RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; Oswego, Riverhead, Stafford, The Bowl & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Oswego Speedway on Saturday, Sept 1 and began a busy month, with stops at Riverhead Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Oswego event will be shown on TV taped delayed on Thu, Sep 06 at 6:00pm.

Among the missing from the line-up was Rowan Pennink. As first reported by RaceDayCT.com, Pennink confirmed to NASCAR.com that he will retire from racing, effective immediately. following the race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Pennink’s back issues crept up on him once again. It didn’t take Pennink long to make the decision that this was the right time for him to stop climbing behind the wheel after he started having pain again.

“After talking with my family, I made the decision to say enough is enough.  I have a new family, and I don’t want this to get to the point where I am in pain for the rest of my life, and not able to enjoy spending time with my family. I just decided this is a good time.”

Rowan Pennick

With Pennink stepping away, Boehler Racing selected Matt Swanson to drive the No. 3 Cape Cod Copper Chevrolet at Oswego.

In the last couple of years the WMT has lost some of its big names. Donnie Lia retired, Chuck Hossfeld moved to the Race of Champions Series, Ted Christopher passed away from an airplane accident, Brendon Bock moved to another venue, Jimmy Blewett cut way back as did Bobby Santos, Matt Hirschman and Ryan Preece.

Fresh off his victory in a Race of Champions event at the Spencer Speedway on Friday night Matt Hirschman rolled into NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Victory Lane for the first time since October of 2008 on Saturday night at Oswego Speedway. Hirschman took the lead from Justin Bonsignore on lap 120 and survived three attempts at NASCAR overtime in order to seal his third career Whelen Modified Tour victory. The win was worth $12,000.

Hirschman started from the pole position after scoring the top spot for the second straight season in group qualifying and paced the first 94 laps of the race with rising star Chase Dowling on his tail. When the caution flew on lap 92, Hirschman led the lead lap cars down pit road and took fresh Hoosier rubber, but got stuck behind another car leaving the pit area and lost several positions. Dowling and Bonsignore were among those to beat him back on the track.

The charge back through the field began immediately, and subsequently ended with Hirschman passing for the top spot with just 30 laps to go in the scheduled distance. He had to survive multiple cautions, and three green-white-checkered finishes before he could celebrate. He led a race-high 139 laps.

Bonsignore, who lined up to the outside of Hirschman for each of the three NASCAR overtime restarts, crossed the line 0.588-seconds back. Even though the Holtsville, New York, native wanted to win his third straight Whelen Modified Tour race, the points leader was able to survive an array of late cautions to score another podium finish for Kenneth Massa Motorsports.

Five-time and defending series champion Doug Coby finished third, while Woody Pitkat, who led 13 laps, finished fourth. Eric Goodale rounded out the top five. Matt Swanson was sixth, followed by Patrick Emerling, Timmy Solomito, Blake Barney and Tommy Catalano.

Ryan Preece who finished second to Hirschman on Friday night crashed hard on lap 147 and ended up 19th. Running in fourth spot, Preece climbed the wall coming out of turn four and hit the main grandstand structure. No one was injured.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will move across New York to Riverhead Raceway on the east end of Long Island for the next event on the schedule on Saturday, September 8. That event will be telecast by NBC Sports Net on Thursday, Sept 13 at 6:00pm.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday Keith Rocco outdueled Ronnie Williams in the closing laps to take down his 6th win of the season in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn scored his 11th win of the year in the Late Model feature, Bryan Narducci made possibly the move of the season to get by both Marcello Rufrano and Teddy Hodgon in the final corner to win his fourth SK Light race of the season, Alexandra Fearn wired the field to score her first win of 2018 in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar was also a first time winner in 2018 in the Street Stock feature.

Rocco held off a challenge from Williams on a late race restart to maintain the lead which he had held since lap 20. Mike Gervais was third in line with Mike Christopher and Glen Reen side by side behind them. Williams would get a good run on Rocco through turns 1+2 and then Rocco would have the advantage in turns 3+4. Williams got close to Rocco’s bumper several times, but he couldn’t make a pass as Rocco scored his sixth win of the 2018 season.

