Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1949, Henry Hager won a 20 lap feature for stock cars at the Buffalo Civic Stadium in western New York. Slim Ingalls was the winner at Seekonk.
Sixty five years ago in 1954 Moe Gherzi picked up the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Red Foote took the Saturday night event. Tom Van Epps made it four in a row in non-Ford action on Wednesday night at the shoreline oval but gave way to Arnie Harris on Saturday night. Hank Stevens was the A-main winner and Tex Barry was the B-Main winner at Seekonk.
Sixty years ago in 1959, rain washed out the action on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Rain also washed out the Wednesday racing at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. It cleared by Saturday allowing Bill Slater to take the victory in the 25 lap Sportsman feature. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner and Ben Hewitt was the Bomber feature winner. Bill Rafter made it two in a row at the Buffalo Civic Stadium. Midgets ran at Lancaster with Buddy Martin taking the win. For the second week in a row it rained at Seekonk.
Fifty five years ago in 1964 saw a full weekend of racing without rain. Feature winners included Elton Hilldreth at Old Bridge in New Jersey and Joe Kelly who won twin features at the Wall Stadium, also in New Jersey. Bill Wimble took his third win of the year over George Janoski and Pete Corey on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. In the great state of New York, Rene Charland took the win at Fonda and on the Island at Islip a power failure forced a cancellation. Ray Moran was the 30 lap June Modified championship winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Potter, who was bareley out of his teens, was the Bomber winner at the shoreline oval. A young guy fresh out of the service by the name of Bugsy Stevens was the A-main winner at Seekonk. Pop Silvia was the Cadet winner.
Fifty years ago in 1969 rain washed out Friday night action at Stafford and at Albany-Saratoga. Saturday night at Norwood, Johnny Thompson in his Ford powered No.122 dusted the field. Bugsy Stevens finished second. At Fonda, Lou Lazzaro continued his hot streak to five in a row as he beat out Jerry Pennock and Ken Shoemaker for the win. Guy Chartrand made it three in a row for Ed Cloce’s Hemi-Cuda at Airborne and at Islip, Island favorite Jim Hendrickson beat out Fred Harbach and Gary Winters. Bob Potter made it two in a row as he took the Modified win at the Waterford Speedbowl. Don Bunnell was the Daredevil winner. At Seekonk Johnny Tripp Jr took the A-main feature. At Thompson on Sunday, Fred DeSarro held off Eddie Flemke and Bugsy Stevens for the win. Utica-Rome rained out.
Forty five years ago in 1974, Ted Wesnofske mastered the tight Freeport oval as he won out over Charlie Jarzombek and Fred Harbach. At Utica-Rome, Richie Evans won a 100 lapper over Geoff Bodine and Jerry Cook. At Monadnock, Bob Santos won with John Rosati, second. Ron Bouchard was involved in an early crash and finished third, only to be disqualified because work was done on his car. Bouchard brushed the first turn wall which somehow moved the firewall enough to make the throttle hang up. Car owner Bob Johnson climbed in the car with Bouchard and kicked the firewall out enough so the throttle rod would clear. Bill Brown, who owned Monadnock at the time had a rule that stated that no work could be done on the cars once the race started and told Bouchard and Johnson after the race that they had run for nothing. Needless to say, Johnson became ballistic but to no avail as the disqualification stood. Saturday night at Stafford, Bouchard was on a tear and he blistered the field to take the win. Hop Harrington finished second and was followed by Bugs Stevens and Jerry Cook. Shangri-La and Lancaster rained out but at Islip, Charlie Siebert was the winner. Don Bunnell was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ron Cote was the Grand American late model winner. Jimmy Wilkins was the A-main winner at Seekonk. The finish at Fulton on Sunday was the same as that at Utica on Friday as Evans made it two for two on the weekend.
