RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail: The Cement Palace, 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. Thirty two teams entered the event, thirty one were on hand for qualifying. Doug Coby captured the pole as he toured the Seekonk oval in 11.923 seconds Second fastest was Matt Hirschman. Chase Dowling was third with Ron Silk and Craig Lutz rounding out the top five. Not qualifying were Kyle Elwood and Walt Sutcliff who were bumped by Wade Cole and Melissa Fifield who were eligible for provisional spots. John Monsanto never attempted to qualify.

When Doug Coby and crew chief Phil Moran left the Seekonk Speedway to go home they had a broom attached to their race car hauler as they had made a clean sweep of the Seekonk 150. Starting on the pole, Coby lost the lead to Matt Hirschman in the opening laps but took it back on lap 15 and never looked back. From then on, Coby was in cruise control. In the late stages Hirschman faded to 12th while Justin Bonsignore moved into the second spot. Bonsignore couldn’t touch Coby and settled for the runner-up spot at the finish. Craig Lutz finished third with Ron Silk and Timmy Solomito rounding out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Chris Pasteryak, Anthony Nocella, Matt Swanson, Patrick Emerling and Andrew Krause.

The event was started at 9:03pm by Grand Marshalls Peg and Rick Summers. The checker dropped at 9:44pm. Live streamed coverage of the Seekonk event was provided by FansChoice.tv. It must be noted that Meyhew Tools, which sponsor Coby, received thousands of dollars in TV exposure as did the Seekonk Speedway.

Friday night was Military Appreciation Night at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Andrew Molleur was a first-time winner in the SK Modified® feature, beating Michael Gervais, Jr. to the line by inches. Tom Fearn won the Late Model feature with Teddy Hodgdon winning the SK Light feature over Bryan Narducci, Jeremy Lavoie winning the Limited Late Model feature, and Meghan Fuller winning the Street Stock feature.

With 10 laps to go, Todd Owen was pressuring Molleur for the race lead with Ron Williams third, Keith Rocco fourth, and Glenn Reen fifth. Mike Christopher spun coming out of turn 4 to bring the caution out with 36 laps complete. Christopher was given a one lap penalty by NASCAR officials for drawing the yellow flag.

Cory DiMatteo and Reen spun on the restart to bring the caution immediately back out. The next restart saw Molleur and Owen side by side for the lead with Rocco and Michael Gervais, jr. side by side for third. Molleur got clear to the lead on lap-39 with Gervais and Owen side by side for second and Rocco in fourth. Gervais was able to get to the outside of Molleur as they came to the white flag. The two cars ran side by side for the final lap and they were still side by side coming to the checkered flag. Molleur beat Gervais to the line by inches to lock down his first career SK Modified® feature victory. Owen finished third with Rocco and Matt Vassar rounding out the top-5.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, With some 35 or so laps left in what would turn out to be a non-stop 75 lap NASCAR Modified feature at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night veteran driver John Beatty Jr. was perhaps thinking to himself second place is as good as it going to get. . However with 29 laps remaining in the race David Schneider who led the contest since the second lap went wide around some lapped cars opening the door for Beatty who pounced on the opportunity to score his first win of 2019. It was John’s 6th career NASCAR Modified triumph.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Burt Myers ended a long dry spell in a big way. Myers, a nine-time and three-time defending champion, hadn’t won a race since June 30 of 2018. Saturday night Myers won the pole, then decided to go to the back of the field after taking the Fans’ Challenge. And not only did Myers come from 24th and last place to win the race, he also collected $3,000 for finishing in the top four after accepting the Challenge. Chris Flemming finished second with James Civali, third.

> In a joint announcement from NASCAR and the Martinsville Speedway, for the first time since 2010, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Martinsville Speedway in 2020 for the MaxPro Window Films 200. The modifieds, which were a fixture at Martinsville for decades, will race the 200 lap race on Friday Night May 8, 2020 as part of the spring race weekend.

The modified division first raced at Martinsville in 1960 and raced every year through 2002. Virginian Ray Hendrick, who also is the career leader in overall wins at Martinsville with 20, is the all-time leader in modified wins at Martinsville with 15. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans is second with 10.

