SK Mod Ranks At Thompson Speedway Drop With Sudden Departure By Shawn Thibeault

THOMPSON – The goal at Thompson International Speedway this year has been to try to get numbers rising in the track’s premier NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified division.

Shawn Thibeault

Unfortunately at Thompson Thursday night, the number was going down instead of going up as the afternoon wore on.

SK Modified division rookie Shawn Thibeault and his team decided to pack up and leave the track following practice because of disagreement with track officials.

Thibeault, of Plainville, is in his first year competing in an SK Modified after spending the last few years running in the Limited Late Model division at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Thibeault said after practice Thursday director of competition Josh Vanada, who was named to the position this week, approached him. Thibeault said Vanada asked him Thibeault to start seventh in the first of two scheduled 30-lap SK Modified features Thursday. By the handicap, Thibeault had been scheduled to start second.

Thibeault said instead of dropping back in the field the team decided to drop out of the race altogether.

“I’m taking a stand,” Thibeault said. “The kid comes over. We were supposed to start second for the first race. He asked if I would drop to seventh behind Woody [Pitkat]. I said ‘Yeah, second is good a starting spot.’ This is probably the fastest car I’ve had here. I said ‘Yeah, I really don’t feel like dropping to seventh.’

Thibeault has made every race this season at Thompson Speedway. Last week he started on the pole but in the SK Modified feature but was involved in a crash with second place starter John Catania on the first lap.

“Because we have the two features tonight, [Vanada] asked them, just to make sure we’d have enough cars to make the second race, if he would work with us on the starting position,” Thompson Speedway marketing director Jonathan Hoenig said.

But Hoenig said after it had become clear that Thibeault wouldn’t agree to the starting position change the track decided to relent and give him the second starting spot, but by then the team had already decided to leave.

Thibeault said earlier this season he was supposed to start on the front row of a feature at the track based on his handicap position, but when he saw the lineup track officials had moved him to the back. He said he didn’t fight the change that week.

“They say it’s for my best interest or the racing’s best interest and they’re afraid I’m going to get run over,” Thibeault said. “I understand maybe they’re looking at last week and what happened. But I’m not a slouch and I don’t feel like I deserve to be walked all over like that. We’re coming home and buying popcorn, cheeseburgers and beer every week and paying our pit fees to get in here and they come over here with that?”

Thibeault said his team was heading home to change over his SK and have it prepared to attempt to make the SK Modified feature tomorrow at Stafford Motor Speedway. Thibeault said the team may discontinue running at Thompson this year and instead run at Stafford and the Waterford Speedbowl. He ran in the SK Modified features the last two weeks at Waterford, recording 14th and 10th place finishes.

“After this, who knows, we might transition to a spec motor to run Waterford and Stafford and see if things are better. I loved going to the Speedbowl, that place was a great place to race.”

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