RPW Exclusive: Looking Back A Bit With Phil Smith – The Third Week Of September

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Sixty five years ago in 1953, Don Collins was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday night while Red Foote took top honors on Saturday night. Lou Tetreault went two for two as he was the non-Ford winner on both nights.

Sixty years ago in 1958, Ray Delisle was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Benny Desrosier was the non-Ford winner and Bob Duffy was the Bomber winner. Duffy ran the Parts Counter at the John Ahr Ford Company in Westerly RI and was the engine builder for Hully Bunns Race of Champions winning car at Langhorne in 1951.

Fifty five years ago in 1963 Area Auto Racing News reported that Eddie Flemke, in a borrowed car normally driven by fellow Eastern Bandit Dennis Zimmerman, won the season ending race and wrapped up the track championship at the Old Bridge Speedway in New Jersey. Flemke had demolished his own ride, known as the Grey Ghost, in an accident the previous week at the Southside Speedway in Richmond, VA. The NASCAR Modifieds ran a 300 lapper at the Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, VA. Runt Harris took the win over Red Foote and Ray Hendrick. Other weekend winners included Wild Bill Slater at Norwood, Jim Hendrickson at Islip, George Pendergast at Waterford, Ernie Gahan on the dirt at Stafford and Wally Dallenbach at Wall Stadium.

Fifty years ago in 1968, Gene Bergin had the M-6 in top form as he took the victory at Stafford on Friday night. Leo finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. Bobby Santos and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five. On Saturday afternoon, Martinsville ran their Fall 100 with Jimmy Hensley taking the win. Saturday night at Norwood, Leo Cleary took the top spot and at Malta, Richie Evans closed the track’s season with a 50-lap win over Ron Narducci, Jerry Cook, Dave Gaul and Lou Lazzaro. At the Waterford Speedbowl, George “Moose” Hewitt was the Modified winner and Jiggs Beetham was the Daredevil winner. Donald “Dutch” Hoag won the season ending STP 200 at Lancaster. Chuck Boos was declared the Modified Track Champion at the western New York oval. Bugsy Stevens closed out the weekend with a win at Thompson on Sunday.

Forty five years ago in 1973, the big event of the weekend was the All-Star 300 at the Islip Speedway on Long Island. Jim Landry, the former Supermodified pilot from Rochester, N.H., took a surprise win over Jerry Cook, Bugsy Stevens and Jim Hoffman. Dick Dunn was the 30 lap Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Mike Daignault was the Grand American Late Model winner.

Forty years ago in 1978, the Pocono Race of Champions ran on the same weekend as two modified events in Virginia. Richie Evans had the luxury of two cars, two crews and a plane and was able to run in all three. Ronnie Bouchard won the Martinsville 150 on Saturday afternoon over Jerry Cook, Paul Radford, Harry Gant and Brian Ross. Evans finished eighth. At the Franklin County Speedway on Saturday night, Evans finished fifth behind Radford, Satch Worley, Cook and Brian Ross. At Pocono, Geoff Bodine was untouchable as he beat out Doug Hewitt for the win. Evans lost an engine and finished 30th.

Thirty five years ago in 1983, Stafford ran a 40-lap SK event on Friday night. Jerry Pearl took the win over Kerry Malone and Mario Fats Caruso. At Waterford on Saturday night, Donnie Bunnell took the top spot over Gomer Taylor, Dale Holdredge and Bob Potter. At Wall Stadium, a young Ray Everham beat out veteran Tony Siscone for top honors. At Shangri-La, Jim Spencer beat out George Kent, Mike McLaughlin and Richie Evans. Oxford Plains ran a 100 lapper on Sunday and it was George Summers taking top honors. Kenny Bouchard finished second. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Ricky Rudd took the win over Bobby Allison.

Thirty years ago in 1988, Mike McLaughlin beat out Jeff Fuller and Randy Hedger at Shangri-La. Waterford ran twin 75,s for the Modifieds. John Anderson took the first on with Ted Christopher, second. Richie Gallup and Anderson finished one-two in the nightcap. Waterford also ran twin 50,s for Late Models. Phil Rondeau and Ricky Shawn finished one-two in both events.

