RPW Exclusive: Looking Back A Bit; Third Week Of June

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY RI – Seventy years ago in 1949, Henry Hager and Bill Rafter won features at the Buffalo Civic Stadium in western New York. Jim Holt was the winner at Seekonk.

Sixty five years ago in 1954, weekly winners at the New London Waterford Speedbowl were Dick Beauregard on Wednesday and Fred Luchesi on Saturday night in the Sportsman Division. Dee Kelly and Lou Tetreault were the non-Ford winners. Ralph “Hop” Harrington was the A division winner at Seekonk.

Sixty years ago in 1959, Don Rounds scored his second win of the year on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Don Collins was the Wednesday night winner and Johnny Thompson was the Saturday night winner in Sportsman action at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. In other action at the shore line oval Tom Sutcliff and Rene Charland scored non-Ford wins and Ben Hewitt won Bomber features on both nights. At season’s end Thompson and Bill Slater would leave for greener pastures at the Norwood Arena in Mass. The Buffalo Civic Stadium was closed for a thrill show and at the Lancaster Speedway, Doc Hector took the win. Dave Humphrey was the A division winner at Seekonk.

Fifty five years ago in 1964 Lou Lazzaro scored a one-two punch as he won Modified events at the Utica-Rome and Fonda Speedways. Al DeAngelo also went two for two as he won at Islip and at Old Bridge. Bill Wimble got his fourth of the year on the dirt at Stafford. Don Wayman and George Janoski followed. Don Stives took the win at Wall Stadium. At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Charlie Webster was the 25 lap Modified winner and Bob Potter made it two in a row in the Bombers. Bobby Sprague was the A division winner at Seekonk.

It was also on this weekend that AJ Foyt won the last Indy car event that was run on the dirt at the Langhorne Speedway. Langhorne would be paved for the 1965 season.

Fifty years ago in 1969, Bob Santos, in the Art Barry 09, beat out Smokey Boutwell to win the Friday Modified feature at Stafford. Ernie Gahan was third. Albany Saratoga ran twin features with Lou Lazzaro and Guy Chartrand sharing victory lane. Saturday night at Norwood, Fred DeSarro took a hard fought win over Johnny Thompson and Bugsy Stevens. At Fonda, Kenny Shoemaker in the Bob Judkins 2x beat out Lazzaro and Jerry Cook and at Islip; Al Hansen took the top spot over Jim Hendrickson. At the Waterford Speedbowl Glynn Shafer, driving for Ron Yuhas Sr, took the Modified win. Big Mike Daignault was the Daredevil winner. Les Andrews was the A division winner at Seekonk. Norm Holden was the B division winner. After successive rain outs, Utica-Rome got to run and it was Lou Lazzaro making it three in a row. Jerry Cook finished second with Phil Spiak, third.

Forty five years ago in 1974, Friday night racing at Freeport and Utica-Rome rained out. On Saturday, George Wagner won out over Charlie Jarzombek and Tom Baldwin at Islip. At Stafford, Eddie Flemke in the Judkins 2x beat out Jerry Cook and at Lancaster, Maynard Troyer and Merv Treichler finished one-two. Art Moran Sr, who was the chief mechanic at a repair garage owned by Ed Yerrington, took the Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Sweet Jr was the Grand American late model winner. George Summers scored his fourth feature win of the year at Seekonk.

Forty years ago in 1979, the racing weekend started on Thursday at New Egypt where Richie Evans and Jerry Cook finished one-two. Friday night at Stafford, Evans continued his hot streak as he outran Geoff Bodine who had just picked up the ride in the Lee Allard Pinto. Evans made it three for three as he went on to win at Riverside on Saturday. At Seekonk, Bodine won a close one over George Summers and Leo Cleary. Other weekend winners were Greg Sacks at Islip, George Kent at Shangri-La, Mario”Fats”Caruso at Westboro, Rick Donnelly at Waterford, Allen Whipple at Claremont, Ronnie Rocco at Plainville, Roger Treichler at Lancaster and twins at Thompson were won by George Savory and Joe Howard.

