so hard and they have such little success, that it make you feel good to bring some success to the team.  I had a good day, I’m happy.  That’s a good way to carry momentum into the end of the year.”    

Getting to the finish was a little more complicated that most Modified races.

“We just had to be very patient.  The track built up a lot of rubber and that made for a handling nightmare.  That’s why there was so much lane changing and aggression out there.  We stuck to our gameplan.  We pitted a little early and put two tires on. 
“With 30 laps to go, we were closing on the top five pack, but it was the old dog chasing the car syndrome.  If you catch them, what are you going to do with them?  It was hard to pass.  I’m not blaming the racetrack, but with the way that the tires are you are searching for stable grip.  For two or three laps, you might be up high and then you might try down low.  I was Dale Eanrhardt-ing it and going wherever I needed to go to be fast.  We did find some grip[p here and there , but it would only last so long.  Then the other guys you were racing with would learn what you were doing and defend their position or get more aggressive behind you.”

In the Tour’s last event at Martinsville, Flemke also had a car that was running towards the front, but he dropped out of the race early when a wheel came off his car.  This week, everything stayed where it was supposed to.

“Last week, we had a good car too and our wheels fell off,” said Flemke.  “So this just goes to show what happens when you keep your wheels on.”


Eric Beers led most of the final 100 laps, but with 30 to go his tires gave up their grip and it was like flipping a switch.  He dropped out of the lead and back through the field when that happened.
The fact that Beers ran for so long on that set of tires was not something that he planned.  His team has hoped for a caution to put on fresh rubber to get him through the late stages of the race, but when the race had a long green run, his plan instantly soured.

“We gambled there trying to pit late,” said Beers.  “The caution didn’t come out and I was thinking that we might be in pretty good shape.  We lost the lead with about 20 something to go and if it had been the Thompson 270, we’d have been all set.  The tires could only go 90 or 100 laps and we went 148.”

Beers found out just how good new tires were when he
pitted with only 11 laps to go – and he passed enough cars before the end of the race to end up finishing 10th.

We restarted 15th or 16th and within a few laps, we were up to 10th,” said Beers.


Tyler Haydt finished 12th at Thompson.  On the surface, that might sound respectable, but not great.  After all, he finished in the top 10 at the track in April’s Icebreaker and that was his first ever NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start.

But 12th was pretty remarkable when you looked at Haydt’s progress through the 300 weekend.  His #28 was far off in qualifying and early in the race, he struggled to stay on the lead lap.  He lost that battle eventually, but made that into a positive when he tucked in behind early leader Jerry Marquis and shadowed him around the track, learning something each lap.

“We worked on it,” said Haydt.  “We got lapped in the beginning, but we kept working and working and then we got the lucky dog.  We worked our way up from there.”
Eric Beers (left) races along side Ted Christopher (right).  (Pete Montano Photo)
Tyler Haydt  (51 Photo)
Haydt was asked about following Marquis and the young driver talked about how that helped him so much.

“I was trying to learn there.  It helped because I don’t know much about these racetracks.  Anytime that you can follow someone like Jerry helps.  He knows where he is going and I tried to follow.  Everyone that got by me who I could follow helped.  It’s tough.  I’m having a hard time figuring out some of these bigger tracks.”

Haydt is also very thankful that he has a strong car, the #28 owned by Don King, and a good team of crew members behind him.  Those two things helped him stay patient and finish the longest Modified race of the season.
“We have an awesome crew.  We had really good pit stops and we made the right adjustments every time.  They just kept working on it.  This car could probably finish in the top five anytime that it comes to the racetrack, it’s just me being able to do that.  I need to be able to do that now and it’s coming along slowly.”


Tony Ferrante finished seventh in the Sunoco 300 at Thompson and it was one of his most solid runs during a partial season of racing in 2005.

“The car was good all day, it was a clean race and that’s what the 300 is all about,” said Ferrante.  “My car was good yesterday [in practice and qualifying]  and today it started off great.  Unfortunately, that second set of tires was mismatched or something like that and we went straight to the back.  We went to dead last.  The third set of tires, after our second pit stop, were good.  We came all the way back up.  I just needed a yellow 30 laps sooner.”
Ferrante is considering retirement at the conclusion of the season and this might have been his final 300. asked him directly if he thinks that will be the case.  We got a little bit of a mixed answer.

“According to my plan, yes,” said Ferrante.  “But, I’m keeping everything and if I get a bug to go someplace, I’ll go.  This place is great.  If there’s anywhere I love going to, it’s here.”


Tony Hirschman is no stranger to winning at Thompson, this time though he came up just a little bit short in second-place.  Hirschman isn’t down about that fact though.  He’s just looking ahead to the two more times that the Modified Tour visits the Connecticut track before the end of the season.

“We had 300 laps to do something and we ran out of time,” said Hirschman.  “I’m not blaming anyone though, we’ll just come back in a couple of weeks and try it again.”


Tony Ferrante (Jim DuPont Photo)
Jerry Marquis had a monster lead early in the Sunoco 300.  Then he fell back after pit stops.  The he recovered to finish fourth.

“It was back and forth all the way around,” said Marquis.  “We almost went a lap down and we got fourth out of it.  We started fourth and finished fourth.  We came out of here in one piece, so I’m happy about it.

“The car was really good today, we just didn’t play the pit strategy quite right.  It could have gone the other way though.  We stuck to our guns.  That last time that we pitted at lap 207, we should have put four tires on.  We still had two tires leftover in the bank.  But with such few
laps and 17 cars [on the lead lap], there’s no way that we would have gained that many positions [by pitting late].   

Marquis is trying to make up ground in the championship fight and has been catching point leaders Ted Christopher and Tony Hirschman all summer.  But, a solid fourth place finish does not help much though when the two point leaders finish first and second though.

“The guys in front of me in points keep finishing in front of me, that makes it kind of hard.”

Jerry Marquis (#4) was all over the leader board on Sunday at Thompson. (Howie Hodge Photo)
The Sunoco 300 at Thompson is a long race and with only seven caution periods over 300 laps, this year’s running was especially grueling.  It didn’t matter if you were old or young.

“It was long,” said 50-year-old Eddie Flemke after the race.  “I’m getting old, because these races seem to be getting longer and longer.  At one point, I asked how many laps were down and I never ask that.”

Young bones didn’t help much though.

“I’m tired,” said 19-year-old Tyler Haydt after climbing from his car and resting on its nerf bar.  “I feel alright, but man, that’s a long race.”

“We have an awesome crew.  We had really good pit stops and we made the right adjustments every time.  They just kept working on it.  This car could probably finish in the top five anytime that it comes to the racetrack, it’s just me being able to do that.  I need to be able to do that now and it’s coming along slowly.”