Jim Cataldo Takes First NEMA Lites Win At Lee USA; Avery Stoehr Tops NEMA Angelillo Memorial




(Press Release from Northeastern Midget Association)

Jim Cataldo celebrates his first NEMA Lites victory (Photo: Norm Marx/NEMA)

The Northeastern Midget Association visited LEE USA Speedway for its delayed season opening event this past Friday night, July 17th.  28 midgets filled the pits, and the action was extremely close as both feature events went green to checkered and both were decided by less than a bumper’s length.  Jim Cataldo took down his first ever feature event victory in the Lites by .06 seconds over Chase Locke and 2019 Champion Avery Stoehr took down the NEMA victory over teammate Lanson Fornoro in a photo finish margin of .003 seconds.  

The night commemorated NEMA’s most successful car owners in the history of the club, Marilyn and Gene Angelillo. In addition to 14 championships, Gene and Marilyn claimed well over 100 features including 14 at the Waterford Speedbowl. They also served the club in many positions. Gene was president and Marilyn secretary for several seasons.

The Angelillo’s first Waterford win came with Drew Fornoro aboard in 1982. 

Over the next 30-plus summers, Russ Stoehr and Joey Payne joined Fornoro winning at Waterford in Angelillo equipment. The versatile Ted Christopher’s only Midget win came at Waterford on May 24, 1998 in an Angelillo car.

Gene’s final win was Waterford’s 2009 Wings and Wheels. Russ Stoehr was the driver.

In the NEMA Lites race, Jim Cataldo led in a wire to wire race, but not without much pressure from youngster Chase Locke.  Cataldo got out into an early lead, from the pole starting position, and was followed early on by Chase Locke, DJ Moniz, and by the halfway point, Ryan Locke and PJ Stergios had broken free of traffic and were on the hunt. 

As the final laps wore down, youngster Chase Locke would begin to pressure Cataldo, and make a valiant move on the last lap, but Cataldo went on to hang on for his first ever event victory.  Locke would finish second, followed by Ryan Locke, PJ Stergios, Jim Santa Maria, DJ Moniz, Alby Ovitt, Kyle Valeri, Richie Coy, and Matt Seavy.

“I trusted my crew chief, my brother Joe, for the strategy and to make the right adjustments to keep up with the track,” said Cataldo.  We were using tires we had left over from last year and the last 5 laps the right rear started to go away.  I’d like to thank all of the NEMA officials and LEE USA Speedway for putting this race together.  It felt great to be back at the track,” he said.

In the NEMA feature, Avery Stoehr pulled off a masterful pass with three laps to go on teammate Lanson Fornoro in the Bertrand Motorsports 47, with a margin of victory of inches, a mere .003.  

When the green flag flew in the feature, Alan Chambers in the Mac’s Auto World #7 blasted out into the lead, with Fornoro settling into second.  Chambers set the pace for the first five laps, with Fornoro a carlength behind.  Chambers night would come to an end with an injection issue, and Fornoro took over the point.   He would stretch out his lead to over a straightaway, but as lapped traffic approached, Avery Stoehr and Todd Bertrand began to close the gap.  As Fornoro tried to get around the lapped car of Matt Merry, Stoehr would dive to the bottom and take the lead with three to go.  Fornor made a bid on the final lap, and pulled to the outside and ahead of Stoehr down the back stretch, but Stoehr would beat him back to the line by inches.  They were followed by across the line by Bertrand, Aby Ovitt, Randy Cabral, Jake Trainor, Paul Scally, Matt Merry, Doug Cleveland, and Alan Chambers.

“After I got under Lanson, I knew I had used up my tires and was surprised to see him back on the outside of me.  I gave it everything I had, and the tire was so spent I actually spun out after the checkered flag.  It was so awesome to win such a close race, I hope the fans enjoyed it,” said Stoehr.

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