Looking Back A Bit With Phil Smith – Third Week Of June

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Sixty five years ago in 1953, Joe McNulty was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner and Fred Luchesi was the Saturday night winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Tetreault and Tommy Van Epps were the non-Ford winners. Van Epps showed a lot of raw talent but unfortunately would never be able to show it as he lost his life in an auto wreck the following winter.

Sixty years ago in 1958, rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday night. On Saturday night at the shoreline oval Red Foote made it two in a row in the Modifieds. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner.

Fifty five years ago in 1963 at the Utica-Rome Speedway Rene Charland picked up his fourth victory of the year at the Vernon, New York oval. Cam Gagliardi finished second with Ken Meahl, third. Everybody’s fried George Pendergast was the 50 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ernie Rankin was the Bomber winner. Racing on the dirt at Stafford fell victim to rain.

Steady Eddie Flemke, leading the famed Eastern Bandits, arrived late at the Old Bridge Speedway in New Jersey after a weekend swing through the south. Flemke was allowed to start the Modified feature in the scratch position and still ended up taking the win over John Gouveia and Bob Rossell.

Fifty years ago in 1968, Kenny Shoemaker went two for two as he won on the asphalt at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday night and on the dirt at Fonda on Saturday night. Bernie Miller finished second at Albany and was followed by Richie Evans, Lou Lazzaro and Dave Lape. At Fonda, Ray Sitterly finished second with Dave Lape, third. In Friday night action at Stafford Mr. Leo Cleary put the Joe Brady 41 in victory lane. Bill Slater finished second with Bugsy Stevens, Tommy Borget and Ralph “Hop” Harrington rounding out the top five. Saturday night at Norwood saw Roland LaPierre Sr. take the win. The action at the Waterford Speedbowl saw Don Collins take the Modified feature win and Winston Barrows earn a victory in the Late Model Daredevils. At Thompson on Sunday, Steady Eddie Flemke in the Bob Judkins 2x took the win and in Sunday night action at Utica-Rome Dave Kotary took the win over Bill Henry, Ken Shoemaker, Dave Gaul and Dick Clark.

Forty five years ago in 1973,twin features were run at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y. Richie Evans won the opener and was followed by Bob Santos, Jerry Cook and Lou Lazzaro. Bugsy Stevens won the nightcap with Denis Giroux and Cook following. At Stafford on Saturday night, Eddie Flemke took the win with Ronnie Bouchard, second and Stevens, third. Special events at Islip and at Tioga fell victim to rain. Dick Watson ruled the roost at the Waterford Speedbowl in the Modifieds. Big Mike Daignault was the Grand American Late Model winner. Lee Raceway ran a double point event on Sunday. The Bugman took the victory with Dan MacNamara, second and Ernie Gahan, third.Utica-Rome closed out the weekend with twin events, which were won by Richie Evans, and Jerry Cook.

On a sad note, rising star Gary Colturi lost his life in a motorcycle accident.

Forty years ago in 1978, Geoff Bodine went three for three on the weekend including his seventh in a row at Stafford. Bodine, in the Big Red No.1, also won events at Riverside Park and at Utica-Rome. At Waterford, Moose Hewitt beat out Dick Dunn and Mike Beebe for the win and at Seekonk, George Summers was the best of the best with Bugsy Stevens second and Corky Cookman, third. Westboro saw John Falconi over Joe Howard. Islip ran a 100 lap Race of Champions qualifier, which was won by Greg Sacks. Charlie Jarzombek finished second with Fred Harbach, third. Jarzombek also played second fiddle at Riverhead where he finished second to Wayne Anderson. At Thompson on Sunday, Ronnie Bouchard won out over Bugsy Stevens and Ray Miller.

Thirty five years ago in 1983, the week started on Tuesday at Stafford where a 50 lapper was run with Bugsy Stevens taking the win over Jamie Tomaino, Kenny Bouchard and Bob Polverari. New Egypt ran on Wednesday where Bob Park took the checker over John Blewett jr. and Tony Siscone. Back at Stafford on Friday, Kenny Bouchard won out over Bobby Eve, Corky Coachman and George Summers. Bo Gunning was the SK modified winner. Saturday at Waterford, John Hoffman took the win over Larry Lanphear and Ted Christopher. At Seekonk, Richie Evans made a surprise visit and took all the marbles. Vinnie Annarummo finished second followed by Bugsy Stevens and George Murray. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Terry Labonte was the pole sitter. Cale Yarborough took the win. Down on Long Island, George Brunnhoelzl won at Islip with Fred Harbach, second. At Riverhead, Alan Harbach was the winner with Don Howe, second.