Thirty five years ago in 1984, Flyin Brian Ross in his home built No.73, was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Bob Polverari finished second with Corky Cookman, third. At Spencer, Richie Evans took the top spot over Jan Leaty and Doug Hewitt. Bob Park got the jump on John Blewett to take the checker at New Egypt. On Saturday, it was Ray Miller over Reggie Ruggiero and at Riverhead it was Fred Harbach over Tom Baldwin and Don Howe. Islip ran a 100 lapper on Sunday with Bill Park taking the win over Tom Baldwin.

Thirty years ago in 1989, Stafford rained out on Friday. Twin features were run at Waterford with Ted Christopher and Jeff Barry taking down wins. Dan Avery beat Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and at Riverhead, Fred Harbach won the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lapper. Ted Christopher and Jeff Barry finished one -two at Thompson on Sunday.

Twenty five years ago in 1994, rain washed out Stafford and Waterford. At Riverside, Ed Kennedy beat out Richard Savory and Chris Kopec. The Modified Tour Series was at Riverhead for a 201 lapper. Local favorite Don Howe took the lead from Reggie Ruggiero on lap 160 and went on to take the win. Ruggiero ended up second and was followed by Wayne Anderson, Tony Hirschman and Carl Pasteryak.

Twenty years ago, in 1999, Lee Raceway ran an open competition modified event on Friday night. Jamie Tomaino took the lead when leader Ted Christopher blew an engine and went on to take the win. Charlie Pasteryak finished second with Chris Kopec, third. Jerry Marquis got his fourth win of the season at Stafford as he won the SK Modified feature over Willie Hardie. At Waterford on Saturday night, Rick Donnelly took the modified win over Dennis Gada and Billy Sharp and at Riverside, ageless veteran Bob Polverari collected his 37th career win. Rene’ Dupuis finished second. On the Island at Riverhead, Frank Vigliaro Jr. took the win. In Winston Cup action at Sonoma, California, Jeff Gordon took the win. Steve Park and Ken Schrader had the distinction of rolling over and in Busch Grandnational action at Watkins Glen, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the win.

Fifteen years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Wall Township Speedway located on the New Jersey shore on Saturday night. Reggie Ruggiero scored his first win in three years in what had to be considered a rough and tumble finish. Forty-three Modifieds were on hand. Doug Coby, who normally competes at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night, was the fastest qualifier. The 150-lap event provided tons of excitement when the event was under the green flag. Ten caution periods for 70 laps kept the average speed down to 46.179 mph. It all came down to the final lap. Ken Barry, who had led from lap 123, was exiting turn four and heading for his first win when he found himself spinning into the infield. According to some eyewitness accounts of the incident Ruggiero clearly dumped him! Ruggiero claimed that Barry turned into him in order to block. Barry recovered from his spin and finished eighth last in line on the lead lap. A last lap clip of the race showed that Barry did in fact drift up between turns three and four and was attempting to close the door that Ruggerio was already in. Tom Cravenho, in the Eddie Partridge entry, finished second with local favorite Tim Arre, third. Tony Ferrante and current point leader Eddie Flemke Jr. rounded out the top five. Many of the top guns on the Modified tour had their problems. Defending race winner John Blewett III crashed out of the event on lap 59 and ended up in 26th spot. His brother Jimmy, who is one of the local hot dogs, went the same route as he crashed on lap 37 and finished 29th. Tony Hirschman completed only 116 laps and ended up 17th. Ted Christopher also crashed and ended up 23rd after completing only 85 laps. Chuck Hossfeld and Jerry Marquis also had their problems, which kept them out of the top ten. Hossfeld finished 21st and Marquis, 24th. There were four lead changes among four drivers. Donnie Lia started on the pole and led the first lap before being passed by Ruggiero, who started third. Ruggiero led until Lap 97 when Tony Ferrante took the point. Barry, who started as a provisional in 27th spot took the lead on lap 123 and led it until Ruggiero did him in at the end. The Busch North Series was at the Holland International Speedway in New York. Andy Santerre took the win with Mike Olsen, second.

