RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; NASCAR Modifieds At South Boston & More…

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Whelen Modified Tour was in South Boston, Va. this past Saturday.

A strong field of 32 NASCAR Whelen Modifieds were on hand. Also on tap was the previously rained out PASS Commonwealth Classic at Richmond which also had tour type modifieds on their venue created a direct conflict for both modified competitors and modified fans. As of Thursday, March 28 there were only 10 tour type modifieds were pre-entered. Among those who were entered at Richmond was Matt Hirschman. Hirschman, who is not considered a regular on the Whelen Modified Tour, finished 11th at Myrtle Beach.

At South Boston the Whelen Modifieds performed in a near full house. At Richmond the grandstands were empty. Tommy Catalano was the pole sitter as he toured the .400 mile recently paved oval in13.849 seconds or 103.979mph. Second fastest was Chase Dowling in the Jamie Tomaino entry. Ron Silk was third. Jon McKennedy and Matt Swanson rounded out the top five.

Catalano took the lead at the start. Dowling slid back which made it obvious that the top groove lacked grip. The first caution flew on lap 16 when Burt Myers tapped Justin Bonsignore as the field backed up in the turn three area. Bonsignore’s mount suffered severe damage to the right front suspension. Catalano continued to lead the field when on lap 27 the second caution flew as Frank Fleming, Kyle Ebersol, John Fortin, Jeremy Gerstner and Calvin Carroll crashed. Catalano continued to lead until Walter Sutcliffe spun in turn 4 bring out caution no.3.

Catalano and Dowling pitted for fresh tires. Burt Myers elected not to pit and inherited the lead and Ron Silk moved up to second. The fourth caution of the day flew on lap 83 when James Civale spun and hit the wall in turn four. Myers indicated that he was going non-stop without a tire change as the field took the green on lap 89. Kyle Bonsignore was running second as Silk was closing on the front two. On lap 126 Sutcliffe spun for the second time, bringing out the fifth caution.

When the green was displayed on lap 132 Myers hit the gas and momentarily slipped which allowed Silk to surge by for the lead Myers regained his composure but the damage was done. With worn out tires he was shuffled to the back as Dowling, Jimmy Blewett and Kyle Bonsignore rode by.

At the 150 lap mark the checkered flag was waved and Silk ended a long dry spell. Chase Dowling finished second with Jimmy Blewett, third. Kyle Bonsignore and Burt Myers rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Chris Pasteryak, Patrick Emerling, Doug Coby, Timmy Solomito and Craig Lutz.

Eighteen of the 31 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who did not finish were Calvin Carroll (32), Kyle Ebersol (31), Jeremy Gerstner (29) and Frank Fleming (30) who wrecked on lap 26, Rob Summers retired after 42 laps with overheating problems. Timmy Catalano (27) and Eric Goodale (26) retired with engine trouble on laps 49 and 50. Justin Bonsignore (25) continued to have bad luck as he crashed on lap 16, made repairs only to retire after 93 laps with power steering problems. James Civale (22) recovered from hitting the wall on lap 83 only to drop out after completing 117 laps with electrical problems. Melissa Fifield (24) and Wade Cole (23) were running at the end.

After two events, Doug Coby leads the series point standings. Coby leads Jon McKennedy by three points. Jimmy Blewett sits third with Patrick Emerling and Chris Pasteryak rounding out the top five.

Overall, the quality of this event and the quantity of entries was very good. The Modifieds did not disappoint as they continue to be the most competitive and entertaining of all of the NASCAR divisions. FansChoice.TV did an outstanding job in their presentation of the event. As previously announced, they will live stream the entire NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series schedule. For those who missed the South Boston live stream the NBC Sports net will televise the event on Wednesday, April 3 at 4:00pm or on Monday Apr 8 at 7:00pm. It is also up on U-Tube.

In the inaugural Commonwealth Classic at Richmond Raceway (VA). Matt Hirschman dominated the 75-lap feature, winning from the pole. It was basically a 75 lap practice session for the veteran racer. Andy Seuss was second with Bobby Measmer, third.

This coming week, the hills of northeastern Connecticut come alive with the sounds of racing engines at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway as IceBreaker 2019 gets the green on Sunday, April 7. With the sun getting higher every day and daylight-saving kicking in, this entire event should be run in the daylight hours.

Feature events include NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (150), Sunoco Modified (30), Late Model (25), Lite Modifieds (20), Limited Sportsman (20), Mini Stock (15), Pro All Stars Series (75), NEMA Lites (20), 375 Sportsman Challenge (35), Exit Realty Pro Truck Challenge (20), Valenti Modified Racing Series (50).

In some great news, FansChoice.TV will air ALL 10 NASCAR events at Thompson in 2019, beginning with the 45th annual Icebreaker weekend! This includes all of Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour & more!

Many are hoping Stafford and Waterford will follow their lead.

Internet Racing News site RaceDayCt reported that the trial of New London-Waterford Speedbowl owner Bruce Bemer was scheduled to begin on Monday, April 1 in Danbury Superior Court. Bemer was arrested, along with two other men, in March 2017 in connection with a Connecticut based human trafficking ring. Investigators allege the decades long ring victimized mentally ill young men. Bemer, of Glastonbury, has pleaded not guilty to charges of patronizing trafficking victims under 18 and accessory to human trafficking. Hopefully this will not affect the installation of new grandstands that are scheduled to be installed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.95 to 43.63 and Speedway Motorsports went up 0.51 to 14.47 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.01 to 2.02. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 1.07 to 54.58 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.75 to 18.15 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.01 to 15.37. Two of the three car manufacturers were down for the week. Toyota dropped 2.20 to 118.02 and Ford dropped 0.06 to 8.78 while General Motors went up 0.66 to 37.10. In the home improvement sector Lowes went up 4.52 to 109.47 and Home Depot went up 3.14 to 191.89. With the exception of Dow-Dupont which dropped 0.61 to 53.31 the big team sponsors stocks were up. McDonalds went up 3.09 to 189.90, Coca-Cola went up 28.58 to 287.83, Target Department Stores went up 0.74 to 80.26, Fedex went up 7.92 to 181.41 and Stanley Black and Decker went up 5.27 to 136.17.

On the tube this week:
Wednesday, April 3
2:30 p.m., Unrivaled: Earnhardt vs. Gordon (re-air), Fox Sports 2
3:30 p.m., My Bariatrics Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway (re-air), FS2
6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, Fox Sports1
6 p.m., NASCAR America: Motormouths Call In, NBC Sports Net
7 p.m., Unrivaled: Earnhardt vs. Gordon (re-air), FS1

Thursday, April 4
6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

Friday, April 5
3 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series practice, FS1
4 p.m., NASCA Race Hub: Weekend Edition, FS1
5 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series final practice, FS1
6 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch Pole qualifying, FS1
7 p.m., NASCAR Presents: The Adventures of Janet Guthrie (re-air), FS1

Saturday, April 6
6:30 a.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series final practice (re-air), FS1
7:30 a.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch Pole qualifying (re-air), FS1
8:30 a.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, FS1
9:30 a.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying, FS1
10:30 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub: Weekend Edition, FS1
11 a.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice, FS1
Noon, NASCAR Race Hub: Weekend Edition, FS1
12:30 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay: Xfinity Series, FS1
1 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, FS1
3:30 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series Post-Race Show, FS1

Sunday, April 7
12:30 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay: Bristol, FS1
2 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, FS1
11:30 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (re-air), FS1