Thirty years ago, in 1988, Stafford rained out on Friday but it stayed clear up north as Monadnock got in its program with Reggie Ruggiero taking the win. Jerry Marquis took the Saturday night win at Riverside Park. Mike Stefanik and Reggie Ruggerio followed. At Waterford, John Jensen took the win. Dickie Doo Ceravolo finished second with Ricky Young and Bert Marvin following. Tony Hirschman got his sixth at Tioga and at Thompson, Tom Tagg took the win. Mike Christopher finished second. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Geoff Bodine took the win but the racing world was stunned when Bobby Allison was critically injured. Allison eventually recovered but his racing career was over. It was only the beginning of tragedy for the Allison family as both Davey and Clifford would lose their lives in future years.

Twenty five years ago, in 1993, Ted and Mike Christopher finished one-two at Stafford on Friday night. The Busch Grandnational North division was also at Stafford. Mike McLaughlin took the win with Jamie Aube, second. Saturday night at Waterford, John Jensen took the checker but was disqualified after a tech inspection revealed an illegal crankshaft. Jerry Pearl, who finished second, was awarded the win. Dan Avery won at Riverside and Eddie Brunnhoelzl, at Riverhead. John Sneade won at Thompson on Sunday. Mike and Ted Christopher finished second and third but were disqualified because of illegal cylinder heads. Kerry Malone was moved from fourth to second.

Twenty years ago, in 1998, rain washed out the entire program that had been scheduled at Stafford. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour visited the Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night. Mike Ewanitsko was the fastest qualifier and after starting sixth took the lead from Mike Stefanik on lap 56 and went on to score the win. Stefanik finished second and was followed by Jan Leaty, Ed Flemke Jr. and Charlie Pasteryak.

Rain washed out action at Riverside Park and at Thompson on Sunday; Ted Christopher took the win over Frankie Cardile.

The big news of the week was the announcement that NEXTEL, a provider of wireless communications in the United States, would become the title sponsor of what was called the Winston Cup division of NASCAR. NEXTEL was expected spend between $70 – 90 million a year over the next ten years. Once rumors broke early in the week, NEXTEL stock took off. Starting the week at 14.90, NEXTEL closed out the week at 17.78. RJ Reynolds/Winston finished out the year as the sponsor of NASCAR’s elite division. During the 2002 season, RJR Winston got $160 million worth of media exposure. RJ Reynolds has been involved with NASCAR racing for 33 years.

In a somewhat related matter, NASCAR’s versions of Ken and Barbie, (Brooke and Jeff Gordon) have reached a divorce settlement that gives Brooke Gordon at least $15 million. She had waived alimony and would get the proceeds from the sale of two pieces of real estate including the couple’s ocean front home in Highland Beach, Florida.

Round Two of Thursday night Thunder at Thompson beat the weather on Thursday night. Jeff Malave went from pole to pole to win his second Sunoco-SK Modified feature of the year at the 5/8-mile oval. Bert Marvin finished second with Eric Berndt, third. Heavy drama unfolded on a lap three re-start. With Malave leading and Bob Drown running second, heavy hitters Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning were in hot pursuit. As Christopher was about to make a move, Drown moved up to protect his spot. Christopher momentarily lifted and was hit accidentally by Gunning. Christopher and Gunning spun at high speed on to the infield grass and struck a concrete barrier protecting a light pole. The impact saw Christopher’s car go up in the air and come down on its roof. With his fuel pump sheared off and gas leaking out Christopher became trapped and could not unbuckle himself to exit the car. Gunning was able to exit his car and went to Christopher’s aid and pulling him out of the car, as flames were about to erupt into an inferno. In the past there had been a lot of bad history between the two. Although not what you would consider friends, Gunning put his feelings aside and went to the aide of a fellow competitor. Had it not been for Gunning’s quick actions, the former NASCAR Weekly Racing Champion could have suffered serious burns or even worse. Chuck Docherty was the Pro Stock winner and Woody Pitkat repeated in the Late Models. Norm Ashline was the Limited Sportsman winner and Eric Bourgeois was the Mini Stock winner. Speedway owner and promoter Don Hoenig is up and about after a bad accident the previous week. Hoenig was T-Boned in the driver’s side door while on his way to secure Fireworks permits for the track.