Forty years ago in 1979, Richie Evans was the top gun in Friday night action at Stafford. Bob Vee finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Leo Cleary. At New Egypt it was Wayne Anderson over Greg Sacks and at Spencer, George Kent beat out Jerry Cook and Doug Hewitt. On Saturday, Jerry Cook got a rare win over Richie Evans at Riverside and at Seekonk, George Savory was the modified winner. Tom Baldwin beat his idol, Charlie Jarzombek to the checker at Islip. Other weekend winners were Roland LaPierre Jr. at Westboro, Mike Beebe at Waterford, Ronnie Rocco at Plainville, Maynard Troyer at Lancaster and Lou Lazzarro got his 97th career win at Fonda. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Buddy Baker ran flat out to beat Donnie Allison for the win
Thirty five years ago in 1984, Bugsy Stevens, in the Mystic Missile, took the top spot at Stafford on Friday night. Jeff Fuller finished second with Charlie Jarzombeck, third. At Riverside it was Stan Gregger taking the top spot and at Waterford a 100 lapper and a regular program were run. Bob Potter won the 100 lapper over Don Bunnell and Tom Fox. Fox, driving his family owned modified won the regular 30 lapper over Bunnell and Potter. Spencer Speedway ran on Friday and Sunday. Richie Evans won a 100 lapper on Friday night over George Kent and Doug Hewitt. Twin 75’s were run on Sunday. Jim Spencer won the first event and finished second in the second event. He was later found to be running an illegal carburetor and was disqualified. Evans was awarded on win and Jan Leaty the other. Other weekend winners were Spencer at Shangri-La, Tom McCann at Riverhead, Don Howe at Islip, John Blewett Jr. at New Egypt and Punky Caron at Claremont. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bill Elliott was both the pole sitter and the winner.
Thirty years ago in 1989, Teddy and Mikey Christopher finished one-two at Stafford on Friday night. At Thompson on Sunday it was Mikey followed by Teddy. Waterford rained out but not before Phil Rondeau would win another late model feature. Brian Schofield with a 340 ci powerplant won at Riverside over Tom Bolles while at Riverhead, it rained. At Shangri-La, Chris Amen beat out Jan Leaty and George Kent.
Twenty five years ago, in 1994, Mike Christopher took the Friday night win at Stafford over John Anderson and Bob Potter. At Waterford on Saturday, Jim Broderick went pole to pole and held off Jerry Pearl and Bob Potter for the win. Todd Ceravolo received a broken thumb after being involved in an early race accident. At Riverside, Steve Park recorded his second win and at Riverhead it was Don Howe recording his second win of the season. A dark cloud hung over Wall Stadium as starter Dave Innes was struck and killed at the Jersey shoreline track. The Modified Tour Series was at Thompson on Sunday for a 125-lap event. Rick Fuller in the Chase 77 pitted on lap 46 and took the lead from brother Jeff on lap 77 and went on to take the win. Jeff Fuller didn’t pit and quickly faded to the point that he got lapped on lap 109. Reggie Ruggerio finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino and Wayne Anderson. Richie Gallup in the Ceravolo No.31 won the 30-lap SK event. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Rusty Wallace made it three in a row.
Twenty years ago, in 1999, in one of the saddest days of racing in New England, officials of Premier Parks that owns Riverside Park Speedway informed competitors, fans and race officials that racing would come to an end at the historical speedway at the end of the 1999 season. At Stafford on Friday night, Mike Christopher took the win over Jerry Marquis and Todd Szegedy. At Waterford on Saturday night, Ted Christopher took the top spot over Bert Marvin and Jeff Pearl. In the late models, Phil Rondeau recorded his 100th late model victory. Rondeau also has two modified wins. Twin 150’s for Busch North and Featherlite Modifieds. Tony Hirshman cleaned house with the all but unbeatable Cretty modified. Hirshman took the lead from John Blewett III on lap 112.Tim Connolly finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko and Charlie Pasteryak. Tracy Gordon was the Busch North winner with Martin Truex and Brad Leighton rounding out the top three. In twin 35’s at Riverside, Tom Jensen and Rick Miller were the winners and at Riverhead it was JR Bertuccio over Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. Ted Christopher closed out the weekend with a win at Thompson on Sunday night. Shaun Buffinton finished second with Todd Ceravolo, third. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bobby LaBonte took the win.
