RPW Exclusive: Looking Back A Bit With Phil Smith – Fourth Week Of July

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Sixty five years ago in 1953, Freddy Luchesi continued his winning ways at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won the Wednesday night 25 lap Modified feature. Red Foote was the Saturday night winner. Ray Legary was the non-Ford winner on both nights.

Sixty five years ago in 1958 Dick Beauregard was the Wednesday night Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ray Delisle won a 50 lap Mid-Season Modified Championship event on Saturday night. Charllie Webster and Beauregard were the non-Ford winners.

Fifty five years ago in 1963 Area Auto Racing News reported that the Eastern Bandits remained at their home base, the Norwood Arena in Norwood, Mass. Bandit leader Eddie Flemke made a wise choice as he won the Saturday night NASCAR Modified feature. Charlie Webster was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Walt Dombrowski was the Bomber winner. Racing on the Dirt at Stafford Springs was rained out.

Fifty years ago in 1968, the All Star League visited Fonda on Wednesday night. Lou Lazzaro made it three in a row as he took the 100-lap win. Jerry Cook finished second with Ron Narducci, third. Stafford fell victim to rain on Friday night It stayed dry at Malta where Eddie Pieniezek took the win over Richie Evans, Bob Bruno, Jerry Cook and Bernie Miller. At Norwood on Saturday night, Bugsy Stevens took the win. Jerry Cook beat out Andy Romano and Dick Clark at Fonda and at Fulton, Maynard Troyer got his first of 45 wins at the upstate New York track. Ernie Caruso collected the checker at the Riverside Park Speedway. At the Waterford Speedbowl Daring Dick Caso was the Modified feature winner. Bill Sweet was the Late Model Daredevil winner. The Bugman continued his win streak as he won at Thompson on Sunday night and at Utica-Rome, Ken Platt was a surprise winner over Al Tomasi, Lou Lazzaro, Maynard Forette and Dick Clark.

Forty five years ago in 1973, Albany-Saratoga ran on Wednesday night. Jerry Cook took the win over Richie Evans and Maynard Forette. Friday at Albany-Saratoga, Evans took the win with Eddie Pieniezak, second. On Saturday at Stafford, Ronnie Bouchard made it four in a row. Bob Potter scored his first and only win of the season at the Waterford Speedbowl. Sleepy Knapp was the Grand American Late Model winner. At Tioga, it rained. Evans carried his winning ways over to Utica-Rome where he won the Sunday night feature. Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro and Andy Romano.

Forty years ago in 1978 Geoff Bodine continued his domination of the Yankee All Star League as the mid week series visited Stafford. New Egypt ran the same night with Richie Evans taking the win. Bodine continued his roll as he returned to Stafford on Friday night to take another win. Evans finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. At Riverhead it was Charlie Jarzombek over Greg Sacks and Tom Baldwin and at Spencer, Mark Newton took the win. On Saturday at Waterford, Dick Dunn beat out Moose Hewitt and Bob Potter and at Seekonk Ronnie Bouchard hit the stripe ahead of Eddie StAngelo. Islip saw Don Howe in victory lane over Jarzombek and Baldwin and at Riverside, Richie Evans held off Stan Gregger for the win. Evans took another at Utica-Rome on Sunday and at Thompson, Fred DeSarro inched out a win over Leo Cleary.

Thirty five years ago in 1983, Superman Greg Sacks was invincible as he won the Tuesday night Modified Madness at Stafford. Riverside ran on Wednesday with S.J.Evonsion beating out Stan Gregger. At New Egypt it was Richie Evans. Bugsy Stevens took a popular win at Stafford on Friday night, holding off Kenny Bouchard and at Spencer, Doug Hewitt and Jim Spencer finished one-two. Saturday night at Waterford, Tommy Fox went pole to pole and won his first Modified event. Dickie Doo Ceravolo finished second. At Seekonk it was Leo Cleary and in Winston cup action at Pocono, Tim Richmond was the pole sitter snd the race winner.

Thirty years ago in 1988, John Jensen was the SK Modified winner at Stafford. Bob Potter finished second. Potter rebounded to win the Saturday night feature at Waterford. Riverside ran twin features with John Rosati and Reggie Ruggiero taking the checkers. On Long Island, at Riverhead, Bob Park took the win. The Modified tour was at Thompson on Sunday. Mike Stefanik took the win over Rick and Jeff Fuller.

