Feisty Finale: Todd Owen Scores SK Modified Victory At Sunoco World Series At Thompson

Todd Owen celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature Sunday at the Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – On a weekend when racing fuel is the big sponsor of all the events at Thompson Speedway, it seemed someone threw some gas on the fire Sunday that has been the season long competition in SK Modifieds between Todd Owen and Ronnie Williams. 

At the end of the SK Modified feature Sunday at Thompson it was Owen burning with elation and Williams just feeling burned after getting thrown out of the race. 

Owen, of Somers, held off the late charges of Mike Christopher Jr. over the closing laps to win the 30-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Sunday at the Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway. 

It was the first victory of the season for Owen at Thompson. Christopher, of Wolcott, was second and Woody Pitkat of Stafford third. 

And while Christopher made the drama thick late in the event, it was about 10 laps prior when everything exploded between Owen and Williams at the front of the field. 

Two weeks ago at Stafford Motor Speedway Williams and Owen tied at the top of the SK Modified standings at the historic half-mile, with Williams claiming the championship by virtue of a tiebreaker of total wins on the season. 

Sunday it was clear early that the battle for supremacy for was going to take place between Williams and Owen. 

With Owen leading, Williams moved past Troy Talman for second on lap seven. Two laps later Williams moved past Owen for the lead off turn four. Owen move back to the front on the next lap off turn two. 

Two laps later it was Williams going back out front. But one lap later Owen drove Williams again to go back to the front on lap 13.

On lap 15 Williams grabbed the lead back in turn one, then Owen fought back to the lead in turn four before Williams closed the lap by going back to the front just before the start/finish line. 

Caution flew on lap 19 and on the ensuing restart it was Owen getting under Williams in turn two and taking over the lead down the backstretch.

The caution flew again on lap 21, setting up the most dramatic moment of the race. Williams got under Owen in turn two and pushed Owen up the track through corner. Owen backed out before hitting the wall which set of a chain reaction through the field that ended with carnage as multiple cars piled into the mess of turn two. 

Thompson Speedway race director Chris Williams threw Williams out of the race for the aggressive move through turn two. 

“Chris Williams, you never really know,” Ronnie Williams said. “… Todd ran me up multiple times into the dirty stuff, I had to lift multiple times or I would have been junk. And then even on the restarts, Todd was coming down on me before we’d even start going. He got warned multiple times, I don’t think we got any warnings. Yeah, I sent it in there. I did what he did to me. Just because he decided not to lift that’s what caused the wreck. I understand that a wreck happened with me, not him. But if I didn’t lift there would have been a wreck as well. It just sucks.” 

Said Owen: “All year they talk about the slide job. I guess he’s going to go back and say I did it to him a little bit. It’s a 10-race series, you kind of just remember every time somebody passes you. I thought I kind of gave him enough room every time I did it to him. But that time he put me up and I had all I could to not hit the wall. There is a fine line and it’s an awfully tough job for Chris Williams to do to make that call and park somebody. But if you don’t put your foot down it’s just going to keep happening and happening and happening. All year he’s been warning and warning. It’s like, how many times can you warn somebody before there’s actions to it? And it took out half the field. 

“I don’t even understand, he probably would have won the race anyways. He had a good car and we were having a great battle, but I thought he was a tick better than me. I beat him on the start by the whole car, so he had to drive in by me. I like racing Ronnie, we had a great year obviously at Stafford [Motor Speedway]. We were battling every week. … It’s too bad it ended up like that. I would have liked to have battled him. It was great swapping back and forth, crossing each other over. You can’t ask for more fun, that’s what we do this for.” 

With Williams off the track Owen easily pulled away from the field after the following restart. But with three laps left Christopher went by Pitkat for second and quickly found Owen’s bumper. 

Christopher got along-side Owen on lap 29, but contact between the two allowed Owen to pull away again on the closing lap. 

