The Champ Trail: A Big Night At Stafford, Whelen Mods At Langley & So Much More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Stafford Motor Speedway started the weekend of racing off with a new winner in their SK Modified division, Joey Cipriano. Cipriano started on the outside pole and led the entire 40 lap distance. Other winners were Tom Fearn, who extended his Stafford track record with a 6th consecutive Late Model win, Marcello Rufrano scored win number four of the 2018 season in the SK Light feature, Ryan Fearn took down his third win of 2018 in the Limited Late Model feature, and Brandon Michael scored his second win of the season in the Street Stock feature.

Mike Christopher Jr finished second with Steven Kopcik, Glen Reen, and Ronnie Williams rounding out the top-5.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed south last Saturday, June 23, to the 3/8 mile Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. Ryan Preece passed Justin Bonsignore for the lead on Lap 131, and he never looked back en route to his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory of the season.

The triumph was the 22nd of his career, and his first at the 0.396-mile Virginia oval. The 27-year-old has now been to Victory Lane in seven of his last 19 stars in Whelen Modified Tour competition.

When the caution flew on Lap 103 for a planned mid-race break, Bonsignore, Doug Coby and Eric Goodale elected to stay on the track and take over the top three spots. On the restart, Coby lost positions, and eventually cut down a left-rear tire which caused him to crash that ended his night.

On the following green flag, Preece began to hound the back bumper of Bonsignore’s No. 51 Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet, and attempted to make the pass multiple times but to no avail. Finally, on lap 131, Preece took the bottom lane off turn two, and cleared to the point down into turn three. He was not challenged for the remainder of the race.

Bonsignore settled for second, with Matt Hirschman charging back up through the field late to finish in third. Timmy Solomito and Eric Goodale rounded out the top five. Chase Dowling finished sixth, followed by Ronnie Williams, Rowan Pennink, Chris Pasteryak and Blake Barney.

Preece was out front in the No. 6 TS Haulers Chevrolet for a race-high 83 laps, while Bonsignore was out front for 25 laps.

Bonsignore holds a 23-point advantage in the championship standings over Dowling, while Timmy Solomito is 44 points back in third. Craig Lutz, who had his motor expire on lap 29, dropped to fourth in the standings.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday, July 7. In a somewhat related matter, Jeff Rocco who drove Eddie Harveys Ni.1 to a 15th place finish drove all night from Langley in Virginia to the Mid-Ohio Road course where he finished second in an event run there.

While the Whelen Modified Tour headed south the Valenti Modified Racing Series headed north to the New Hampshire International Speedway for the New England Short Track Showdown. On and off rain all but wiped out Saturday’s activity at the Loudon oval with the exception of one bright spot. In his first ever laps around New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Jacob Perry recorded the fastest lap during Saturday’s abbreviated Modified Racing Series practice session for the New England Short Track Showdown.

Sunday’s weather wasn’t much better except it was dry. The racing was great, too bad hardly anyone saw them as the grandstands were all but empty. Ron Silk won the 50 lap Valenti Modified Racing Series 50 lapper while Reid Lanpher accomplished a rare feat as he beat Eddie MacDonald at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Lanpher powered around the 10-time NHMS winner on the final lap to win the $5,000-to-win Granite State Pro Stock Series race. Alby Ovitt won the Street Stock race which was red-checkered with 13 laps remaining and Nick Maniatis won the North East Mini Stock Tour feature.

In the VMRS 50 lapper, Silk started outside front row and was quickly joined by Anthony Nocella and Woody Pitkat, as the class of the field. The three swapped the lead position several times throughout the 50-lap sprint.

Three caution flags created very competitive restarts with several drivers making up ground and making things interesting over the final 12-laps. Jon McKennedy was making one of his late race charges when he developed brake issues and fell off the pace. Nocella, who was punted by Silk in the closing laps, e overcame it for the top-five finish. Pitkat was troubled by a kill switch issue to knock him from winning his second consecutive series race at NHMS.

Richard Savary finished second with Les Hinckley, third. Rounding out the top five was David Schneider and Nocella,

Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl rain prevailed, washing out Saturday nights program. The Speedbowl did run its Wacky Wednesday program. Dylan DeCoster started on the pole and led every lap to capture the 25-lap X-Car feature as part of the Speedbowl’s Wild and Wacky Wednesday.

In other action Wednesday, Don Berge, at the age of 55, showed he still knows how to get to victory lane when he overwhelmed he field in the extra-distance 35-lap X-Car feature. John O’Sullivan survived a frantic battle with Peter Bennett to prevail in the 25-lap Legends feature while Ethan Simmons pulled in his first Bandolero feature victory after the winner was disqualified due to a technical violation.