Fifteen years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series had a well-deserved week off. After seven events Eddie Flemke JR and the Roger Hill owned No.79 led the point standings. Flemke, who won the Modified Tour event at the Waterford Speedbowl on May 15 had six top five finishes and led Tony Hirschman by 27 points. Hirschman had two wins, Stafford Speedway on May 28 and Lake Erie Speedway on June 12, including five top-fives. Jerry Marquis who drove the legendary Ole Blu owned by Janice and Michael Boehler was the top money winner in the series with $27,240 in winnings. Marquis, who had two wins to his credit, the Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 25 and the Riverhead 200 on June 5, was 49 points out of the lead. Had it not been for a wreck at Thompson, which placed him in the 29th finishing position, Marquis would have been close if not in front of the point standings. Ted Christopher who benefited from Marquis’ misfortune at Thompson, sat in fourth spot, 95 points down from the leader. Defending series champion Todd Szegedy who won at Nazareth on May 23 rounded out the top five. Szegedy, who was disqualified after he apparently won at Thompson on April 18, was 189 points out of the lead. Sixth through tenth were Rick Fuller, Jamie Tomaino, Chuck Hossfeld, John Blewett III and Tom Bolles. Even without the help of Television exposure, with exception of the events at Stafford, the division is the highest drawing of competitors in all of NASCAR. With the exception of the event at Lake Erie, which drew 33 cars, all Featherlite Modified Tour Series events had drawn between 40-50 cars.
The Busch North Series was at the Stafford Motor Speedway Friday night. Veteran Kelly Moore went non-stop without a tire change to record his 26th Series win. Moore jumped out from his outside pole starting spot and led all but one of the 150 laps run. Point leader Andy Santerre led lap 35 but Moore took it back as he was on a mission. Santerre ended up in second spot with Matt Kobyluck, third. Kobyluck also went non-stop. Mike Olsen and Dale Quarterly rounded out the top five. Local favorites Jerry Marquis and Mike Stefanik finished 12th and 13th Twenty-five cars were on hand.
Eric Berndt and Ted Christopher got lucky at Thompson on Thursday night. Berndt got lucky when Bo Gunning tangled with Kerry Malone on lap 24 of the 30-lap feature. Gunning and Malone went to the rear as the rain began to fall. Berndt, who was running third, inherited the lead and the eventual win as the rain intensified and the event was called official. Had they restarted Ted Christopher would not have finished, as his right rear tire was almost flat when the red and checkered flag was displayed. Todd Ceravolo, who had just got his motor back from the repair shop after breaking a camshaft, finished third. Harry Rheaume and Shawn Monahan rounded out the top five. Sean Caisse, who has had his problems qualifying for Featherlite Modified Tour Series events, finished sixth. The Thompson Late Models, Pro Stocks, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks will get to run their events at a later date. The speedway management announced that rain checks would be issued to those who held grandstand tickets. The rain checks are good for this week’s event only.
Jim Civale became the second repeat winner in SK Modified action at Stafford Friday night. Civale took a lot of heat from Steve Chowanski over the final two laps of the 40-lap feature but managed to hold on for the win. Chowanski settled for second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Jeff Baral and Kerry Malone. Craig Collins was the Late Model winner and Dan King took the win in the Dare Stocks. Eddie Reed Jr. became the first repeat SK Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Dennis Cherette was the early leader until Dennis Gada put the bumper to him on lap 16 of the 35-lap feature. Gada, who stated that he made a mistake and accidentally hit Cherertte, was sent to the rear as officials felt he was rough riding. Ron Yuhas Jr. ended up second Ted Christopher, Ronnie Silk and Rob Janovic rounding out the top five. Roger Brown was the winner of the American-Canadian Tour 100 over second-generation driver Brentt Dragon. Dragon is the son of NEAR Hall of Fame inductee Harmon “Beaver” Dragon. Jay Stuart was the Late Model winner and Bill Leonard was the Mini Stock winner.
Despite the fact that Gene Arganase was told by NASCAR that there were no Nextel Cup dates available he continually said he was confident that the Nextel Cup cars would come to his proposed domed speedway in Plainfield, Connecticut. Speaking of NASCAR, it had been let out that ABC/ESPN was targeting a takeover of the NBC/TNT half of the Television package, which would expire in 2006. ESPN laid the groundwork of how four-hour recasts were to be covered. It also looked like yellow flag finishes of Busch Series and Nextel Cup events may become a thing of the past in the not so distant future. The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was at the Michigan International Speedway on Sunday. Jeff Gordon was the Busch Pole Sitter and Ryan Newnan was the winner. Kasey Kahne again finished second. Kyle Busch was the winner of the Busch Series event at Sparta, Kentucky on Saturday night.
