The Champ Trail: The Speedbowl In Waterford, Thompson, Stafford & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The New London-Waterford Speedbowl SK Modifieds suffered their fourth rain-out in a row on June 2. That being said, track management made the decision to include the open wheelers in their Wacky Wednesday program on June 6.

Kyle James took full advantage of the opportunity and came from a lap down to record the victory. David Yardley III won the Super X feature. Eddie Loomis was the winner of theX-Car feature, Mike Blaskey won the Legend car feature and second-generation driver Brody Monahan was the winner of the Bandolero feature.

In the SK Modified feature, Todd Owen took the lead from Dylan Izzo on lap 22 and appeared to be headed for victory. A late caution, however, forced a double-file restart with five laps to go. On the restart, Owen was hit from behind by Izzo and was headed to the wall, taking Andrew Molleur, who was running second, into the wall with him, sidelining both cars. Izzo was penalized for over-aggressive driving. Cory DiMatteo was moved into the lead, but surrendered the top spot quickly when James out powered him on the restart. Izzo finished third and veteran Wendell Dailey was fourth. Joey Ternullo, in his first-ever SK start at the Speedbowl, rounded out the top 5.

The action moved to the Thompson Motorsports Park on Thursday. After Mother Nature sidelined the Limited Sportsman Long Distance & Military Night presented by Pepsi event in May, oval racing action finally returned to the Big-T for the second time in 2019 with a large local crowd turning out for the rescheduled races. The annual showcase of local racing’s biggest stars honored veterans and members of the military while also putting track divisions front and center as the race for Thompson championships heated up.

The main event of the night was the marquee race of 2019 for Thompson’s Limited Sportsman division, the 30-lap long distance race. Ryan Waterman charged his way to victory leading the bulk of the final 20 laps of the feature and fought off a hard comeback charge from Shawn Monahan who recovered from a crash to finish second after passing Larry Barnett in the closing laps. Waterman also won the 2017 long distance event after the initial winner Brent Gleason was disqualified following post-race inspection, but in 2018 Waterman did it his way and took the victory through effort and execution.

The Sunoco Modifieds turned into a war of attrition for some of the divisions biggest stars. Ryan Preece began the event out front and battled series regular Woody Pitkat and reigning champion Keith Rocco throughout the opening laps. Things got interesting as the battle got even more heated 11 laps into the race and Rocco made a power move for the lead. In an attempt to regain the top spot Preece made his own bold move out of turn four resulting in both leaders spinning into the infield and Pitkat inheriting the lead.

Things didn’t let up as a massive multi-car pileup on the restart brought out the red flag after Timmy Jordan spun in front of the second half of the field resulting in an incident that saw Matt Gallo ride the top of the outside wall. All drivers walked away from the wreck without injury, but it wouldn’t be the final caution of the night. In total six caution flags flew before the halfway point of the feature and seven were flown in the event overall. When things settled in Pitkat resumed the lead, but Rocco would make a comeback working his way through the field in mere laps to take the lead by the halfway point. Despite a hard charge from Pitkat, Rocco held on for his second win of the season putting him once step closer to yet another Sunoco Modified title at Thompson. Steve Masse finished third and was followed by Marcello Rufrano and Troy Talman. Wednesday night Waterford winner Kyle James has taken over Ceravolo ride at Thompson and finished a respectful seventh.

Finally, the night closed out with the Late Model division with a 25-lap feature. It all came down to a pair of cautions in the final five laps. After leading much of the race Ernie LaRose found himself at a disadvantage during the first restart when Ryan Morgan took the lead. A quick caution stacked up the field again and Morgan was able to muscle his way forward for a second time while Larose found himself on the receiving end of a bump that sent his car around and hard into the turn three wall, ending his day two laps short of the finish. Morgan had a third great restart and took home his second victory at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

Racing resumes at Thompson this Wednesday, June 13 when the track welcomes back the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for the Thompson 125 where Justin Bonsignore hopes to extend his points lead and add to his win total after conquering the Icebreaker event at Thompson April and crossing the line first as Seekonk earlier this month.

Hopefully NASCAR will show some respect for its Modified competitors as they need to black flag some of the slow turtles.

The Stafford Motor Speedway ran their regular Friday night program along with their Twisted Tea Open Modified 80 program. Ronnie Williams took the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn, the Late Model feature, Bryan Narducci, the SK Light feature, Ryan Fearn Limited Late Model feature, Brandon Michael the Street Stock feature and Tommy Barrett, the Open Modifieds. In the SK Modifieds, Glen Reen finished second with Dan Avery, Michael Gervais, Jr. and Matt Galko rounding out the top five.

Tommy Barrett, Jr. used an early pit stop to gain track position when the majority of the cars came to pit road at the halfway point of the race and he led 38 of the final 40 laps to win the Twisted Tea Open Modified 80. Barrett led Chase Dowling to the checkered flag to take the victory. Dave Etheridge finished third with Rowan Pennink and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top-5. Twenty cars were in competition for this event.

