RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; Asphalt Racing At It’s Finest; Riverhead, Stafford & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island ran a special Wednesday night program featuring twin 50’s for the NASCAR Modifieds. John Beatty scored back to back wins in the 50 lap Modified features. In the first 50 lapper Craig Lutz finished second with John Fortin Sr, third.

Rounding out the top five were Tom Rogers and Kyle Soper. In the nite-cap, John Fortin Jr finished second and was followed by Dave Sapienza, Soper and George Brunnhoelzl III.

Qualifying saw Beatty set the standard with a lap of 11.814 earning the pole for the first race. When the race went green Beatty wasted little time breaking out the the race lead with NASCAR WMT championship contender Craig Lutz moving to second. The duo would be pitted side by side for several restarts during the first 32 laps of the race with Beatty able to keep the advantage each and every time over Lutz.

A lap 32 restart would change the running order among the top three when defending champion Tom Rogers Jr. was able to muscle his way under Lutz for second dropping Craig to third. The Rogers/Lutz tussle allowed Beatty some much needed breathing room as he was able to get away some. However a lap 46 caution would bunch up the field for a dash for the cash and when the race went back green this time it would be Lutz muscling his way under Rogers to reclaim second while Beatty remained out front, a spot he’d never relinquish.

During the break between races Beatty pulled the number 4 pill that inverted the top four from the first 50 for the start of the second pitting rivals Rogers and Fortin Sr. on the front row with Rogers gaining a slight advantage at the start but it would be Fortin to come to the lead on the outside on lap 2. On that second lap the duo made momentary contact going into turn 1 which stacked up the field behind them causing heavy damage to several cars. Fortin and Rogers would also be forced to pit for quick repairs and adjustments. That turn of events moved race 1 winner John Beatty Jr. into the lead with veteran Dave Brigati now sitting second. When the race resumed Beatty would lead lap 3 while John Fortin Jr. made an inside pass of Brigati for second off turn four to start the 4th lap. The top two would remain the same for the remainder of the contest.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series travels to the Oswego Speedway this coming Saturday, Sept 1. will begin a busy month, with stops at Riverhead Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Stafford Motor Speedway also scheduled. The Oswego will be shown on TV taped delayed on Thu, Sep 06 at 6:00pm.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday the Late Model division took center stage with their extra distance Call Before You Dig Late Model 50 feature event on Back 2 SKool Blitz Night.

Paul Arute wired the field, leading all 50 laps to take down his first feature win of the 2018 season and the $1,811 purse that was boosted up to $1,961 with contingency bonuses from iRacing and New England Racing Fuel, Sunoco.

The SK Modified® race came down to a wild finish that saw the top-2 involved in late race incidents that allowed Eric Berndt to emerge with his third win of the 2018 season in a hard fought duel with Michael Christopher, Jr.

Teddy Hodgdon became a first time SK Light feature winner after winning Wild Thing Karts and Legend Cars feature events on Stafford’s mini-mile, Justin Bren won the Limited Late Model feature, and Nicole Chambrello won the Street Stock feature.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper with 10 laps to go it was Ron Williams, Mike Christopher, Jr., and Keith Rocco out front with Todd Owen and Eric Berndt making up the top-5. Berndt got by Owen to move into fourth on lap-34 with Rocco and Christopher, Jr. still giving chase to Williams for the race lead. Glen Reen came to a stop backwards on the backstretch access road to bring the caution out with 36 laps complete and set up a 4-lap sprint to the finish.

On the restart, David Arute and Gervais touched wheels with Mike Gervais spinning into the turn 2 wall to bring the caution right back out. Williams took the lead on the restart with Rocco and Christopher, Jr. side by side for second, Berndt in fourth and Owen in fifth. Tommy Membrino spun in turn 3 to bring the caution back out with 38 laps complete to set up a green white checkered finish.

Williams took the lead on the restart but coming out of turn 2, Rocco and Williams touched with Williams sliding through the grass and falling to the rear of the field. Then Rocco spun on the frontstretch and collected the car of Membrino to bring the caution back out and set up another green white checkered finish with Christopher, Jr. now the race leader with Berndt, Owen, and Josh Wood making up front two rows.

Christopher and Berndt went side by side on the restart and as they came to the white flag, Berndt had the lead by a nose. Berndt cleared Christopher going into turn 1 on the final lap and he led Christopher back to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2018 season. Owen finished third with Matt Galko and Matt Vassar rounding out the top-5.

