He’s It: Brian Tagg Uses Last Lap Pass To Clinch Late Model Championship At Thompson

Brian Tagg celebrates his first Late Model championship Friday at Thompson Speedway

Brian Tagg celebrates his first Late Model championship Friday at Thompson Speedway

THOMPSON – A bushel of championships are set to be decided over three days of the Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway.

Though every other division with a title on the line this weekend will be hard pressed to match the dramatics of the opening championship decider Friday at Thompson.

Over a wild final four laps Friday of the 25-lap Late Model feature, Brian Tagg seemingly saw a championship lost, won, and lost again before a dramatic last lap pass gave him the ultimate prize.

Tagg, of Oxford, Mass., passed Jeff Smith for third place on the final lap to clinch his first Late Model championship at Thompson by a single point over Keith Rocco.

“This is just unreal,” Tagg said. “It was just awesome how it worked out.”

Larry Gelinas of Buxton, Me. won the feature. Rocco, of Wallingford, finished second.

Tagg came into the day with a seven-point lead over Rocco, but Rocco won his heat race to earn five points while Tagg finished fifth in his qualifying event effort to gain only one point.

It gave Tagg a three-point lead going into the feature.

Tagg nearly missed being in a first lap wreck in the event and then seemed to struggle just to find the top-10 in the early stages. All the while Rocco was running up to the front of the field.

A late race rally brought Tagg back from the depths and put him in fifth behind third place Rocco on a late restart. Tagg needed to finish one spot behind Rocco or the championship would be lost.

On lap 22 Tagg got by Glenn Boss to take over fourth behind Rocco, putting Tagg in position for the title.

But on lap 24 Rocco got by Jeff Smith for second to put himself back in the position to win the title.

Then on the final lap Tagg made a move to get by Smith for third and clinch the championship.

“It was very crazy because as soon as I could see Keith in my sights I knew that he was going to be good,” Tagg said. “He was good all night. He was racing [Smith] really hard and I knew that he was going to give him all he could. All I was thinking was trying to get up to him. My car was just tight. Maybe I was overdriving. I probably was overdriving. It was just tight and it would kind of slide off and I saw these guys and I was trying to figure out what line to use and I was just trying to keep up with them because they run a different line. My car wasn’t working where it usually does.

“It’s one thing when you’re doing that and then you see it happening and you’re trying to not let that get to you. You’re still trying to hit your marks and do everything you possibly can because one little slip and you start losing spots and all of the sudden he’s three more car lengths ahead of you. I was just trying to keep everything focused and do what I was here to do and keep trying for the goal.”

Valenti Modified Racing Series points leader Woody Pitkat of Stafford won his heat race for the division at Thompson.

Pitkat, in his first full-time year with the division and looking for his first series title, takes a seven-point lead over Chris Pasteryak into Saturday’s 50-lap season finale at Thompson.

Pasteryak, of Lisbon, a two-time series champion, finished fifth in the first heat race, which was won by Keith Rocco of Wallingford. Pitkat won the second heat race. Eric Berndt of Cromwell won the third heat race.

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