Bruneau Wins Seekonk Sportsman; Fanning and Casper Charge Through Field; Speedway Finally Races Rain-Postponed Opener.

By DAVID M. WIERNUSZ

“It was a tough one, but we held on to it.” Those were part of the comments that Scott Bruneau made after parking his Phil’s Propane No. 74 in victory lane. The defending Sportsman champion started on the outside of the second row and managed to repeatedly hold off restart challenges by John Hanafin and “Sparky” Arsenault.

“The restarts were tough,” Bruneau said. “I like to go green, but the restarts bunch people up and they start binging and banging. [Hanafin] is definitely a hard racer. He was a little rough on the restarts. [Track officials] yelled at me for it, but we’ll take it. We got the win.”

After a nearly one month long postponement because of rain, twenty-five Sportsman took the green in the thirty-five lap main event. Paul Lallier, “Smoke’n” Joe Kohler and Dick Benoit were involved in a spin on lap two. Kohler went out on the hook and Lallier’s No. 70 had visible front end damage.

“Yeah, the front end. I pulled in [to the pits],” Lallier reported after the race. “I didn’t know if it was radiator damage . . . I couldn’t see going into the corner because the hood was bowed up. I did what I could. No chassis damage at all – just body [damage].” Lallier finished 12th.

“YOU’RE DRIVING CRAZY!”

While Bruneau, Arsenault, Hanafin and Ryan Flood were showing the way up front, Kyle Casper, driving the Rich Courser-owned No. 21, and Corey Fanning, No. 11, began a combative march toward the front from deep in the pack. “Twenty-one, you’re driving crazy!” track officials repeatedly roared over the scanner, at times seemingly exasperated at Casper, 35, who started seventeenth.

Fanning started 22nd, and by lap 16 was locked in a battle for sixth with Casper.
Fanning on the inside. Casper on the outside. They touched. They scraped. Both drivers dug into the high, seven-foot banking of Seekonk’s 72-wide, one-third mile of asphalt. Fanning edged into fifth. Meanwhile Bruneau opened up a three car length lead over the rest of the field.

Kyle Casper (left) looks to the outside of Corey Fanning (right).

Fanning’s edge over Casper was short lived. With twelve laps left on the board Casper got his nose under Fanning as both drivers attempted to close in on Bruneau by picking off one driver after the next. With five laps remaining, Ed Perry spun after making contact with Tyler Lallier bringing out the caution.

“LET’S MOVE IT.”

The drivers positioned on the inside for the restart proved to have the advantage. Bruneau on the inside of row one; Arsenault on the outside. Casper on the inside of row two; Flood on the outside. Fanning on the inside of row three; Craig Pianka on the outside. When the green flag dropped, Arsenault, Flood and Pianka got hung out to dry on the outside and drifted back as the laps wound down.

Bruneau grabbed the win, Casper finished second and Fanning crossed the stripe third.

“It was a great run to finish second,” said Casper. “We weren’t expected to have this good of a run having had to start all the way in the back like that, but we’ll take it.” Fanning commented on routing nineteen cars in thirty-five laps to earn a podium finish. “Every time I felt myself getting excited, I would say “hey, it’s thirty five laps; it’s thirty five laps’. With five laps to go I was sitting [in] fifth and said it was time to go. Let’s move it.”
Sportsman Feature (6-2-18) Scott Bruneau, Kyle Casper, Corey Fanning, Ryan Flood, Sparky Arsenault, Dick Benoit, Craig Pianka, Chris Gomes, Tim Watson, Tyler Lallier, Al Clements IV, Paul Lallier, John Hanafin, Joe Melberg, Dane Saritelli, Tom Watson, Paul Williams, Ed Perry, Ryan Souliere, Kevin Rioux, Rey Lovelace, Donald Perry, Ed Flanagan, Jr., Danny Cabral, Joe Kohler.

SEEKONK SPEEDWAY NOTES

Sportsman fans will notice the absence of Scott Serydynski, Sr. in 2018. Scott will be dividing his racing efforts this year between assisting his son, Scott Serydynski, Jr., 14, race a Legend Car at Seekonk on Friday nights and run his No. 22 in the North East 375 Sportsman Challenge race series. Scott won the first two 375 Sportsman races . . .

The speedway was finally able to complete a Saturday night event. Rain cut short the track’s opening race on May 6, 2018, and caused to be cancelled racing scheduled for May 12th and May 19th . . .

Car count. Ninety-nine race cars checked into the paddock area Saturday (June 2nd). 31 NASCAR Whelen Modifieds; 16 Sport Trucks; 27 Late Models; 25 Sportsman; Pro Stocks had the evening off . . .

Kevin Boucher, one of the speedway’s track announcers, recently updated fans that David Lougee was working with an ARCA team. Lougee was a regular competitor in the Sport Truck division until the twenty-year-old from Taunton, MA moved to Ohio last year in order to earn an associate degree in High Performance Motor Sports from the University of Northwest Ohio. As part of a program associated with the university, Lougee is working as mechanic on Brett Holmes’ ARCA race car. . .

The NASCAR Whelen Modified 150-lap event ran for approximately forty-five minutes. There were seven yellow flags. Thirty-nine (or 26%) of the 150 laps were run under caution . . .

Justin Bonsignore (No. 51) edges under Matt Hirschman (No. 60).

Several Sportsman drivers grumbled about the slick racing surface after the NASCAR Whelen Modifieds completed their early afternoon practice. “[The Hoosier rubber on the track from the modifieds] plays a big roll,” remarked one driver. “The American Racer [tires] that we’re on and the Hoosier rubber that [the Whelen modifieds] have don’t agree. It’s like putting two magnets together that don’t like each other. They never mix.”

Girl power. Madeleine Harken, 17, and Brittany Campbell, 16, are stepping up their racing game this year as rookie drivers in the Sport Truck division. Maddie and Brittany previously raced Mini Cup and Bandoleros in the speedway’s Fast Friday nights. . .

During the off season Tom Watson purchased David Lougee’s Sport Truck. Also, Tom’s two sons are drivers in the Sportsman division: Tim, 27, drives No. 46 and Tom, 28, drives No. 6. Tim Watson chalked up a top ten finish on Saturday. . .

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