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

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Sixty five years ago in 1953, Red Foote made it two in a row at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won a 25 lap Sportsman event on Wednesday. Freddy Luchesi was the Saturday night winner. Lou Tetreault and Tom Van Epps were the non-Ford winners.

Sixty years ago in 1958, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain.

Fifty five years ago in 1963, Area Auto Racing News reported that Rene Charland won a 100 lap Modified event at Islip and Wild Bill Slater was the Modified winner at Old Bridge. At the Wall Stadium, Bill Chevalier was declared the Modified Track Champion and Bill Brice, the Sportsman Champion. Years later Brice would become a respected NASCAR Official on the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Billy Harman won what was believed to be his first race at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Jerry Dostie was the Bomber winner. The Stafford Speedway records indicate that Ernie Gahan won the season ending event held on dirt in the John Koszela Woodchopper Spl. The Rounds family in Rhode Island claims that Gahan was off chasing points and Koszela put Don Rounds in the car for the final event.

Fifty years ago in 1968, Bugsy Stevens, driving the legendary Ole Blu of Len Boehler, closed out the season and wrapped up the modified track championship with a convincing win on Sunday at Stafford. Don MacTavish finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. Fred Harbach and Holly Wilder rounded out the top five. Leo Cleary made it two in a row at Norwood on Saturday night and at the Fulton Raceway in New York on Sunday, Richie Evans took his first of 40 victories he would earn in nine seasons. Ed Yerrington ended a long dry spell as he won the 30 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Donnie Bunnell was the Daredevil winner.

Forty five years ago in 1973, the NASCAR Modified action was in the southland. Richie Evans scored a one-two punch as he won the Martinsville 150 on Saturday afternoon and won a 100 lapper at the Caraway Speedway on Saturday night. At Martinsville, Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Paul Radford. Cook also finished second at Caraway as Satch Worley finished third with Stevens, fourth. Ray Hendrick, driving the Dick Armstrong No.1 finished fifth. Hendrick had blown an engine at Martinsville, which necessitated Hop Harrington and crew making a hasty motor change. At the Waterford Speedbowl in New England, Joe Trudeau was the 30 lap Modified winner and Bill Sweet took the Grand Americans.

Forty years ago in 1978, Waterford ran on Saturday night and it was Roland LaPierre Jr. taking the win. Eddie Flemke finished second with Pete Fiandacca, third. Oswego ran their season ending 30 lapper which saw George Kent brave the cold and hold off Richie Evans for the win. Jerry Cook finished third with Doug Hewitt, fourth. Seekonk ran a 100-lap open competition event on Sunday and it was Ronnie Bouchard in the Bobby Judkins 2x taking the win over Geoff Bodine.

Thirty five years ago in 1983,the Fall Final was a 100 lapper. Richie Evans took the win. Kenny Bouchard, driving for Ted Marsh, finished second and was followed by Corky Cookman and Bugsy Stevens. Jerry Pearl won the companion SK modified event with Kerry Malone, second. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Darrell Waltrip was the pole sitter and race winner.

Thirty years ago in 1988, the Fall Final featured the SK Modifieds and Ted Christopher took the win over Bob Potter and Jerry Pearl.

Twenty five years ago in 1993, Waterford ran a 150-lap event. Ricky Young took the win after taking over the lead on lap 106 when Bob Potter pitted with a soft tire. Mark LaJunesse finished second and was followed by Jim Broderick, Potter and Bob Georgiades. At Riverside Park, Stan Gregger took a win over Ed Kennedy. At the Fall Final at Stafford, Mike Stefanik took the lead from Jeff Fuller on lap 83 and went on to win the 150-lap event. Satch Worley finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller and Jeff Fuller. Steve Chowanski was the SK Modified winner. John Anderson won the SK event but was disqualified after it was discovered that his engine had an illegal crankshaft. Hermie Sadler recorded his first Grand National win at Rougemont, N.C. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Rusty Wallace took the lead with 100 laps to go and went on to take the win over Dale Earnhardt and Harry Gant announced that he would retire as a driver at seasons end.

Twenty years ago in 1998, the Modified Tour Series was scheduled for Flemington but was washed out. Waterford ran their season finale 100 lapper and it was young gun, Eric Berndt taking the win. Tucker Reynolds finished second and was followed by Bert Marvin, Mark LaJunesse and Todd Ceravolo. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Mark Martin took the win over Ward Burton. The event was stopped midway when sewage backed up and flowed across the backstretch. Mike McLaughlin won the 300-mile Grandnational event.