On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Kyle James returned to winning form in SK Modifieds scoring his sixth win in nine events. Wayne Burroughs survived a late shootout to record the SK Light win, Al Stone pulled off his 52nd career Sportsman win, Charles Canfield continues Mini Stock domination with his sixth win, Brandon Plemons collected his first-ever Truck win, Jordan Churchill hits Legends homer in pinch-hitting appearance and Rob Richardi continues on a roll in the Pro 4 Modifieds.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper, James’ comeback effort, drew much of the attention. He severely damaged his car in a race on Aug. 18 and finished 10th. He had to replace the entire right front of the car and really didn’t know what to expect.It didn’t take him long to find out as he thundered past the two divers who were on the front row, Joey Turnullo and Andrew Molleur, and it only took him two laps in which to do it. He was never threatened the rest of the way in a race that ran green to checker. Andrew Molleur finished second with Tim Jordan, third. Rounding out the top five were Rob Janovic Jr. and John Montesanto,

During the running of the Pro 4 event Brett Meservy had the unfortunate luck of having something breaking in the suspension of the car. Meservey’s car careened into the first turn concrete at high speed. Thanks to neck restraints and high-quality safety Meservey was able to walk away from the wreck.

A large crowd was on hand at the Speedbowl on Saturday night.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH this past Saturday night. Local favorite Todd Patnode continued his winning ways capturing the ‘Fenton Family Dealerships 100’ presented by Mayhew Tools in front of a large crowd at the quarter mile oval. The win was the former Monadnock track champion’s second this season and his fourth series win. Patnode, driving the Gomarlo’s Supermarket, Gary’s Power Equipment, # 24, started 16th in a 26-car field and patiently worked his way to the front taking the lead from pole-sitter and leader Richard Savary on lap-73 to go on to victory.

Sammy Rameau completed the top three with a solid third place finish and moved into second place in the point standings after last weeks Waterford CT. race. Rounding out the top five were Chase Dowling and Woody Pitkat. Sixth through tenth included Matt Mead, Russ Hersey, Mike Willis Jr, Joel Monahan, and Dylan Izzo. 19 cars of the 26-car field finished on the lead lap.

The VMRS has its next event this coming Friday, August 31, at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

Congratulations to Pawcatuck CT’s Ryan Morgan who finished a solid ninth in the American-Canadian Late Model Tour event held last Saturday night at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford Plaines, Maine. Morgan is a regular competitor in the Late Model divisions at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Massachusetts, known as ‘The Outlaw’ in Late Model racing circles, added to his impressive resume in that class at Oxford Plains Speedway Saturday night with a win in the headlining American-Canadian Tour 150-lapper at the historic Route 26 oval racetrack in Oxford, Maine.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, all was quiet as their season has ended and the stadium will be transformed into a football field for the Wake Forest team. Burt Myers capped off his season by winning his third straight Modified division points championship and ninth overall after second-place Jonathan Brown won the 150-lap season finale.

On a sad note, John Grady, who took thousands of the photos that have graced this and numerous other sites, passed away at the age of 88. Racing fans owe John a huge debt of gratitude. his work greatly enriches our understanding of the Golden Age of Modified Racing.

On the speedway stock market scene this week, Dover Entertainment remained stagnant for the second week in a row. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.15 to 44.10 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.58 to 17.42. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 1.52 to 60.65 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.43 to 22.58 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.37 to 22.30. Two of the three auto manufacturers were down for the week. Ford went up 0.13 to 9.68 while General Motors dropped 0.43 to 35.95 and Toyoya dropped 0.44 to 122.84. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 5.74 to 201.30 and Lowes went up 8.82 to 106.80. In the area of NASCAR team sponsors stocks Target Department Stores went up 4.27 to 87.31 and Dow Dupont went up 1.42 to 69.21 while McDonalds dropped 1.77 to 159.38, Coca-Cola dropped 5.21 to 169.60, Fedex dropped 1.92 to 245.02 and Stanley Works-Porter Cable dropped 0.42 to 140 97.

On the tube this week:

Wednesday, August 29
4:30 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

Thursday, August 30
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, Classic NASCAR – 1994 Coke 600, FS1

Friday, August 31
12:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Darlington practice, NBCSN
1:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Darlington practice, NBCSN
2:00 PM, NXS Darlington final practice, NBCSN
3:00 PM, MENCS Darlington final practice, NBCSN
4:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Southern Speed – Legend of Darlington, NBCSN

Saturday, September 1
12:30 PM, NXS Darlington qualifying, NBCSN
1:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
2:00 PM, MENCS Darlington qualifying, NBCSN
3:30 PM, NXS Darlington race, NBC

Sunday, September 2
3:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, MENCS Darlington race, NBCSN
10:30 PM, MENCS Post Race, NBCSN
11:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN

Monday, September 3
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1