Ten years ago in 2009 Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway was cancelled due to heavy rain.
Keith Rocco made it two in a row in SK Modified competition at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Rocco, who is a top contender for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series National Championship continued to take no prisoners. Dillon Moltz, who made the choice to miss his High School graduation, took his third win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Heather DesRochers wired the field in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature for her first career victory, Andrew Durand picked up his third victory of the 2009 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Albert Saunders picked up his first career victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature a week after his twin brother won his first career DARE Stock feature.
The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green with Dave Salzarulo holding down the lead from the pole position. Todd Owen was all over the back of Salzarulo for the lead, but he couldn’t muster up enough momentum to make a pass. The duel between Salzarulo and Owen allowed Frank Ruocco to close in on the front two.
A caution with 14 laps complete slowed the action and set up a restart. Ruocco moved by both Owen and Salzarulo on the restart to take over the race lead. Keith Rocco moved from fifth to second behind Ruocco, dropping Owen to third and Salzarulo to fourth. Rocco went to the outside of Ruocco on lap-21 and he made a pass for the lead in the outside groove on lap-22. Mark Bakaj was on the move after the restart, moving by Salzarulo for fourth on lap-23 and he took third place from Owen on lap-29. At the front of the field, Rocco was stretching his lead out over Ruocco lap by lap. Rocco led the final 29 laps of the race to pick up his second consecutive and third overall SK Modffied® feature victory of the 2009 season. Ruocco finished second, with Bakaj, Owen, and Salzarulo rounding out the top-5. Sixth through tenth were Tom Bolles, Ted Christopher, Doug Coby, Woody Pitkat, and Jeff Malave,
The Waterford Speedbowl, in a wise move, cancelled Saturday’s racing due to the fact that the National Weather Service predicted monsoon like conditions for the entire Connecticut area.
In NASCAR Nationwide Series action, Carl Edwards and fellow Cup commuter Kyle Busch both took a brief break from their Sprint Cup duties in California to fly more than 2,000 miles and race in Milwaukee on Saturday.Edwards took the lead from Busch with 44 laps to go and wasn’t significantly challenged the rest of the way. Busch finished second, followed by Brad Keselowski. In Sprint Cup action, Kasey Kahne figured a spot in the Chase for the championship was an unrealistic goal just two months ago. He wasn’t running well, Richard Petty Motorsports was behind in its development, and the competition was steadily pulling away. Then came a strong five-race stretch, punctuated a win at Infineon Raceway. It came at a road course, of all places, and snapped Kahne’s 37-race winless streak. His win brought team co-owner Richard Petty to Victory Lane for the first time in over a decade. The last time a Petty-owned car won a race was John Andretti’s 1999 victory at Martinsville.Tony Stewart, an accomplished road racer, finished second and was followed by Marcos Ambrose, who blew a motor in Saturday’s practice that forced him to start at the back of the field and forfeit his third-place qualifying position. Jimmie Johnson was fourth and was followed by Denny Hamlin and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Five years ago in 2014, The Stafford Motor Speedway finally emerged from the bad weather cycle it had been stuck in for four weeks. In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action Doug Coby took the victory in the TSI Harley Davidson 125 Friday night. The race was postponed twice by rain and then Coby had to outlast Justin Bonsignore and Bobby Santos in a green-white-checkered finish that pushed the race to 130 laps.
Pole sitter Bobby Santos led the opening laps until giving way to Doug Coby during lap six. Coby led from lap seven until a restart on lap 127 when Santos just nipped Coby for the lead. Not to be denied Coby rallied to retake the lead one lap later and proceeded to romp to the win. Justin Bonsignore got by Santos on the final lap to finish second as Santos settled for third. Rowan Pennink and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five. Ron Silk finished sixth, followed by Patrick Emerling, Ted Christopher, Ryan Preece and Glen Reen.
There were 13 cars on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who failed to finish were Tommy Barrett, Jr. and Jamie Tomaino who wrecked on lap 112, Ken Heagy who lost his steering on lap 101 and Keith Rocco who retired with a blown engine on lap 81.