Thursday night Thunder at Thompson turned into a high-speed rumble that could have resulted in adverse long-term effects. The late models had a special 75-lap to run. It turned out to be a demolition derby. Forty cars started the event. Fifteen cars were knocked out by lap 15 but the worst was yet to come. Scott Bronczyk and Rick Gentes were slugging it out for the lead with ten laps to go. The two made contact in turn one and Gentes came out on the short end of the stick as he crashed into the concrete. Gentes was extremely upset and waited for Bronczyk to circle the track. Gentes went up to Bronczyk to vent and evidently got hung up in the roll cage or safety net. Bronczyk, expecting a knuckle sandwich, stood on the gas to get away. Gentes realized what was happening and held on for dear life as Bronczyk picked up speed going down the backstretch. Bronczyk finally realized what he was about to do and slowed in turn three. Gentes tumbled off the car and luckily escaped injury. Needless to say, both were thrown out for the night. NASCAR Chief Steward Richard Brooks later suspended both drivers for two weeks. Marc Palmisano, who was running third at the time, inherited the lead and went on to take the win. John Falconi finished second with Ryan Posocco, third. Attrition was extremely high as 13 of the original 40 starters finished. In comparison, the Sunoco SK Modified feature was tame with the exception of Bo Gunning taking a wild ride after jumping the wheel of Sean Caisse who had spun. Caisse, who showed great promise as a rookie on the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series had shown that he needs more seat time before even being competitive in a SK, never mind a Tour Modified. Jeff Malave ended up with the win with Todd Ceravolo, second. Scott Quinn, Shawn Monahan and Buzz Atiano rounded out the top five. Other winners were George Bessette in the Pro Stocks, Ernie LaRose in the Limited Sportsman and in twin Mini Stock events, Shane and Scott Michalski were the winners

Rain at Stafford on Friday night forced the Arute family to pull the plug on the night’s racing activity. Jeff Pearl won the first of two SK Modified features run at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Pearl was gunning for a second win when he got collected in the second feature when Ronnie Silk and Rob Janovic tangled which ultimately launched Pearl into the infield. Pearl recovered to finish eighth as Dennis Charett took the win over Ed Reed Jr. Allen Coates won the 30-lap Late Model feature. A confrontation between Carl Erickson and Brandon Plemons turned ugly when Plemons deliberately drove into Erickson’s driver’s side door.

Ten years ago in 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first three, of 14 events, wound up their second “Spring Break” on Saturday, June 27 when the ground pounders traveled to Loudon, NH. There were 39 Modifieds on hand for the New England 100. Doug Coby captured his second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Coors Light Pole Award Thursday evening in qualifying. Coby, who was the next-to-last car to go out among the 39 entries, knocked Todd Szegedy off the provisional pole with a fast lap of 30.003 seconds (126.947 mph), just under Szegedy’s time of 30.005 (126.939). Ted Christopher, who entered the day having won the Coors Light Pole Award in each of the first three races of the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season, ended up third-fastest. Donny Lia (30.039 seconds/126.795 mph) and Rowan Pennink (30.065/126.686) rounded out the top five. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Ryan Newman qualified seventh at 30.160 seconds (126.286 mph). Following Newman in the top 10 were Ryan Preece, Ed Flemke Jr., Kevin Goodale and Bobby Grigas III.