Twenty five years ago in 1993, Jim Broderick won a 40 lapper at Waterford over David Gada and Jerry Pearl. Pearl wrapped up the modified title. Jay Stewart won the late model feature and Glenn Boss won in the Strictly Stocks. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Ernie Irvan took the win over Rusty Wallace and Jim Spencer. The Busch North Series and the Modified Tour series were scheduled for Loudon but were rained out.

Twenty years ago, in 1998, Mike Stefanik recorded his 12th modified win of the season as he dominated the Stafford Fall Final 300.Stefanik took the lead on lap 220 when Rick Fuller pitted and outran Tom Baldwin to the checker. Mike Ewanitsko finished third and was followed by Ed Flemke Jr., Carl Pasteryak, Jim Broderick, Mike Christopher and Tim Connolly. Because of slippery conditions, 1/3 of the event, 100 laps were run under caution. Chris Jones was the 50 lap SK Modified winner and was followed by Broderick, Larry Ross and Steve Chowanski. At Waterford on Saturday night, Todd Ceravolo took the win over Mike Gada, Tucker Reynolds and Bert Marvin. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Ricky Rudd extended his winning streak to 16 straight years as he ran to victory in 100+ degree heat. Jeff Gordon finished second with Mark Martin, third.

Fifteen years ago in 2003, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series took a week off in order to prepare for the final three-race stretch run which would determine the 2004 series champion. Sophomore driver Todd Szegedy led the NASCAR Modified Tour Point standings. Szegedy, who had four wins in 16 starts, led John Blewett III by 84 points. In 16 starts, Blewett had won twice. Chuck Hossfeld, another sophomore driver, sat in third spot, 89 points behind the leader. Hossfeld had three wins in 16 starts. Ted Christopher was the fourth and final contender for the title. Christopher, 198 points behind the leader is 198 points behind the leader and had two wins to his credit. Rounding out the top five was former series champion, Jerry Marquis, 247 points behind the leader. Sixth through tenth were Rick Fuller, Jamie Tomaino, Ed Flemke Jr. and Donnie Lia.

It had been a long time coming as NASCAR finally relented and eliminated racing back to the caution for it’s top three divisions, Winston Cup, Busch Racing Series and Craftsman Trucks. It was announced that all three divisions would carry electronic scoring transponders and there would be no doubt as to where competitors would line up for re-starts. There had been a lot of close calls when competitors raced to the caution and luckily no one had been hurt.

Hurricane Isabel didn’t hamper the racing at Thompson on Thursday night. It was cool and a bit windy but it didn’t slow Todd Ceravolo who romped to his third win of the season. Ceravolo staged a torrid side by side battle with Ted Christopher during the latter part of the 30-lap feature. Ceravolo’s win propelled him into the second spot in the point standings, 40 points behind Eric Berndt. Berndt ended up in 15th spot after a bout with the wall in the closing laps. Berndt had been running sixth before misfortune struck. Following Ceravolo and Christopher were Bo Gunning, Ron Yuhas Jr. and Bert Marvin. Other Thursday night winners were GeGe Gravel in the Pro Stocks, Charles Bailey III in the Late Models, Shawn Monahan in the Limited Sportsman and Scott Michalski in the Mini-Stocks. Despite his miss-fortune, Eric Berndt held a forty-point edge over Todd Ceravolo. Ceravolo, who had come on strong, led Jeff Malave by a mere two points. Also in the hunt for the Sunoco SK-type Modified Championship was Bert Marvin who was behind Malave by four points. Chuck Docherty held a four-point advantage over David Berghman for Pro Stock honors. Other point leaders at Thompson were Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and Michael Veins in the Mini-Stocks. Scott Bronczyk had already sewed up the Late Model title.

