William Wall Eyeing First Thompson Speedway Late Model Championship

(Press Release from Thompson Speedway)

William Wall celebrates victory in the Late Model feature August 10 at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Thompson Speedway)

William Wall celebrates victory in the Late Model feature August 10 at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Thompson Speedway)

With three races remaining in the 2016 season at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Late Model driver William Wall is in position to take down his first championship. The sophomore driver has a slim 11-point lead over 6-time champion Rick Gentes who last hoisted the championship hardware in 2014. The years of experience held by his closest competition hasn’t deterred Wall in the least as evidenced by his aggressive drive to the front to win during the night of the Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150 race program.

“In the beginning of the run I was being very conservative,” said Wall. “After Gentes spun out I noticed he was right in my rear view again so I knew I had to keep him behind me. I know where the points are and didn’t need him to pass. With the season winding down it’s hard not to think about points.”

Gentes doesn’t care about the points, instead he cares about winning races. With 86 victories to his credit, his goal is to get to 100. Gentes’ strategy is simple. Go out to win every race and the championships will come. He takes it one race at a time and the points become secondary.

Wall has secured 5 victories this season plus the non-points paying overall victory in the Late Model 20/20 Sprint held earlier this season. It is quite the contrast to Gentes who has only gone to victory lane once and that win being his first in almost two seasons. Gentes hasn’t been among the contenders to win ever week as Wall has, yet has quietly gained ground in the point battle with consistent top-5 finishes. As the season nears conclusion, Gentes has the speed that could put him over the top if Wall slips just one time.

“I’m just focused on our program and keep trying to be faster,” Wall stated. “He (Gentes) is doing his homework in the off weeks and it is showing in his performance on track. We need to stay once step ahead of him.”

The learning curve with the ACT Late Model rule package has been steep for Gentes, but there is clearly light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’ve been driving the old-style late model for 20 years and it’s harder for me to learn how to drive his new car as it is for somebody like (Wall) who is new to this type of car,” said Gentes.

2015 Late Model Champion Brian Tagg garnered just one victory during his run to the title, but is able to offer some advice to the first time championship contender. He too was going up against a formidable challenger in Keith Rocco who was far more experienced in chasing points considering the fact that he is a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion. The point battle between the two went down to a last lap pass in the final race of the season. Having been in this position before, Tagg’s advice for Wall is to utilize the exact same strategy he employed a year ago.

“I would tell him to keep on doing what you are doing and don’t think about it,” said Tagg. “I got the point lead after the 20/20 Sprint (in 2015) and it’s nerve-racking because anything can happen. You just have to go out and drive. Don’t change a thing. Keep doing what (he’s) been doing because he has been lights out this season.”

Wall has a mutual respect for the defending champ and takes his advice seriously.

“I have a lot of respect for Brian. We are good competitors and someone I look up to because of his family history in racing. I appreciate all the input he gives me on race day and it helps keeps my head cool. I hope it does the same for him.”

Tagg’s reference to nervousness is exactly the opening Gentes hopes to take advantage of in the final few races. Experience tells him that when you drive conservatively you put yourself in bad positions on track.

“I find that the more cautious you are the more mistakes you’ll make,” said Gentes. “For us it is just about winning that race that week. It’s just another race and I don’t have to worry about doing any different.”

Racing returns to Thompson Speedway’s oval on Wednesday, August 24 for Pepsi Back to School Night. The event schedule includes twin 25 lap features for the Sunoco Modified division and will be joined by the Late Models, Xtramart Limited Sportsman, and Mini Stock divisions. For more information or to purchase tickets visit ThompsonSpeedway.com


  1. Gentes is right he just cares about winning races and doesn’t care how many of his competitor’s race cars he wrecks to do it. Track officials won’t do anything about it either. He will bang around at four cars on Wednesday night.

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