Press Release by Olivia Bouchard
WATERFORD — The 2016 season at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl is heading into overtime.
Because of the rainy weather that short-circuited last weekend’s action at the season-ending Bemer’s Big Show, one more day is needed to crown the season champions in eight regular-season divisions.
Decision day will take place Saturday starting at 2 p.m. Ten divisions, including the touring New England Truck Series, will be squaring off in the final season showdown. Three weekly divisions — the X-cars, the Coastline Fire Protection Super X and the Micro Blue Bandoleros, will be running two features. Running their final features of the season will be the Sunoco Late Models, the Limited Sportsman, the Mini Stocks, the Joie of Seating Legends, the Magnus Racing Products SK Lights and the Waterford Speedbowl Trucks.
Much of the drama at the Bemer’s Big Show surrounds the Saturday U.S. Legends division.
Dana Dimatteo of Farmington heads into the final race with a 17-point lead in the standings. After last week’s rainout, however, Dimatteo said he would be unable to attend this week’s competition because of a prior commitment.
If Dimatteo is a no-show Saturday, it will leave the Legends championship wide open.
Kyle Rogers is in second place, but has just a four-point cushion over Andrew Molleur, who is in third. Michael Rutkowski is only five points behind Rogers. Scott Limkemann, who won the mid-season title, is also a factor, only 10 points behind Rogers.
In the Limited Sportsman division, Al Stone will try to make Speedbowl history by winning his fourth championship. He leads Chris Meyer by 17 points and needs to finish 16th or better in Saturday’s 25-lap feature to wrap up the title.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Stone said. “We’ve had some great finishes, but Chris Meyer has really come on strong. His consistency in finishing up front has made it difficult. But we enjoy the competition.”
Meyer has had 10 Top 3 finishes in a row to put the heat on Stone.
“He’s doing what he has to do,” Stone said, “and we just have to keep doing what we’ve done all season. We just need to finish, and unless something crazy happens, we should be alright.”
Stone says winning a fourth title would be special.
“It would be like putting another candle on the cake,” Stone said. “No one had won three titles until we did it last year. It would be nice to be the first to win four.”
Ministock driver Wayne Burroughs, meanwhile, is trying to win two in a row. He comes into Saturday’s final 25-lap feature with a 21-point lead over five-time champ Ken Cassidy Jr.
That means Burroughs needs to finish 20th or better to put a padlock on the championship. Charles Canfield is the only other driver mathematically alive for the title.
Tony Membrino Jr. approaches the SK Light finale with a 14-point lead over Corey Barry. He needs a 14th place finish or better to lock out Barry and put the title on ice.
The tightest race of all exists in the Bandoleros. Charles Prinz leads by one point over Tyler Berry, two points over defending champ Nick Hovey and three points over Nick Oloski. Only the first race Saturday will be a points race.
In the Speedbowl Trucks, Duane Noll has a 12-point edge over Josh Stringer, meaning Noll can clinch the title by finishing 12th or better.
Ray Reed is close to wrapping up his second Super X car title. He has a 56-point lead over Bill Reiman with two races left.
In the X car battle, defending champ Dave Gargaro owns a nine-point lead over Chris Thomas with two races remaining.
The New England Truck Series will also crown a champ Saturday, using a chase for the championship format. Four drivers are eligible for the title — Bert Ouellette, Dan Turbush, Dave Koening and Andy Lindeman. The highest finisher among those drivers in the 25-lap feature will be the season champion.
Keith Rocco enters the Late Model feature with a 31-point lead over Anthony Flannery and is assured of the title. Last week he captured the SK Modified title, giving him 10 championships in his Speedbowl career.
Admission is $20 for adults and $5 for youths 13-16. Children 12-and-under will be admitted free. Tickets, pit passes and wrist bands purchased last weekend can be used this weekend.