The Stafford Speedway issued the following penalties during the week. Defending SK Modified Champion Bo Gunning was suspended indefinitely. The reason being actions detrimental to the sport of auto racing. In other words, the Stafford management saw an incident between Gunning and Ted Christopher on September 12 and evidently heard the pre-race threats that were allegedly made. Other penalties issued were to Frank Wainwright for his unsportsmanlike driving and the post race contact he had with another car. Wainwright was fined $250 and was handicapped out of the top 20 for the following weeks Fall Final. Ronnie Silk received the same fine and penalty for a similar incident. James Civali was suspended from competing in the Fall Final for unsportsmanlike conduct while on probation. Civali intentionally hit another car while the speedway was under a red flag condition. Late Model Championship contender Jay Stuart let his temper get the best of him when he hit another competitor following the feature on September 12. Stuart was fined and was handicapped out of the top 20 for the Fall Final. This had an adverse effect on his championship plans. Speaking of championships, when NASCAR and Dover Downs Speedway cancelled their Busch North event because of an impending hurricane they all but handed Andy Santerre the 2003 series title.

At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night, Dennis Gada didn’t have the best of nights, as he was involved in a devastating crash on lap 20. In spite of it all it looked like he had won the NASCAR Weekly Racing by Dodge New England Regional title which was worth in the neighborhood of $45,000. Gada’s rival for the regional title. Meme DeSantis who raced at the Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania met a similar misfortune as he crashed out of his feature event and lost his spot as the leader of both his track points and regional points. Gada still maintained the point lead for the Modified title at Waterford even though he finished 18th and with two more races to go before the track’s season ends he could become the tracks first five-time champion. He was currently tied with Dick Dunn with four titles each. Ricky Young held off Rob Janovic to take the win, his first since1996. Young started on the pole and led 33 of the 35 laps.Rounding out the top five in the modified feature were Chris Pasteryak, Zack Sylvester and Jeff Pearl. Other Saturday night winners at Waterford were Wayne Coury in the Late Models, Shawn Monihan in the Sportsman, Glen Colvin in the Mini Stocks and Corey Williams in the Legends.

The Oswego Speedway, a 5/8-mile oval on the shores of Lake Ontario and known as the Supermodified Capitol of the World, was sold to former speedway competitor Steve Gioia Jr. and his partner Pat Furlong. The Caruso Family had run the Oswego Speedway, which has also hosted some high paying Modified events in years past, for 53 years. Since the closing of a near-by Miller Brewery and a Nestle Chocolate factory the speedway had fallen on hard times.

NASCAR suspended Busch Series driver Shane Hmeil indefinitely for violation of the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy. Brian Vickers won the Busch Racing Series event at Dover. In Winston Cup action, Ryan Newman battled back after being almost two laps down to win his seventh of the season.

Ten years ago in 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour converged on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the New Hampshire 100 on Saturday. Thirty-nine cars were on hand for qualifying which was held on Thursday. Sprint Cup star Ryan Newman posted the quickest lap in qualifying at 29.658 seconds (127.453 mph). Chuck Hossfeld, who won the New England 100 at New Hampshire on June 28, joined Newman on the front row with a qualifying effort of 29.745 seconds (127.080 mph). Rounding out the top five qualifiers were Jimmy Blewett, Eric Beers and Bobby Grigas III. Series points leader Ted Christopher qualified 12th for Saturday’s 100-lap race. Ryan Preece and Glen Reen did not go out for timed laps. Both drivers were given provisionals. Preece, who drives the mighty No. 3 of the Boehler family had engine trouble and had to send to Freetown Mass for a back-up. Reen crashed hard at Thompson and was given the opportunity to drive the Todd Szegedy back-up car. Sent packing was the No. 00 of Joe Brady which was driven by Jon McKennedy.

The New Hampshire 100 turned into a wreckfest for the Modifieds with 18 of the original 38 starters running at the finish. Ted Christopher, who finished second to Chuck Hossfeld by just .001 seconds in the New England 100 at New Hampshire in June, garnered his third win of the 2008 season and extended his points lead in the process. Jimmy Blewett led seven times in the race but had to settle for a second place finish. Ryan Preece came all the way from a tail starting position to finish a strong third. Rob Summers ended up fourth with Danny Sammons, fifth for his best finish of the season. Rounding out the the top 10 were Matt Hirschman, Erick Rudolph, Woody Pitkat, Jamie Tomaino and Eric Beers.