The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday. Rain forced postponement. NASCAR and the Seekonk management were working on a new date. For the fifth week in a row rain-washed out racing at the Waterford Speedbowl. During the 1978 season, when Dick Williams operated the track it rained seven Saturdays in a row. Williams finally ran an event on Wednesday, just to get a race in. Waterford is not alone, Seekonk in Massachusetts lost four out of six events, Stafford lost three out of 10 and Riverhead, on Long Island, lost five out of nine.
Todd Szegedy was leading John Blewett III by 45 points in the chase for the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series championship. Chuck Hossfeld sat in third. Rounding out the top five were Jerry Marquis and Ted Christopher.

At the Stafford Speedway on Friday night; Bo Gunning passed Jeff Baral on lap 43 of the scheduled 50 lap SK-Modified feature and went on to secure his first win of the season. Gunning was the defending modified track champion. Ron Silk, Kerry Malone and Frank Ruocco rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher, still very sore from his accident at Thompson, brought out a back-up car and finished 11th. Woody Pitkat was the late model winner. The Busch North Series was the main attraction at Stafford on Friday night Tom Carey took the win over Martin Truex and Kelly Moore. Carey made the pass for the lead and the eventual win on lap 137 of the 150-lap event. In Winston Cup action at Sonoma, California, Boris Said took the pole and it was Robbie Gordon took the win.

Fifteen years ago in 2003, Brad Leighton took the lead on lap 43 in the BGNN 150 at Stafford when Dave Dion spun in oil and went on to take the win, his fourth of the year. Jeff Taylor finished second with Dion, third. Stafford’s SK Modified event rained out.

Waterford ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night with Eric Berndt taking the win over Jeff Pearl and Tucker Reynolds. Riverhead went to Frank Vigliaro Jr.
In 100 degree heat, Bert Marvin went pole to pole at Thompson. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Tom Fox, third. At Riverside, Rob Summers won a 125 lapper over Ted Riggott and Bob Polverari.

In Busch Grandnational action at Milwaukee, Casey Atwood hit Jeff Green on the final lap and went on to take the win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Glenn Allen. In Winston Cup action under the lights at Daytona, Dale Jarrett took the lead on lap 146 of the 160 lap distance and took the win over Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Burton.

Ten years ago in 2008, the Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program went off as planned under sunny and warm skies. The Late Models took center stage with Marc Palmisano of Hadley, MA, taking a dominant win in the 50 lap extra-distance race for the division. It was a career night for some of the younger generation as teenagers Derek Ramstrom and Jay Sundeen scored their first career wins. Ramstrom of Worcester, MA, earned a dominating win in the Pro Stocks and Sundeen of Douglas, MA, was best in the Limited Sportsman division.

Keith Rocco of Wallingford scored a hard-fought victory in the Sunoco Modifieds and Tim Sullivan of S. Windsor rebounded with a TIS Modified victory. Scott Michalski of South Killingly took top honors in the Mini Stock main event.

There were 124 cars in the pit area including 23 Sunoco Modifieds. The Pro Stocks, once a strong division at Thompson, were dying a slow death as only 13 were on hand.

The Stafford Motor Speedway and Ted Christopher celebrated a major milestone as the multi-time track champion won the 35th Annual Coors Light SK Modified 100 which also happened to be Christopher’s 100th career win at the nutmeg state oval. Other feature winners included Michael Bennett and Dillon Moltz from the Late Model division, Alan Provost in the SK Light feature, Sean Foster in the Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn in the DARE Stock feature.

