17 - SEITZ
12 - CARPENTER
44 - BREAULT
81 - HEATH
2 - BUMPUS
36 - CABRAL
57 - BRADBURY
22 - SHLATZ
50 - PERNESGILIO
35 - CABRAL
45 - PAYNE
47 - BUONOMO
16 - OBRIEN
33 - LUGGELLE
11 - BUNDY
37 - HAMMOND
May 1, 2004
Pete Valeri and Ben Seitz
||Ben Seitz - Monument Beach, MA***
||Tim Heath - Lebanon, CT
||Ed Breault - Lincoln, RI
||Randy Cabral - Plymouth, MA
||Pete Pernesiglio - Long Island,
||Howie Bumpus - Lakeville, MA
||Adam Cantor - Dix Hills, NY
||Shane Hammond - E. Bridgewater,
||Tommy Spada - Berlin, CT
||Bob Bradbury - Wakefield, RI
||Glen Cabral - Plymouth, MA
||Lee Bundy - Kennebunkport, ME
||Kyle Carpenter - Gloucester, MA
||Mark Buonomo - Waltham, MA
||Matt O'Brien - Wilmington, MA
||Ed Devoe - E. Hartford, CT
||Joey Payne - Fairlawn, NJ
||Andy Shlatz - Enfield, CT
||Tim Bertrand - Watertown, MA
*** Hard Charger
Gets First NEMA Win
at Waterford Speedbowl
WATERFORD - Ben Seitz proved both an opportunist and a
defender Saturday night en route to a 25-lap victory in Northeastern Midget
Associations season opener at Waterford Speedbowl. It was the first NEMA victory for
both the 24-year old Seitz and car owner Pete Valeri.
Seitz inherited the lead when electrical problems ended Kyle Carpenters run with
eight laps remaining. Carpenter, who had led since taking over from Glen Cabral with five
laps gone, went off the track just seconds after Seitz took second away from Tim Heath
coming out of four.
"Once I cleared traffic I saw on the scoreboard I was second but I couldnt see
Kyle," said Seitz who started 12th. "Then coming out of two I saw him pull off
and said to myself Ive got a chance here."
He had to beat back two restart challenges from Heath, the last with three laps remaining.
He got away each time, leaving Heath to battle Ed Brault and Randy Cabral, the latter two
finishing third and fourth. Pete Pernesiglio was fifth.
"Its good to get that first win and Im happy it came at the
Speedbowl," said Seitz who was very successful in Legend Cars there. "Its
good to get that over with. Now we can focus on racing." The win comes in his third
NEMA season in a new Gaerte-powered Beast chassis.
"I have to thank Pete Valeri and [sponsor] Cape Cod Aggregates for the time and money
theyve invested in me," said Seitz who has four NEMA seconds (including two at
the Speedbowl). Despite winning his heat (Pernesiglio won the other) he was not optimistic
about the feature.
"I wasnt optimistic about the heat either," he said, "but I just kept
picking off cars. The same thing happened in the feature. The car was great."
Pole sitter Matt OBrien grabbed the immediate lead but gave it up to Glen Cabral
coming out of two on lap two. Carpenter, who started fifth, challenged immediately and
took command, again in two, with 20 showing, leaving behind a battle that included
Breault, Heath, Howie Bumpus and Adam Cantor. When Seitz caught that group with 12 laps
left, Carpenter had a wide advantage.
"At one point I thought the smart thing to do was save the car and hope for a
caution," said Seitz. "There was no way I could have caught him."
First Win a Top
For NEMAs Seitz
Ben Seitz is one of those take one step at a
time kind of guys. Ask him about winning the Northeastern Midget Association
championship and his answer is Id like to win a race first.
The New Jersey native will begin that pursuit when NEMA opens its 52nd season Saturday
night, May 1 at Waterford Speedbowl. He has new equipment this season - Pete Valeris
Gaerte-powered Beast chassis that Steve Lewis drove on the USAC circuit last year. Cape
Cod Aggregates Corp. remains the sponsor.
It is the first of 13 races on the 2004 agenda. While the Seitz/Valeri team plan on doing
some USAC racing, running the entire NEMA schedule is top priority.
Hopefully we can return to what we were doing at the first half of last
season, says Seitz. The last half of the season we just had problems
chassis, motor, everything. It was tough.
Seitz was third in points following a second in last years Boston Louie. Then the
bottom fell out and he and Valeri wound up sixth in the respective point standings
following a fourth at Thompsons World Series.
Coming to NEMA after a very successful five year stint with the Legend Cars (including the
2001 New England Region championship) Seitz is quick to admit he still has things to
learn about Midgets. I still try to watch the veterans to see what
Seitz believes, however, hes advanced about five notches as a driver.
The first three laps my eyes were like saucers, he recalls. It was a big
adjustment. He fits nicely into the younger generation of NEMA drivers that includes
Randy Cabral, Ryan Dolan, Bobby Santos II, and Adam Cantor.
He is now ready to join them on NEMAs winners roster.
We were not far off last season, Seitz continues. We were competitive,
reasonably quick. At Star he was actually dueling for the lead when he got
involved in lapped traffic.
Opening at the Speedbowl pleases Seitz. He was second there twice in 2004. Over the past
five years, six different drivers, including Santos, have posted their first win on the
quick three-eights oval.
Everybody seems to be at the top of their game at the Speedbowl, points out
defending champ Joey Payne Jr. The surface is good, its three-four lanes wide
and quick. You get no time to relax there.
Payne, on NEMAs veteran list along with nine-time champ Drew Fornoro, Howie Bumpus
and Pete Pernesiglio, is convinced a Seitz victory is not far away.
Payne and owner Gene Angelillo are the targets this season, the latter looking for a
seventh straight owner crown. Gene shows everybody how to win championships,
says Seitz. You have to be consistent. You dont have to win every race.
Its getting the first one that drives Seitz and Valeri.
Waterford Opener Notes:
The Northeastern Midget
Association will open its 53rd consecutive season Saturday night, May 1 at Waterford
Speedbowl. The Speedbowl hosted two previous NEMA openers back-to-back in 1999 and 2000.
Drew Fornoro is the all-time leader in season-opening wins with six including last
years Icebreaker win at Thompson Speedway. Next in line with four are Bill Eldridge
and Dutch Schaefer. Jeff Horn has three.
The winner of the season opening race has gone on to capture the championship eight times.
Fornoro was the last to do it 1998, matching his 1983 effort. Eldridge also did it twice
(1954 and 58). Others were Dick Brown in 1961, Johnny Mann in 1972, Armond Holley in
1976 and Joey Coy in 1991.
The Coy family father Johnny (2) and sons Johnny Jr.(1) and Joey (1) claim
four opening day wins.
The most noteworthy opener of recent vintage has to be Ryan Dolans 2002 win at
Thompson. He was just 16 at the time the youngest winner in club history.
Other active drivers with season-opener wins are Howie Bumpus (1989 at Star), Joey Payne
(1996 at Star), Rudy Boetticher (2000 at Waterford) and Randy Cabral (2001 at Thompson).
Thompson, Star Speedway and the now gone Westboro Speedway each hosted 11 NEMA openers.
Westboros last season opener was Fornoros first season-opener win.