Fifteen years ago in 2003, The NASCAR Modified Tour Series was at the Stafford Speedway with the Busch North Series for the annual Fall Final. All qualifying was completed on Saturday but rain-washed out the main events, which were to be run on Sunday. The event was been re-scheduled for the following Saturday with a rain date of Sunday. There were 42 Featherlite Modifieds at Stafford. Nevin George was the top qualifier with a speed of 98.382 mph. Series point leader Todd Szegedy was a tick slower as his speed was 98.291 mph. Ted Christopher was third fastest with a speed of 98.167 mph. The re-draw for starting positions showed Szegedy on the pole with Eric Beers, outside pole. Eddie Flemke Jr. drew third with Tony Hirshman and Jamie Tomaino making up the front five. Nevin George drew 7th and Christopher, eighth. The long awaited return of Reggie Ruggerio turned into a non-event, event. Ruggerio, who teamed up with Long Island car owner Gary Cretty had the miss-fortune of having clutch problems and missed most of the practice and set-up sessions. Needless to say, he didn’t qualify.

Joey McCarthy took the Busch Pole for the Busch North Series Fall Final. Mike Johnson was second with Matt Kobyluck, third. Current series point leader Andy Santerre, who was hoping to sew up the series title, will start sixth. Christopher, Jerry Marquis and Mike Stefanik saw double duty. Christopher starts 11th, Marquis, 16th and Stefanik, 18th. Twenty-nine cars will go to post.

In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Eric Berndt managed to avoid a serious last lap wreck to sew up his first ever Modified Track Championship. Berndt knew what he had to do going into the final event of the point season. With a healthy cushion on second place runner Todd Ceravolo, Berndt drove conservatively and in the end finished fifth. Ceravolo, who finished third, could only gain if Berndt had trouble, which he didn’t. Third generation driver Bobby Santos III lined up on the front row along side Kelly McDougall. McDougall, a rookie, had no business starting on the point, as she was clearly slower than those behind her. Santos got the jump and looked to be on his way to his first modified win until the last lap when his hopes ended up in the wall in turn four. Ted Christopher, who is known to intimidate his competition, put the pressure on as the pair took the white flag. Christopher took the lead between turns one and two. Santos took it back in three; Christopher took it back in four in the run to the checker. Santos bumped with Kerry Malone and hit the wall, ending his night in 16th spot. Malone limped under the checkered flag with severe front damage and was credited with fourth place. Jeff Malave finished in second spot and garnered enough points to tie with Todd Ceravolo for second in the final track standings. Sixth through tenth finishers in the 30 lap feature were Bert Marvin, Ron Yuhas Jr., Matty Adanti, Kelly McDougall and Butch Perry. David Berghman won the Pro Stock division track title in fine style as he took the win in his main event. Other feature winners were Woody Pitkat in the Late Models, Shawn Monahan, three in a row in the Limited Sportsman and Joe Godbout in the Mini-Stocks. Scott Bronczyk was crowned the Late Model Champ, Glenn Boss, the Limited Sportsman Champ and Ray Veins, the Mini Stock Champ.

The Stafford Speedway recently issued a notice stating that Bo Gunning had been suspended indefinitely. After viewing videotapes of the incidents leading up to the suspension it appeared that race officials over-reacted. First off, Gunning was not denying that he threw a punch at Ted Christopher but if one were to view why he did what he did maybe Christopher had it coming as he did attempt to take Gunning out and as a matter of fact he succeeded. Gunning was also accused of assaulting track owner Jack Arute Sr. The video showed a verbal confrontation between the two. Gunning later apologized and it was accepted. It was also stated that Gunning hit another car after the caution had been displayed. The video clearly shows Ted Christopher slamming into Gunning after the yellow had been displayed. Race officials took no action against Christopher as they said they didn’t see it. Evidently race officials at Stafford are not allowed to view videos of events and are not allowed to let a recorded video influence their decisions. Bo Gunning is no saint and he will be the first to admit it but he feels that whenever Ted Christopher is involved in a situation they tend to look the other way. Gunning swears he never said he was going to “Take care of Teddy”. What he did say to Kerry Malone was that he would not race with him, as he knew he was running for a championship. Gunning made a similar statement to Eric Berndt and Todd Ceravolo on the final night for track points at Thompson.