The 35th Annual Coors Light SK Modified 100 took the green with Doug Coby leading the first three laps before giving way to Todd Owen on lap-4. While Owen was pacing the field, Ted Christopher was quickly working his way through the field from his 7th place starting position. He took second place from Curt Brainard on lap-19 and closed in on Owen’s bumper by lap-30. Christopher hounded Owen’s back bumper, but couldn’t make a pass stick. The first caution of the race came out with 38-laps complete, which gave Christopher all the opportunity he needed as he took to the outside groove on the restart and passed Owen for the lead. The race took on another long green flag run with Christohper, Chris Jones, and Woody Pitkat making up the top-3 cars. The race ran green to lap-89 with the top-3 cars remaining the same. Pitkat got by Jones on the restart and he applied immediate pressure to Christopher in a battle for the race lead. Much like Christopher did earlier in the race to Owen, Pitkat was all over the back bumper of Christopher. Pitkat tried several times to make a run for the lead in the corners, but couldn’t make a pass stick and Christopher had just enough car to keep in front of Pitkat for a one car length victory, the 100th career feature win for Christopher at Stafford Motor Speedway. Pitkat finished second, with Tom Bolles, Keith Rocco, and Frank Ruocco rounding out the top-5.

In victory lane, it was announced that to commemorate Christopher’s 100 career victories at Stafford, Section A of the main grandstand would be named after Christopher, placing him with other modified greats that adorn each section of Stafford’s main grandstand. Christopher was also presented a commemorative plaque, recognizing his 100 career wins. From go-karts in church parking lots to Sprint Cup cars on Superspeedways, Christopher has done it all

The Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain.

Despite threatening skies the True Value Modified Series got their 100 lapper in the record books. Taking the win was hometown favorite Vinnie Annarummo of Swansee, MA. Chris Pasteryak of Lisbon, CT finished a strong second and was followed by Jon McKennedy, Les Hinkley and Dave Pinkham.

Congratulations were in order to Middletown CT native Joey Logano who, in only his third career start, won the NASCAR Nationwide Series Meijer 300 at the Kentucky Speedway. Logano became the youngest driver to win in NASCAR Nationwide Series history at 18 years and 21 days. Logano won the pole for the 300-miler, his second in as many weeks, and led 76 of the 200 laps, second only to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. Busch led a race-high 85 laps.

Logano took the lead from Busch on Lap 147, passing him on the outside of Turn 4. On Lap 164, Busch’s charge to reclaim the position ended after he lost control of his Toyota on the backstretch, spinning and slamming the outside retaining wall. Following Busch’s wreck, the race was Logano’s to lose. With the race running green flag to the finish thereafter, Logano crossed the finish line 2.259 seconds over second place Scott Wimmer. Race attendance was a track-record 73,195. It was the eighth straight sellout at the facility in which Speedway Motorsports Inc. agreed to purchase earlier this year.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended his 76-race winless string Sunday, coasting to victory at Michigan International Speedway under a caution flag with little but fumes left in his gas tank. Kasey Kahne, coming off a victory the previous week in Pocono, finished second. Matt Kenseth finished third, followed by Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart and two-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

Five years ago in 2013, The Thompson Speedway was extremely busy and enjoyed it’s best Thursday night crowd. Double features highlighted NASCAR Whelen All American Series action in the Sunoco Modified and Lite Modified divisions. Keith Rocco and Kerry Malone each garnered a win in the Sunoco Modified division while Cam McDermott swept the Lite Modified. Other winners included Rick Gentes in the Late Models, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman division, Scott Michalski in the Monster Mini Stocks, and Ben Lavangie in the Vintage Modified feature.

In the first Sunoco Modified feature, Rocco started fourth and took the lead from Kerry Malone after a lap 19 restart. As Rocco picked up his third win of the season Woody Pitkat moved into second and Malone faded to third. Ryan Preece and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five. Among those in the 17 car Sunoco Modified field was Tommy Barrett who drove the Richie Gallup No. 50. Barrett never got the chance to show his stuff as the Gallup car developed valve train problems and failed to finish.