Twenty five years ago this week in 1993, Riverside Park hosted the Modified Tour Series on Wednesday night. Ricky Fuller started on the pole and led the entire 150-lap distance and took the win. Ed Flemke jr. finished second with Jeff Fuller, third. Pre race favorites Mike Stefanik and Reggie Ruggerio wrecked and dropped out early. Friday night at Stafford saw Steve Chowanski win and on Saturday at Waterford, Ronnie Rocco went pole to pole for the win with Bob Potter, second. Lennie Fischer won at Riverhead and on a sad note, upstate New Yorker, Eddie Pieniezak passed away at the age of 60.

Twenty years ago, in 1998, it was a busy week. Riverside ran a triple-header on Tuesday. Mike Ewanitsko, Todd Ceravolo and Ed Carroll each pocketed $5,000 for their respective wins. At Stafford on Friday, Mike Stefanik won the BGNN 150 by one foot over Rick Fuller and Tom Carey. Bob Potter was the SK winner over Bo Gunning. Stefanik traveled to Holland N.Y. on Saturday where he recorded his eighth victory of the season. Reggie Ruiggeior finished second with Tim Connolly, third. Bill Anderson won at Riverside and at Riverhead, JR Bertuccio recorded his first win. Mike Christopher won on Sunday at Thompson. Three spectators were killed during the CART 500 when tires and suspension parts went over a 15-foot fence after an accident. Jeff Gordon was the Winston Cup winner at Pocono and in BGN action at South Boston, Tim Fedawa took the win.

Fifteen years ago in 2003, in Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Ted Christopher had luck on his side as he dodged numerous wrecks to record his second win of the year at the fast 5/8-mile oval. Kerry Malone led the early going until an over aggressive Jeff Malave put the leader into the wall on lap 6. Track officials felt that Malave’s move was deliberate and put him to the rear of the field. Ron Yuhas Jr. then held the lead until lap 20 of the 30-lap feature. After a re-start, Christopher got under Yuhas to take the lead and went on to record the win. In the mean time Malave worked his way back to the front. His night ended after an encounter with Todd Ceravolo. Malave hit the wall. After making repairs, Malave was able to re-start and ended up finishing in seventh spot. Yuhas ended up in second spot and was followed by Ceravolo, Eric Berndt, Bert Marvin and Bobby Santos III. Other Thursday night winners at Thompson were Norm Wrenn in the Pro Stocks, Jeff Plakias in the Late Models, Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini-Stocks.

At the Stafford Speedway on Friday night double SK-Modified features were run. Chris Jones ended a long dry spell as he garnered his first victory since September 1998. Jones passed Todd Owen on a lap 10 re-start and went on to lead the remaining 40 laps. Kerry Malone finished second and was followed by Ron Silk, Chuck Docherty and Lloyd Agor. Defending track champion Bo Gunning crashed out of the first event and after bringing out a back up, won the nite-cap over Jim Civali, Willie Hardie, Frank Ruocco and Mike Holdredge. Ryan Posocco won a special 100-lap event presented for the track’s late models.

The Busch North Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Kelly Moore took the win after Matt Kobyluck had set fast time and led the first 54 laps before crashing out of the event after an encounter with a lapped car while under caution. Mike Stefanik ended up in second spot. In SK Modified action at the shoreline oval Chris Pasteryak recorded his first ever-modified win. Ed Reed Jr. ended up second after Dennis Gada, who crossed the finish line in second spot was penalized and put last on the lead lap for ignoring the black flag. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished third. John Fortin got his second win at Riverhead and Tim Arre took the win at Wall Township.

The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour series traveled to the Adirondack Speedway in up state New York. Despite threatening weather and one red flag period the tour prevailed and the event became history. Chuck Hossfeld was the Busch pole sitter and drew sixth starting spot. Tony Hirschman drew the pole and led the first 97 laps. Hossfeld led from lap 98 to 123 and race winner Todd Szegedy led from lap 124 to lap150. Szegedy, who started 17th, was forced to pit during a caution on lap 44 with a flat. The field had just resumed to move after a red flag for rain. Ed Flemke Jr. had his best finish in quite a while as he finished second, four seconds behind the winner. Flemke, who started 24th, mustered a late race charge that saw him go from eighth to second in the final 45 laps. Jan Leaty started 16th and passed Hossfeld on the final lap to finish third. Hossfeld and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five. Nine caution periods kept the field slowed for 53 of the scheduled 150 laps. It was a very competitive event as 15 of the original 32 starters finished in the top ten.

