Thompson World Series race report, champion crowned

Russ Wood Takes Thompson Isma Final; Mcknight Gets First Championship Thompson, CT- Dave McKnight just pulled into the Thompson World Series and by so doing he and car owner Brad Lichty claimed the 2001 ISMA championship. Show-up points were all...

Russ Wood Takes Thompson Isma Final; Mcknight Gets First Championship

Thompson, CT- Dave McKnight just pulled into the Thompson World Series and by so doing he and car owner Brad Lichty claimed the 2001 ISMA championship. Show-up points were all he needed to clinch it. And, Russ Wood pulled out of Thompson Speedway with his second win of the year after the supermodified 50. Wood took over the race lead with a move around Howard Page on lap 38. Wood outlasted a late race challenge by Lou Cicconi, several yellows and a red, to win the 50 lapper.

Said Wood in victory lane, "This is a good way to end the season. The car was good both days and I felt I could make a good run with a little luck. I also expected that Gosek and McKnight would be pressuring, but that didn't happen. Cicconi was coming up, but I had pretty much clear sailing at the end. It was probably not the best race to watch, but we're happy with a win."

"Liquid" Lou Cicconi gained not only second with his 26th to 2nd run, but he also secured second in the ISMA point standings. "We started 26th and ended up here," said Lou. "The car was great. I could put it where ever I wanted to - up or down. We were fortunate to take second in points also. I guess you'd say that it was justice served. It made up for a lot of incidents along the way this season. This is a great way to finish for up our team's first season together."

Thirty-five supers were on hand to finish up the ISMA season, twenty-seven would start the main with Mark Sammut and Jamie Timmons on the front row. The first yellow victim was 2000 ISMA champ Joe Gosek who got a tap coming out of three on the initial lap and slid to the low side of the track. Gosek said later that the suspension was affected or he would have continued.

Jamie Timmons took up the lead but was quickly replaced by Howie Page and he built up a lead for himself almost immediately.

Modified star Ted Christopher was aboard the Witkum 85, but mechanical woes put him out of the running on lap 8.

Page was leaving the field behind him as Timmons, Hawksby, Russ Wood, Ken Bell, Chris Perley, Mike Ordway and Dave McKnight were among the chasers. The race ran smooth as the lightning fast supers made their feature run on the surface, and Page took advantage of the long green to put second place runner Joey Hawksby a distance behind as Joey contended with Wood, McKnight, Timmons, Ordway, Bell and Perley. The man on the move, however, was Lou Cicconi who had started almost dead last after a poor qualifying run on Saturday. The crew had replaced the rack and pinion, the power steering and more after that run and the 75 was back in business.

Just past the midway mark, Page was into traffic and gaining more ground. Yellow flew on lap 28 to negate his progress. The flag flew for a broken driveshaft on the Ordway 61, the second in two days while Jamie Timmons slid in the oil, sending him hard into the wall between three and four. A couple of the contenders - Perley, Nick Fornoro and Joey Payne - rushed into the pits for tires or adjustments in the interim.

Yellow flew again on the restart of his lap when Mark Sammut's 78 required a hook job. Into the pits went last year's race champion Chris Perley for the second time in as many laps.

Racing resumed with Page, Hawksby, Wood, Cicconi and McKnight the top five just after the completion of lap 28. Wood passed by the deuce of Hawksby soon thereafter, but Hawksby wasn't giving much ground to anyone at this juncture and he hung right with Wood after he passed.

Wood made his move on Page, who was into traffic again, and Russ took over the lead soon thereafter. Randy Ritskes was the next mechanical victim when his 16 lost brakes and Ritskes stopped and was pushed to the infield. The next yellow fell for second place runner Page as Page's 18 limped around the track and then stopped in the backstretch. He was brought in for a splash of fuel and resumed the racing.

With ten to go, Wood held the lead, but fighting it out behind were Dave McKnight and Hawksby. Side by side they ran and banged a bit on several occasi ons. But coming out of turn three on lap 41, McKnight went low and Hawksby slid toward him. They banged together and Hawksby was sent hard into the wall. McKnight, with hopes of a season-end win, was at the rear.

Wood took off in the lead with Cicconi, Brad Lichty, Greg Furlong and Ken Bell, now the top five.

Lap 43 saw a devastating crash that required the red. Nick Fornoro came off four, headed into the grassy area and then shot right back up across the track in front of the field. Collected were the 66 of Payne, the 97 of Howie Lane, and the 32 of Bell. Double hooks were needed for Bell, Lane and Payne. Fornoro was also on the hook. Only twelve cars remained to finish the final seven laps.

Wood had clear sailing when the green finally came out again with Cicconi charging right up on him to the end. Brad Lichty, Chris Perley, McKnight, Furlong and Page were still looking for a win as the race wore down. At the checker it was Wood, Cicconi, Lichty, McKnight and Perley, who lost the fourth place spot to McKnight with two to go.

Brad Lichty and McKnight capped off an amazing season finishing nose to tail. Said Lichty afterwards, "This was a fun race. It was a good ride for me. It would have been better if I'd had brakes. I couldn't go in to the turns quite as hard or deep as I wanted, but I'll take third and the championship!" McKnight had a few comments on his 2001 championship run prior to the feature. Dave reflected: "Here we are. And, we did it. We accomplished what we set out to do.Words can't describe the feeling right now. We've still got a race today. It probably won't really settle in until banquet time. Hey, this is like a dream come true. I've been ten years chasing this goal. Today we achieved what we wanted to. We set out at the beginning of the year to try and win the title. We knew we had to run laps, to finish races and be consistent. The team has done a great job all year giving us a car that was completely flawless. It brings tears to my eyes. I'm so happy for everybody on the crew.

"You know I have to thank a lot of people. The guys who are here today who've achieved this with me..the crew and Brad. I have to thank a lot of the predecessor like Ron Mucci, Al and Janet Bush, Bob and Ernie June, Joe Magari - all those people who gave me rides in the past. Who believed in me and helped me get my talent to where it is today to help me win this title. As I said, it's not really going to set in until later. There are a lot of people who have helped me along the way. Most of all I've got to thank my wife Judy for supporting me 150%."

As to being the first Canadian ISMA champion, Dave commented, "You know I never really thought about that at the time. I truly can't believe that I'm the only Canadian to achieve it. It speaks a lot for everybody involved. And, again I couldn't do it without the support of my wife. She's behind me that 150% and I love her to death."

After finishing fourth in the World Series event, Dave indicated once again that it was a great year. "We finished fourth, Brad third, and we won the championship. I'll take it. " He also stressed that his contact with Hawksby was "a racing deal." Said Dave, "Joey was just trying very hard. We had banged wheels several times before that. I understand where he is. He's trying hard and he didn't want to give up the spot. I was there once. He needs to keep doing what he's doing. He'll be okay."

Furlong, Page, Bob Timmons Jr., Jon Gambuti, and Rick Wentworth survived for top ten spots.

-ISMA-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Ted Christopher