Numerous wrecks slowed the event that saw 15 lead changes among 5 drivers. The event started off with a bang when 12 cars were collected on the front chute at the drop of the green. Ricky Fuller’s engine had a malfunction and didn’t come up to speed when Fuller punched the throttle. This incident necessitated a complete restart. Ryan Newman, Chuck Hossfeld and Jimmy Blewett swapped the lead on numerouds occasions until the red flag was displayed on lap 62 laps because of extensive damage to the guard rail on the backstretch caused by an accident that had Anthony Sesely making a hard hit. Kevin Goodale and Chuck Hossfeld were involved in the most devastating wreck of the day. Goodale spun out in turn two on lap 52 without a yellow being displayed.

Continuing on to turn four he spun again. Just as he spun Blewett went high and Hossfeld went low as they were fighting for the lead. Hossfeld cought the spinning Goodale with his right front tire and almost launched himself. Because of a TV time commitment to the Craftsman Trucks the Modified event was put on hold under red at 2:45 for a 3:00pm start for the trucks. The race resumed at just before 6:00pm and was over by 6:30. The quote of the day came from Todd Szegedy as he talked to his crew on the radio. “This is why they treat us like amateurs because we drive like a bunch of a__h___s”

A tip of the hat to Jerry Gappens, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway general manager who made the decision not to end the Modified event until the advertised distance was completed. Gappens went on the tracks public address system and explained to the crowd that the Modifieds would return to run the complete distance following the Truck race. “I don’t want to cheat anybody out of a single lap of Modified racing,” he said”. This was the third race in the last four for the Modifieds at New Hampshire to be cut short because of television commitments for one of NASCAR’s national touring series. On each of the two previous occasions, however, the race was called official and cut short.

With his win, Christopher had a 99-point lead on Hirschman in the season standings with four races to go on the schedule.

Saturday at Loudon was a busy day. In addition to the Modified 100 there was also Sprint Cup practice as well as a 125-mile event for the NASCAR Camping World East Series (formerly Busch North) and a 200 lap event for the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks. Former Busch North Series competitor Brad Leighton appeared to have victory in sight when he ran out of gas on lap 120 as he exited turn two. Steve Park, who was running second, inherited the lead but his lust for glory came up short as he was passed with two to go by Eddie MacDonald. Park held on for the runner-up spot and was followed by Matt Kobyluck and Matt Hirschman. Hirschman did such a good job that Gillett Evernham will field a car for him for this Friday’s Camping World East race at Dover International Raceway. Ron Hornaday won the Truck race. Crewmembers of Germain Racing teams for Todd Bodine and David Reutimann slugged it out with David Starr and members of his crew as the trucks were brought to a halt following the race. During the race, contact initiated by Starr sent the trucks of Bodine, Reutimann and Randy Moss Motorsports driver Donny Lia into the turn one wall.

Thursday Night Thunder at Thompson International Speedway began with a moving tribute by long-time announcer Russ Dowd to the victims of the September 11th attacks. There was a moment of silence before the engines were fired. Keith Rocco roared into victory lane for his fourth win of the 2008 season. Jeff Connors, also turned in a dominating performance to score his first Pro Stock feature win of the season. Marc Palmisano took down an exciting win in the Late Model main event. Joe Coates of was hailed as the winner in the Limited Sportsman division and Scott Michalski of was tops in the Mini Stocks. Kurt Vigeant extended his point lead in the TIS Modified division with his second win of the 2008 season.

Rocco took the lead early and went on to stretch out his lead during the caution-free main event for the Sunoco Modifieds on Thursday night. Tommy Cravenho started the race from the point and held the top spot with Tim Sullivan having a strong run in the early going in second. Rocco was on a tear on his way to the front. He made quick work of Todd Ceravolo and with a bump and run on Tim Sullivan moved into second. Cravenho held his line as Rocco was relentless in pursuit of the lead. With the two battling, Ceravolo was able to catch the lead duo. A bonsai move in the inside groove exiting turn three, gave Rocco the lead on lap 12. Ceravolo continued to trail closely.