Donnie Lia took advantage of an accident involving Ted Christopher and Todd Szegedy as he inherited the lead and eventual victory of the New England 100. Christopher had driven his heart out after a first lap spin that was precipitated by an oil leak. After losing a lap plus receiving a lucky dog free pass Christopher had placed himself in the lead by lap 90. The final ten laps sore numerous lead changes. Christopher led at the white flag, with Lia, Szegedy and Ron Silk jockeying for position. Lia dove inside of Christopher as he headed into Turn 3. Moments after Lia took the lead, Szegedy swept underneath both to the front of the line. As they came out of the final turn heading to the checkered flag, all four bounced off each other, with Christopher collecting Szegedy into the wall as Lia slipped by to grab the win. What many saw and thought what happened in the final seconds of the event was cleared up by a statement made by Ron Silk following the event. Silk apologized that he had hit the back left rear of Lia which he believes caused Lia to get into Christopher who in turn got into Szegedy. Silk also accused Christopher for his bonsai type tactics that he used to get to the front.

Ed Flemke Jr. wound up second, followed by Silk and Rowan Pennink. Christopher managed to gather the severely damaged car up enough to get it across the line and salvage a fifth. Doug Coby, Richard Savary, Szegedy, Woody Pitkat, and Glenn Tyler rounded out the top 10.

There were five caution periods for 28 laps. The 100 lapper produced 16 lead changes among eight drivers.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman led 13 laps and swapped the lead back-and-forth with Szegedy in the early going before he spun on lap 64 and exited the race. The other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver in the race, Kasey Kahne, was involved in a Lap 72 accident. Kahne finished 31st and Newman 34th. Estimated Attendance: 37,000. Purse: $166,917.

In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Ted Christopher made his hasty retreat from Loudon after qualifying well worth his while as he won the Sunoco Modified feature at the northeastern Connecticut oval. Christopher missed the qualifying heats but it didn’t hinder his march to the front in the 30 lap feature. Christopher led only one lap, the last one. Keith Rocco appeared to have victory in sight until he exited turn two, that’s where Christopher made his move. Rocco was unable to make a final run at Christopher and settled for second. The rain ceased and the clouds parted allowing the speedway to host a full night of racing competition. The action included a full card of NASCAR All-American Series racing plus two bonus features. In other action, Mike O’Sullivan earned his first of the season in the Super Late Models while John Materas was the winner in the Late Models. In the Limited Sportsman division it was Paul Palen celebrating in victory lane. John St. Germain took the All Star Race Trucks victory in a photo-finish. R.J. Marcotte scored his first of 2009 in the TIS Modifieds. Tim Taylor and Brad Caddick share Mini Stock honors.

Rain and heavy thunder and lightning prevailed at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

Despite a weeks delay because of rain the Waterford Speedbowl celebrated Norwich Night which honored the City of Norwich’s 350th birthday with great racing. Jeffrey Paul picked up his second consecutive SK Modified win, Bruce Thomas Jr. returned to Speedbowl victory Lane in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, while it was veteran competitor Allen Coates taking the checkered in the NEATV Truck Series. Kyle James and Ronnie Oldham Jr. rounded out the night’s winners capturing the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock and Street Stock events respectively. With threatening skies looming overhead during the evening, the full five-division event was completed by 9:15pm.

Kyle Busch passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano near the end of the Camping World 200 at Loudon, NH and held off the 19-year-old to get the victory at New Hampshire International Speedway. Logano, who started from the pole and led 108 of the 200 laps, beat Busch out of the pits by the length of a hood on the final pit stop by the two leaders. But Busch was able to stay with the leader and eventually drive past him with 36 laps left.

In Nextel Cup racing at Loudon, Joey Logano became the youngest winner in the history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, winning the rain-shortened race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The 19-year-old rookie came back from a crash that put him a lap down earlier in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 and won his first Cup race in his 20th start. Logano was among a group of drivers who moved to the front of the field after getting out of sequence on fuel stops. The youngster took the lead when Ryan Newman, trying to stay on track as long as possible with rain threatening, ran out of gas on lap 264 in the event scheduled to go 301 laps. Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon moved into second and was steadily cutting into the lead as Logano, with a nearly empty gas tank, conserved as much fuel as possible. But the rain began falling three laps later. The competitors ran six slow laps under caution before NASCAR put out a red flag in hopes of drying the track. But the rain began falling harder and the race was called after 273 laps.