The Stafford event went 104 laps before the first caution was displayed when Don Lia and Ken Heagy made contact and spun just past turn one. Heagy ultimately retired. Lia’s crew made repairs and he ended up finishing 15th, one lap down at the finish. The second caution occured on lap 112 Barrett spun in turn three and Tomaino hit him. Tomaino pulls away but Barrett was dumping water big time across the track. On lap 114 the race went to red for the clean-up. The caution flew again on lap 121 for Matt Hirschman who spun in turn four. Hirschman restarted and finished 14th, one lap down.
With the win, Coby took over the points lead from Bonsignore, 132-128. Pitkat is third in points at 123. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be back in action Saturday, June 21 with the Mr. Rooter 161 at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl.
Taking down NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly feature wins on the night were Ryan Preece for the third consecutive race in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno in the SK Light Modified feature, Justin Bren picked up his first career victory in the Limited Late Model feature, Johnny Walker in the DARE Stock feature, and Dana DiMatteo was a first time winner in the Legend Cars feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event that was resumed from lap-9 from May 23rd, Joey Cipriano resumed the race lead with Eric Berndt all over his back bumper. Behind Berndt, Todd Owen was fending off challenges from both Ryan Preece and Woody Pitkat. Preece went around Owen on lap-11 to move into third and he then took to the outside groove on lap-14 to make a pass on Cipriano to move into second. Owen fell back to fourth, just in front of Tony Membrino, Jr., and Keith Rocco. Berndt moved to the lead on lap-15 and then Preece went y Berndt on lap-16. Berndt came back to t e inside of Preece on lap-18, but Preece was able to keep Berndt behind him for the time being. The caution came out with 18 laps complete for Doug Coby, who came to a rest in a shower of sparks in turn 3.
Preece took the lead on the restart while Cipriano briefly challenged Berndt for second before settling back into third. Rocco was fourth with Pitkat running in fifth. With 10 laps to go, Preece and Berndt were pulling away from the duo of Cipriano and Rocco, who in turn both had a comfortable margin back to the two cars of Pitkat and Sean Foster.
Preece led Berndt to the checkered flag to pick up his third consecutive victory to begin the 2014 season. Cipriano finished third, with Rocco and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco addded his point lead and his win total with another SK Modified® victory while Jason Palmer won his second straight Valenti Auto Mall Late Model race. Ryan Waterman was top bannana following an action packed Street Stock race and Dave Trudeau picked up his first Speedbowl Mini Stock checkered flag in several seasons. Plainfield’s Corey Barry won his second consecutive SK Light Modified race after the division was idle for two weeks and in INEX racing, Mike Christopher Jr. won for the third time in the Legend Cars division’s Saturday series. Before the night’s races, a track walk benefitting Lupus Foundation of America’s Connecticut Chapter netted nearly $6,000 for the charity
The SK Modified feature was led to the green flag by Diego Monahan, who led the opening laps while being challenged by Kyle James. James quickly moved into second position and used a valiant effort to Monahan’s outside to finally overtake him on lap-8. Rocco came through the top ten cars in early race traffic before going up top to attack the top four cars racing single file ahead. On lap-10, he was outside Craig Lutz for third and a lap later, used the same move on Monahan to power into second. James was out front by several car lengths and Rocco began to run him down when caution waved on lap-13 for a spinning Ted Christopher in turn two.
James hung tough following the restart, looking good as he held back Rocco’s outside charge through a lap-18 caution flag for a spin by Rob Janovic Jr. Rocco timed the ensuing restart perfectly to gain the edge over James, pulling ahead for good on lap-19. Rocco was perfect on two additional restarts to get away from James the rest of the way to close out the win. James ran strong to finish second and Lutz followed up his victory a week previous with another podium run, finishing third. Tyler Chadwick was up front all race and finished fourth and Shawn Thibeault was fifth.
For the record, Rocco is the overall feature winner in the Northeast with 12 victories to his credit including four in the SK Modifieds and five in the Late Models at Waterford.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series visited the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night with 30 cars strong. Steve Masse won his first Series race of the season. Masse took the lead from Anthony Nocella on lap 9 and was never headed. Justin Bonsignore finished second for the third time in the last four races, while Norm Wrenn finished third for for his best finish since April 2012 at Monadnock (second). Max Zachem remained consistent with his fourth top 10. David Schneider was fifth for his best career finish. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Chris Pasteryak, Geoff Gernhard, Mike Willis Jr and Jonny Kay.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Timmy Solomito swept the Richie Evans Hall of Fame Twin 50’s.