Gervais finished third with Reen and Christopher rounding out the top-5. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 260 wins which also include 150 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 60 at Thompson and 50 at Stafford. Williams leads the SK Modified standings by 66 points over Rocco with three events left to run.

No doubt about it, Bryan Narducci is a racer as he scored an unbelievable move to capture the win in the SK Lites. The third generation racer started 7th, got involved in a mishap, started back in 15th, came through the pack got into 3rd coming out of turn 4 on last lap & went for the lead & won. Bryan’s cousin, Alexander Pearl also had a good night. Alexander started 4th, got up to 2nd & was running good until he got squeezed back. He ended up finishing 7th.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Stafford Speedway for the 9th Annual Lincoln Tech VMRS 80. Richard Savary took the lead on lap-26 and led the rest of the way to score his first VMRS win at Stafford. Jeff Gallup finished second and was followed by Dave Etheridge. Eric Goodale and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Ron Silk, Mike Willis, Jr., Joey Cipriano, Sam Rameau and Andrew Molleur, The race took the green flag without VMRS points leader Anthony Nocella, who blew his engine during his qualifying heat.
The event drew 31 cars and was slowed only once for a single caution.

On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Anthony Flannery scored a one-two punch as he won twice in the Late Models.

Matt Gallo was the SK Modified winner, Al Stone made it three in a row in the Sportsman division and Charles Canfield made it seven out of nine in the Mini Stocks.

Other winners at the Speedbowl were Mike Blaskey in the Legends, Dwane Noll in the trucks and Dylan Cabral won the50 lap Enduro contest.

In the SK Modified feature Rob Janovic Jr.finished second with Kyle James, third. Rounding out the top five were Andrew Molleur and Timmy Jordan.

Twin 50’s were the order of the night for the NASCAR Modifieds at the Riverhead Raceway. Tom Rogers showed his expertise at the quarter mile oval as he won both events. Kyle Soper finished second in both and John Fortin Sr finished third in both.

The Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway returns to action this coming Sunday with a full program of racing on the 5/8 mile oval. The racing program includes Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds (2-20 lap races, 1-10 lap sprint), Late Model (25laps), LTD Sportsman (20laps) and Mini Stock (15laps).

New General Manager Terry Eames will be there to greet his many friends and competitors who know him oh so well.

On the speedway stock market scene this week, two of the three speedway stocks finished out the month of August on a positive note. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.47 to 17.89 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.05 to 44.15 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.10 to 2.05. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 0.24 to 60.89 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.11 to 22.69 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.75 to 22.55. Two of the three car makers had positive results for the week. Toyota went up 1.24 to 124.08 and General Motors went up 0.10 to 36.06 while Ford dropped 0.20 to 9.48. In the home improvement sector, Lowes went up 1.95 to 108.75 while Home Depot dropped 0.53 to 200.77. In the world of big team sponsors stocksMcDonalds went up 2.85 to 162.23, Target went up 0.49 to 87.50 and Dow-Dupont went up 0.92 to 70.13 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.04 to 169.56, Fedex dropped 1.07 to 243.95 and Stanley Works-Porter Cable dropped 0.44 to 140.53.

On the tube this week:

Thursday, September 6
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Oswego, NY NBC Sports Net

Friday, September 7
4:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, Fox Sports 1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN

Saturday, September 8
9:30 AM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
10:30 AM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Indianapolis practice, NBCSN
11:30 AM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Indianapolis qualifying, NBCSN
1:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
1:30 PM, MENCS Indianapolis final practice, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NXS Indianapolis race, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NXS Post Race, NBCSN
6:00 PM, MENCS Indianapolis qualifying, NBCSN

Sunday, September 9
7:00 AM, NXS Indianapolis race re-air, NBCSN
9:30 AM, MENCS Indianapolis final practice re-air, NBCSN
10:00 AM, Classic NASCAR – 1988 Daytona 500, FS1
10:30 AM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
12:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
1:30 PM, MENCS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
2:00 PM, MENCS Indianapolis race, NBCSN
5:30 PM, MENCS Post Race, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN

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