Kyle James backed up his Wednesday night SK Modified win at the New London -Waterford Speedbowl with another win on Saturday night at the shoreline oval. James came from dead last in the 14-car field to record the repeat win. Rob Janovic finished second with Dylan Izzo, third. Todd Owen and Corey Dimatteo rounded out the top five. Other Saturday night winners were Jason Palmer in the Late Models, Shawn Gaedeke in the Limited Sportsman, Charles Canfield in the 50 lap Mini-Stock event, Jonathan Puleo in the SK Lites and Duane Noll in the trucks. Doug Curry ended up being the 50 lap Mini Stock feature winner! Doug battled all day long, and after post race tech saw Charles Canfield DQ’d.

Across the big pond on Long Island, David Schneider executed a late race pass with just over two laps remaining after chasing race leader Brand Van Houten for 17-laps of the 40 circuits that made up the NASCAR Modified feature at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night in the event to score his first win of the 2018 Whelen All American Series at the historic quarter mile oval. In the IGA Food Markets Allan Cantor Memorial for the NEMA Midgets Avery Stoehr of Lakeville, Ma. led all 25-laps to take home the win leading two teammates to the checkers in the process.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, twin 25’s were on tap for the Modifieds. Lee Jeffreys sat on the pole for the first 25-lap Modified race and was able to lead wire-to-wire. Despite three cautions, Jeffreys was able to hold off Tim Brown for the win. It was also his 20th win in his career. defeating Tim Brown. Burt Myers was third, and his brother, Jason, was fourth.
In the second 25-lap Modified race, Jonathan Brown won and defeated Jason Myers. Tim Brown was third and Burt Myers was fourth. The oddity is that the win for Jonathan Brown might not have happened without Tim Brown. Earlier in the evening Jonathan broke a transmission and it was Tim Brown who came to his rescue with a new one.

Racing scribe Lou Modestino made an interesting and factual assessment of the current state of racing in the northeast. “With a plethora of paved track Modified races now offered in New England, New York State and some southern venues during the current season, fans are very concerned about rising ticket prices. While the ticket buyers are turning out in big numbers for those 44 events within a 30-week season, ticket prices at both the front and pit gates are rising rapidly. All that could result in race fans giving serious thoughts about which events that they can afford to attend during the current 2018 racing season. There’s only just so much money families can allocate to their entertainment budget after they pay their other obligations.” Bugs Stevens, who is the all-time Modified winner with 72 victories to his credit says that the top divisions of NASCAR have lost their fan appeal. He suggests that races should be lines up according to points with the top guys in the back. That goes for the Tour modifieds as well as the K&N series.

In some good news coming out of the Hartford Hospital, Jerry Pearl came through his heart operation with flying colors as the Doctor only had to do 4 by-passes. Everything went well. The 73-year old Pearl was the 1984 and 1985 SK Modified division champion at Stafford. In his honor, grandson Bryan Narducci won his second SK Lite feature at Stafford on Friday night.

Congratulations to Vinny Annarummo and Ed St Angelo on their Inductions to the Seekonk Speedway Wall of Fame.

On the speedway stock market scene this week, two speedway stocks showed healthy gains at weeks end. Leading the charge was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.25 to 43.15. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.74 to 17.33 and Dover Entertainment remained stale at 2.10. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 3.98 to 55.48, NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 4.87 to 19.07 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.87 to 25.31. The car manufacturers were all positive for the week. Ford went up 0.39 to 12.10, General Motors went up 1.05 to 44.25 and Toyota went up 4.90 to 136.21. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 0.98 to 198.33 and Lowes jumped up 4.39 to 100.22. The big teams sponsors stocks were all up for the week. McDonalds went up 9.75 to 168.91, Coca-Cola went up 3.04 to 129.70, Target went up 5.22 to 78.02, Dow-Dupont went up 3.32 to 69.49 and Fedex went up 6.55 to 260.15.

On the tube this week

Saturday, June 16
9:30 AM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Iowa practice, Fox Sports 1
10:30 AM, NASCAR Race Hub Weekend Edition, FS1
11:00 AM, NCWTS Iowa final practice, Fox Sports 2
3:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Iowa practice, FS2
4:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub Weekend Edition, FS2
4:30 PM, NCWTS Iowa qualifying, FS2
5:30 PM, NXS Iowa final practice, FS1
6:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay: NCWTS, FS1
7:00 PM, NCWTS Iowa race, FS1

Sunday, June 17
6:00 AM, NXS Iowa final practice re-air, FS1
1:00 PM, How It’s Made – NASCAR Car Bodies; Hurley Sticks; Tube Power Amplifiers; Thermal Coffee Pot, SCI
2:30 PM, NXS Iowa qualifying, FS2
4:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay: NXS, FS1
5:00 PM, NXS Iowa race, FS1

Monday, June 18
7:00 AM, NXS Iowa race re-air, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1