Kerry Malone, who swapped cars with teammate Woody Pitkat for the evening was locked in a battle with Bert Marvin just outside of the top-five. Once free of Malone, Marvin took over the fourth spot from Sullivan. While Rocco was getting away from the pack, Ceravolo worked over Cravenho for second. Blewett, who started scratch on the field after making his way down from qualifying his Whelen Modified Tour car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, had moved by Danny Cates and Pitkat with only three laps remaining. Rocco, never missed a beat in lapped traffic, cruising to his fourth win of the year. Cravenho held on to finish second. Ceravolo joined the duo on the podium. Marvin had a strong run to finish fourth. Sullivan had a career-best top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to the elements in what was supposed to be their final Friday night of racing.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, Jeff Pearl and Matt Gallo won the twin 25-lap SK Modified features at the Double-Down Shootout on Saturday evening. Crowned overall Double-Down Shootout champions were Rob Janovic Jr. (SK Modified), Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Walt Hovey Jr. (Sportsman), and Randy Churchill Jr. (Mini Stock). Claming victories in round-two features (rescheduled from an earlier date), were Tim Jordan (Late Model), Al Stone III (Sportsman), and Glenn Colvin (Mini Stock). In the accompanying Legends and X-Car main events it was Jason Palmer and Patrick D’Addario Sr. respectively.

Pearl jumped out to an early lead in the first of dual 25-lap SK events, but was shortly chased closely by Keith Rocco. With eleven-laps remaining, Rocco and third-place Dennis Gada tangled, the latter slamming the wall with great force finishing both for the event. Upon resumption, it was Pearl again, with Doug Coby in hot pursuit. With only a handful of circuits remaining, Ron Yuhas Jr. overtook Coby for second. It was the 30th career Speedbowl SK triumph for the 1998 champion. In the second feature, it was veteran Pete Pavone taking the lead followed closely by Dan LaJeunesse. A late restart shuffled the top-spots, with Tyler Chadwick getting the advantage at the green. Yet another yellow set the stage for a 2-lap shootout between young guns Chadwick, Matt Gallo and LaJeunesse. At the finish, Gallo prevailed to win his first-ever SK Modified feature. Following was 2007 champion Rob Janovic Jr., Chadwick, LaJeunesse and Doug Coby. Gallo is a senior at Berlin , Ct. High School and a member of a long-time racing family.

Greg Biffle won the Sprint Cup event at Loudon. Joey Logano, the 18-year-old Connecticut native who will be replacing Tony Stewart in the No. 20 in 2009, had a long race in his Cup debut. He pulled away on an early pit stop with the jack hanging from his car and had to return for a penalty that mired him in the back of the field. He finished 32nd, three laps down.

Five years ago in 2013, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled up north for the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past Saturday, Sept. 21. A somewhat short field of 26 Modifieds were on hand for qualifying. The Modified Tour suffered another setback when internet news site RaceDayct broke the news that the tours biggest star, Mike Stefanik, will no longer be a part of the tour once the 2013 season comes to a close.

Ryan Newman posted his fourth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Coors Light Pole Award at the track in qualifying for Saturday’s F.W. Webb 100. Newman, from South Bend, Ind., toured the 1.058-mile oval with a fast lap of 29.475 seconds (129.221 mph) for the fifth overall Whelen Modified Tour pole.

Two-time New Hampshire winner Donny Lia joined Newman on the front row thanks to a fast lap of 29.508 (129.077) while championship points leader Ryan Preece was third-fastest at 29.528 (128.989). Todd Szegedy, Bobby Santos, Doug Coby, Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink and Ron Silk rounded out the top 10 in the qualifying.

Todd Szegedy ended a long dry spell, winless in 28 events, and a string of bad luck as he won the F.W. Webb 100 over Ryan Newman and Donny Lia. Bobby Santos and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five. Mike Stefanik finished sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat and Ed Flemke Jr.

Following the race Szegedy acknowledged the contact he made with Lia to make the last-lap pass, but the desire to end that winless drought provided the motivation to do whatever it took. “I sent it in and drove it in as hard as I could,” Szegedy said. “I tried not to hit him, but I knew that we were going to hit. Trying to justify what he did, “I don’t knock guys out of the way to get victories, but I needed this one really bad.”