The second Sunoco Modified 25 lapper provided close competition and a surprise finish in the end. On the start, Rocco who took the green in 8th spot, was collected in a three car spin on the back chute on the first lap. Rocco’s car was double hooked off the speedway with severe front end damage. Tom Abele, Jr, who led the start also led the restart. By lap four, Ryan Preece had moved into the lead with Woody Pitkat in hot pursuit. Todd Ceravolo was also in the mix. A caution on lap 14 set the stage for the fireworks that were about to explode. Shortly after the restart, on lap 20, Preece and Pitkat, who were running side by side, came together in turn two. Preece, who was on the outside, fit the wall. Track officials felt that Pitkat did it intentionally and parked him for the night. Pitkat later said that it was his fault but it was not his intent to stuff Preece in the wall. Malone inherited the lead on the restart. Matt Gallo and Todd Ceravolo were on his bumper. As Malone was racing down the backstretch on the final lap a mass tangle ensued between Gallo and Paul Newcomb. Ceravolo, who had slipped to fourth, lifted to avoid the unfolding wreck. Dennis Perry, who had been running fifth made a brilliant move with some heads-up driving, came through the tangle and found himself in second place at the finish. Ceravolo recovered to finish third with Tom Abele, fourth. Joey Parker rounded out the top five.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ted Christopher won by inches over Doug Coby and Woody Pitkat. It was a bitter-sweet victory as Christopher had lost his dad after a courageous battle with cancer. It was also his 99th career SK Modified win at Stafford. Christopher, who admitted to blocking in the closing moments, took the lead on lap 35 of the 40 lap feature.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its first of three visits during the 2013 season to Stafford for the Inaugural VMRS 80. Tommy Barrett, Jr. took the checkered flag to become the very first repeat Valenti Modified Racing Series winner at Stafford Motor Speedway. Barrett took the lead following a restart on lap 59.

Barrett led Steve Masse to the checkered flag to become the first two-time Valenti Modified Racing Series winner at Stafford. Dave Etheridge finished third, with Eric Goodale and Richard Savary rounding out the top-5. Sixth through tenth were Dan Meservey, Jr., Eddy Spiers, Woody Pitkat, Norm Wrenn and Louie Mechalides.

There were 33 Modifieds on hand for the MRS event. The 10th anniversary MRS season continues this coming Friday night, June 28, at Lee USA Speedway, Lee, NH. with the running of the “Laticrete Port City 100.”

Other Friday night winners at Stafford were Adam Gray in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Jesse Hinze in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and 14-year old rookie Ryan Fearn in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series invaded the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Ryan Preece beat Doug Coby in a green-white-checkered finished to win the Mr. Rooter 161 at the shoreline oval. Preece followed Doug Coby for most of the race and Coby appeared to be in control until a final caution flag on lap-158 set up the thrilling finish. Coby chose the outside lane for the final restart with Preece lining up to his inside in second position.

Coby did not restart as smoothly as he had all race long and watched Preece drive by his inside. Coby tried to rally over the final lap, but could not get back alongside Preece through the final turns. Coby settled for second and was followed by Don Lia, Justin Bonsignore and Bobby Santos III.

The event, which drew 27 cars, saw Todd Szegedy take the pole position during qualifying after he toured the 1/3 mile oval in 13.833 seconds (97.593mph). Szegedy led from the start to lap 101 when Coby got him in heavy traffic. Nine cautions slowed the event. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk and Bryon Chew.

The weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature winners were: Waterford’s Rob Janovic Jr. (SK Modified), Keith Rocco (Late Model), Norm Root Jr. (Street Stock) and Bill Leonard (Mini Stock).

In the SK Modified feature, Janovic took the lead from Joe Gada after a restart on lap 24. Ed Puleo finished second with Todd Ceravolo, third. Gada faded to fourth. Craig Lutz rounded out the top five. Keith Rocco recovered after being involved in an early wreck with Shawn Monahan to finish 8th. Tyler Chadwick and Ted Christopher finished sixth and seventh.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Tim Brown shot to the front at the start of Saturday night’s first 25-lap Modified race and never looked back. Brown went on to his 68th career victory. In the second 25-lap Modified race, Michael Clifton was declared the winner after leader Joseph Brown was black-flagged by officials when his car was identified for leaking fluid and he refused to pit.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Tom Rogers Jr. became the first repeat winner in the NASCAR Modifieds at the eastern Long Island oval when he topped the Rapid Recovery Towing night 35-lap feature Saturday night. For Rogers, a six time winner in 2012 it was his 22nd career win which tied him for 13th on the all-time win list with Joe Krukowski and Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Martin Truex Jr. finally took the win at Sonoma Raceway, ending a 218-race winless streak with a victory in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Truex drove to victory in dominating fashion, leading a race-high 51 laps and cruising to an 8.133-second victory over five-time Sonoma winner Jeff Gordon.

A.J. Allmendinger sat on the pole and then muscled his way to victory in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Johnsonville Sausages 200 at Road America, surviving a chaos filled race to score his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. he was suspended by NASCAR for failing a random drug test in 2012, most believed his racing career was all but over.