In Modified racing in the Southland, twin Modified features were run at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. Jason Myers won the first of two 25-lap Modified races at the place they call “The MadHouse” on Saturday night, and Junior Miller, still licking his wounds after being spun out of the lead a week previous, scored a win in the second race. Myers led pole to pole in the first race for the featured Modified Division and registered his second victory of the season. Tim Brown finished second and Lee Jeffreys was third. A draw for starting positions in the second 25 lapper put Miller on the pole for the start of the second race. He held off Robert Jeffreys to rack up another victory. Tony Black finished third. Burt Myers kept his lead in the season standings, finishing fourth and eighth in the Modified races.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway. Only Brad Keselowski stood between Earnhardt and the checkered flag as the laps wound down. He drove inside both Keselowski and a lapped Danica Patrick, seized the lead with five laps to go and never looked back en route to his second victory of the season and the 21st of his Sprint Cup career.
Last year, 2018, The New London-Waterford Speedbowl SK Modifieds suffered their fourth rain-out in a row on June 2. That being said, track management made the decision to include the open wheelers in their Wacky Wednesday program on June 6. Kyle James took full advantage of the opportunity and came from a lap down to record the victory. David Yardley III won the Super X feature. Eddie Loomis was the winner of theX-Car feature, Mike Blaskey won the Legend car feature and second-generation driver Brody Monahan was the winner of the Bandolero feature.
In the SK Modified feature, Todd Owen took the lead from Dylan Izzo on lap 22 and appeared to be headed for victory. A late caution, however, forced a double-file restart with five laps to go. On the restart, Owen was hit from behind by Izzo and was headed to the wall, taking Andrew Molleur, who was running second, into the wall with him, sidelining both cars. Izzo was penalized for over-aggressive driving. Cory DiMatteo was moved into the lead, but surrendered the top spot quickly when James out powered him on the restart. Izzo finished third and veteran Wendell Dailey was fourth. Joey Ternullo, in his first-ever SK start at the Speedbowl, rounded out the top 5.
The action moved to the Thompson Motorsports Park on Thursday. After Mother Nature sidelined the Limited Sportsman Long Distance & Military Night presented by Pepsi event in May, oval racing action finally returned to the Big-T for the second time in 2019 with a large local crowd turning out for the rescheduled races. The annual showcase of local racing’s biggest stars honored veterans and members of the military while also putting track divisions front and center as the race for Thompson championships heated up.
The main event of the night was the marquee race of 2019 for Thompson’s Limited Sportsman division, the 30-lap long distance race. Ryan Waterman charged his way to victory leading the bulk of the final 20 laps of the feature and fought off a hard comeback charge from Shawn Monahan who recovered from a crash to finish second after passing Larry Barnett in the closing laps. Waterman also won the 2017 long distance event after the initial winner Brent Gleason was disqualified following post-race inspection, but in 2018 Waterman did it his way and took the victory through effort and execution.
The Sunoco Modifieds turned into a war of attrition for some of the divisions biggest stars. Ryan Preece began the event out front and battled series regular Woody Pitkat and reigning champion Keith Rocco throughout the opening laps. Things got interesting as the battle got even more heated 11 laps into the race and Rocco made a power move for the lead. In an attempt to regain the top spot Preece made his own bold move out of turn four resulting in both leaders spinning into the infield and Pitkat inheriting the lead.
Things didn’t let up as a massive multi-car pileup on the restart brought out the red flag after Timmy Jordan spun in front of the second half of the field resulting in an incident that saw Matt Gallo ride the top of the outside wall. All drivers walked away from the wreck without injury, but it wouldn’t be the final caution of the night. In total six caution flags flew before the halfway point of the feature and seven were flown in the event overall. When things settled in Pitkat resumed the lead, but Rocco would make a comeback working his way through the field in mere laps to take the lead by the halfway point. Despite a hard charge from Pitkat, Rocco held on for his second win of the season putting him once step closer to yet another Sunoco Modified title at Thompson. Steve Masse finished third and was followed by Marcello Rufrano and Troy Talman. Wednesday night Waterford winner Kyle James has taken over Ceravolo ride at Thompson and finished a respectful seventh.
