RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; Tying Up 2018 Loose Ends; Looking Ahead At Next Season

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Brandon Thompson, Managing Director of NASCAR Touring Series, confirmed to NASCAR.com that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to South Boston Speedway in Virginia on Saturday, March 30, 2019.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competed at South Boston in 2001, a race won by Jerry Marquis. He defeated 33 other modified competitors, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Mike Stefanik and the late Ted Christopher, who finished second and third. Following Marquis’ victory. Car owner Mario Fiore announced that he was retiring from the sport. South Boston Speedway is located about 60 miles east of Martinsville in Virginia. In operation since 1957, Ray Hendrick is the all-time feature winner with 36 victories.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour director Jimmy Wilson told Area Auto Racing News that the schedule for 2019 is still under construction. He alluded to the fact that the schedule could grow from 16 to 18 events next year.

Chances are that the Thompson Speedway will re-up for their four tour events as will Stafford. Riverhead will also re-up for two evens as will the New Hampshire International Speedway. An early season event at Myrtle Beach is in doubt as is a return to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

It appears that Eddie Partridge will no longer field a car on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on a regular basis now that Ryan Preece has become a regular competitor in NASCAR’s Cup Series. He will keep one car for Preece whenever he is available.

Preece has indicated that he would like to compete at New Smyrna before action for the cup cars begin at Daytona in February.

Partridge, who owns the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island says that because of numerous rain-outs this past year, Riverhead will have a Wednesday night rain date. Wednesday night rain dates were good crowd draws last year.

Not to look too far ahead, Partridge is considering moving his regular race date from Saturday to either Wednesday or Thursday in 2020.

Bobby Santos traveled west to Irwindale, Ca last weekend where he won the 40-lap King of the Wing Sprint Car event. Santos has excelled in just about everything he has driven.

Speaking of traveling, Burt Myers was seen at the Gillette Stadium cheering on the New England Patriots on Sunday night. Myers, who is from Walnut Grove, North Carolina was even wearing a Patriots sweat shirt.

With the final checkered flag of the 2018 season displayed at the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final, Ronnie Williams, Tom Fearn, Marcello Rufrano, Jeremy Lavoie, and George Bessette, Jr. have etched their names in the Stafford Speedway history books as 2018 track champions.

In the SK Modified division, Williams took the point lead for the first time following a win on July 6 and he led the standings for the remainder of the season and won his very first track championship at Stafford. For the season Williams posted 4 wins, 14 top-5 and 17 top-10 finishes.

In the Late Model division in 21 starts this season, Fearn finished on the podium 19 times with 12 wins, 6 second place finishes, and one third place finish. Fearn’s 12 wins this season set a Stafford Speedway Late Model division record and he also set a division record with six consecutive wins from May 18 to June 22.

In the SK Lites, Bryan Narducci looked to have the championship within his grasp late in the season, but two 15th place finishes in the 4 races leading into the season ending NAPA Fall Final allowed Marcello Rufrano to enter that race tied with Narducci in the standings.

As the two were racing for the lead in the final race, they made contact and both drivers crashed out of the race. With Rufrano being in front of Narducci on the last completed green flag lap, he was scored one position ahead of Narducci and became the SK Light champion.

For the season, Rufrano and the #88 Wheelers Auto Service team posted 6 wins, 11 top-5, and 16 top-10 finishes.

Modified action moves south this weekend to Concord, NC for the 16th annual running of the John Blewett III Memorial North South Shootout in Memory of Charles Kepley.

Next Sunday, Nov 11, The New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame will induct their class of 2019 at Manley’s Banquet Hall in South Windsor, Ct. The class includes the late Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik, Jamie Aube, Ken Tremont Sr, John Buffum, Butch Elms, Dick Glines and Pete Silva.

On the speedway stock market scene this week, all three speedway stocks had positive endings after a one week slump. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 4.90 to 37.86. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.42 to 15.95 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.02 to 2.13. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 3.05 to54.10 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.22 to 21,56 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.20 to 15.66. Two of the three auto manufacturers went up for the week. General Motors went up 3.38 to 36.03 and Ford went up 0.40 to 9.38 while Toyota dropped 1.84 to 15.46. In the home improvement sector, Lowes went up 3.04 to 93.78 and Home Depot went up 7.70 to 179.93. In big team sponsor stocks, it was all positive for the week. McDonalds went up 3.41 to 176.75, Coca-Cola went up 8.58 to 174.48, Target went up 2.47 to 84.41, Dow-Dupont went up 5.73 to 57.73, Fedex went up 11.13 to 221.66 and Porter Cable-Stanley Works went up 4.03 to 124.24.

On the tube this week:
Thursday, November 8
2:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
5:30 PM, Dale Jr. Download, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

Friday, November 9
2:30 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
10:30 AM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ISM Raceway practice, Fox Sports 2
11:30 AM, Classic NASCAR – 1988 Daytona 500, FS2
12:00 PM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Phoenix ISM Raceway final practice, FS2
1:30 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ISM Raceway practice, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series ISM Raceway practice, NBCSN
4:30 PM, NXS ISM Raceway final practice, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NCWTS ISM Raceway qualifying, FS1
7:00 PM, MENCS ISM Raceway qualifying, NBCSN
8:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
8:30 PM, NCWTS ISM Raceway race, FS1
11:30 PM, Dale Jr. Download, NBCSN

Saturday, November 10
4:00 AM, NCWTS ISM Raceway race re-air, FS1
11:30 AM, MENCS ISM Raceway practice, CNBC
12:30 PM, NXS ISM Raceway qualifying, NBCSN
1:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
2:00 PM, MENCS ISM Raceway final practice, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBC
3:30 PM, NXS ISM Raceway race, NBC

Sunday, November 11
12:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1:30 PM, MENCS Countdown to Green, NBC
2:30 PM, MENCS ISM Raceway race, NBC
6:00 PM, MENCS Post Race, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN

Monday, November 12
2:00 AM, NCWTS ISM Raceway race re-air, FS2
2:30 PM, NASCAR 120: MENCS ISM Raceway race re-air, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1