“He definitely turned something on those last five laps,” Owen said. “We got together. I was crossed up. But I knew once I got crossed up and I got going straight then we only had one lap to go and he was going to catch me again. … That’s just hard racing.” 

Keith Rocco used a fifth place finish to clinch his eighth SK Modified championship at Thompson Speedway and match a NASCAR national record for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I track championships.

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  1. Racerdude79 says

    Keep soakin them tires Todd….

  2. From my seat I saw a great race till the 50 stopped playing nice. He pushed it over the edge and it cost him.

  3. Trapper Dave says

    I was monitoring radio frequencies of the track and several drivers when the incident between Owen (#81) and Williams (#50) occurred on lap 20 of the 30-lap Sunoco Modified race today (Sunday, 10-13-19). I also happened to be sitting in the grandstands right below the box where race officials, announcers and media are. The first chatter on the scanner was for someone to take video of Williams’ crew as they started acting out angrily when the call was made to park Williams. As the mess was being cleaned up in turn two, a woman, blonde and in her mid-50’s wearing a Ronnie Williams shirt, marched up the steps and into the official’s box. She was fuming. More radio chatter — “do something with her”, and that she was “poking me in the shoulder”. After the woman marched back out of the official’s box and back down the grandstands steps, security arrived. It was all fairly entertaining!

  4. Richard Poole says

    Bob C. You must have had bad seats. Owen got the lead from Williams on the previous restart by driving him up and dropped the 50 to 3rd coming out of turn 2. No call. Just a warning I heard from race control. Williams battles back to second and caution comes out. Now Owen, who is not too bright anyway, chooses the top on the next restart. He then jumps the start and it gets called back and he gets warned for that. Williams sends his car hard into turn one on the next restart and Owens gets run up like he did to the 50 to get the lead and caution flies for cars spinning in turn 2. From there Williams gets disqualified: no warnings, nothing but a flat DQ. Probably the worst call I’ve seen from a race director in a long time. Let the drivers decide the race. Ronnie was giving back what he got in the exact same incident. Owens got a warning, Williams got a DQ. Thompson ruined what was shaping up to be the best race of the year for the Sunoco Mods. Shame on you Thompson.

  5. And the award for best anecdote of the year goes to Trapper Dave.

  6. Williams is an excellent driver but his rough house antics this season have often crossed the line. Finally he got bit by it. As Owen stated he was fast enough where he probably would have won regardless if he would have waited instead of sending it in.

  7. Wow. The comments are sure entertaining. So, on an OPEN FREQUENCY, track officials warn a driver not to make a certain move. Then, at the NEXT AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITY, a driver makes the same move and gets DQ’d. Were they not monitoring the frequency? Is their driver that stupid? Just because a driver was specifically warned, doesn’t mean the warning doesn’t apply to everyone.

  8. The problem is the whole “no bottom shots” rule as they would call it. It has been one of the only ways you can pass in a Modified at Thompson with surface they it currently is. You could do it last year and can do it still in any of the touring divisions that visit the track. But the new race director decides that is the thing he going to change for this season and the calls can seem pretty arbitrary. There were a few other questionable calls during the weekend such as black flagging the 55 during the Limited Sportsman heat Saturday, then changing their mind after riding around under caution for several laps.

  9. Rich C – I listen scan the races and there is no OPEN FREQUENCY. You can monitor Race Control and listen to any team with your scanner with the proper teams frequency. Todd Owen was warned by race control ” not to do that again” after he drove Williams up during the restart that he took the lead coming out of turn 2 – he got that lead because Williams had to back off or go into the wall. The next restart, Williams did the same thing to Owen and then just got DQ’d. Williams was never warned for any infraction during the race. Williams Spotter is one of the best, I hear him giving Ronnie great info all race long- he did not miss giving Ronnie a warning from the Race Director because that never happened. My opinion is that Williams races clean until someone races him dirty, then he is not afraid to get dirty too. Hell, the guy is a hockey player – do you really want to mess with him? The Race Director – Chris Williams- should have enough experience to see what is going on and how these guys are racing each other and let something like that go, OR make a full warning to the entire field after Owen made his dirty move to take first, that no one is to do that again, or they will go to the back or some other penalty. A full DQ is way over the top – If Williams Fenced Owen that would be different. They raced each other the same, Owen made it dirty – Williams got dirty to get his lead back. Unfortunately for him it was right back to his pit stall with a DQ. I thought the NFL Refs were bad this season –

  10. Hillary 2020 says

    They black flagged Monahan for like 3 laps under caution. Then not only did they let him stay out, they didn’t even put him to the rear. Then there was Waterman and his clown moves.