In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Ryan Newman was the Busch Pole sitter. Newman took the lead from Jim Spencer with 43 laps to go as he went on to take the win. Kurt Busch finished second. Scott Wimmer was the Busch Racing Series winner at Pikes Peak.

Ten years ago in 2008, the Seekonk Speedway, located on the gateway to Cape Cod in Massachusetts was the scene of a special 100 lap Mid-week Modified Special. Matt Hirschman, fresh off his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Series win just 4 days prior, showed the kind of groove he has gotten into, as he drove under the checkered flag $10,000 richer. Dick Houlihan finished second, while Chuck Hossfeld was third. Kirk Alexander and Jon McKennedy rounded out the top 5. Rob Summers, Kenny Bouchard, Ted Christopher, Bobby Grigas and Eric Beers rounded out the top ten.

When the 24 car field rolled out for the 4th Annual Viveiros Insurance Modified Madness, it was Matt Hirschman and Bobby Grigas III sitting on the front row. In a race that saw only 3 cautions, it wasn’t enough to slow Matt from putting his name in the record books as the fourth driver to pick up the $10,000 grand prize. When the green flag dropped, Matt took command, and let the rest of the field fight for second. And fight they did. Grigas held on for second for several laps, until the Viveiros Insurance sponsored Chevy of Dick Houlihan jumped into second by lap 10. Ryan Preece had worked himself into third by that point, and was putting pressure on Houlihan. The first caution came out on lap 14, when Eric Beers spun in turn 2. John Fortin’s machine broke, and needed assistance as well. Dave Berghman had moved into fourth, with Grigas fifth. Chuck Hossfeld, Ed Dachenhausen, Ted Christopher, Rob Summers, and Jimmy Blewett made out the top ten. After a false restart, the field was back underway. Hirschman continued to set the pace but behind him, positions were up for grabs. Ryan Preece used an inside move on Houlihan and put the Boehler 3 into second, and began to pressure the leader. By lap 25, Berghman was running third, with Houlihan and Hossfeld the top five. One driver on the move was defending True Value Modified Champion Kirk Alexander was passing cars wholesale style. Between laps 25 and 30, he moved up 6 positions on the outside, and wasn’t done yet. He passed Grigas, but had almost a full straightaway of distance ahead to Hossfeld. At the halfway point, the top six remained unchanged, while Ed Dachenhausen, McKennedy, Les Hinckley, and Grigas rounded out the top ten. The gap between Hossfeld and Alexander had shrunk to a couple of car lengths at this point, and by lap 55, there was a new fourth place runner. Hirschman was started to close in on the tail end of the field, and the drivers behind him knew then had to start making a move. About this time, Berghman started to flex some muscle, and he looked to the outside of Preece, trying to pick up second. As the leaders ran through heavy lapped traffic, they were jockeying for position, trying to use the lapped cars as picks. Lap 67 saw the second yellow of the event when Carl Pasteryak spun just in front of the leaders. Everyone was able to make it through unscathed. As the field completed lap 70, Dave Berghman and Ryan Preece made contact, sending Preece around. Berghman was sent to the rear for the contact.

Hirschman continued his win streak with a decisive victory at the Oswego Speedway in Upstate New York on Saturday night.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued on their mid-summer break before moving to the Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway for the next date on the schedule. The Miller Lite 140 would take place on Saturday, Aug. 2. Chuck Hossfeld continued to lead the point standings with 1020, Ted Christopher was second with 925, Todd Szegedy was third with 896, Matt Hirschman, fourth with 823, Eric Beers, fifth with 797, Mike Stefanik, sixth with 789, Ed Flemke, Jr. seventh with 777, Rowan Pennink eighth with 766, Ronnie Silk, ninth with 751 and Ryan Preece, tenth with 692.