Despite the fact that there were 23 lead changes among 5 drivers it was simple to see that Ryan Newman had the field covered as he could take the lead whenever he pleased especially in the first half. Newman did make a late bid for the lead coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap but settled for second. A victim of bad timing.

Nineteen of the 26 starters finished on the lead lap. There were only three cautions for 11 laps, one of those was for the half time break. A minor spin which involved two cars and a hard crash in turn one on lap 60 which saw Rowan Pennink hit head-on and Ted Christopher take a slap shot on the driver’s side. Both drivers escaped injury.

Series point leader Ryan Preece finished 12th but was able to extend his points lead over Doug Coby to 41 (480-439) with two races remaining. Coby, the defending tour champion, finished 13th. Preece, who announced that he would return to the Bill Park entry at Riverhead in 2014, stated that his car felt good when he was running near the front but lacked the horsepower to pass the leaders.

Woody Pitkat complained of a sticking throttle but toughed it out to the end. Pitkat has done a great job in the Hill Billy Racing No. 79.

Patrick Emerling turned twenty-one and part of the birthday celebration included a brand new race car purchased from Northeast RaceCars.

A record setting night took place Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl as it hosted a six division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race program. Leading the way was a win by Nichole Morgillo in the SK Modified® feature, becoming the first woman to win a race in the track’s premier division in the 63-year history of the race track. Earlier in the night, Victoria Bergenty captured a victory in the SK Light Modified feature to join Morgillo as winning women in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, a first at the oval. Keith Rocco unofficially captured the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model track championship following his tenth win of the season to become just the second driver to win titles in three different divisions at the track. Ken Cassidy Jr. took one step further in his quest for a fifth championship in one division as he won the night’s Mini Stock feature, his 51st career win at the shoreline oval and Corey Hutchings won his seventh Street Stock race of the year. In INEX racing, Dylan Izzo won his fourth Saturday night Legend Cars feature of 2013.

Morgillo’s historic run in the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified® feature was hard fought down to the checkered flag. She held back a charging Ted Christopher over the final 11 laps to take the win, capping a memorable day at the track. Earlier in the night Morgillo’s boyfriend and fellow SK Modified® driver Shawn Thibeault proposed to her on the track’s front stretch before the crowd as part of the evening’s opening festivities. Rob Janovic, Jeff Gallup and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five. Keith Rocco had a rough night as he finished 11th after missing the final restart.

Congratulations went out to Jacob Perry on his win on the Big Stage in the Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream Bandolero Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Perry, son of Dennis Perry who competes weekly at Thompson, is a third generation racer. At 11 years of age he can now say that he won at Loudon on Cup weekend.

It looked like Keith Rocco and Ryan Preece will have to wait another year as Lee Pulliam won NASCAR’s national championship of weekly short track auto racing for a second consecutive year in 2013. Pulliam became just the third driver in the series’ 32 years to win the national championship more than once and to win consecutive titles.

Pulliam, 25, of Semora, N.C., scored the maximum of 810 points available this season. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series has had various points systems since it began in 1982, and Pulliam is just the fourth to win the title with a “perfect record.” Pulliam finished with 27 wins, 40 top fives and 44 top 10s in 47 starts to out-distance fellow asphalt Late Model driver Deac McCaskill, who finished second with 794 points. Pulliam’s wins came at four tracks in two states: South Boston (Va.) Speedway (16), Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., (8), Southern National Speedway in Kenly, N.C., (2), and Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. (1).

It must be noted that most of Pulliam’s wins came from front row starting positions while Rocco and Preece did it the hard way as they came from the rear in handicapped starts.

Rocco continued his iron man-style consistency in the series this year. He won a hard-fight battle with Ryan Preece for the third and final podium position in a match-up of asphalt modified drivers. The 28-year-old from Wallingford, Conn., finished in the top three of national points for the fifth consecutive year and has finished no worse than fourth over the last seven years. Rocco has nothing to be ashamed of as he matched his 2012 win total of 14 and won his sixth consecutive Connecticut championship. He recorded 30 top fives and 39 top 10s in 48 starts at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway and Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl. He also won his fourth Sunoco Modified Division championship at Thompson.