Across the big pond on Long Island, the rain and mist that wiped out Waterford moved to eastern Long Island and wiped out the Racing at the Riverhead Raceway.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, It was another great night for the Myers family at Bowman Gray Stadium on Saturday. Burt Myers held off Tim Brown for the win in the 100-lap Modified race, and brother Jason Myers and Chris Fleming split the $9,000 Fans’ Challenge after finishing third and fourth respectively.

It was especially sweet for Burt Myers, who qualified 10th and was ineligible for the Fans’ Challenge because he didn’t qualify in the top four.

Burt Myers said there were two bolts broken in the carrier of the rear end of his car last week, which messed up the handling.

Burt Myers was on vacation in Las Vegas all week with his family, and Jason Myers helped repair Burt’s car while Burt was gone. “One and third,” Jason Myers said. “When I win the money and I look up and he wins the race, even better. We’re having a good night in Walnut Cove this week.”

Chris Fleming was able to fend off Jonathan Brown for the last spot in the Challenge after starting last.

But Burt Myers had to persevere through an arduous day while trying to get back to Winston-Salem from Las Vegas. “We were supposed to leave Vegas at 9 (Friday night), and it got canceled,” Burt Myers said. “So I ended up leaving at 12:57 a.m. (Saturday) this morning. And it was a direct flight, but it was to Charlotte and my vehicle was in Raleigh. So I got to Charlotte. The guys were here with the race car. So I got all technical, pulled up the Uber app on my phone, and I Ubered all the way here from Charlotte.”

Tim Brown said he just got a new car on Wednesday and put it together in three days.

“The first race with this car. I’m happy with it,” he said. “It was way better than what I’ve had. It’s brand new. It’s the first night on it. … It was a little bit tight.

There was on last caution on lap 95, which meant the customary double-file restart with the cone wasn’t in effect. Therefore, it was a single-file restart. Burt Myers and Tim Brown were first and second on the restart.

Tim Brown, a 10-time Modified champion, has won one race this year.

Burt Myers, an eight-time Modified champion, cruised for his fourth win of the year and 77th for his career.Bottom of Form

On the speedway stock market scene this week, all three speedway stocks had a positive ending. Leading the charge was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.05 to 45.20. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.35 to 17.88 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.05 to 2.20. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 0.43 to 56.86, NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.89 to 19.38 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.44 to 24.63. The car manufacturers were all down. Ford dropped 0.23 to 11.65, General Motors dropped 2.65 to 41.25 and Toyota dropped 4.79 to 131.00. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 3.14 to 197.41 and Lowes dropped 0.95 to 98.22. The big teams sponsors stocks were down with the exception of Coca-Cola which went up 1.23 to 135.41. McDonalds dropped 1.89 to 164.55, Target dropped 1.19 to 76.04, Dow-Dupont dropped 0.75 to 67.00 and Fedex dropped 22.78 to 241.77.

On the tube this week:

Thursday, June 28
7:00 PM, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Langley, Va NBC Sports Net

Friday, June 29
5:30 PM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chicagoland qualifying, Fox Sports 1
9:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay: NCWTS, FS1
9:30 PM, NCWTS Chicagoland race, FS1

Saturday, June 30
3:00 AM, NCWTS Chicagoland race re-air, FS1
9:00 AM, NCWTS Chicagoland race re-air, FS1
9:30 AM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Chicagoland practice re-air, NBCSN
10:30 AM, NXS Chicagoland final practice re-air, NBCSN
11:30 AM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Chicagoland practice, NBCSN
12:30 PM, NXS Chicagoland qualifying, NBCSN
1:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
2:00 PM, MENCS Chicagoland final practice, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:30 PM, NXS Chicagoland race, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NXS Post Race, NBCSN
7:00 PM, MENCS Chicagoland qualifying, NBCSN

Sunday, July 1
12:00 AM, MENCS Chicagoland final practice, re-air, NBCSN
1:00 AM, MENCS Chicagoland qualifying re-air, NBCSN
7:30 AM, NXS Chicagoland race re-air, NBCSN
10:00 AM, MENCS Chicagoland final practice re-air, NBCSN
11:00 AM, MENCS Chicagoland qualifying re-air, NBCSN
12:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
2:00 PM, Countdown to Green, NBCSN
2:30 PM, MENCS Chicagoland race, NBCSN
5:30 PM, MENCS Post Race, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
7:00 PM, NASCAR The Decades – The 1970s, NBCSN