Many of the Modifieds that normally follow the tour rolled out for the 77 lap Tom Baldwin, Richie Evans, Charlie Jarzombek Memorial race at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island last Saturday night.

On the pole was Bill Park, who set fast time at 11.580 during time trials, and to his outside was Chuck Steuer, whose 11.609 in time trails was also impressive. The field was paced by sponsor Axel Anderson Inc. tow trucks and a repair van, and the JJ White Concrete #1 coupe of Charlie Jarzombek, with it’s left side drive train, right side driver configuration, a great innovation in it’s time, designed by Charlie and his brother, Rick Jarzombek. Jimmy Blewett took the coveted win over Bill Park, Jason Bonsignore, Rowan Pennink and Howie Brode rounding out the top 5.
The True Value Modifieds were at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine on Saturday night. David Pinkham took the 100 lap win over Jean-Paul Cyr, Dwight Jarvis, Jon McKennedy and Les Hinckley. Seventeen cars were on hand.

The Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program resumed with Fred Astle, Jr. and car owner Rollie Lindblad standing in victory lane after the night’s 50-lapper for the Pro Stock division. A host of drivers scored their second wins of the season including Woody Pitkat in the Sunoco Modified division. Other repeat winners included Marc Palmisano in the Late Models; Jay Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman division; Kurt Vigeant in the TIS Modifieds, and Tim Taylor in the Mini Stocks.

The Sunoco Modified main event started with a bang. Contact between pole sitter Josh Steeves and Tommy Cravenho sent Steeves spinning in front of the field. A number of good cars were collected including point leader Kerry Malone, Keith Rocco, Jimmy Blewett, Josh Sylvester, Bobby Grigas III, Shelly Perry, and several others. A number of other cars sustained damage but were able to continue. Todd Ceravolo headed down pit road for service to his machine as well. The only contender not able to rejoin the field for the restart was Rocco, who suffered right front suspension damage.

When racing went green, Cravenho led a pair of laps before relinquishing the position to Woody Pitkat, who made an impressive move on the outside to take over the lead. Cravenho immediately had his hands full with Bert Marvin. Things settled down with Cates running in fourth and Blewett, who had reappeared, in the top-five. Ten-laps in, the best battle on the track was the three-car battle for sixth position with Eric Goodale, and rookies Josh Sylvester and Tim Sullivan. The youngsters got a bit of a lesson from veterans Kerry Malone and Todd Ceravolo as they worked their way into the seventh spot behind Goodale.

The second caution flew when Anthony Burr made hard contact with the outside wall. Under the caution both Ceravolo and Blewett headed down pit road for service once again. On the restart, Pitkat retook his place at the head of the field. Marvin worked over Cravenho to take over the second position. A lap shy of halfway, Malone was able to skate past Goodale to enter the top-five for the first time during the night. Rocco had rejoined the field a number of laps down. While making a bid for the fifth spot, Goodale spun on lap 16 to bring out the caution. The top-three remained Pitkat, Marvin, and Cravenho on the restart. Under green, Malone resumed his bid at a strong finish taking over the fourth spot from Cates. Ceravolo looked racy once again as well as he worked on Sylvester. The front three had stretched out their advantage on the green flag run. With five to go Pitkat enjoyed a comfortable lead over Marvin and Cravenho. Malone could not seem to erase the distance to the trio. Sylvester made a short-lived bid on Cates for fifth.

At the checkers, it was all Pitkat. Marvin crossed the stripe in second ahead of Cravenho. Malone extended his point lead with his fourth-place finish while Cates continues to be quietly consistent with another top-five finish.

The Whelen All-American Series NASCAR race event at Stafford Motor Speedway saw Woody Pitkat victorious in the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Ryan Posocco drove to his third consecutive Late Model feature victory, Chris Matthews scored his sixth victory of the 2008 season in the SK Light Modified feature, Bill Davis scored his third victory of the 2008 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and John Kasper drove to his first career victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event.

