RPW Exclusive: Modified Action At Its Best, Stafford & More…

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, Mass. In operation since 1946 and under the direction of the Venditti family since day one. Dubbed the Cement Palace, the Speedway sits at the gate of the Cape Cod National seashore.

With five events in the books Doug Coby sits atop the point standings with a 19 point lead over Ron Silk. Sitting third is Jimmy Blewett. Patrick Emerling and Woody Pitkat round out the top five. Eric Goodale sits in sixth spot with defending series champion Justin Bonsignore, seventh. Despite how bad it looks Bonsignore is only 37 points behind the leader. Eighth is third generation racer Blake Barney. Barney has shown flashes of brilliance of late as he has injected new blood into the division. Ninth in the standings is second generation driver Chris Pasteryak. Pasteryak, son of Charlie and nephew of Carl Pasteryak is an even 50 points out of the lead. Rounding out the top ten is a new up and comer, Craig Lutz. Its just a matter of time before Lutz lands sin victory lane.

It looks like Dave Sapienza, who is currently 15th in the standings will step out of competition in order for his back to heal after being involved in a vicious crash at the recent event at Wall Stadium, Sapienza’s car will set idle this week but will be driven by Burt Myers at the up-coming mid-week event at Thompson. Beyond that an announcement is forth coming. At 44, Sapienza is one of the oldest on the tour. Wade Cole, at 66 is the oldest.

Live streamed coverage of the Seekonk event will be provided by FansChoice.tv starting at 6:00pm.

Friday night was a busy one at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair Modifiedz Night returned to Stafford Speedway for the 3rd consecutive year. Due to the early season rainouts, Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night became a packed card of Modified Racing with 160 laps of Modified action including 40 laps for the SK Light Modified division and 80 laps for the Open [tour-type] Modified division. A total of six divisions of racing were on tap.

In the Open Modified 80 with tour style modifieds, Keith Rocco took the lead just before halfway in the 80-lap race and he dominated the second half of the race to win the race and lead Stafford SK Modified® regulars Todd Owen and Matt Galko. Goodale nearly took the lead from Rocco in turn 4 on lap-48 but Rocco was able to hold him off. Owen then pulled to the outside of Goodale on lap-59 and he moved into second place. Owen was hounding Rocco for the lead but Rocco was able to fend off Owen’s challenges and remain in the lead.

Rocco and Owen began to slowly pull away from Goodale in third, who in turn had Dowling, Galko, Etheridge, and McDermott lined up behind him. This was the order with 10 laps to go.

Rocco led Owen to the checkered flag to win the Open Mod 80. Galko finished third with Goodale and Chase Dowling rounding out the top-5. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 272 wins which also include 150 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 60 at Thompson and 62 at Stafford Speedway.

Stafford’s SK Lights took center stage with a 40-lap feature that paid over $10,000 in total posted awards. Noah Korner picked the perfect night to nail down his first career SK Light win at Stafford as he won the 40-lap Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night SK Light feature to take home $2,025 in total posted awards. Korner made a power move on the final lap to the inside of Teddy Hodgdon and made the pass stick. Korner and Hodgdon drag raced to the checkered flag with Korner beating him to the line by a nose. Jonathan Puleo finished third. Pre-race favorite Bryan Narducci fell victim to a flat tire early on and finished last. SK Lite rules at Stafford do not allow pitting.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper, Ron Williams led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2019 season at Stafford. Joey Cipriano came home in second with Nick Salva, Eric Berndt, and Michael Gervais rounding out the top-5.

Other winners on Friday night were Kevin Gambacorta in the Late Model feature, Matt Clement in the Limited Late Model feature, and George Bessette, Jr. in the Street Stock feature.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Kyle Soper took the top spot in the Wayne Anderson #15. Tom Rogers finished second.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Brandon Ward took the NASCAR Modified feature over Jason Myers, Danny Bohn, Burt Myers and James Civali.

Matt Hirschman was the winner of the opening round of the Tri Track Series Ron Bouchard Auto Sales 100 held at the Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire. Les Hinkley finished second with Ron Williams, third.

NASCAR announced on Wednesday,May 22 that it has reached a $2 billion merger agreement with the International Speedway Corporation, granting the organization control of key racetracks such as the Daytona International Speedway. The agreement gives NASCAR control over a total of 12 ISC tracks that host events on its schedule, including Daytona, Talladega Superspeedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. ISC shareholders will receive $45 per share.The deal, which is set to close later this year, pending the approval of non-controlling shareholders.

The merger comes as NASCAR contends with a downturn in its business. The stock car racing organization’s television ratings and event attendance have plummeted in recent years. NASCAR is said to be considering changes to its rigorous race schedule in a bid to jumpstart fan interest. The France family, which has controlled NASCAR for decades, will maintain control of the combined entity.

On the speedway stock market scene last week, all three speedway stocks ended the week on the plus side. Leading the way is the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.64 to 45.39. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.31 to 18.46 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.04 to 2.09. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 0.21 to 63.42 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.09 to 14.64 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 4.32 to 14.61. Two of the three auto manufacturers were down for the week. Ford dropped 0.46 to 9.83 and General Motors dropped 1.86 to 35.14 while Toyota went up 0.32 to 118.57. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 1.05 to 193.63 while Lowes dropped 13.61 to 95.39. In the area of big team sponsor’s stocks, McDonalds went up 5.31 to 197.89, DowDupont went up 0.13 to 31.10 and Target Department Stores went up 10.69 to 81.57 while Coca-Cola dropped 5.71 to 307.34, Fedex dropped 9.91 to 159.99 and Stanley-Black and Decker dropped 2.02 to 132.83.

On the tube this week:

Friday, May 31

3 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series final practice, Pocono Raceway, Fox Sports 2

4 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice, Pocono Raceway FS2

10:30 p.m., NASCAR Presents Davey Lives On, Fox Sports 1

Saturday, June 1

6 a.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice, FS1

9 a.m., Unrivaled: Earnhardt vs. Gordon, FS1

10 a.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying, FS1

11 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub Weekend Edition, FS1

11:30 a.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying, FS1

12:30 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay: Xfinity at Pocono, FS1

1 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series Pocono Green 250, FS1

Sunday, June 2

9 a.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series Pocono Green 250, FS1

12:30 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay: Pocono, FS1

2 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pocono 400, FS1