Last year, 2017 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made it’s first of two stops at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night. Timmy Solomito returned to his home track and picked up his third win of the season. He held off David Sapienza on an overtime finish to take the Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Cadillac 200. Solomito was also the Coors Light Pole Award winner. He led three times for a race-high 151 laps, including the final 102 as a caution on Lap 196 pushed the race to 208 laps.

Doug Coby finished third while four-time Riverhead winners Ryan Preece and Justin Bonsignore crossed the line fourth and fifth, respectively. Eric Goodale finished sixth with Rowan Pennink the last car on the lead lap in seventh. Tom Rogers Jr., Dillon Steuer and Max Zachem completed the top 10.

At the drop of the green Solomito vaulted to the early race lead with Ronnie Williams in tow. Williams in the Gershow Recycling Chevy would run second for the first eight circuits of the contest as he was passed on lap 9 by Ryan Preece who quickly turned his attention to race leader Solomito. On lap 31 entering the first turn Preece would seize the moment as he was able to take the lead from Solomito while the duo were in the process of lapping Ted Christiopher. Later in the race Christopher would get his lap back during a caution flag period.

Solomito would roar back to the race lead on a 63rd lap double file restart as he rolled his car perfectly to the outside of Preece to move back out front. Some 21 laps later the roles would be reversed with Preece riding the outside lane on Solomito to reclaim the race lead during a 81st lap restart. The high speed game of chess between two of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s young & talented drivers had the large crowd roaring with approval. The final pass for the lead would occur just past the halfway point of the race on a 105th lap restart where once again Solomito rolled the outside groove to take the lead from Preece. Shortly thereafter Ryan’s car would start to go away on him as he soon found himself fending off the likes of Justin Bonsignore, Doug Coby and Dave Sapienza for second.

In the second half of the race an extended green flag run would come into play allowing Timmy Solomito to check out on the remainder of the field. Justin Bonsignore made his way by Preece for second on lap 151 bringing Doug Coby to third with him. Bonsignore & Coby renewed their Riverhead rivalry and started trading paint as well the second position. Their intense battle led to Dave Sapienza in making his way to second on lap 173. By the time Dave got to second race leader Solomito was long gone and the only way Sapienza was going to catch the leader would be with a late race caution flag. Low and behold a Craig Lutz spin with barely five laps left in the race gave Sapienza his chance at a first career WMT win.

With the Riverhead 200 now in overtime, a green, white, checker finish awaited the contenders. When the green flag waved to start the 206th lap Solomito got the measure of Sapienza, who later admitted his was late shifting his car on that final restart. When the race concluded on lap 208 “The Natural” Timmy Solomito who won his first career NASCAR Modified race at Riverhead on June 27th, 2009 was once again a victor at the track he grew up at.

There were 7 caution Flags for 56 laps. Next up on the schedule is the Whelen Modified Tour All-Star Shootout on July 14 followed by the Nor’easter 100 the next day, both at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted the ISMA SuperModifieds in addition to their regular racing divisions. Ben Seitz led the 60-lap ISMA SuperModified feature from start to finish to score a dominating win; Ted Christopher outlasted Chase Dowling and Keith Rocco in a barnburner over the final 5 laps for his second SK Modified® win of the season; Glen Reen scored his first win of the year in the Late Model feature; Cory DiMatteo won for the third time in the SK Light feature; Al Saunders scored his first Ltd. Late Model feature win; and Johnny Walker was the DARE Stock feature winner for the second consecutive week.

Ted Christopher, who started 12th, took the lead from Tom Abele on lap-21 with a pass in turn 4 as Todd Owen hit the wall in turn 1 to bring the caution out with 21 laps complete. On the restart, Christopher took the lead back under green with Abele, Mike Christopher, Jr., Cam McDermott, and Chase Dowling lined up behind him. Steven Kopcik spun in turn 2 to bring the caution back out with 24 laps complete. Rowan Pennink was sent to the rear of the field for overaggressive driving under the caution.

Christopher took the lead back under green with Christopher, Jr. making a strong move in turn 3 to overtake Abele for second. Abele came right back on the next lap to move back into second while Dowling was able to move into third and Keith Rocco took fourth as Christopher, Jr. fell back to fifth. Ed Spiers spun in turn 3 to bring the caution out with 28 laps complete.