  11. David T – No open frequency? Then how do you monitor race control? Think about it for a minute. Owen gets warned on Race Control, which all teams can hear. Williams then repeats the move that Owen was warned about. Guess Ronnie’s team should have passed the warning on to their driver. I like Ronnie, really good driver. But he really doesn’t have any cause to bitch on this one.

  12. If Ronnie was warned in the heat, that’s his warning for the weekend. He has also been warned in every race this season. Talman has also been warned every week. They were on zero tolerance.

  13. Spotter, Allow me to continue to beat the dead horse. Guys, the fact of the matter is Ronnie never got a warning- not in the heat, not in the feature. I listen to his channel. Todd got 2 warnings, one for driving Ronnie up in turn 2 on the restart to take the lead, and one for jumping the start as the leader. So let’s stop with this warning crap. Actually in the heat, Ronnie had the fastest car, tried to pass Todd once and got cut down on so he decided to back off and play cat and mouse with him, driving up to his bumper then backing off, toying with him and again, no warnings. I think the issue is that the punishment did not fit the crime, it was an inconsistent call, awful for the race fans and for the 50 team. Felt like a Waterford type call. Another piece of fake news is Spotter’s “he’s been warned every week” also untrue. I listen and watch. I know. So enough of the lies and speculation. Let’s hear facts and opinions here!!

  14. Warning or not, to park him was wrong, he just did what had been done to him. Since both drivers had done the same thing to one another, it should have been a no call situation, or they should have given Ronnie a warning like they did Todd.

  15. Just watch the replay then judge with fresh eyes. I saw Owen squeeze Williams early on and Williams back out as reported. I also saw Owen low back out in three knowing he was too hot and on that occasion he almost lost second to Talman so he clearly was listening to warnings. Regarding the DQ Williams didn’t just squeeze Owen he was full on in the outside groove. leaving Owen nowhere to go. He took it too far and caused a wreck. Perhaps wrecks shouldn’t matter but they are a big fat old exclamation point with a stop in the action that allows race central to watch the replay. My view the call falls within the guidelines for a DQ and the replay supports it pretty well. No wreck, no harm no foul and it’s likely the DQ never happens. Wrecks matter.
    Good banter on what was said or not said as heard from the guys with scanners. But really is counting warnings even relevant? Eight wheels instead of four is a whole Thompson thing. This has been going on forever and clearly the drivers are aware it’s a strategy with risk. You can’t tell me Williams didn’t know what he was doing. My view he made a slight error in the degree to which he was going to squeeze Owen and he paid the price.
    What I also noticed was Williams with the same approach as with Kopcik. He’s the victim.The other guy did it to him way more and life isn’t fair.. And yet it’s Williams with the DQ;s. Just man up. You screwed up and move on. People remember whining and excuses. They also remember guys that take responsibility.
    At the same time Owen being the stand up guy saying he thought Williams was a “tick” faster and would have won anyway.

  16. “I listen scan the races and there is no OPEN FREQUENCY.”

    Race control is open for all to listen at NASCAR sanctioned events. This is often the only frequency I monitor at tracks. It’s how information is communicated to spotters and crews. Spotters typically have the driver / team 2-way in one ear on one radio, and a second receive-only radio with race control in the other.

    The only major series I’m aware of who currently transmits race control in anything other than open FM are the top two levels in IMSA. They’re digital, using telemetry along with voice.

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