RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; Going ‘Full Throttle’ At NHMS, The Speedbowl & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – One of the most anticipated short-track weekends in New England was on deck last weekend, as the New Hampshire Motor Speedway hosted its first “Full Throttle Weekend.”

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers will took center stage in the inaugural Musket 250. The longest race in Whelen Modified Tour history that included live pit stops and put some of the best modified drivers and teams in the country up against their toughest test yet for a $25,000 first-place prize. Also on the docket was NASCAR’s K&N Series and NASCAR’s Canadian Pinty’s Series.

Chase Dowling led 30 other drivers to take the pole position for the Musket 250 at NHIS. Dowling toured the 0ne mile oval to the tune of 129.344mph, just a tick faster than Justin Bonsignore who went 129.072mph. Rounding out the top five was Patrick Emerling, Ron Silk and Doug Coby.

Drama at high speed is the only way to describe how the Musket 250 at Loudon played out. It all came down to the final lap. Chase Dowling was in the right place at the right time when Ryan Preece tried to make a move on Justin Bonsignore in turn three. When Bonsignore and Preece made contact, Dowling cut to the bottom, slid past Patrick Emerling and beat him back to the finish line.

Dowling’s road to the victory was definitely not an easy one. He started from the pole and led 54 laps, but over the course of the 250-lap distance, Dowling was shuffled in and out of the top five.
Teams pitted more than once under the green flag, something that Dowling had never dealt with in his career. He pitted for the final time on lap 220, and came out in fifth for the restart.

After a caution with 14 laps to go bunched the field up, Dowling found himself fourth heading down the backstretch on the final lap.

Emerling finished second. In his first trip north to New Hampshire, nine-time Bowman Gray Stadium modified division champion Burt Myers escaped the final corner and finished third. Andy Seuss finished fourth, while Preece limped across the line following the crash to finish in fifth driving for Gary Putnam. Bonsignore was sixth, followed by Doug Coby, Jon McKennedy, Eric Goodale and Ron Silk.

The top five were on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who failed to finish were Calvin Carroll, Matt Swanson and Jeff Rocco who crashed hard in turn one, Todd Cooper who had an electrical problem on lap 20, Gary McDonald dropped out with rear end problems on lap 77, Ronnie Williams lost an engine on lap 106, Melissa Fifield’s had clutch problems on lap 114, Ken Heagy lost a rear end on lap 116, Bobby Santos was in the top five when his rear end broke on lap 216 and Chris Pasteryak and Blake Barney crashed together on lap 233.

The Musket 250 aired live via a stream on FansChoice.TV who did an outstanding job of covering the event, and will air on NBCSN on Thursday, September 27 at 7 p.m.

The long-term plans are for the Full Throttle Weekend to continue in place of the September Cup Series event that came to New Hampshire each fall for 20 years before Speedway Motorsports Inc., the parent company of NHMS, shifted that race to Las Vegas beginning this year. The 250-lap Modified race is the marquee event and carries the highest stakes of the tour’s season. An estimated 15,000 spectators witnessed the event.

In other weekend action at Loudon, Derek Kraus took the lead from Brandon McReynolds with five laps to go. A late caution two laps later gave it right back. Kraus, the pole winner, spun his tires on the restart and came off the throttle as contact lifted his rear wheels from the track, steering him momentarily into the outside wall. As Kraus tried to recover in his No. 1 David Gilliland-owned Toyota, McReynolds slid by in his No. 74 Chevrolet to retake the lead and rolled away to win the K&N Series Apple Barrel 125. Kevin Lacroix took an early lead and won the Visit New Hampshire 100, the first NASCAR Pinty’s Series race in the United States.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway it was all quiet as competitors prepare for the season ending 46th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend which will include the NAPA Auto Parts Pit Party, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (150), SK Modified® (40), Late Model (30), SK Light (20).

Congratulations to Keith Rocco who finished third in the final NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national standings. It was the 11th time in the last 12 years that Rocco has finished in the top-five in the national standings and the eighth time since 2009 that he’s been in the top three. He also won his 10th Connecticut Whelen All-American Series championship. Rocco’s career overall total victories is 260 wins which also include 150 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 60 at Thompson and 50 at the Stafford Speedway.

NASCAR also announced that Bryan Narducci was named the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III national champion. In his rookie season in the SK Light Modified division at the Stafford Motor Speedway Narducci has five victories, 15 top-fives and 16 top-10’s in 20 starts.