In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, it was Woody Pitkat taking down his second feature win of the 2008 season. Glenn Griswold took the early lead ahead of Jimmy Blewett and Chris Jones. Zach Sylvester and Woody Pitkat both moved past Jones as did Ted Christopher. Griswold was still the race leader when the caution came out with 13 laps complete. On the restart, there was a major pileup of cars in turn 1. Griswold and Blewett continued their duel for the lead on the restart, but on lap-14 Griswold got loose and spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out. Pitkat took the lead from Blewett on the restart and began to pull away from the field. Christopher moved into second with Keith Rocco behind him in third place. The race ran green to the checkered flag with Pitkat continuing to stretch his advantage over Christopher and Rocco. Pitkat took the checkered flag a full straightaway ahead of Christopher and Rocco in a dominating drive. Frank Ruocco came home fourth, with Doug Coby rounding out the top-5.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco won the 35-lap SK Modified feature. Other feature winners were Allen Coates (American Race Trucks), Mark Cooper (Sportsman), Jeff Mehlenbacher (Mini Stock), Rob Corey (Super-X Car), and Curt D`Addario (X-Car).

Veteran Don Fowler led the charge in the 35-lap SK Modified feature, and stayed there until a series of late-race restarts bunched the field. Jousting with both Jeff Pearl and Keith Rocco, his lead evaporated on lap twenty-three when Rocco bolted into the top spot, followed closely by Pearl. It was Rocco’s second-consecutive and fourth victory of the season. Pearl, Ron Yuhas Jr., Fowler, and defending champion Rob Janovic Jr. followed. Rocco, a second-generation racer, dedicated his win to the late Jay Miller.

A familiar face entered victory lane in the American Race Truck Garry Hufton Memorial 100, as it was former Speedbowl Late Model and Sportsman champion Allen Coates prevailing. Starting from deep in the pack, Coates took the lead from teammate Scott Gregory on lap sixty-four. Battling with current ARTS point-leader Andy Lindenman for several circuits during the final stages, Coates stole the lead for keeps with only a handful of laps remaining. It marked the first-time that Coates had ever competed in the division. Following Lindeman was Doug Dunleavy, Chris Correll, and Tony Naglieri.

In some shocking news it was learned that Jay Miller, a regular in the SK Modified division at the Waterford Speedbowl, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, July 16. Miller was a third generation racer and the son of New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame member Ray Miller. It’s a tough thing to deal with when a parent loses a child and anyone who has been there understands the grief and sorrow. Miller, who just recently garnered his first win, was 35.

In NASCAR Nationwide Series action Carl Edwards passed Jason Leffler with 49 laps remaining Saturday night and cruised to victory at the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, marking his second win at Gateway in three years in front of a nearly hometown crowd. Joey Logano, 18 and in just his fifth race, finished second after starting fourth. He led twice, for 42 laps. Jason Keller was third. Edwards won his second race on the Nationwide circuit in 21 starts. Landon Cassill, who finished sixth, started a five-car accident that brought out a red flag with 84 laps left. He sent Scott Wimmer into the wall with a tap to the back bumper, causing a chain reaction that knocked out Wimmer, Mike Bliss, last-year’s winner Reed Sorenson and Steve Wallace. NEXTEL Cup Series drivers enjoyed a weekend off.

Five years ago in 2013, It appeared that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour may have gotten a much needed shot in the arm for 2015 as it was announced that NBC would replace the combined coverage that ESPN and TNT shared in the then current television contract, which would expire at the end of the 2014 season.

In addition to rights to NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series races, NBC had also obtained exclusive rights to practice and qualifying sessions for NBC’s national series events during their portion of the season, as well as rights to broadcast the NASCAR K&N Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series, the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony and NASCAR’s season-ending banquets. Further, NBC has been granted Spanish-language rights, certain video-on-demand rights and exclusive TV Everywhere rights for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events.

Highly respected Area Auto Racing News scribe Ernie Saxton stated that the July Whelen Modified Tour race at Loudon did a .4 rating on the Speed Channel with 420,000 viewers.

It was announced that seven drivers, Stan Meserve, Brian Ross, Drew Fornoro, Ralph Nason, the late Bob Stefanik, Bill Eldridge and Bob Sharp and car owner Ron Berndt, with hundreds of victories and dozens of championships would comprise the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.

