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Gelinas Earns Dominating World Series Late Model Feature Win

Posted By Tj Ingerson On October 16, 2015

Categories: Regional

Coverage of the Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway on Vermont Motorsports Magazine provided by Waddell Communications.Larry Gelinas races through turns three and four at Thompson Speedway on Friday night in the Late Model feature. Gelians would dominate the event to score the win during the first night of the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing. (VMM photo)PHOTO: Larry Gelinas races through turns three and four at Thompson Speedway on Friday night in the Late Model feature. Gelians would dominate the event to score the win during the first night of the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing. (VMM photo)

Tagg tops Rocco in dramatic Late Model championship finale

--by T.J. Ingerson
VMM Editor

THOMPSON, Conn. --
Larry Gelinas used an early race restart after a flurry of caution flags to take the lead and scored a dominating win in the 25-lap Late Model feature during the first night of the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing on Friday night at Thompson Speedway.

The Buxton, Maine driver started in the fifth spot, but would restart in the third spot following three early race caution flags. Once in the lead, Gelinas zoomed away to a comfortable lead, which he held through a late race restart with five laps remaining.

“It felt good,” Gelinas said in victory lane. “I was kind of worried about that caution at the end, but I was saving some. Luckily it all turned out well.

“I have to take Jeff Hartwell and Hartwell Motorsports and the team. This is an old car and we got it going pretty good today.”

Behind Gelinas, however, drama filled the final few laps.

A tight championship battle between standout Keith Rocco and newcomer Brian Tagg was in the forefront with the two separated by just three points entering the feature. Tagg was involved in an early race incident and was sent to the rear, but was able to slice his way back through the field.

On the final restart of the race, Rocco would restart in the third spot with Tagg fifth. Tagg put himself in championship position when he moved to fourth, but Rocco, of Wallingford, Conn., fought to the inside of Jeff Smith to take the second spot with just two laps to go and be in the driver’s seat for the championship.

However, Tagg made ground on Smith on the final lap entering turn one and moved to his inside through the center of the corner. That was enough for Tagg to take the third spot and the 2015 Late Model championship.

“(A champion is) something I never thought I would call myself. It’s pretty emotional,” an emotional Tagg said to track announcer Joe Coss. “It’s very exciting. All my family and friends are here and it was a lot of fun this year.”

Tagg, of Oxford, Mass., entered the season finale seven points up on Rocco, but saw his lead slash by four points after Rocco won his heat race while Tagg was caught up in an incident. In the feature, Tagg was forced to the rear of the field after contact with Ernie LaRose sent LaRose’s car spinning on the second lap.

“We had a good car all day in practice and I knew we were going to have a good car in the heat race,” Tagg said. “I was worried about the heat race; that was the biggest concern. I don’t know what happened going into (turn) one. There was smoke and the next thing I know I’m in the wall.

“In the feature, it was my own fault. I got a little over anxious and got into the back of Ernie (LaRose). I hate it for him. The car was great all night.”

For Tagg, who competed on the American-Canadian Tour one year ago and was in his first full-season of Late Model competition at the five-eighths mile oval, he had a lot of emotions and thoughts running through his head in the final two circuits as he had the championship, then lost the championship, then regained the championship.

“A lot of things – devastation and still having hope though,” Tagg explained. “You never know what can happen. That was just crazy. I knew Rocco was going to try everything to get by Smith and he did. He used him up, but he got by him. You got to do that. He’s running for the championship, too.

“This is just unreal, though.”

Smith, of Old Lyme, Conn., finished fourth with Glenn Boss of Danielson, Conn. fifth. Walt Sutcliffe, Buddy Charette, Lloyd Anderson Jr., Brandon Warren, and Josh King completed the top-ten finishers.

Many of the Thompson Late Model regulars are expected to join the American-Canadian Tour field for their 100-lap season finale on Saturday at Thompson.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Sunoco World Series presented by Xtra-Mart
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series – Thompson Speedway, Thompson, Conn.
Friday, October 16, 2015


Late Models (25 laps)
1. (5) Larry Gelinas, Buxton, Maine
2. (9) Keith Rocco, Wallingford, Conn.
3. (10) Brian Tagg, Oxford, Mass.
4. (4) Jeff Smith, Old Lyme, Conn.
5. (3) Glenn Boss, Danielson, Conn.
6. (18) Walt Sutcliffe, East Haven, Conn.
7. (12) Buddy Charette, Woodstock, Conn.
8. (21) Lloyd Anderson Jr., Wauregan, Conn.
9. (19) Brandon Warren, Chicopee, Mass.
10. (17) Josh King, Vernon, Vt.
11. (2) Ernie LaRose, Moosup, Conn.
12. (13) Chad LaBastie, Uxbridge, Mass.
13. (16) Charlie Rose, Tiverton, R.I.
14. (20) Allen King, Webster, Mass.
15. (8) Rick Gentes, Burrillville, R.I.
16. (1) Anthony Ryan Jr., Ridgefield, Conn.
17. (7) Jeff Rocco, Wallingford, Conn.
18. (11) Jared Materas, Westfield, Mass.
19. (15) Ray Christian Jr., Groton, Conn.
20. (6) William Wall, Shrewsbury, Mass.
21. (14) Art Moran III, Preston, Conn.