Gordon was disappointed with the second-place finish. Kurt Busch, who won a rain-shortened event at Loudon last June, finished third, followed by David Reutimann and Stewart, now part owner of his own team and the series leader by 69 points over Gordon.

Five years ago in 2014, the Stafford Motor Speedway suffered its fourth rainout in the last five weeks. The Arute family that owns and operates the speedway has added Friday, September 19 to its 2014 event schedule.

The VMRS cars return to Stafford on July 18 for the 4th Annual Lincoln Tech 80 and again on August 29 for the 5th Annual VMRS 80. The Valenti Modified Racing Series was still reeling from the departure of Scott Tapley. Tapley brought stability and respectability to the series. Being a race director is a tough job. Evidently a difference of opinion between himself and series founder Jack Bateman was the basis of his departure. Anybody who has ever been a race director or chief steward knows it’s a no win situation when ever a race call is made. Somebody is made happy and somebody gets mad, that’s the way it is! As the Valenti Modified Racing Series searched for a new race director for the 2014 racing season, series president Jack Bateman told website Speed51.com that he would serve as interim race director until the position is filled.

In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series news it was announced that change is in the air for Tour regular Rob Fuller Motorsports, who recently named 2003 Champion Todd Szegedy as the driver of the No. 15 Chevrolet for the New Hampshire 100 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12. Team owner and driver Rob Fuller made the decision shortly after testing the new LFR Chassis at Thompson Speedway last week. Fuller is the owner of LFR Chassis, a new company that manufactures modified and late model chassis, and this was the first test session where Fuller drove a race-ready modified chassis created by his company. In addition to competing in the New Hampshire 100, Szegedy will run the No. 15 Rob Fuller Motorsports entry in the NASCAR Modified All-Star Shootout the day prior. Although Fuller is the head of LFR Chassis, the day to day management and oversight is handled by veteran NASCAR crew chief Tony Eury Jr. Eury Jr. has over 20 years of experience working at the top levels of NASCAR as a crew chief, car chief, mechanic and tire changer.

The Big event in New England over the weekend was the fourth annual SBM 125 at the Star Speedway in Epping. NH. Two time winner Matt Hirschman was the odds-on favorite to take the event which paid close to $10,000 to win. The SBM 125 IV had nearly $45,000.00 payout up for grabs. The base purse was $31,400.00. Thirty three cars ran four heats to set the field.

Hirschman started on the outside pole after a re-draw of the heat winners. Hirschman was well on his way to victory until a spin on lap 93 spoiled his night. Les Hinkley and Rowan Pennink fought to lead but in the end it was Jon McKennedy who prevailed to take the win. Hinkley hung on for second while Pennink faded to sixth. Richard Savory ended up third with Steve Masse, fourth. Anthony Nocella rounded out the top five.. Sixth thru tenth were Pennink, Woody Pitkat, Max Zachem, Chris Pasteryak and Derek Ramstrom. Hirschman came back after a pit stop to finish 13th.

SBM 125 IV PAYOFF June 14, 2014 $46,301 (record purse- included all bonuses)

1. Jon McKennedy $6,175, 2. Les Hinckley $3,725, 3. Richard Savary $2,375 , 4. Steve Masse $2,650 and 5. Anthony Nocella $1,575.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco scored a two-fer as he ran to victory in both the SK Modified and Late Model events on Saturday night at the Connecticut shoreline oval. Rocco, who celebrated his first Father’s Day was happy as a clam. Josh Galvin won another Street Stock race and Randy Churchill was back in Victory Lane following the SK Light Modified feature. Jeff Lee was the only new winner, a career first victor in the Mini Stocks. Allen Coates added another Speedbowl win to his career in the visiting New England Truck Series race.

