Qualifying and practice are set for Saturday with bonus features for the Sunoco Mods and Late Models on Saturday evening.  Sunday will see all of the divisions competing, with a post time of Noon.

Speed51.com will be at Thompson all weekend to bring you the latest news of the big weekend.

PAYNE PUNISHES FIELD IN NEMA OPENER

Joey Payne had a victory to his credit at Waterford Speedbowl, but this weekend he visited victory lane in what he considers his first Waterford win.
”I won one of the Boston Louie races here before by default,” said Payne.  “The guy who won was disqualified, so I got the win. I have never before have taken the checker
flag here. It was number one on my list to get a win here.“

That’s just what he did in this weekend’s NEMA Midget season opener at the Connecticut bullring.

Young Shane Hammond took the lead on the green. He would lead the first four circuits only to fall out early.

“It was a fuel pickup problem,” said Hammond.  “I’ve had it happen before so I knew what it was. A twenty dollar part put us out.”

Nokie Fornoro inherited the lead from Hammond. Payne would pass Fornoro on the restart with Ben Seitz also getting by. Fornoro later got crossed up and went through the turns three and four infield grass. From there Payne was in control.

Seitz, Fornoro, Randy Cabral and Bobby Santos, III would make up the top five at the finish..

Payne really had to work for his victory.

“The car was awesome but the track was crappy,” said Payne.  “There was a lot of oil on it. We drove a real defensive race and I made a lot of adjustments. We made wedge and brake adjustments and we came out on top."
51's NORTHERN EXPOSURE by Mike Twist
Good Weather Ahead, Payne Gets 'Em at Waterford and More
Believe it or not, snow is expected to be mixed with rain throughout much of the region this week, but the skies are expected to clear almost on cue for this weekend’s race.  Saturday might bring some morning showers, but Sunday is predicted to be a nice clear spring day with only a 10-20% chance of any precipitation and high temperatures above 50 degrees.

The Icebreaker is the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season opening race, but there is plenty of other action on tap as well.  Pro Stocks, Late Models, Sunoco Modifieds, Thompson Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock will share the track during the weekend. 
It looks like a good day of racing is in store at The Icebreaker.
WEATHER LOOKS GOOD FOR THE ICEBREAKER

It looks like The Icebreaker might be the perfect name for the season-opening race at Thompson International Speedway this weekend.
A pair of motor failures on lap four led to the oil on the track.  Paul Luggelle blew up under caution, while the #55 of Mike Keeler had its powerplant expire on the resulting restart.

Payne said that the rash of engine problems could have been due to the cool spring weather.

“The wind plays into effect,” said Payne.  “When we go out on a race day we warm
up the cars. Even though the temperature is cold, the engine still has heat in it. These engines have 17 to 1 compression and we have to run thick oil. When it is cold like this the oil is just too thick for the filter and it blows the filter off."

Payne doesn’t plan to stop winning anytime soon.  He has big plans for the rest of 2006.

“We’re want to win the 2006 NEMA championship,” said Payne.  “Every time we come back to a track we get faster and faster."  (Denise DuPont)

ONLY ONE ROWE, AND NO KHIELS, FOR HICKORY

The Richard Moody Racing team has had a busy off-season.  They went from one team to two in the PASS Super Late Model Series, moved into a new shop, built new racecars and got a new hauler to outfit.  That’s in addition to all of the regular off-season stuff that a race team has to do.

Nevertheless, they were strongly considering entering at least one of their two drivers, Ben Rowe and/or Travis Khiel, in the Easter Bunny 150 PASS Southern Series opening race on April 15th.  Late word out of the RMR shops though are that the team will skip Hickory to focus on the opening race of their bread and butter series, the PASS North Super Late Models, on April 29th at Oxford Plans Speedway (ME).

Ben Rowe's father, Mike, will be racing at Hickory.

