THOMPSON, CT – Sunday at the Thompson Speedway appeared to be a great ISMA finale with a strong field of cars and no rain. It turned out to be a great day for the Ben Seitz – Dan Soule 32 team, who easily picked up the feature win, and a day of anticipation and disappointments for Kyle Edwards and Dan Bowes, who were vying for the 2018
ISMA crown in a tight battle.
Due to a mathematical miscue, Bowes, who led the points by 16 markers going into the race, finished fourth to Edwards’ second, accruing just enough points to take the championship, or so he thought. He pulled up in Thompson’s victory lane, was interviewed as the champion and headed back to the pits understandably elated.
He would find out there, that he actually had lost to Edwards after a recheck of the points had taken place in the interim. The five bonus points for leading a race had not be added to Edwards’ tallly. The elation now belonged to Edwards.
But, returning to the overall race, the Seitz and the Soule crew could not be denied that they had the win as Ben, starting seventh, took just a dozen laps to catch and pass initial leader Edwards, and from there left no doubt that the win would be his. The 32 was on a rail and was unstoppable on the way to the coveted victory that had alluded the new team all season.
Said the Bourne, Mass. driver in victory lane, “The car was awesome. I have to thank the whole crew. They worked their tails off this year. They came with a bunch of updates for this race. This is really about them. They have worked their butts off and it really paid off. In practice it was a little this and a little that. We did some work this morning and it was really good in that quick practice we had. It was just great in the feature. The motor pulled good thanks to Jimmy D. Thanks to Sam Lorusso at CCA he’s helped us a little bit. The car was just perfect all day. I had a little hiccup with a lap car and it kind of crumpled the front wing up but even still the car was so good it drove through that. I knew we were really running well but you don’t really know where anyone is so we were still pushing it somewhat to the end. I’d like to thank the track, and alll the ISMA officials. It’s been a great season and hopefully we’ll come back strong next year.”
In a melee just before one lap was down, Dave Danzer, Chris Perley, and Otto Sitterly were put out of the action with Danzer’s car cradled off the track. Soon thereafter, the McVetta 2 driven by Dan Shirey also vacated the race, paring down the starting field by four.
Edwards took the lead on the restart with Seitz getting by outside pole sitter Tyler Thompson on the restart. Seitz made quick work of catching Edwards who held on one more lap, but relinquished the point to the 32 on lap 13. It was all Seitz in the famed blue 32 after that. The question nowwas where Edwards and Bowes would finish and who would be champ.
With Seitz lapping car after car, the next in line were Edwards, Thompson, Jon McKennedy, Mike Collins, Bowes, Mike Lichty, Jim Paller, Michael Barnes and Timmy Jedrzejek.
Attrittion reared it’s ugly head again near the halfway mark when the 84 of Lichty had something in the rear end go, sending up smoke and a trail of fluid down the back stretch. At the same time McKennedy stopped off turn two with a mechanical problem. Both were done. A dozen or so cars now remained for the second 25 laps.
Seitz pulled easily away on the restart leaving at least 3 lap cars between him and second place rookie Tyler Thompson. Edwards was next with Bowes right behind now and the battle for the title was on.
Edwards was able to stay in sight of Seitz with Michael Barnes moving in between the 1 of Edwards and the 25 of Bowes. Thompson stayed in fouth with Paller, McVetta and Jedrzejek behind.
With ten laps to go, Seitz had more than a half track advantage sailing out front while Edwards ran a distant second over Barnes, Bowes, Thompson and Paller. Jedrzejek, and McVetta behind.
Seitz came under the checkers uncontested while Edwards, Barnes, Bowes, Thompson and Paller were the only cars in the lead lap to the victor Seitz.
It was here that Bowes, finishing fourth and having two more points than Edwards, pulled his 25 up in victory lane as the champion.
Both Bowes and Edwards had been interviewed earlier in the day prior to the race as to their thoughts on being in contention for the title as newcomers and what it would mean to them.
Bowes, doing last minute tinkering on his 25 prior to the race answered the question did he ever think he’d be running for the championship this year?
“No not at all. We had high hopes of just tryng to get our first win and just having a good solid year. We usually don’t pay any attention to the points and we didn’t at the beginning. We just wanted to win a race. The last third of the season we started paying attention a little bit. We said we just have to be smart about this. Don’t change our same routine that we always do because it’s obviously it’s been working. We just tried to focus on what we’ve been doing. Whatever happens, happens, basically. I hope today, whatever happens,that Kyle and I both finish the race. Nobody getting caught up in a wreck or breaks. I just want us to race it out. I wish them luck. Hopefully we have a good day.