Much to the dismay of many, rain forced cancellation of Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson. The Valenti Modified Racing Series was scheduled to be a part of the program.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ryan Preece picked up his division leading 6th win of the 2013 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Woody Pitkat scored his second win of 2013 with a thrilling finish in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tony Membrino, Jr. picked up his second win of the 2013 season in the 20-lap SK Light feature, David Arute took his second win of the 2013 season with a last lap pass in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cliff Saunders scored his second win of the 2013 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

With nine laps to go in the 40 lap SK Modified feature Preece powered his way by Pitkat in the outside groove to take over the race lead. Pitkat settled into second with Todd Owen, Ted Christopher, and Keith Rocco lined up behind him. Doug Coby was sixth behind Rocco, with Rowan Pennink right behind him in seventh. Nichole Morgillo and Zach Aszklar spun in turn 3 to bring the caution out with 38 laps complete and set up a green white checkered finish.

Pitkat and Preece were side by side on the restart and Preece got loose as they came to the white flag. Preece gathered his car back in and maintained the lead. Preece led the field back to the checkered flag to pick up his division leading 6th win of the 2013 season. Christopher nipped Pitkat at the line for second with Owen and Coby rounding out the top-5. Rocco finished sixth.
The Waterford Speedbowl hosted its annual Nostalgia Night treating a large crowd on hand to a thrilling night of motorsports that honored racing past and present. The event featured the track’s usual fare of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing in addition to exhibition events by vintage auto racing clubs. The Northeastern Midget Association, one of the fastest and oldest sanctioned racing groups in the country, also joined the program for its Shane Hammond Memorial event.

Picking up NASCAR wins on the night included Kyle James in the SK Modifieds® and Dillon Moltz in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, while Phil Evans was a first-time winner in the Street Stocks and Ian Brew took the night’s Mini Stock race. The Northeastern Midget Association races went to Anthony Marvuglio of East Bridgewater, MA and Avery Stoehr of Lakeville, MA, who won the NEMA Lite event.

James turned in a strong run in the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified® feature to close out his second win of the season. He was bogged down in traffic at the start of the race then used a long stretch of green flag racing to march his way into contention. James inherited the runner-up position with nine laps remaining after Jeff Gallup and Tyler Chadwick spun out of contention.

Tom Abele’s strong run came up short as James was able to ease by for the lead on the final restart. In the end, Abele settled for the second spot. Todd Ceravolo benefited by the late caution flag as he finished third. Keith Rocco and Craig Lutz completed the top-five.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series returned to the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H for the Town Fair Tire Whitcomb 200. The race was a makeup date for a rain out on May 11. Justin Bonsignore cut his racing teeth at the tight and quick Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. He put his experience to good use as he took the win at Monadnock, also a tight and quick quarter mile oval.

Bonsignore, who started on the outside pole of the slim 23 car field. took the lead from pole sitter Eric Goodale following a restart on lap 16 and held off challenges from Donnie Lia, Rowan Pennink and in the end Doug Coby. Lia was well on his way to finishing second or possibly a win until he made contact with Patrick Emerling and hit the wall between turns two and three. Lia recovered to finish 15th, the last car on the lead lap.

The final run-down saw Coby in the runner-up spot followed by Pennink. Bryon Chew and Ryan Preece rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Ron Silk, Andy Seuss, Richie Pallai, Woody Pitkat and Eric Berndt.

After seven of 14 races Preece now leads Pennink by 42 points with the defending champion Coby in third, 45 back. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is next in action on August 2 for the CARQUEST 150 from Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.

Down in the south land at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC rain prevailed.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Modified car counts for the season hit bottom as there were only 11 cars in competition. Dave Brigati took the win over Dave Sapienza and Tim Solomito.
Ryan Newman stayed in front for the final 11 laps to join team owner Tony Stewart as the only Indiana-born drivers to win the NASCAR Nextel Cup Brickyard 400. Kyle Busch overcame battles with Joey Logano and Brian Scott to win Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Indiana 250 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Last year, 2017, the big news was the victory scored by Ryan Preece in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series event at the Iowa Speedway in a top car owned by Joe Gibbs Racing. The 26-year-old Preece survived a green-white-checkered finish.

Preece, running the second of a two-race deal with the powerhouse JGR team, started from the pole and held off Kyle Benjamin on three restarts in the final 17 laps crossed the start-finish line less than a car-length ahead of Benjamin.

The 19-year-old Benjamin was a career-best second, followed by Brian Scott, Brennan Poole and rookie Cole Custer.