At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night in regular Dodge Series weekly racing series competition Dennis Gada got his seventh SK-Modified win of the year. Gada, who had been involved or collected in many wrecks during the 2003 season, managed to keep most of the destruction behind him. Gada started near the front, which meant that he would have a fighting chance of staying alive in the point race. Looking for his fifth straight championship, Gada added 10 points to his lead over Ed Reed Jr. Reed finished sixth. The action was hot and heavy as Dennis Charette finishing second. Ron Yuhas Jr., Chris Pasteryak and John Brouwer Jr. rounded out the top five. Allen Coats won the Late Model war but it was Corey Hutchins who clinched the Championship. Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval were Dave Zemke in the Sportsman division, Dave Trudeau in the Mini Stocks and Mike Beebe Jr. in the Legends.

NASCAR made it official the following Tuesday when they announced that Dennis Gada was officially the New England Regional Weekly Racing Series by Dodge Champion. It wasn’t a cakewalk by any means for the four-time Waterford Speedbowl Modified Champion. In 18 events he garnered six wins and 11 top ten finishes. Modified racing at Waterford can be rough and tumble at times and Gada has had more than his share of tumbles. Starting in the rear or near the rear just about every week Gada ran to win rather than just finish as his record shows. Much of the credit goes to car owner Harry Wyant and his crew who did yeoman’s work to keep the mighty No.3 on the track and in contention. For his efforts Gada received $45,000+ in awards. With one more week to go, Gada stood a good chance of breaking the track championship record of Al Gaudreau and Dick Dunn who have four track titles in a row. Ed Dachenhausen, a Waterford alumni, won the North East Regional Championship. Dachenhausen raced at the Chemung Speedrome in New York where he won 12 out of the 19 events he ran. Mark McFarland who raced at the Old Dominion Speedway in Virginia was named as the National Champion as well as winning the Atlantic Regional Championship. McFarland pocketed $213,000 for his efforts. Other regional champions included Tom Seets, Heartland, Mark Wertz, Southeastern Coastal, Jerry Robertson, Northwest, Rip Michaels, Sunbelt and Kyle Berck, Midwest. Following Gada in the New England Region standings were Jeff Strunk, who raced at the Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania, Scott Bonney, who raced at the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire, Eric Berndt, who raced at Thompson, Dwight Jarvis, who raced at Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire, Bobby Babb, who raced at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine, John Fortin, who raced at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Rick Houlihan, who raced at Seekonk in Mass, Jeff Crowley, who raced at the Star Speedway in New Hampshire and Kerry Malone, who raced at Stafford. The top-10 received their awards in Nashville, Tenn. in early November. The Short Track regionals honor second division drivers. Ryan Posocco, who raced at Stafford, is the New England Champion. Aaron Fellows, who raced at the Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire, finished second. Waterford Late Model Champion Corey Hutchins finished third followed by Scott Bronczyk, who raced at Thompson.

In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Elliott Sadler took the Busch Pole. Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified tenth but had his time dis-allowed when inspectors determined that his right side body panel was too low. Earnhardt started in the rear and made up a lost lap to finish second to Michael Waltrip. Sadler had a good run going until four laps to go when he flipped violently.

Ten years ago in 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to Martinsville VA for the Made In American Whelen 300 which was be the 13th of 16 races on the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule.

For many years, the northern contingent has had a stranglehold on victory lane while southern competitors played second fiddle. Burt Myers became the first Southern driver to win a Modified tour race in a NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville since Johnny Bryant in 1985. Whelen Southern Modified Tour competitor Myers changed all that as he powered his way to victory at the historic Virginia oval. Of the 43 Modifieds on hand, Myers was fourth fastest in time trials and for the start, redrew the outside pole, starting along side another southerner, Bobby Hutchens. At the start Myers almost saw his day end before it started as he tangled with Hutchens at the initial drop of the green and triggered a massive wreck on the front stretch. Fortunately for him NASCAR declared the start false and mandated a complete restart with Hutchens and Myers back on the front row. Myers led the restart with fastest timetrialer Ryan Preece in tow. By the fifth go-round Preece had the lead. Preece pretty much dominated from then on, at least until lap 270 of the 300 lap event when Myers got by him in traffic. Myers led the final laps to collect the win and the famous Martinsville Speedway Grandfather Clock trophy. Preece finished second and was credited with being the first Northern Whelen Modified. Matt Hirschman finished third and was followed by Reggie Ruggerio and Ted Christopher. Rounding out the top ten were Todd Szegedy, Woody Pitkat, Ed Flemke Jr, Rowan Pennick and Brian Loftin.

