Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Next up, the 2019 season gets underway at Stafford with the NAPA Spring Sizzler® spanning 3 days kicking off Friday, April 26th with a full afternoon of practice for Stafford’s weekly divisions.
The weekend continues Saturday, April 27 with qualifying for all divisions including group qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour as well as feature racing for the Vintage All-Stars, Limited Late Models and Street Stocks. New for 2019, the Saturday Street Stock feature will be a 30-lap special event as part of the RMSPCO.com Street Stock Triple Crown.
Sizzler® weekend is capped off Sunday, April 28 with the NAPA Auto Parts Pit Party and feature racing for the SK Modifieds®, Late Models, SK Light Modifieds, and finally the NAPA Spring Sizzler® 200 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. FansChoice.TV will live stream the entire event.
The 48th edition of the NAPA Spring Sizzler® at Stafford Speedway will see a Sizzler® legend return to the half-mile facility. Bob Polverari, the winner of the 10th NAPA Spring Sizzler back in 1981, will serve as the Grand Marshal of this year’s NAPA Spring Sizzler® and will send the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour field on its way with the most famous words in motorsports, “Drivers, start your engines.”
“It’s an honor to be the Grand Marshal of this year’s Sizzler®,” said Polverari. “I was very happy when Mark Arute gave me a call and asked me to be the Grand Marshal. I’m looking forward to giving the command and I’m very honored that Mark asked me to do it.”
Polverari’s 1981 Sizzler victory still holds as the greatest Sizzler® in history. Polverari began the 80-lap race from the 13th position and didn’t take the lead for the first time until lap-71, when Maynard Troyer dropped out of the race with a faulty clutch. Troyer had inherited the lead on lap-58 from Richie Evans, who earlier in the day had set a new track record in qualifying. Evans was the race favorite and held the race lead from laps 24-57, after starting 10th due to a 10-car invert from qualifying. A flat tire brought him to pit road under caution on lap-58 and Evans had to restart at the rear of the field. The #61 quickly charged back towards the front but it looked like he might run out of time before he got back to the lead. A caution with 4 laps remaining for a spin on the frontstretch by George LeBlanc gave Evans the opportunity he needed to reclaim the lead. Evans quickly took second from Reggie Ruggiero on the restart and he and Polverari proceeded to treat the standing room only crowd of over 13,000 to to a thrilling duel, racing side by side for the final four laps. The dynamic duo came off the fourth turn heading towards the checkered flag still side by side with Polverari nipping the “Rapid Roman” by a nose at the finish line with the official margin of victory listed as approximately one foot.
The Spring Sizzler will be live streamed by fanschoice.tv on Sunday at 6:00pm. It is not known at this time if the entire Sunday program at Stafford will be live streamed. Best bet is to check in hourly starting at noon.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continues to be the best competition that NASCAR has to offer.
Central North Carolina was supposed to come alive with racing and mayhem as the 71st season of NASCAR racing action at the Bowman Gray stadium was scheduled for last Saturday night. Unfortunately rain prevailed and forced rescheduling of the Hayes Jewelers 200 for the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series to this Saturday. Considered one of the best deals in outdoor family entertainment and sports events, adult ticket prices are $12. Children 6-11 are $2, and children 5 and under are free.
Things are beginning to progress at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as the first delivery of the new grandstands has arrived on property. The grand re-opening will occur in the near future.
On a sad note, 1971 Modified champion at the shoreline oval Joey Trudeau passed away. He was a former Motor vehicle Inspector for the Connecticut DMV.
On the speedway stock market scene last week, all three speedway stocks were down at the end of the four day trading period. The stock market was closed on Good Friday. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.34 to 43.16 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.20 to 13.76 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.34 to 43.16. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 2.14 to 55.20 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.74 to 20.51 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.27 to 15.28. The auto manufactures were all positive for the week. Ford went up 0.10 to 9.55 while General Motors went up 0.69 to 40.30 and Toyota went up 2.76 to 125.16. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 1.81 to 205.66 and Lowes dropped 2.52 to 113.74. The NASCAR big team sponsor’s stocks did fairly well. McDonalds went up 3.31 to 194.91, Coca-Cola went up 11.58 to 302.09, Target Department Stores went up 2.53 to 83.26 and Fedex went up 1.20 to 198.15 while Dow-Dupont dropped 0.47 to 39.00 and Stanley Black and Decker dropped 0.43 to 145.74.