GRIGAS PLANS BUSY WEEKEND OF RACING

Bobby Grigas, III had a tough decision to make heading into this weekend.  He could either race his Late Model at Thompson International Speedway (CT) or take part in the open test session for the True Value Modified Racing Series with his #09 Triple G Scaffolding Modified.
Joey Payne (#45) and Nokie Fornoro (#45) battle for the lead at Waterford.  Payne got the spot and went on to win, while Fornoro went for another kind of a ride.  (Jim DuPont Photos)
Bobby Grigas' #99 Late Model.
On one hand, racing the familiar Late Model at Thompson would be a good way to start the season out.  On the other hand, as a TVMRS rookie, the test session would bring some valuable set time.

So Grigas decided to compromise and try to do both.

“I’m going to have my Late Model dropped off at Thompson on Saturday morning,” said Grigas.  “Then I’ll be going to Monadnock to practice the Modified.  If it is possible, I’m going to try to make it back to Thompson for Saturday’s race, but I think that the times are going to
conflict and that will put a damper on what I’m going to try and do.  I haven’t given up and will try to do it.  I don’t really see it happening though.”

On Sunday, Grigas will definitely be in the pits at Thompson taking part in the second leg of a Late Model doubleheader there.

“I’m definitely looking forward to having fun,” said Grigas.  “If I don’t make it on Saturday, I’ll race on Sunday and start tail on the field.”

Saturday’s test session will be Grigas’ first laps as a TVMRS driver and he is looking forward to that.

“I’m excited about going to the Monadnock practice,” said Grigas.  “I’ve never been to the track before and I want to check out the competition that I’m going to have this year.”

Now all Grigas hopes for is a little bit of rest before his crazy weekend starts – but there are no guarantees that will happen either.  

“Hopefully, all of the cars will be together by Friday morning,” said Grigas.  “That’s what I’m hoping.  We seem to work until two or three in the morning a lot, so we’ll just to have to see how things go.”

PASS OUTLAWS DRAW PLENTY OF INTEREST

The PASS Outlaw Late Model Series has attracted plenty of interest in the months before its series opener at Unity Speedway (ME) on April 30th.

Over 30 entries have already been received at PASS headquarters.  Although the series will be divided into two divisions – with a Central and a Northern region, there are no conflicting dates and several competitors have expressed interest in running both divisions. 

The appeal of the series has been broad, five of the six New England states are represented on the current roster, with only Rhode Island being left out.

Among the entrants are 15-year-old Massachusetts driver Derek Ramstrom, former NASCAR Busch North Series drivers Jimmy Renfrew and Carey Heath, PASS Modified standout Chris Staples, PASS Super Late Model driver Corey Williams and Canaan Fair Speedway’s self-proclaimed “Showstoppa” Bobby MacArthur.

The list of PASS Outlaw Late Model Series drivers as of 3/28/06 is as follows:

Car #Driver    Hometown

33Craig AndersonSouth China, ME
71Graylin BonnerLebanon, NH
3Kraig CoffinUxbridge, MA
28Dave DavisWhite River Junction, VT
01Joe DeckerChesterville, ME
4Rich EatonSeabrook, NH
29EBen ErskineSolon, ME
91 George Fernald, Jr.Benton, ME
37Pete FraserNottingham, NH
57Zig GenoCanterbury, NH
48Kenneth HaleyNashua, NH
22Mike Harnish, JrSkowhegan, ME
TBACarey HeathEliot, ME
20HBrian HenryLebanon, NH
23Randy HoganMilford, ME
20Kris LymanW. Hartford, VT
55MBobby MacArthurBeverly, MA
94Dillion MoltzWaterford, CT
03Gary NorrisW. Gardner, ME
07Mark PattenBelmont, NH
21Matt PepinWebster, NH
35Derek RamstromW. Boylston, MA
55Jimmy RenfrewCandia, NH
0Chris RobbinsNorton, MA
44Jimmy RosenfieldMiddleboro, MA
36 Jay SandsSeabrook, NH
5Chris StaplesBrunswick, ME
04 Jamie SwallowStark, NH
25 Michael ThomasLewiston, ME
47 Corey WilliamsBoothbay, ME