Adrienne Venditti has announced that her book, THE GODFATHER OF STOCK CAR RACING IN NEW ENGLAND is done and has been published and is available on Amazon.

This book is dedicated to the man whose life inspired her to tell his story. His name is D. Anthony Venditti, widely known as the Godfather of Stock Car Racing in New England. It is also dedicated to her mother, with her eternal love and devoted support of her beloved Anthony, her family, and racing. She and the Godfather enabled and empowered their family to persevere in the sport. This is to all those with unending convictions in the Godfather and to the Seekonk Fraternity of racing.

This book is a pictorial and a closer look at the life of the Godfather. He was the youngest promoter in motor sports in the United States in the 1940s. And as a twenty-five-year-old, he planned, engineered, and built his speedway. He was young and full of ambition. It was his dream, an American dream, to build, open, and operate his speedway at the end of World War II, in 1946. Yet when in his advanced years, he then became known as the oldest living promoter in stock car racing. He consecutively ran his race plant each year, faithfully opening his facility, without fail. He never missed a season under his reign-an unheard-of feat of forty-five years as a stock car racing promoter.

Seekonk Speedway continues to run without any ambiguity by the same family. The speedway is proudly still in business all these seventy-three consecutive years of racing in the books. Anthony is celebrated and acclaimed for his pioneering in the American sport of auto racing, awarded RPM’s “1978 Promoter of the Year.” It was with great adoration of the sports community that he is acknowledged for his forethought and far-reaching ideas of innovation pertaining to mechanical engineering, safety features in facility construction, and administrative procedures. Mr. Venditti is attributed to numerous awards for his devotion for the betterment of the sport of auto racing.

On a sad note, Adrienne Venditti sends word that New England racing pioneer Don Rounds has passed away. A Near Hall of Famer, Don Rounds Sr. passed on May 3rd at the age of 91. Don was Track Champion at Stafford Speedway when Stafford was still a dirt track. Don loved to travel to all the New England tracks for four decades and was well known throughout New England. His family was very proud of his racing accomplishments. Don was buried on May 8th with full military honors in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Don began racing stock cars at the dirt track of the Kingston Fairgrounds in 1948. He took down his first feature win three years later, driving the Familiar number 101, a “37” Ford Flathead. The next year he started racing at Seekonk, under the sanction of the Interstate Stock Car Racing Association, led by Lou Guiliano, and in 1950 The Tri State Racing Association led by Rusty Rushton. Don competed at dozens of tracks throughout the Northeast including Lakeville and Millers Falls in Massachusetts, Beech Ridge, Maine, Bennington and Rutland VT, and Keene, NH. He stormed through New York successfully racing at tracks in that state.

On the speedway stock market scene last week, all three speedway stocks ended the week on the minus side. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.63 to 44.76, Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.30 to 18.16 and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.02 to 2.07. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 1.56 to 61.86. NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.85 to 13.76 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.23 to 13.41. The auto manufacturers were all down for the week. Leading the plunge was General Motors which dropped 1.80 to 33.34. Toyota dropped 1.03 to 117.54 and Ford dropped 0.32 to 9.51. The big teams sponsors stocks were all down except for McDonalds which went up 0.38 to 198.27. Coca-Cola dropped 5.33 to 302.01, Target dropped 1.13 to 80.44, DowDupont dropped 0.59 to 30.51, Fedex dropped 5.74 to 154.25 and Stanley- Black and Decker dropped 5.63 to 127.20.

On the tube this week:

Wednesday, June 5

5 p.m., NASCAR America: “Motormouths,” NBC Sports Net

6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, Fox Sports 1

6 p.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, East Memphis 150, NBCSN

7 p.m., NASCAR Whelen Series, NBCSN

Thursday, June 6

5 p.m., NASCAR America: “The Motorsports Hour,” NBCSN

6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

Friday, June 7

5 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Final Practice at Michigan International Speedway, FS1

8 p.m., RaceDay: NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, FS1

9 p.m., NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Speedycash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, FS1

Saturday, June 8

3:30 a.m., NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Speedycash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway (re-air) FS1

Noon: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Michigan International Speedway, FS1

1 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay: Xfinity, FS1

1:30 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series LTI Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway, FS1

Sunday June 9,

1 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1