Preece, 22 of Berlin, Conn., placed fourth in series points racing at Thompson, Stafford and Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway. Preece leads the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point race with three races remaining on the 2013 schedule. Rounding out the top-five in points is dirt modified driver Craig VonDohren who races at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa.

Matt Kenseth made it 2 for 2 in the NASCAR Cup Chase, holding off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to win Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Ryan Blaney earned his first Nationwide Series victory and another win for the team’s Mustang, holding off Austin Dillon and surviving several late cautions to win Saturday night’s 300-mile race at Kentucky Speedway.
Making News on web site www.myfoxtampabay.com was the fact that privately held NAPA and Nationwide Insurance would be moving their sponsorship dollars. NAPA is upset over the fact that Michael Waltrip Racing was caught trying to rig the finish of a cup race and Nationwide is upset over the fact that fans still refer to their titled series in NASCAR as the once titled Busch Series.

On a more serious note, Customers of one rent-to-own company may have been getting much more than they bargained for. Aaron’s stores are accused of keeping an eye on customers are little too closely. In a new lawsuit, the company is accused of having 185,000 e-mails containing personal and sensitive information. Those e-mails were sent secretly from computers people had rented from the store, and they were allegedly sent to the company’s corporate computers.

Aaron’s was facing a huge class action lawsuit. It alleges the company installed spyware software on computers it leased. According to the filings, that spyware secretly sent those e-mails back to the company. Some of them even contained naked pictures and other personal information.

The lawsuit says it was all secretly snapped by the computers’ webcams. It isn’t the first time the company has faced accusations like this.

Last year, 2017, Calling hours and a funeral service were held for Ted Christopher early last week. The line for those who came to pay their respects was nearly three-quarters of a mile long. Past champions Mike McLaughlin, Tony Hirschman were in line as well as Randy LaJoie. Ted Christopher’s race car was parked in the Bailey Funeral Home lot. Many mourners wore pins and other mementos with the number “13,” Christopher’s racing number. An estimated 3500 people attended.

The Hartford Courant reported, one person with a No. 13 pin was Zunilda “Zee” Rocco of Berlin. She was there because her twins, Keith and Jeff, became interested in racing in their mid-teens. Christopher, himself a twin who started his racing career with his brother Michael, took the Rocco twins on and taught them about cars.

Jeff went on to work in Christopher’s Plainville transmission shop while Keith joined the No. 13 pit crew, learned racing and eventually became a racer, competing at times against his mentor, Rocco said. “Ted was a wonderful guy. He and my husband raced years ago in the 1970s. He was a terrific man,” she said. “What a sad thing.” As she talked, Rocco tried to eat a rapidly-melting vanilla ice cream cone. Christopher loved ice cream, “had it after every race,” Rocco said. The Christopher family had two ice cream trucks parked on Broad Street to give free ice cream to mourners, a gift to people who came to pay their respects.

Town public works crews also handed out cold bottled water to people lining the sidewalks in the 90-degree afternoon heat. The wake was the first job of this type that Connecticut Ice Cream co-owner said he ever had. He said his truck had about 1000 ice cream treats to give away free to people. This truck offered maple walnut – Ted’s favorite.

A church packed with mourners gathered Tuesday morning for racing legend Ted Christopher’s funeral service. A church packed with mourners gathered Tuesday for the funeral service that lasted over 90 minutes.

In Friday night racing action at the Stafford Motor Speedway the evening began with a tribute to Ted Christopher, Stafford Speedway’s all-time winningest driver with 131 career feature wins, who passed away last Saturday, Sept 16, in a plane crash while heading to Riverhead Raceway.

Taking feature wins were Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett in the Late Model feature, Dan Wesson in the SK Light feature, Bryan Narducci in the Limited Late Model feature, and George Bessette, Jr. scored his very first win in the DARE Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, the race started with the pole position left vacant for Ted Christopher. Keith Rocco, who is a former crew member on the Christopher race team, took the lead from Ron Williams on lap-18 while Glen Reen moved up to third with Tyler Hines fourth and Josh Wood fifth as the field completed lap-20.