An extra-distance 40-lap SK Modified® highlighted Saturday’s racing card, checkered by Rocco. He made the move of the race early and once in the lead, closed the race with a long green flag run to the checkered flag. The opening green flag saw the third place car Paul Kusheba come up to speed slowly, giving the outside lane behind the front row an advantage. Rocco was mid-pack and able to slide by multiple cars on the opening lap, led by Tim Jordan. Ted Christopher moved to second on lap-3 and tailed Jordan until the first caution of the race came out before the field could complete lap-5. Contact between the cars of Kusheba and Ed Puleo saw Puleo spin off the track down the back chute, collecting Frank Mucciacciaro.

The restart saw Jordan lead Christopher but it was Rocco’s dazzling move in traffic that captured everyone’s attention. He went from fourth to second position between laps 5 and 6. The lead cars of Jordan and Christopher went wide through turn four causing a tense moment for the field behind. Jordan recovered to hold his lead, but Christopher lost momentum to keep his car off the wall. Craig Lutz darted inside Christopher while Rocco shot through the middle of both down the front chute, coming away with second position. He took a shot from Christopher in turn one before pulling outside of Jordan for the lead. Rocco stayed there for four laps before seizing control, clearing Jordan exiting turn two on lap-10.

Tom Pinson spun in turn four on lap-12 to create the final restart. Rocco quickly got away from Jordan, who received a challenge for second position from Lutz. Behind them, Christopher was in a battle with Rob Janovic for fourth. Those side-by-side battles ended with Lutz clearing Jordan on lap-15, bringing Janovic underneath Jordan. Those three cars continued a battle for second behind Rocco for the final 20 laps of the race.

The final 28 laps were run without incident and Rocco went unchallenged. The action for second intensified over the final six laps, including a nifty save by Janovic off turn four on lap-34. The cars of Lutz, Janovic and Christopher raced nose to tail on the final lap and Janovic got crossed up again, this time in turn two. He chased his car nearly saving it again, unfortunately getting into the infield off the back stretch and giving up a podium finish. Lutz continued his string of podium finishes and ended up second while Christopher finished third. Jordan was fourth and Kyle James fought to earn a spot among the top-five at the finish.

The search for a buyer of the Speedbowl property continued. The property was valued at an estimated $3.075 million. If a buyer was not found the Speedbowl property would be sold at auction on Oct. 18. Current owner Terry Eames owed primary creditors Rocco Arbitell and Peter Borelli $1.09 million. He also owed other creditors $750,000 and the Town of Waterford $60,000 in back taxes. Eames continues to shake the bushes for someone to refinance the debt or buy it outright. One of those who has expressed interest in buying the property was former track champion Dick Ceravolo. Ceravolo stated, I’mm interested but I won’t pay $3 million when all I have to do is wait until October and buy it for $1.09 million”.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Tom Rogers Jr was the NASCAR Modified feature winner.

In Modified racing in the Southland, Jason Myers turned in another strong performance, snatching victory away from a frustrated Tim Brown and celebrated again at Bowman Gray Stadium after winning Saturday night’s 100-lap Modified race. Myers never trailed from there and registered his 17th feature-division victory at Bowman Gray. Brown unhappily settled for second; Danny Bohn wound up third; and Burt Myers, fresh off a win Friday at Ace Speedway, lost little of his season points lead with a fourth-place finish.

Winston-Salem (NC) State University is a step closer to buying city-owned Bowman Gray Stadium. City Manager Lee Garrity said this week that the city has received a $7.3 million offer from the state to buy the stadium, which has long been the home-base of WSSU football. The offer is contingent upon Winston-Salem State successfully completing a Brownfield agreement to test the land on which the property sits for contamination. Provisions have been added to the bill of sale to ensure that NASCAR racing remains at the stadium.

Nancy Young, director of public relations at Winston-Salem State alluded to the fact that racing would continue at the historic oval. “We have been working with the racing folks on Saturday night,” Young said. “They have a long term contract and we are depending on that revenue to help us pay for the stadium.

