Waterford, CT — (July 26, 2014) — The Waterford CT Speedbowl is in the Northeastern Midget Association record books as producing the most first time winners of any track on the circuit. It happened again Saturday night. An elated Juris Kupris of Williamsburg, NY raced to his very first victory in the NEMA Lites series. It only took six and a half minutes in the 27 lap flag to flag main event.
The NEMA Lites and NEMA Midgets were racing in the Fifth annual Shane Hammond Memorial Race. Hammond, a young, well liked NEMA competitor died in a racing accident at the Thompson Speedway at the beginning of the 2008 season.
It appeared from the start that the Lites feature was destined to have a first time winner as pole sitter Megan Cugini of Marshfield, MA solidly led the early going. She was passed by teen sensation Anthony “The Tornado” Payne of Fairlawn, NJ on lap 12, who also was looking for his first NEMA win. Payne is the son of NEMA and ISMA star Joey Payne.
Kupris followed Payne around Cugini on lap 11 and ran second for several laps, opting to make his bid for lead on lap 21. From there he opened a comfortable lead and cruised to the finish, beating Payne by more than two seconds.
Wednesday night’s Boston Louie Classic winner PJ Stergois of Candia, NH finished third followed by Richie Morroco of Planville, MA and early leader Megan Cugini rounding out the top 5.
Kupris, still catching his breath during the victory lane interview credited friend and teammate Christian Briggs for introducing him to the NEMA Lites. “We raced go-karts together when we were kids and he asked me if I would like to join him in the midgets,” said Kupris, “and I couldn’t refuse having fun racing with him again.”
Juris Kupris became the second first time winner in a week. Jake Smith did it at Oxford Plains, ME the Saturday before.
The NEMA main event went flag to flag in just over six minutes as well. Seth Carlson of Brimfield, MA got the jump on pole sitter Paul Scally at the start and led all 27 laps to claim his second win of the season. Carlson won at the Evans Mills NY Motorsport Park in May after winning his first ever last year at Oswego.
Carlson set a quick pace from the start, cranking out laps a tick over 13 seconds. Reigning champion John Zych of Mendon, MA ran second with similar lap times for most of the race, but couldn’t close on Carlson. Zych finally used up his right rear tire in the futile chase and was passed by point leader Avery Stoehr of Lakeville, MA with two laps to go.
Zych was nipped at the line by Todd Bertrand of Suffield, CT and settled for fourth. Randy Cabral of Kingston, MA was fifth.
Both second place finisher Stoehr and third place Bertrand said post race that they were hoping for a caution as the only way to catch Carlson. Carlson in turn said he was glad the race stayed green. “I might have had enough to beat them on a restart,” he said, “this car was excellent tonight, but I didn’t know how much of lead I had so I just kept pushing it and glad we didn’t get a yellow.”
After three events in one week, the NEMA competitors have a couple of weeks to catch their breath. Stoehr, Cabral, Bertrand and Carlson are at the top of the NEMA points and bring that battle back to Waterford on Saturday, August 9, along with the NEMA Lites for the Angelillo Memoral Race as part of the Speedbowl’s “Wings and Wheels” event.