Eleven of the original 43 starters finished on the lead lap. Sixteen caution periods for 88 laps slowed the event. Among those were had problems were outside pole sitter George Brunnhoelzl III who lost an engine, Hossfeld wrecked, Mike Stefanik lost a driveshaft, Ronnie Silk wrecked, Jimmy Blewett had his battery short out, Bob Grigas lost a rear end, Wade Cole lost his steering, Ken Heagy had rear end trouble, Andy Seuss wrecked, Billy Pauch wrecked as did Rick Fuller and Glen Reen. Richard Savory had an alternator malfunction and Jake Marosz wrecked.

The following Tuesday the Hartford Courant reported that NASCAR officials have made the decision to disqualify Myers from his victory in Saturday’s event at Martinsville. The decision handed the event victory to 17-year old Ryan Preece who drove Ole Blu, which crossed the finish line second to Myers. NASCAR officials would not comment on the situation. A NASCAR official did confirm that parts were confiscated from Myers’ car following Saturday’s event and taken to the NASCAR Research and Development Center for further inspection.

In non-NASCAR Modified racing, Tony Hirschman came out of retirement to win the annual Race of Champions at the Oswego Speedway in New York state. In True Value Modified Series racing at the All Star Speedway, Jon McKennedy took the win over Chris Pasteryak and Dwight Jarvis.

Thursday Night Thunder at Thompson International Speedway saw Keith Rocco clean house as he picked up his fifth win of the season in the Sunoco Modified division. Rick Gentes resumed his late season mastery of the Late Models and Scott Michalski continued his hot streak in Mini Stock competition. Glenn Boss turned his luck around with a dominating TIS Modified win. Both Jay Macedonio in the Pro Stocks and Ed Puleo in the Limited Sportsman division enjoyed their his first wins of the season.

Rocco motored by surprise Sunoco Modified championship contender Danny Cates to take the lead near the half way mark of the 30 lap feature. Cates took the early lead with a stout pack of cars battling from second position on back. When thing shuffled out by lap five Cates continued to lead Todd Ceravolo and Rocco. Jimmy Blewett had made tracks to the front and into the fourth position. Tom Cravenho rounded out the top five. At lap 10, Ceravolo had his hands full holding off the advances of Rocco. Rocco dove low into turn four trying to get a run on Ceravolo. Rocco drifted up the track taking Ceravolo with him. Blewett peaked low looking to make it three wide. The veteran thought the better of it and settled back in line in third. Rocco was able to steal the second position from Ceravolo. Rocco was applying heavy pressure to Cates, who had encountered lapped traffic, when the caution flew for a spinning Carl Oberg. Under the caution, Ceravolo relinquished the third spot to head to pit road. He was not able to continue.

Cates and Rocco went wheel-to-wheel for the first lap of the restart before Cates, relinquished the lead to Rocco. Blewett took chase of Cates but quickly became the hunted. Cravenho made a strong move exiting turn three to get alongside Blewett eventually taking the position away. Both Blewett and Cravenho were able to get by Cates as Rocco was getting away from the field. Blewett and Cravenho were locked in a heat battle for the second position when both slipped up in the corner. Blewett was able to continue. Cravenho was forced to lift falling back to third. Cravenho gathered it up moving back by Cates once again.

In the closing laps Rocco had checked out on the field to win his fifth victory of the season. Blewett was a distance second followed by Cravenho. Cates settled for the fourth position ahead of Kerry Malone, who quietly came home fifth to extend his point lead. Rounding out the top ten were Bert Marvin, Tim Sullivan, Ricky Shawn, Josh Sylvester and Woody Pitkat. Ceravolo ended up 18th in the final rundown.

The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their Friday night racing series for 2008. Woody Pitkat picked up his fourth win of the 2008 season in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Joe Rzeszutek picked up his second win of 2008 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Mark Bakaj scored win number 4 of 2008 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand scored his third win of 2008 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Todd LaPorta was a first time career winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock season. Ryan Posocco clinched his fourth Late Model track championship with a third place finish with four more championships to be decided next weekend at the 36th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend.

In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Woody Pitkat drove to his fourth feature victory of the 2008 season. Corey Hutchings took the early race lead and held the lead until lap-6 when Chris Jones moved to the front. Pitkat moved to second on lap-8 and he took the lead from Jones on a lap-11 restart. Over a long green flag stretch, Pitkat was steadily stretching his advantage over the rest of the field. Several late cautions kept the field tight, with Pitkat holding off Keith Rocco to the checkered flag. Zach Sylvester finished third, Ted Christopher finished fourth, and Jones rounded out the top-5. Heading into next weekend’s CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, Keith Rocco holds a 14-point lead over Ted Christopher

At the Waterford Speedbowl, competitors were forced to start off the night on the wrong foot as they were told that they would not be receiving their checks for the previous week’s racing because of the fact that track operator Jerry Robinson was ill and was unable to sign checks. The Jeff Pearl web site reported a direct confrontation with track operator Robinson and one of his employees. “I began the evening approaching official #1 who took the heat and offered that Jerry was in the hospital passing a stone at least on Friday and believed that the reason for no checks”. “The official took my beating graciously and was very empathetic.” Robinson was in fact at the Speedbowl on Saturday night. Jeff Pearl’s wife approached Robinson and very politely asked if the drivers would be getting paid. “He got right in my face (if I had my glasses on I swear there would be spit on them), and was emphatically told “NO!” she said.

Competitors at the Speedbowl were NASCAR members and its time that the sanctioning body went to bat for them. Its not right what Robinson was doing! NASCAR needed to step in. What Robinson was doing was against everything that NASCAR stands for. Competitors have shelled out their hard earned money to belong to NASCAR and the sanctioning body needs to protect them. Rumors had already been circulating concerning a possible labor type action.

Despite all the discontent the show at the shoreline oval went on. Keith Rocco won the USG Night 35-lap SK Modified feature. Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Ed Lamb Jr. (Sportsman), Kyle James (Mini Stock), Jay Palmer (Legends), and Robert Norman (Super-X Cars).

Starting from the outside-pole, Rocco held-off a determined Ron Yuhas Jr. to the checkers in leading every circuit of the event. Point-leader Dennis Gada gave chase for several circuits before Yuhas bolted into second following a lap-twelve restart. Rounding-out the top-5 was Gada, Jeff Pearl, and Tyler Chadwick.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Dover Downs Greg Biffle made it a sparkling 2-for-2 in the Chase for the championship using another late pass with nine laps to go and went on to hold off Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards and bolster his bid for the Sprint Cup title. Kyle Busch made it eight victories this season in the Nationwide Series, leading 157 laps and absolutely dominating to win on Saturday in a green-white-checkered flag finish. Matt Kobyluck and the Mohegan Sun Racing team locked up their first NASCAR Camping World Series East Championship Friday at Dover after posting a third place finish in the Sunoco 150 at Dover International Speedway. Kobyluck, a ten-year veteran of the series, left the event with a 219-point advantage over second place driver Austin Dillon with one race remaining on the schedule.

Five years ago in 2013, weekly racing as we knew it would never be the same at the Thompson Speedway. The speedway was well into a $4 million project which would rebuild and modify an existing road course. The project was expected to be finished by June of 2014.
Thursday Night Thunder at Thompson which featured NASCAR Whelen Weekly racing for Sunoco Modifieds (SK type), Late Models, Ltd Sportsman and mini stocks would be no more. In past years Thursday Night Thunder ran from mid May thru September. Because of construction and rain the Thursday night schedule in 2013 was cut short.
A spokesperson for the speedway said that only six to eight NASCAR-sanctioned events would be run in 2014 on the 5/8-mile oval. From 2015 on the intent was to run only six races per year.

While there have been some lean nights, Thursday Night Thunder had become quite popular with many in recent years. Its a shame to see it go away. The Thompson Speedway had provided some of the best high speed competition in the northeast second to none.

For the most part, Sports Car racing at Thompson would be non-spectator. Its hard to figure how the speedway will recoup their outlay of funds that would be spent on the project.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the Fall Final. The field of entrants continued to deplete as a mere 25 cars were on hand for qualifying. Don Lia recorded a fast lap of 18.295 seconds (98.388 mph) to edge Bobby Santos for the pole. Santos, who was attempting to become the first driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to sweep a season of pole awards at Stafford, finished second with a fast lap of 18.299 (98.366). Season points leader Ryan Preece qualified third around the historic half mile at 18.413 (97.757) while Rowan Pennink was fourth at 18.426 (97.688) and Chuck Hossfeld fifth at 18.430 (97.667).

Lia got redemption in the 150 lap Fall Final after being booted out of the lead on the last lap a Loudon on Sept. 21. From his pole starting position the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino carried him to a convincing win over Doug Coby by 3.231 seconds. The win was his first on the tour since Aug. 9 of 2012 at the Thompson (Conn.) Speedway. Lia led from lap 1 to lap 76 when he pitted for fuel and tires under a caution that was displayed after Ed Flemke Jr hit the wall on lap 72. Ron Silk beat him out of the pits and led laps 77-79 before Lia regained control of the lead, which he never relinquished. Rowan Pennink finished third with Todd Szegedy and Justin Bonsignore rounding out the top five. Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Santos and Ron Silk rounded out the top 10.

Point leader Ryan Preece carried a 41-point lead over Coby into the race and had a shot to clinch his first Whelen Modified Tour title, but after a 17th-place finish due to a late-race rear end failure, was not able to wrap it up. His advantage over Coby was 26 points going into the season finale at the World Series at Thompson on Oct 20.

There were nine cars running on the lead lap at the finish. In addition to Preese, others having problems were Eric Goodale, mechanical problems, Patrick Emerling; engine, Eric Berndt; overheating, Flemke; wreck, Wade Cole, Cole Powell and Woody Pitkat; rear end problems and Richie Pallai; accident.

Not to be out done by Keith Rocco at Waterford, Woody Pitkat did his version of the double at Stafford on Sunday as he clinched the tracks SK Modified title and the Late Model title. Rocco took the checkered flag in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, while Pitkat clinched his first career SK Modified® track championship with a third place finish. Pitkat also came up as the winner of the 30-lap Late Model feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Michael Gervais, Jr. got a good run on the outside of Curt Brainard to take the lead at the green flag. As the field came out of turn 4 to complete the first lap, Brainard got sideways and behind him Joey Cipriano got into the frontstretch wall and ripped the right front tire off of his car to bring out the caution and red flags as Cipriano’s right front briefly caught fire. The field did not complete the lap and there was a total restart of the race.

The next restart saw Gervais again get a good run on the outside of Brainard to take the lead with Doug Coby following Gervais by Brainard. Keith Rocco and Eric Berndt were also able to get past Brainard, dropping him back to fifth place. Ryan Preece was on the charge in the first couple laps, quickly working his way by Berndt and Coby to move into third on lap-4 with Gervais and Rocco occupying the top-2 positions. Rocco was beginning to apply heavy pressure to the back bumper of Gervais on lap-8 as he was looking to move into the race lead. Rocco made his move going into turn 1 on lap-11 to take over the race lead. Gervais was able to get back into line in second just in front of Preece, who was third. Berndt was fourth and Coby was fifth just in front of Rowan Pennink.

Pennink made a move under Coby on lap-12 and with 13 laps complete, Curt Brainard nearly spun and collected the car of Coby who did a 360 spin to bring the caution out. Back under green Rocco took the lead with Preece moving into second. Pennink moved up to third with Danny Cates moving by Gervais for fourth. Right behind Cates and Gervais was Woody Pitkat, who was fighting for the championship along with Preece. Tommy Membrino, Jr. spun in turns 3+4 to bring the caution out with 19 laps complete.

Rocco again took the lead with Preece settling into second. Pennink was third with Pitkat moving by Cates to take over fourth. Membrino spun coming off turn 4 and collected the cars of Brainard and Tim Sullivan to bring the caution out with 21 laps complete. Rocco resumed his lead with Preece holding off a challenge from Pennink to remain in second. Pitkat was fourth behind Pennink with Bobby Santos, III moving around Cates for fifth place. Preece was beginning to apply pressure to Rocco’s bumper for the race lead but Sean Foster spun in turn 4 to bring the yellow back out with 26 laps complete.