Christopher took the lead on the restart with Dowling and Rocco in chase but he lost the lead to Dowling on lap-33. Christopher came back in turn 3 on lap-34 and gave Dowling a shot to the bumper, but that actually slowed Christopher and allowed Rocco to move into second. Christopher got back around Rocco on lap-36 and he took the lead from Dowling at the line on lap-37. Dowling got to the inside of Christopher in turn 3 on lap-38 to move back into the lead and Christopher made the very same move on lap-39 and he had the lead coming to the white flag. Rocco pulled alongside Dowling on the final lap in a duel for second and that allowed Christopher to maintain his gap to the two cars and he took his second win of the 2017 season. Dowling nipped Rocco at the line for second with Abele and Christopher, Jr. rounding out the top-5. This race was one of the most exciting and competitive ever run at Stafford since the track was paved in 1967!
Ted Christopher is the Stafford’s all-time winningest driver with 127 feature wins, 105 coming in an SK Modified. His career total shows an over-all win total of 370.

The New London Waterford Speedbowl opened for the 2017 Season on Saturday night with BowlStrong Blastoff. Divisions will included SK Modified, SK Lite, Late Model, NLWS Trucks, Limited Sportsman, Mini Stock and Legends as well as a special feature Valenti Modified Racing Series 100 Lap race. Keith Rocco, the speedbowl’s top winner scored a one-two punch as he won the Late Model and SK Modified features. In the SK Modified feature, Kyle James started on the front row and led the early going with Diego Monahan nipping at his heels. James held the lead until there were 2 laps to go when Rocco made the decisive move for the lead and eventual win. James ended up 2nd with Rob Janovic Jr taking home 3rd.

Keith Rocco keeps rolling along at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he continues to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco recorded one win in the Late Model division and one in the SK Modifieds at the shoreline oval bringing his track win total to 137 wins, 81 of those in an SK Modified. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 237 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 43 at Stafford Speedway.

Race fans would be hard pressed to find a more competitive short track race than what the competitors of the Valenti Modified Racing Series delivered at the New London – Waterford Speedbowl. The 100 lapper saw 5 different leaders and close side by side racing. Anthony Nocella, from Woburn, Mass., started 18th in the Valenti Modified Racing Series event, Nocella took the lead on a restart on lap 71 and held on for the win.

Nocella, who won the Valenti series opener at Stafford on May 19 and also last week’s race in Groveton, N.H., won his third event of the season. Les Hinckley of Windsor Locks was second and Jeffrey Gallup of Feeding Hills, Mass., was third. Several cars led the 100-lap feature, including Keith Rocco, Hinckley and Gallup. With 29 laps to go, however, Nocella, without having to expend as much energy early, got the lead from Gallup on a restart while Hinckley pitted and went to the back of the field.

Nocella had a significant lead negated when the race was yellow-flagged again with 11 laps remaining, but he held on to the front for one final restart.

Brett Gonyaw of Vernon won the first race on opening day at the Speedbowl, taking the 25-lap SK Light Modified race which featured five cautions. Duane Noll of Monroe, the defending points champion, won the trucks division. Joey Ternullo of Middletown took the 25-lap Legends race and Al Stone III of Durham earned the first Speedbowl victory of the season in the Limited Sportsman race.

There were 108 cars signed into the pits and the grandstand was 90 to 95 percent occupied.

Down in the south land at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, Burt Myers won the early evening 50-lap Modified. Myers, who won his 72nd career race at the track, picked 12th in the Madhouse Scramble after the win, which inverted the field for the nitecap. It gave him his fourth win of the year after defeating his brother, Jason. James Civali was third and Chris Fleming was fourth. In the second event, a 25 lapper, Brody Jones was able to squeak by for his first win of his Modified career. Jones beat Bobby Measmer Jr. in the 25-lap Modified race and became the 134th winner of a Modified race at Bowman Gray Stadium, joining his father, Steve, who won on June 29, 1991.

In NASCAR Cup racing, Kevin Harvick returned to victory lane for the first time in 2017 with a dominating run Sunday on the road course at Sonoma Raceway. It took rookie William Byron just a week to get over one of the most brutal losses of his young career. The 19-year-old Byron grabbed the lead with just over 20 laps left and won the NASCAR Xfinity race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night for his first series victory. A seven-time winner last year in the Truck Series, Byron broke through just a week after an agonizingly close loss to Monster Energy Cup star Denny Hamlin at Michigan.

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