Narducci will be honored for his achievement as an honored guest at the NASCAR Awards in Charlotte on Dec. 7. The young third generation racer is the grandson of Ron Narducci and Jerry Pearl.

In addition NASCAR announced that Marcello Rufrano, was named Friday as the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series UNOH Youth Achievement national champion.

On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl racing resumed after an unplanned week shut down. Racing news web site RaceDayCt announced that The 2018 racing season will continue at the Speedbowl under new management,.

George Whitney, who had been operating the track since June 2017, terminated his lease. Mike Serluca has taken over operations of the facility for the remainder of the 2018 season.

Kyle James said he only had one chance to pull out an SK Modified victory at New London-Waterford Speedbowl Saturday, to hope leader Todd Owen made a mistake and then pounce on it. There was one flaw, however, to James strategy. “Todd didn’t make any mistakes,” James said. Owen was able to hold off James over the final 25 laps to collect his third 40-lap SK Modified win of the season. Owen’s victory was just one of the highlights during a dramatic re-opening night at the Speedbowl.

Andrew Krzeminski came from fourth to first during the final three laps to nail down the first win of his career in the 25-lap Mini Stock feature.

Keith Caruso captured his first-ever SK Lite Modified win at the Speedbowl in the second race of an SK Lite doubleheader. Brett Gonyaw roared past Bert Ouellette on a restart with two laps remaining to win the first SK Lite race.

Anthony Flannery pulled away from Jason Palmer on two late restarts for his fourth win in the last five races. Adrien Paradis took advantage of some mechanical difficulties by leader Jordan Hadley on his way to his first win of the season,

Rob Richardi led every lap to win his second consecutive Ct. Pro Four Modified win. P.J. Peters remained undefeated in the Pro Four Lite division.

Following Owen and James in the SK Modified event was Matt Galko, Rob Janovic Jr. and Timmy Jordan.

On the speedway stock market scene this week, two of the three speedway stocks had positive endings. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.55 to 45.05 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.15 to 2.25 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.04 to 17.73. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 0.02 to 59.85, NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.29 to 22.56 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.93 to 24.57. Two of the three auto manufacturers had positive week ending results. Toyota dropped 2.56 to 124.56 while Ford went up 0.40 to 9.85 and General Motors went up 0.69 to 35.32. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 3.32 to 212.32 and Lowes went up 2.95 to 116.84. Big team sponsor’s stocks saw McDonalds jump 4.46 to 168.30, Coca-Cola dropped 2.77 to 181.22, Target dropped 0.63 to 87.31, Dow/Dupont went up 1.11 to 69.69, Fedex dropped 8.12 to 247.32 and Stanley Works Black and Decker went up 6.02 to 154.36

On the tube this week:

Wednesday, September 26
12:00 AM, NASCAR Glory Road: Dodge Returns, NBC Sports Net
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

Thursday, September 27
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, NASCAR Whelen Modifieds Loudon NBC Sports Net

Friday, September 28
12:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Charlotte practice, NBCSN
1:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Charlotte practice, NBCSN
2:00 PM, NASCAR The Decades – the 1990s, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NASCAR Special, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NXS Charlotte final practice, NBCSN
4:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
4:30 PM, MENCS Charlotte qualifying, NBCSN
6:00 PM, Beyond the Wheel 2018, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCRA America, NBCSN
7:00 PM, Refuse to Lose: Jeff Gordon and the 1997 Daytona 500, FS1

Saturday, September 29
11:00 AM, MENCS Charlotte practice, NBC Sports App
12:00 PM, NXS Charlotte qualifying, CNBC
1:00 PM, NASCAR America, CNBC
1:30 PM, MENCS Charlotte final practice, CNBC
2:30 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NXS Charlotte race, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NXS Post Race, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR The Decades – the 1990s, NBCSN
6:30 PM, Racing Roots, NBCSN

Sunday, September 30
12:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1:00 PM, MENCS Countdown to Green, NBC
2:00 PM, MENCS Charlotte race, NBC
6:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
7:00 PM, NASCAR The Decades – the 1990s, NBCSN
7:30 PM, NASCAR The Decades – the 1990s, NBCSN
8:00 PM< Racing Roots: Martin Truex, Jr., NBCSN
8:30 PM, Racing Roots, NBCSN

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