Finally, the night closed out with the Late Model division with a 25-lap feature. It all came down to a pair of cautions in the final five laps. After leading much of the race Ernie LaRose found himself at a disadvantage during the first restart when Ryan Morgan took the lead. A quick caution stacked up the field again and Morgan was able to muscle his way forward for a second time while Larose found himself on the receiving end of a bump that sent his car around and hard into the turn three wall, ending his day two laps short of the finish. Morgan had a third great restart and took home his second victory at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Racing resumes at Thompson this Wednesday, June 13 when the track welcomes back the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for the Thompson 125 where Justin Bonsignore hopes to extend his points lead and add to his win total after conquering the Icebreaker event at Thompson April and crossing the line first as Seekonk earlier this month.
Hopefully NASCAR will show some respect for its Modified competitors as they need to black flag some of the slow turtles.
The Stafford Motor Speedway ran their regular Friday night program along with their Twisted Tea Open Modified 80 program. Ronnie Williams took the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn, the Late Model feature, Bryan Narducci, the SK Light feature, Ryan Fearn Limited Late Model feature, Brandon Michael the Street Stock feature and Tommy Barrett, the Open Modifieds. In the SK Modifieds, Glen Reen finished second with Dan Avery, Michael Gervais, Jr. and Matt Galko rounding out the top five.
Tommy Barrett, Jr. used an early pit stop to gain track position when the majority of the cars came to pit road at the halfway point of the race and he led 38 of the final 40 laps to win the Twisted Tea Open Modified 80. Barrett led Chase Dowling to the checkered flag to take the victory. Dave Etheridge finished third with Rowan Pennink and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top-5. Twenty cars were in competition for this event.
Kyle James backed up his Wednesday night SK Modified win at the New London -Waterford Speedbowl with another win on Saturday night at the shoreline oval. James came from dead last in the 14-car field to record the repeat win. Rob Janovic finished second with Dylan Izzo, third. Todd Owen and Corey Dimatteo rounded out the top five. Other Saturday night winners were Jason Palmer in the Late Models, Shawn Gaedeke in the Limited Sportsman, Charles Canfield in the 50 lap Mini-Stock event, Jonathan Puleo in the SK Lites and Duane Noll in the trucks. Doug Curry ended up being the 50 lap Mini Stock feature winner! Doug battled all day long, and after post race tech saw Charles Canfield DQ’d.
Across the big pond on Long Island, David Schneider executed a late race pass with just over two laps remaining after chasing race leader Brand Van Houten for 17-laps of the 40 circuits that made up the NASCAR Modified feature at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night in the event to score his first win of the 2018 Whelen All American Series at the historic quarter mile oval. In the IGA Food Markets Allan Cantor Memorial for the NEMA Midgets Avery Stoehr of Lakeville, Ma. led all 25-laps to take home the win leading two teammates to the checkers in the process.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, twin 25’s were on tap for the Modifieds. Lee Jeffreys sat on the pole for the first 25-lap Modified race and was able to lead wire-to-wire. Despite three cautions, Jeffreys was able to hold off Tim Brown for the win. It was also his 20th win in his career. defeating Tim Brown. Burt Myers was third, and his brother, Jason, was fourth.
In the second 25-lap Modified race, Jonathan Brown won and defeated Jason Myers. Tim Brown was third and Burt Myers was fourth. The oddity is that the win for Jonathan Brown might not have happened without Tim Brown. Earlier in the evening Jonathan broke a transmission and it was Tim Brown who came to his rescue with a new one.
Clint Boyer was the NASCAR cup winner at Michigan. Austin Dillon was the Xfinity Series winner. Both events were rain shortened.
In some good news coming out of the Hartford Hospital, Jerry Pearl came through his heart operation with flying colors as the Doctor only had to do 4 by-passes. Everything went well. The 73-year old Pearl was the 1984 and 1985 SK Modified division champion at Stafford. In his honor, grandson Bryan Narducci won his second SK Lite feature at Stafford on Friday night.
Congratulations to Vinny Annarummo and Ed St Angelo on their Inductions to the Seekonk Speedway Wall of Fame.