Joey Logano’s flat tire with about five laps to go allowed Paul Menard to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. It was Menard’s second victory on that circuit and first since 2006.

Jimmie Johnson’s series of heartbreaking defeats at Michigan Int’l Speedway came to an end when he won the Quicken Loans 400, his first-ever victory at MIS and the fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win for Hendrick Motorsports.

Last year, 2018, due to impending weather, NASCAR and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park officials postponed Wednesday evening’s Thompson 125 until Thursday, June 14. Somewhat threatening skies kept the crowd down on Thursday night but it didn’t hinder the determination of Justin Bonsignore who made it three out of five in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins for 2018. Bonsignore led a contingent of Long Island Gang members which included Dave Sapienza, 5th, Timmy Solomito, 6th, Craig Lutz, 7th, Eric Goodale, 11th and Shawn Solomito, 12th.

Bonsignore started fourth on the grid passed early leader Doug Coby between turns three and four on lap 8 before giving way to Coby who passed him on the front chute just prior to completing 24 laps. Coby set a torrid pace for 74 laps before the first caution of the night flew on lap 92 for a spin in turn 3 by Joe DeGracia. Coby along with Bonsignore, Ryan Preece, Rowan Pennink and Rob Summers to name a few. Quick work by Bonsignore’s crew got him out of the pits first which gave him a big break. When the green flag was displayed on lap 98 Bonsignore jumped out in from leading Coby, Timmy Solomito, Rowan Pennink and Preece. Solomito lost his third spot on lap 103 when he went high in turn 2, allowing Pennink and Preece to shoot by. One final caution flew on lap 107 when Walter Sutcliff Jr spun on the back chute. The field restarted on lap 112. Bonsignore continued to lead while Coby slipped and allowed Pennink to take over the runner-up spot. At the finish it was Bonsignore over Pennink, Coby, Preece, Sapienza, Timmy Solomito, Lutz, Summers, Matt Dowling and Matt Swanson.

Bonsignore holds a 19-point advantage in the championship standings over Chase Dowling, while Craig Lutz is third, 29 points back. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, this coming Saturday night on June 23. This event will be televised on a taped-delayed basis on Thurs, June 28 at 7:00pm on the NBC Sports Net.

In other action at Thompson on Thursday night, the Sunoco Modifieds began the action with a 30-lap feature that pitted two of the best against each other with Ryan Preece and Keith Rocco seeking glory in the third race of the season for the division. Preece had the advantage of starting up front and led the first ten laps before Rocco worked his way to the lead. Preece would not be denied however, putting his bumper to Rocco’s until the caution waved with ten laps remaining setting up a sprint to the finish between two of the most iconic names on the local racing circuit.

The final ten laps were more of the same with Rocco leading and Preece utilizing every trick in his arsenal to try and take the win. Preece made one final move on lap 29 but was unable to seal the deal as Rocco performed the hat trick winning all three Sunoco Modified events of the season so far at the Big-T. Preece settled for second and was followed by Todd Owen, Steve Masse and Troy Talman.

Wayne Burroughs beat out Eric Bourgeois for the Mini-Stock win, Dan Cugini was the NEMA Lite winner, Ryan Waterman staged a spirited battle with Shawn Monahan for the Limited Sportsman win and Mark Janison beat out Woody Pitkat for the Late Model win.

On a note of constructive criticism, the Thompson Motorsports Park is a great facility which provides great competition. While much has been spent on the sports car course the grandstand area has become somewhat run down as the grandstands are badly in need of a coat of fresh paint.

The Stafford Motor Speedway has been the scene of many emotional wins, last Friday night will be one to be remembered. It was a night of milestones for the two premier divisions as Michael Christopher, Jr. scored his first career SK Modified® win by outdueling Ryan Preece in his Uncle Ted’s car. The second milestone was Tom Fearn setting a Stafford Speedway track record for consecutive Late Model wins by winning his fifth consecutive race of the 2018 season. Other feature wins were scored by Andrew Molleur in the SK Light feature, Duane Provost in the Limited Late Model feature, and Trace Beyer in the Street Stock division.