What would a championship mean to Dan? “It would be huge. As I said we had not even considered being in contention for the title. We finished fourth last year, which was our best. I hope today goes smooth and we can wrap this thing up. I think dad and the crew are a little nervous. Not me. We’ve combed through the car to make sure we have the best piece possible to go out there. I have to thank my parents – my dad would do anything to give me the best of the best and he’s certainly done that. Thanks also to Butch Valley and Brian Allegresso who have built a heck of a race car. Brian’s coached us this year and he’s done a ton to help us. Dave Callahan who is a new crew member had helped quite a bit as has Mad Mike Caswell. Thank to my sponsor, Northeast Metals Technologies, MSB Manufacuring Representatives, G& D Tool Company, Mad Mike Caswell Carpentry and LB Marsden and Son. I want to thank all of them.
And later standing there in front of a huge crowd, thinking he had won the coveted title, he commented, “This is amazing, We had a pretty good car off the bat. I knew Kyle was taking off. Once we got going I knew my car was too tight. I saw Kyle got the lead and I prayed for somebody to catch him. I was trying to keep him in sight. Towards the end there I was just so tight. I think it was Tyler Thompson who showed me a nose a couple of times and I realized that could mean the championship if he passed me. Two points. I would never dreamed I’d win a race in one of these cars and now I’ve won both a race and a champioship.”
As Ben Seitz and the Soule crew were getting the last minute photos taken, Bowes was pushed back to the pits and here he received the bad news and the disappointment was evident. He had gained and lost his first championship in the short distance from the front straightaway to his pit.
Edwards, who was parked right next to the Bowes team in the pit, was now informed he was champion because of that mathematical mistake and Bowes was one of the first to congratulate his season-long adversary despite the circumstances and his disappointment.
Kyle’s comments from his pre-race interview done earlier in the day, were much like Bowes’.
“We didn’t start the year off thinking we were even going to run the whole deal. Then we had a crash with our sprint car. So we decided to put all our focus into ISMA. It’s just dad and me pretty much touching the race car. Obviously we have a great engine builder with Level Performance. We have a Bodnar wing. Jim’s a big help to us too. He’s extremely knowledgeable and he’s given us some insight on some of these tracks we’ve not run on. WeIl we’ve had a good run. We’ve had some luck and we’ve had some good speed too. We didn’t expect to win a champioship but we did expect to be competitive. It so happens it came down to the last race. If we come away with the championship. That would obviously be prestigious. Anytime you win a championship it’s a big deal. It would mean a lot to me and my family and just everybody that is involved. We’ve been running with ISMA the past five or six years but we picked and chose races, running pretty much everything from the west side of Oswego. We never really came east. But we’ve had a lot of fun coming to the east coast this year. Star, Lee and obviously this a big fast track here. Hopefully it all ends well for us.”
And eventualy it did end well, without much applause and fanfare.
And, unfortunately for Bowes who went from a great high to a low, low, the firefighter from Bartlett, Tenn, was now on top of the world. He said, before no large audience back in the pit area, “We got it. It’s been a great year. It’s a little bit up and down, but as I said earlier we unloaded with good speed each race. I have to thank Level Performance and Jim Bodnar for helping us out. It’s just me and my dad. There is a lot of time and effort that goes in to it and we’re tickeled to death to get the championship. It’s awesome.”
With a third and a fifth, Michael Barnes and Tyler Thompson were sandwiched beween Edwards and Bowes in the top five.
Said Barnes after the race, “I think we had a pretty good car. I can’t thank Vic Mille enough for letting me come here and run. We had a good weekend. We didn’t get a lot of practice time so it kind of put us behind a little bit. We had to start 13th. We had a melee on the start and I locked up the brakes and we spun and I had to restart last. Basically we were back in 18th or 20th. But we got up to third and only had one caution after that. We could have used a couple more. It would have helped me conserve my stuff because I just had to run so hard. Congratulations to Kyle Edwards on the championship. And, to Danny Soule and Ben Seitz on getting a win today. Ben was the class of the field. I couldn’t even see him at the end. All in all I had fun being here with Vic, Perley and all of the whole crew. I had a great time.”
Fifth place finisher Tyler Thompson, who had just turned 17 within the past week, continued to progress and impress race by race. He said as he prepared to head back home to Fulton, NY, “I’m happy with a fifth. I think the car is a little too free for us which is perfectly fine. It could be a lot worse than it was. So I’d say I’m real happy with a top five. I loved the track. It’s a beautiful place the track, the pits, everything else. It’s definitely the real deal.”