Preece is the grandson of legendary Modified car owner Bobby Judkins. Judkins built Modifieds carried Eddie Flemke, Ronnie Bouchard and Gene Bergin to hundreds of wins.

The Stafford Speedway held their Friday night program on a cool but dry night. Taking down feature wins on the night were Chase Dowling for a division leading fourth time this season in the SK Modified® feature, Tyler Leary was a first time career winner in the Late Model feature, Marcello Rufrano in the SK Light feature, Robert Bloxsom, III in the Limited Late Model feature, Trace Beyer in the DARE Stock feature, and Nick Hadden was the winner of the special Wild Thing Karts Senior Champs feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Dowling took the lead from Matt Galko on lap-35 with a pass in turn 2. Todd Owen was third with Keith Rocco in fourth and Cam McDermott in fifth with 5 laps to go. Once he got out front, Dowling began to pull away from Galko and he scored his division leading fourth win of the 2017 season. Owen finished third with Rocco and McDermott rounding out the top-5.

Bobby Santos, who won the Whelen Modified Tour Series event at Loudon grabbed his second consecutive USAC Silver Crown Series victory last Friday night at Toledo Speedway in Ohio, winning the Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic.

The Tri-Track Open competition Modified Series was at the Star Speedway in Epping, NH for the – SBM 125. Thirty-two Modifieds were on hand. Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA, continued his dominance of the SBM series of Modified events at Star Speedway but also of 2017 Tri-Track Open Modified Series (TTOMS) with his win on Saturday night. This victory was a repeat for Hirschman in the SBM events and his second straight TTOMS win this season. The victory was his fourth in the six-year history of the event.

Based on a draw of qualified drivers Steve Masse started on the pole and led until pitting on lap 73, during a caution. Hirschman, who had started 14th also pitted and after restarting in fourth spot, took the lead on lap 78.

Over the final stages of the event he held off challenges from a host of notable drivers to score the victory. Rowan Pennink of Huntington Valley, PA, finished second with Josh Cantara of Saco, ME, third. Anthony Nocella of Woburn, MA, and Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT, rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Tommy Barrett, Steve Masse, Brian Robie, Jon Kievman and Max Zachem.
The victory netted Hirschman nearly $7,000 in purse and bonuses. Heat race wins went to Todd Annarummo, Max Zachem, Carl Medeiros, Jr., and Woody Pitkat. The B-Main win went to Dillon Steuer.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of event founder Kevin Rice, a host of specialty awards were presented on the evening as well.

Kyle James had been knocking on the door of the SK Modified division at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl since the start of the season. On Saturday night he kicked it in. James, of Ashaway, R.I., scored his first victory of the season in the 35-lap SK Modified feature. Ted Christopher finished in the runner-up spot with Keith Rocco, third.

In other action at the Connecticut shoreline oval Anthony Flannery was the winner in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Dana DiMatteo won the SK Light feature, Charles Canfield was the Mini-Stock winner, Chris Meyer was the Limited Sportsman winner and Jon Puleo won the legends feature.

Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway with a near capacity crowd on hand on Saturday night, David Schneider of Northport took the lead on lap 5 of the 40-lap NASCAR Modified feature and drove off to score his first career Whelen All American Series victory. Among the interested onlookers was NASCAR CEO Brian France and his family who were vacationing in the famed Hamptons on the south fork of Long Island. France was beyond impressed with the improvements at Riverhead Raceway made by owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz since taking over the historic oval at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Down in the south land, at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC on Saturday night, in the twin 25-lap Modified races, Lee Jeffreys won his first race in a while, defeating points leader Burt Myers, and six-time champion Junior Miller won the night’s second race. Jeffreys dedicated the win to his father, Robert, who died during the offseason.

Miller, who is now 66, picked up his 74th career win and first since June 7, 2014, by holding off Joe Ryan Osborne. Miller is now one ahead of Myers for second place in career victories. Tim Brown is first with 83.

Get well wishes went out to Gary DeSarro who took a nasty fall onto a boat. Gary, the oldest son of the late Fred DeSarro, suffered a couple vertebrae fractures and cracked ribs.

Kyle Busch used a bump-and-run on Kevin Harvick to take the lead and held on to snap a 36-race losing streak and win the NASCAR Cup race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday.

That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI.