RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; Preece Gets A Shot At The Big Time, Fall Final At Stafford & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The big news this past week was the announcement that Ryan Preece has secured a ride in NASCAR’s top division, the Monster Cup Series, for 2019.

JTG Daugherty Racing announced a new driver to their two-car lineup, signing 27-year-old Ryan Preece in a multi-year contract. Preece will join JTG Daugherty Racing for his first full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season starting in the 2019 DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway driving the No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Its ironic that Preece’s car will carry the same number that carried Ronnie Bouchard to his Talladega 500 victory in 1981.

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

Justin Bonsignore was the fastest car in group qualifying on Saturday and scored his 10th career pole. The pole, which he earned with a fast time of 18.157 seconds (99.135 mph), was also his fifth of the 2018 season driving for Kenneth Massa Motorsports. Second fastest in the 31 car field was Chase Dowling. Dave Sapienza, Eric Goodale and Burt Myers rounded out the top five.

The Bonsignore cousins took all the glory in the Whelen Modified Tour Series 150 lapper. Kyle scored his first win and Justin sewed up the championship. Justin finished 12th, but he left Stafford with a 64-point lead in the championship point standings. The maximum amount of points a driver can earn in one event is 48.

Craig Lutz, driving a brand new LFR Chassis, finished second while Doug Coby crossed the line third after leading 13 of the final 18 laps. Chase Dowling, who led a race-high 84 laps, didn’t pit for tires during the race and faded late, finishing fourth, while Ron Silk rounded out the top five. Rob Summers was sixth, followed by Dave Sapienza, Chris Pasteryak, Timmy Solomito and Burt Myers.

In other weekend action at Stafford, Mike Christopher made it three wins in a row in the SK Modifieds. Christopher drives for his aunt Quinn who is the widow of the late Ted Christopher.
Christopher took the lead from Todd Owen after a lap 22 restart. Keith Rocco finished second with Owen third.

In the SK Lites, Alexander Pearl took the win. Andrew Molleur was second and Glenn Griswold third. Title contenders Marcello Rufano and Bryan Narducci wrecked following a restart on lap 15. Rufrano had the lead. When the green flag flew Naducci challenged Rufrano for the lead. The two cars made contact on backstretch causing something to break on Rufrano’s #88 modified going into turn three and the car went full throttle into the outside wall. Narducci stopped just before turn four.

Both SK Light Champion contenders were out of the race. Rufrano was scored nineteenth in the finish which gave him the 2018 SK Light Championship. He was one position ahead of Bryan Narducci. Rufano stated that following the contact he got a right front flat tire and then the left front went down causing him to hit the wall hard in turn three.

Saturday action at Stafford saw feature events for its Limited Late Model, and Street Stock divisions, as well as a feature event for the Vintage All-Stars and the special Ladies Challenge feature that raised over $35,000 for various charities. Taking feature wins were Ryan Fearn in the Limited Late Model feature, George Bessette, Jr. in the Street Stock feature, Scott Dion in the Vintage All-Stars feature, and Debbie DeSanctis in the Ladies Challenge feature.

The NAPA Fall Final 150 will air on NBCSN on Saturday, October 6, at 11 p.m.

On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Kyle James took the SK Modified 40 lapper over Todd Owen and Timmy Jordan. It was James’ eighth win of the season. Jonathan Puleo was the SK Lite winner, Anthony Flannery, the Late Model winner, Peter Bennett won twin Legends features, Jordan Hadley was the Limited Sportsman winner, Charles Canfield was the Mini Stock winner and Duane Noll was the Truck division winner.

In the SK Modified event, Perhaps the most impressive move was pulled off by James. After Owen took the lead from Tim Jordan, James moved into second and spent 15 laps trying to make dive-bomb move on the inside. That didn’t work. On the final lap, however. James changed his strategy, went to the outside and flew past Owen. He won by 0.049 seconds.

Across the big pond at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Tom Rogers Jr. won the 2018 NASCAR Modified Finale as Kyle Soper claimed his first career Modified championship. When the 40-lap NASCAR Modified feature lined up Saturday night Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead trailed Kyle Soper of Manorville by 10-points for the championship. When the race took the checkered flag Rogers had won the battle winning his 4th race of 2018 but the 22-year old Soper won the war securing his first career NASCAR Modified championship off his 4th place finish. Soper driving for Wayne & Joette Anderson beat Rogers out by 6 points for the 2018 Whelen All American Series title and earlier in the night won his second consecutive Late Model championship.

On the speedway stock market scene this week, two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.12 to 17.85 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.10 to 2.15 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.25 to 43.80. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 1.57 to 52.28, NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.30 to 22.26 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.18 to 23.39. The auto manufacturers were all negative at weeks end. General Motors dropped 1.65 to 33.67 while Ford dropped 0.60 to 9.25 and Toyota dropped 0.37 to 124.35. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 5.24 to 207.15 and Lowes dropped 2.02 to 114.82. In the area of big team sponsors stocks, McDonalds went up 1.99 to 167.29, CocaCola went up 1.06 to 182.28, Target went up 0.90 to 88.21 while Dow-Dupont dropped 5.38 to 64.31, Fedex dropped 6.53 to 240.79 and Stanley Works-Black and Decker dropped 7.92 to 146.44.

On the tube this week:
Wednesday, October 3
12:30 AM, Glory Road – NASCAR Goes Road Racing, NBC Sports Net
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
Thursday, October 4
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
Friday, October 5
11:00 AM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Dover practice, NBCSN
12:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Dover practice, NBCSN
5::00 PM, MENCS Dover qualifying, NBCSN

Saturday, October 6
12:30 PM, NXS Dover qualifying, NBCSN
1:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
1:30 PM, MENCS Dover final practice, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NXS Dover race, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NXS Post Race, NBCSN
11:00 PM, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Stafford Fall Final NBCSN
Sunday, October 7
12:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1