Christopher and Ryan Preece went wheel to wheel on a late restart with Preece falling into line behind Christopher coming to the white flag. Preeece made one las run coming to the checkered flag but Christopher held him off to score his first career SK Modified® victory. Keith Rocco finished third with Todd Owen and Matt Galko rounding out the top-5.

Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Todd Owen outran Rob Janovic to win the 40 lap SK Modified feature. Dylan Izzo was third. Jonathan Puleo made it three for three in SK Lite competition. Charles Canfield was the Mini-Stock winner and Jon Porter was the Sportsman winner. The American-Canadian Tour was on hand for a 150 lapper. Scott Payea took the win. Local winner Ryan Morgan finished a solid seventh.

Across the big pond on Long Island, Ryan Preece went back to basics in the set-up of his Eddie & Connie Partridge Tour Type Modified Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway and did it ever pay off as he won the 2nd annual Islip 300 worth $7,000 to the winning team. For Preece a two-time winner on the Xfinity Series of NASCAR it was his 16th career win at the historic quarter mile oval.

Preece would pit for his change tires just after the 200-lap mark of the race moving John Fortin Sr. to the race lead on lap 215. However, armed with three new tires Preece’s car was again on rails and he wasted little time taking back the race lead from Fortin on lap 222. However, during a long green flag run after taking back the lead Ryan’s car seemed to level off allowing not only Fortin to pressure the leader but also John Beatty Jr. who with 40-laps remaining got by Fortin and set sail for Preece. Beatty was able to stay right in the tire tracks of Preece and on occasion tried to cross the leader over off the corners but Ryan was able to inch away each time.

John Beatty Jr. was the runner-up in the MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy sending praise the race winners way, “hats off to Ryan and his team, they had a great car. So did we, his was just that much better”. John Fortin Sr. was third. Kyle Soper crossed the line fourth while Dave Brigati completed the top five.

It has been announced that the Riverhead Raceway will host a mid-week racing program. On Wednesday July 11th Riverhead host a NASCAR Whelen All American Series program for the NASCAR Modifieds, Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds, Super Pro Trucks, INEX Legend Race Cars, 8-Cylinder Enduro and a School Bus Figure Eight race. These features will be regular distance and carry championship track and WAAS points! General admission for fans will be $20.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Jonathan Brown won the first 50-lap Modified race Saturday night, and Lee Jeffreys picked a win in the second 50-lapper Saturday night. In the first race, Randy Butner started on the pole, but points leader Burt Myers had passed Butner on the start. Myers led until the 38th lap, but on the restart after a caution, Brown rolled past Myers with 10 laps to go.Another caution brought out he restart cone, and Brown started inside. Myers went to the outside in hopes of passing Brown with eight laps left. Brown held off Myers for the next three laps, but another caution happened with five laps left. Brown won the race and picked up his fourth win of the season. Myers was second, Jason Myers, Burt’s brother, was third and John Smith was fourth.

In the second 50-lap Modified race, Darin Redmon started on the pole, but Jeffreys took control on the 20th lap. Jeffreys was able to hold off Myers and picked up his second win in as many weeks, and his 21st overall in his career.

In NASCAR Xfinity Series racing, Justin Allgaier scored his second victory of the year at Newton, Iowa.

On a sad note, Arthur “AJ” James Vogel, age 58, died unexpectedly at UMass Memorial on June 12, 2018 from complications arising from a heart attack. Born in Hartford on January 28, 1960 and raised in Fabyan, AJ studied Engineering at Thames Valley State University before dedicating 23 proud years of service to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. Restless in retirement, he rejoined the work force as the town of Killingly’s transportation supervisor for seven years. His final years were his happiest, as he passionately pursued his dream of officiating for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He wore many hats and loved each one.

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