Paul Lallier Holds Off Serydynski, Grabs Seekonk Sportsman Win; Baxter Flexes Mid-Season Muscle; Melberg Breaks Rotor; Bruneau Tops Points

By DAVID M. WIERNUSZ

“A little slow and low never hurt anybody!” was the word from a very happy Paul Lallier in victory lane as he discussed his late race driving strategy that closed the door on the inside to hold off a persistent challenge from Scott Serydynski.  “It was a little iffy with the 22 (Serydynski) behind me but it all worked out.”  When asked about the restart on lap 24, Lallier remarked that “I think it would have been nice if we just stayed green to checkered…  I knew my car took off like a rocket on restarts, so I was all set there.”

With ten point races in the books, Lallier – a two time track champion (2012 and 2015) – is the ninth different driver to grab the checkered in the Sportsman division this season.  Scott Bruneau, although winless, sits on top of the point chase by fifty over second place Corey Fanning.  Fourteen points separate Fanning and fifth place Vinny Pangelinan.  There is a 102 point spread between second and tenth.

Eight point races remain on the 2017 Sportsman racing calendar.

SPORTSMAN HEAT RACES.

Pangelinan made contact with Bruneau’s bumper on lap 6 of the first, ten lap qualifying round causing the No.74 Phil’s Propane machine to spin in turn two.   “These guys are so fast.  You have to say on them.  I didn’t even know I touched him.” said Pangelinan.  The contact was incidental and both drivers brushed it off, though track officials put Pangelinan to the rear of the pack on the restart because of the bump.

Fanning moved past Gil Bradstreet, Ryan Souliere and Dane Saritelli to grab the win in the second heat.

While Serydynski dominated and won the third heat, it was Chad Baxter who showed that he was dialed in – a preview of what would turn out to be a strong run later in the main event.  Baxter started sixth and finished third.  He made an aggressive, though unsuccessful, attempt to grab the second spot from Ryan Flood as the heat race laps wound down.

SPORTSMAN FEATURE EVENT.

Twenty cars lined up for the thirty lap feature race.  But for one caution flag that was unfurled on lap 24, the pack of Sportsman raced under the green for the entire event.

Lallier started his No.70 Stafford Electric racecar in fourth, but by lap 6 he grabbed the lead from Jesse Melberg.  By lap 10 Melberg, Serydynski and Fanning were lined up single file behind Lallier.

 

Jesse Melberg (No. 32) chases Paul Laller (No. 70) into turn  one.

Serydynski, who had to put an entire center section in the rear end of his No. 22 to cure a bad vibration during practice, stuck his nose under Melberg as the duo entered turn one.  As they raced through turns one and two, Serydynski grabbed the second spot as the pair shot down the backstretch.  Serydynski set his sights on Lallier.

A battle for third shaped up between Melberg and Fanning.  Melberg, in one of his best performances of the season, tried without success to hold off Fanning.  As the duo came out of turn four Fanning grabbed third as they crossed the stripe on lap 18.  Melberg was running solid in fourth.

Serydynski was putting serious pressure on Lallier for the lead when the caution flag came out on lap 24 because Melberg slowed and came to a stop high in turn two.  “Oh, I don’t want to [talk about it].  The front rotor broke” said a very disappointed Melberg as he climbed out of his No.32 after being towed into the pit.

The bunched up field took the green on the restart when an all-out brawl for seventh took shape.  Sparky Arsenault, Pangelinan and Craig Pianka went three wide coming out of turn two.  Ryan Flood and Rob Murphy were side-by-side immediately behind the three-way fight for seventh.  Bump, bang, bump, tap.  The cluster of cars raced out of turn four in what almost turned out to be a four wide wall of cars flying down the frontstretch.

Baxter raced his No.10 machine from an eleventh starting spot into fourth and was all over Fanning’s bumper.  With two laps remaining, a race for third was on.  Baxter won and pocked $1,000 in a mid-week, non-point race (July 12th) just days before.  His good fortune continued as he managed to take the third spot from Fanning on the last lap.  Fanning finished fourth and Bruneau fifth.

Lallier held off Serydynski for the win.

Serydynski discussed his second place finish.  “We had a great car in qualifying, a great car in the feature, and we had a car to win.  Unfortunately, something went wrong with six laps to go and I could not get to the front…  Something in the engine.  We have some sort of issue.  It wasn’t running on eight cylinders for sure.”

SEEKONK SPEEDWAY NOTES.

A regular staple on Seekonk Speedway race’s calendar is the Spectator Drag Series – a competition where wannabe racecar drivers are able to bring their street legal passenger cars, a helmet and pair up for a sequence of one lap, no holds barred, tire smoking shootouts and live up to the phrase “run your car, not your mouth!”  Spectator Drags race ten times throughout the season, get rolling right after the playing of the Star Spangled Banner at 6:00 p.m, attract on average about fifteen cars and run for approximately one-half hour…

A pair of Spectator Drags’ race side-by-side.

 

Track officials collected tire samples from three Sportsman drivers after a money-only, non-point race on Wednesday, July 19th .  The three drivers were required to carve a small sample of rubber off the edge of one of their tires and place it in a plastic bag marked “evidence”.  The sealed bags were shipped to Blue Ridge Labs in Hudson, NC for testing.  Track officials impounded each of the sampled tires until after the test results are returned.  Lab results were still pending when this article went to press…

Last year’s track champion in the Pro Stock division, Tom Scully, Jr., spun coming out of turn two during one of the practice runs.  What was notable about the spin was that Scully’s No. 2 went around without making contact with another racecar.  The car is “just not handling – something is not right,” said Scully who also reported that his team changed a left front shock to correct the handling issue.  The shock change apparently made a difference as the 36-year-old driver from West Warwick, RI chalked up a second place finish in the main event…

Seekonk Speedway is “one of the toughest tracks I’ve ever driven in my life!” said Frank Dumicich, Jr. after pocketing $1,000 for taking the checkered in the fifty-five lap feature for the New England Truck Series.  NETS checked twenty trucks into the paddock area for the series’ fifth race of the year.  Owned and operated by Marshall Hurley, NETS showed off plenty of close, side-by-side racing and passing throughout the pack.  Three NETS race trucks swapped the top spot no fewer than six times during the main event…

Seekonk Speedway’s Sport Trucks had Saturday night off to make room for the NETS…

Gil Bradstreet started racing in the Sportsman division late this season having driven in just five out of the ten point races.  Bradstreet ‘s blue colored No. 77 was formally numbered 20 when it was owned and driven by Manny Dias.  Bradstreet’s race crew can be spotted throughout the pit area and grandstands wearing the familiar “TTM” racing T-shirts.  TTM is an abbreviation for “To The Max”…

While Charlie Rose’s .015 second victory over Rey Lovelace in the Late Model feature is notable in and of itself, it was Rose’s persistent lap after lap after lap after lap charge on the outside that headlined the race.  Cheers, yells and hollers erupted from the grandstands as Rose kept pushing and pushing and pushing his No.7 racecar up along Lovelace’s right side for an estimated ten laps of side-by-side racing.  It was Rose’s third trip to victory lane this season…

 

Rey Lovelace (No.14) holds tight inside as Charlie Rose (No. 7) makes a run on the outside.  Jake Johnson (No.15), Austin Blais (No.16) and Dan Johnson (No.4) play follow the leader.

Thoughts and comments can be sent to david.wiernusz@yahoo.com.