NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H. — Anthony Nocella fended off a snarling pack to win the Bullring Bash Thunder in the Mountains 100 on Saturday at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
Nocella took the lead for the final time from Grantham’s Mike Willis on lap 69 and was never seriously threatened from there, capturing the inaugural event for the Bullring Bash Quarter Mile Challenge presented by RaceChoice.com.
Nocella started on police and set the early pace after a pair of opening-lap yellows. However, the tone for the event was set early on. Woody Pitkat, Willis, Richard Savary and Kirk Alexander were breathing down Nocella’s neck right from the start. Going into turn three on lap 17, Pitkat dove inside Nocella, flying into the lead as Nocella fell back to fourth on the outside.
The third caution on lap 44 for Russ Hersey’s spin gave Willis his chance at the point. Pitkat chose the inside for the initial restart, then opted for the outside to get the race going again. When the green flag finally flew, Willis made the inside work and the current Modified Racing Series point leader drove into the lead. Nocella followed Willis through to second after Savary gave up the third spot to pit under yellow.
The hard-charging nature of the race picked up right where it left off with Andy Jankowiak soon joining the front five to make it a six-car battle for the top spot. At the front, Nocella spent nearly 20 laps sizing up Willis, taking multiple looks to the inside off turn four. As the field completed the 68th lap, Nocella finally made the turn-four dive stick, and the former MRS champion completed the pass for the top spot on the following circuit.
One lap later, Savary and Jankowiak tangled in turns three and four to bring out the fourth and final caution. Pitkat again had troubles on the restart and dropped to the back of the pack. The top five drivers duked it out to the finish from there, with Nocella, Willis, Savary, Alexander and Jankowiak just inches apart.
Nocella drifted up the racetrack a little bit on multiple occasions, with Willis ready to pounce at any opportunity. But the opportunity never fully opened and Nocella took the checkered flag to earn the $3,500 top prize.
Willis finished second, while Jankowiak made a pair of late moves to complete the podium. Savary, Alexander, Pitkat, Chris Bolton, Geoff Rollins, George Sherman and Hersey rounded out the top 10.
Casey Call earned a thrilling win of his own in the 35-lap main event for the Legends. Call also started on pole and faced multiple challenges en route to the victory. Luke LeBrun was hot on Call’s tail early as part of a five-car battle that also included Peter Bennett, Brandon Martinez and Jack Walker. Bennett got underneath LeBrun for second on lap 13, allowing Call to pull away slightly. But the top runners quickly closed back up again.
The race took a chaotic turn on lap 23, with four caution flags raised over the next five circuits. When the first yellow flag flew for Kevin Oliver’s turn-two spin, LeBrun got into the back of Bennett, causing hood damage that forced him to pit. That left Bennett and Martinez to challenge Call on the quartet of restarts. Each time, Call timed his jump perfectly to remain out front. Bennett spun while making one final attempt in turn one with two laps to go, allowing Call to hang on for the win.
Martinez finished second, while LeBrun made a remarkable drive through the field over the final 12 laps to take third. His brother Luke LeBrun, Walker, Mason Levesque, Devin Deshaies, Kyle Rogers, Shileigh Martinez and Oliver rounded out the top 10.
Quinny Welch won the Late Model event for his fifth victory of the season. The seven-time champion and current points leader started eighth in the 50-lap feature and remained patient as the field battled it out in front of him early.
Matt Morrill grabbed the lead on lap three, and for more than half the event he was able to use the outside line to keep the pack at bay. At one point following the event’s first caution on lap 20, Morrill led a seven-car pack. St. Johnsbury’s Stacy Cahoon was never quite able to make the inside lane work against Morrill.
Once Morrill finally cleared Cahoon, Welch seized the newfound opening. He powered through the pack and passed Morrill with 20 laps to go. The second and final caution came out five laps later when Lyndonville’s Scott Corey went hard into the turn-four tire barriers. Welch walked away from the field after the green flew again to take the victory and move closer to an eighth championship.
Morrill held off a four-car battle down the stretch to finish second. Cahoon came in third, followed by Derek Ming and Oren Remick. Stephen Donahue, Evan Hallstrom, Allie Menard, Jon Savage and Mike Foster also earned top-10 finishes.
Barton’s Shane Sicard claimed his third straight win and seventh of the year in the Flying Tigers. Sicard spent the first half of the 35-lap feature battling with his brother Jody Sicard, who used the momentum of the high side to maintain the lead. As the field came to the halfway signal, Shane finally cleared Jody. The defending champion quickly sped off to the victory in the caution-free event.
Jody Sicard came in second, with Bradford’s Amanda Wheeler grabbing the third spot late in the race. Michael Potter and first-time Tiger driver Ben Belanger completed the top five.
White Mountain Motorsports Park returns to action Saturday at 6:30 p.m. All five divisions will be in action, with the Flying Tigers going 75 laps in the finale of their Triple Crown Series.