Rocco took the lead again back under green with Preece right behind him. Pennink was still third with Pitkat right behind him in fourth and Santos was fifth. Pennink got loose in turn 2 on lap 31 which allowed Pitkat and Santos to both get by and drop Pennink back to fifth. With Pitkat in third right behind Preece, he was in the position he needed to be in order to clinch the championship.

Rocco pulled away from Preece in the closing laps to pick up his second win of the 2013 season. Preece finished second while Pitkat finished third, which was enough to give Pitkat the SK Modified® championship by 2 points over Preece. Santos finished fourth and Pennink rounded out the top-5.

Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl It was a big night for the Waterford Speedbowl’s most-celebrated driver on Saturday. Keith Rocco, who unofficially won the Late Model seasonal points title on September 21 captured his third title in the SK-Modified division Saturday night. Rocco did the double as he won both features on the final regular Saturday of the racing season. It was his ninth win of the year in the SK-Modified race and fourth straight Late Model feature win. Rocco’s two wins on the night brought him within one victory of the single-season record of 23 wins at the track, accomplished by Don Collins in 1960. Rocco has four chances to eclipse the mark at the track’s Finale Weekend, next Saturday and Sunday, when he’s scheduled to compete in four different divisions.

Also at the Connecticut shoreline oval Corey Hutchings, Ken Cassidy Jr. and Dylan Izzo put the finishing touches on division titles. Hutchings clinched the Street Stock division, Cassidy the Mini Stock division and Izzo the Legends Cars division. Other feature winners Saturday were Phil Evans (Street Stocks), Cassidy with his third straight Mini Stock win, Izzo (Legends Cars), Brad Voglesong (X-Cars) and Dave Yardley (Super X-Cars).

In the 35 lap SK Modified feature, Rocco started in fourth position and quickly was in contention, moving up to second behind Monahan by lap-2 when Rob Janovic Jr. spun in turn one to trigger the yellow flag after the field scattered around his spinning car. Rocco powered into the lead over Monahan after two false starts by the front row trying to restart the race on lap-2. After a Jeff Gallup spin on lap-6, another great restart over Monahan enabled Rocco to drive away from the field. Kyle James moved to second place on lap-11 around Monahan and when Tom Abele Jr. tried to follow, Monahan shut the door and the two came together. Monahan collected his car and held the spot but lost ground to James, who began a pursuit of Rocco’s lead which already had grown to several car lengths.

Behind Rocco and James, the best battle was for third as four cars ran together. Abele continued to pester Monahan while Craig Lutz had caught the pair looking to improve his position as the race approached halfway. Abele went to the outside lane in his quest to get by Monahan, working hard as Monahan tried to hold him off. Finally on lap-21 Abele had the spot after several laps trying. Lutz struck quickly on Monahan to pick up fourth position, dropping Monahan to fifth a lap later. James couldn’t reel in Rocco, but the lead evaporated when Jim Larsen Jr. spun in turn four just ahead of Rocco, returning the race to caution with seven laps remaining.

A good restart allowed Rocco to easily resume his lead over James, who settled back into second over Abele. Rocco quickly extinguished any hopes James may have had to spoil his championship-clinching run, pulling away. Rocco went on to score the win unchallenged with James second and Abele third. Lutz finished fourth and Janovic rebounded from his spin to take fifth.

Rocco’s title in the SK Modifieds® gives him three for his career at Waterford, joining back-to-back championship seasons in 2010 and 2011. Coupled with the Late Model championship he clinched a week previous, Rocco became the only driver in Speedbowl history to win both crowns in the same season.
Sixth thru tenth in the SK Modifieds were Diego Monahan, Tyler Chadwick, Todd Ceravolo, Joe Gada and Nichole Morgillo.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour was in action at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. A short field of 16 cars went the 150 lap distance on the 0,455-mile banked oval. Pole sitter Burt Myers led the first 62 laps before giving way to Andy Seuss who led the balance of the event. Myers faded to eighth in the final rundown. George Brunnhoelzl III finished second with John Smith, third.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Jimmie Johnson once again dominated at Dover during Sunday’s AAA 400, leading a race-high 243 laps. Joey Logano continued his domination of Dover Int’l Speedway on Saturday as he cruised to his fourth-straight NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at the one-mile concrete oval.

