CT - The Northeastern Midget Association kicked off its 50th season with its youngest-ever
winner Sunday at Thompson Speedway's Icebreaker. Ryan Dolan, 16, passed Russ Stoehr twice
and went on to capture the 25-lap feature in convincing style.
"Unbelievable," offered the unusually reserved youngster who will not be 17
until July. It was only the seventh start for Concord, MA resident who was clicking off
laps in the 18.2-18.3 seconds range in the Esslinger-powered Hawk chassis.
Coming from the fourth starting spot, Dolan took second from pole sitter Rudy Boetticher
Jr. in turn one of lap two. He ran down and passed Stoehr five laps later. The pass began
in one and ended coming out of four. "I stuck it in there pretty good," Dolan
said. "We were side-by-side and I was able to maintain the speed coming out."
On the first restart, Stoehr managed to get away and Dolan, now with Mike Roselli Jr. on
his tail, had to chase down and pass the two-time defending champion again. "On the
first restart I wasn't prepared," explained Dolan. "I didn't get up to speed but
on the other restarts I was ready."
Twice he got away from runner-up Stoehr, the last time with seven laps remaining. "We
both sat where we supposed to be. He just out-did us today," said Stoehr. "I
just watched him get small."
Stoehr held off Roselli for second. Ed Breault's late surge resulted in a fourth with Drew
Fornoro fifth. Randy Cabral (who came from 17th), Howie Bumpus, Pete Pernesiglio, Ben
Seitz and Tim Heath completed the top-10. Seitz and Heath are both rookies.
One of the drivers to take advantage of NEMA's new age requirements last year, Dolan had
to wait until July to reach 16. In two starts on the ultra-quick Thompson five-eighths, he
has a second and first. He is NEMA's 103rd feature winner.
According to Dolan a leaking right rear shock plagued the team on Saturday. A special
representative from Shadow Racing Products of New Jersey was dispatched to fix the
problem. "It made all the difference," said Dolan.
"He was in a league of his own," said Bobby Seymour. "He never made a
mistake, never a bobble. He probably was going faster than anyone has ever gone in a
Midget at Thompson and maybe by three or four tenths."
"The kid was hooked up," said
NEMA's all-time feature winner Fornoro. "When that happens it looks like you have a
big motor advantage. He was just coming out like a shot because he was hooked up. That was