Rocco started to pull away from Williams who was in turn was pulling away from Reen, Stephen Kopcik, and Hines. Rocco led Williams to the white flag with Kopcik third, Reen fourth, and Hines in fifth. The entire field pulled down pit road after taking the white flag with Stafford Speedway announcers Ben Dodge and Matt Buckler calling Ted Christopher home as the winner. Rocco was on a mission and did his mentor proud. Very emotional and almost speechless Rocco dedicated the win to his friend, idol and teacher. It was Rocco’s 44th SK Modified win at Stafford.

Cassie Rocco pretty much summed it up when she stated last Saturday of the Arute Family and the Stafford Speedway “Thank you for everything you did last night, you honored Ted in away that will never be topped. Everything you did for his family and friends, his fans, everyone, it goes above and beyond anyone’s expectations.” She added,” The love and support that was felt last night was overwhelming to say the least but it is exactly what everyone needed, I’m honored to have you as my HomeTrack, you are an amazing family with amazing hearts.

In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series racing at Loudon, NH, Bobby Santos found the bottom groove had the most grip on the track in the final circuits. Santos took the lead on lap 90 for the first time in Saturday’s F.W. Webb 100, but lost the lead to Patrick Emerling on lap 96. He took his No. 44 Sully Tinio/Brendan Kelley Music Chevrolet back to the front on lap 97 and wasn’t challenged back to the checkered flag in the final three circuits.

It was also the 32-year-old’s 16th career victory in his 131st career Whelen Modified Tour start. He crossed the line 0.610 seconds ahead of Rowan Pennink. Behind Pennink, Patrick Emerling finished third after leading seven laps. Donny Lia and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Eric Goodale, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat, Ryan Newman and Anthony Nocella. There were 28 cars on hand for the event.

Despite the fact that the NASCAR cup and Xfinity Series cars will no longer have a fall date at Loudon beginning in 2018 a Short Track Triple Header will run at the New Hampshire oval in their place. The venue will include a 250 lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series event plus the K&N Series Late Models and the NASCAR Canadian Pinty Series.

The F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire will air on NBCSN Thursday, Sept. 28th at 7 p.m. ET.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track next weekend, with the running of the NAPA Fall Final 150 scheduled for Sunday, October 1 at 3:15 p.m. ET.

Keith Rocco carried his winning ways over to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night recording his 8th SK Modified win of the year. Kyle James had another strong run as he finished second. Matt Galko was third. Rocco brought his track win total to 147 wins, 88 of those in an SK Modified. Rocco also has 48 career Late Model victories, four Limited Sportsman division wins, three Valenti Modified Racing Series victories, two Truck Series wins, one Pro Four Modified win and one NEMA Lite win during his career at Waterford. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 248 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 44 at Stafford Speedway.

Other wins at the shoreline oval were Andrew Moller in the SK Lites over Bryan Narducci, Chris Meyer scored his fifth win of the season in the Limited Sportsman.

In a somewhat related fact it was forty years ago that George “Moose” Hewitt won his first of five Modified championships. This past week, his grandson, Kyle Gero won the Wacky Wednesday X Car championship at the Speedbowl.

Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway, John Baker won the 40 lap Modified event left over from Sept 2 and David Schneider won the regular 40 lapper.

Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, N.Y. captured the U.S. Open 125 Race of Champions Modified Series event on Sunday afternoon at Lancaster National Speedway in western New York. Jankowiak started on the pole and lead 124 of 125 laps for his first U.S. Open Modified victory and his seventh U.S. Open win overall. Matt Hirschman cruised to his second place finish in his first Modified start at Lancaster this season. Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville, N.Y. won the 75-lap Race of Champions Sunoco Sportsman feature for the second year in a row.

The 67th annual Race of Champions which was advertised to pay $12,500 to the winner, has been changed to pay $13,013.13-to-win in honor of Ted Christopher, who suddenly passed away recently, with 26 starting position paying $1,000-to-start.

Tyler Reddick took the opener of the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway by running away with his first career victory. By finishing fourth, Ryan Preece tallied his third top-five finish in three starts with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Kyle Busch was the Monster Energy Cup winner in what was the final fall NASCAR Cup weekend at the New Hampshire Int Speedway.