Last year, 2017, In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway Ryan Preece scored his 15th career pole as he bested the 27 cars on hand for the Fall Final. Preece toured the half mile oval in 18.513 seconds. Doug Coby was second fastest with an 18.520 sec run with Ron Silk at 18.536.

Prior to the start of the festivities the Stafford Motor Speedway and the Arute family officially retired Ted Christopher’s No. 13. A moving jesture to say the least.

Eric Goodale established himself as a legitimate member of the Long Island gang as he won the Fall Final at Stafford last Sunday. Coming from the 18th position, Goodale knew it would take a stout car for him to travel to the front in Sunday’s NAPA Fall Final 150. When it came down to the final laps, Goodale had the car he needed to get the job done. The Riverhead, New York, driver scored his third career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win by passing Ryan Preece with just three laps remaining. The victory was his first at the half-mile oval.

“Stafford is one of those places that you dream of winning at when you’re a little kid,” Goodale said. “I came up here and watched races when I was a kid. To be here and finally win a race, we have so many races under our belt here and we have come close here so many times. It feels good to finally seal the deal.”

Goodale’s run to the front of the field after his qualifying effort was not an easy one. He maneuvered his way to the front and was working the back bumper of Preece for the race lead in lapped traffic when a caution at Lap 111 set up the final pit stops of the day. Goodale’s team went to work to help get him out at the front.

He took the lead from Lap 120-125, but then lost it and had to follow Preece in the final circuits. A late move to the bottom of Turn Four got him the lead with just three laps to g and he never looked back.

Goodale beat Preece to the line by 0.389 seconds. Preece came up one spot short of sweeping the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at Stafford. He led a race-high 115 laps. Ron Silk finished third, while Chase Dowling and Timmy Solomito rounded out the top five.

Justin Bonsignore was sixth, followed by Doug Coby, Bobby Santos, Craig Lutz and Kyle Bonsignore. Thirteen cars finished on the lead lap as a near full house crowd looked on.

With just one race left on the schedule, four-time champion Coby has a 10 point lead over Justin Bonsingore in the championship standings. Solomito is third, 12 markers back, while Preece is fourth, 19 back from the lead.

In other racing at Stafford on the weekend, Taking down feature wins were Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature and Tyler Leary in the Late Model feature. Rocco’s victory clinched the 2017 SK Modified® track championship while Glen Reen became the Late Model champion with a 5th place finish in the Late Model feature. For Rocco it was win No.45 at Stafford which brought his lifetime career total to 249. It was his third SK Modified championship at the track.

Rocco led Chase Dowling to the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive win of the 2017 season. Todd Owen finished third with Matt Galko and Dave Gervais rounding out the top-5.

There were also feature events for its SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions, as well as a feature event for the Mr. Rooter Truck Series as part of the Saturday NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend festivities. Taking feature wins were Marcello Rufrano in the SK Light feature, Cliff Saunders in the Limited Late Model feature, Johnny Walker in the DARE Stock feature, and Gerald Giordano, Jr. in the Mr. Rooter Truck Series feature.

Heavy rain washed out all racing last Saturday night at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway, Tom Rogers Jr was the 40 lap NASCAR Modified winner. He also sewed up the track championship.

The 67th annual Race of Champions weekend took place at the Lake Erie Speedway in North East, Pennsylvania as part of Presque Isle Downs & Casino Race of Champions Weekend. The race, which was advertised to pay $12,500 to the winner, was 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.
Matt Hirschman made it three straight Race of Champions victories at three different tracks. Hirschman tied Dutch Hoag with his fifth career RoC event win. Mike Leaty finished second and was followed by Austin Kochenash, Eric Beers and Daren Scherer. Chris Pasteryak, the lone New Englander in the event finished eighth.

In Monster Cup racing at Dover Deleware, after leading a race-high 138 laps, 59 of the final 61 in the Apache Warrior 400, 2015 series champion Kyle Busch ran Chase Elliott down to win for the second time in the playoffs’ three-race first round. Elliott had surrendered what would have been a first victory at NASCAR’s highest level yet again.

Ryan Blaney won the Use Yor Melon. Drive Sober 200. at Dover International Speedway. It is his 6th XFINITY Series win and 2nd of the year. #7-Justin Allgaier finished second,

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