RPW Exclusive: Looking Back A Bit; Second Week Of July

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1949, Bill Rafter won the first ever stand alone stock car event at the Buffalo Civic Center in western New York. Hop Harrington was the A division winner at Seekonk.

Sixty five years ago in 1954, Moe Gherzi made it three in a row in Sportsman action at the New London Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday night. Fred Luchesi ended the streak with a win on Saturday. Tom Van Epps won non-Ford events on both nights. Don Collins ventured to Seekonk where he took the A division win, Ray Smaldone was the B division winner.

Sixty years ago in 1959, George Janoski took the Friday night win at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Rain washed out the Wednesday night racing at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. The Speedbowl did run on Saturday night with Don Collins taking the win in the Sportsman division. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner and Ben Hewitt was the Bomber winner. The NASCAR Short Track division paid a visit to the Buffalo Civic Stadium where Jim Reed took the win over Rex White and Lee Petty. At Lancaster, Percy Brown took the win. Seekonk fell victim to rain.

Fifty five years ago in 1964, Bill Wimble made it five in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Kenny Shoemaker finished second. Eddie Flemke paid a rare visit and finished third. Flemke excelled on the asphalt but he was quick to admit that racing on dirt was not his “thing”. The NASCAR Grandnationals (Cup) were at Islip and Bridgehampton on Long Island and at Old Bridge in New Jersey. Billy Wade won at Islip and at Old Bridge while Richard Petty scored at the 2.85 mile road course at Bridgehampton. Fred Harbach was the Modified winner at Islip while Lou Lazzaro took top honors at Fonda and Billy Harman recorded the Modified win at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. George Summers got his first A division win of the year. Ray Lacky was the B division winner.

Fifty years ago in 1969, the original All-Star League shifted into high gear with a mid-week event at Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vermont and a Friday night event at Malta, NY. Bugsy Stevens won the 100 lapper at Catamount and was followed by Guy Chartrand, Will Cagle and Buzzie Reutaman. At Malta, a young Richie Evans beat out Ed Pieniezak and Fred DeSarro for the win. With the hot dogs at Malta, Ray Miller took advantage of the situation and recorded a Friday night win at Stafford. Sal Dee finished second, with Wild Bill Slater coming home in third spot. Saturday night at Norwood, Barnie Matte held of Walter Scott and at Fonda, Jerry Pennock won a 100-lap event. At Airborne Park, Ed Pieniezak beat out Canadian, Marcell Corrivieu and Ed Flemke. Newt Palm won a 50 lap Modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Donnie Bunnell was the Daredevil winner. At Islip it was George Wagner and on Sunday at Utica-Rome, Jerry Cook was victorious over Sonney Seamon and Ed Flemke. Racing at Thompson, rained out as did Seekonk.

Forty five years ago in 1974, Charlie Jarzombek won at Riverhead on Wednesday over Fred Harbach and Cliff Tyler. Saturday night at Stafford, Ralph”Hop”Harrington, driving the former Tant/Mitchell coupe driven by Ray Hendrick and now owned by Richard Armstrong, beat out Bugsy Stevens and Ronnie Bouchard for the win. Shangri-La ran twin features, which were both won by Richie Evans. Donnie Bunnell, driving the Pat Doherty No. 73 was the Modified winner at Waterford. Jim Tierny was the Grand American Late Model winner. At Islip, Ted Wesnoske won out over Jarzombek and Harbach and at Lancaster, the Treichler cousins, Merv and Roger finished one-two. George Summers recorded his sixth win of the year. Richie Evans capped off the weekend with a win at Fulton on Sunday night over Jerry Cook and Maynard Troyer. In small block modified action at Thompson, Steady Eddie Flemke was the big winner over Jerry Pearl and Dave Humphries and at Monadnock, Bugsy Stevens won a 100 lapper over Bobby Gahan and Gene Bergin.

Forty years ago in 1979, the Friday night winner at Stafford was Richie Evans with Geoff Bodine in the Lee Allard No.99 a close second and Ronnie Bouchard, third. Evans backed his Stafford win up with a win at Riverside on Saturday night. At Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard took the victory over Leo Cleary and Eddie StAngelo. On the Island at Islip, Tom McCann and Wayne Anderson finished one-two. Islip Speedway NASCAR Chief Steward Bob O’Rourke promoted a special Modified event at Trenton on Sunday. It was 90 degrees and very humid. Forty-six Modifieds were on hand but barely over a few hundred spectators. Bodine took the 200-lap win over George Kent. Both had a lap on the field. The event was a financial disaster at the gate and that was the end of O’Rourkes’ promoting career. Other weekend winners were Maynard Troyer at Spencer, Doug Hewitt at Shangri-La, Jeff Fuller at Westboro, Richie Evans at New Egypt and George Savory at Thompson.

Thirty five years ago in 1984, Modified Madness came to Stafford on Tuesday. Ron Bouchard in the Boehler No.3 beat out Richie Evans and Brian Ross for the 50 lap win. At Stafford on Friday night, Marty Radwick scored his first and only win over Corky Cookman and Reggie Ruggiero. Riverhead also ran on Friday with Carl Miller taking the win over Wayne Anderson and Fred Harbach. Evans stayed close to home and was victorious at Spencer over Tom Druar and Jan Leaty. With the exception of a Modified Championship event at Shangri-La on Saturday, all racing rained out. Brian Ross won the Circle of Champions 84 lap event over Richie Evans and Jim Spencer. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bill Elliott won the pole and popular Harry Gant took the win. Ron Bouchard finished seventh and Geoff Bodine ended up 12th.

Thirty years ago in 1989, Jeff Barry won the Friday night SK modified feature at Stafford. Steve Chowanski finished second. At Waterford on Saturday, Richie Gallup won out over Ted Christopher and John Jensen. At Riverhead it was Brian Miller over Fred Harbach and at Riverside, Jerry Marquis in the Judkins 2x held off Reggie Ruggiero. Tony Siscone scored a popular victory as he won the Garden State Classic at Wall Stadium. Gil Hearne finished second. Thompson had a Modified tour event scheduled for Sunday but rain washed out the event.

Twenty Five years ago in 1994, Mike Christopher was the winner at Thompson on Wednesday. Stafford rained out on Friday and on Saturday, Todd Ceravolo scored his first ever Modified win at Waterford. Mark LaJunesse finished second. Dan Avery won at Riverside and Mike Ewanitsko won the Richie Evans Memorial 76 lapper at Riverhead. Monadnock Speedway announced that they were dropping the Modifieds from their weekly program as the field had dwindled to sixteen cars. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Geoff Bodine scored a major win for Hoosier Tires as he won both the pole and the 500-mile contest.

Twenty years ago, in 1999, Jerry Marquis was awarded his fifth victory of the season after apparent winner Ted Christopher was disqualified because of illegal mufflers. New England was in the middle of a 90-degree plus heat wave, which stretched tempers to the limit. At Waterford, Christopher ran amuck again as the lapped car of Harry Rheaume, while leading a 100 lapper took him out. Bert Marvin was the eventual winner with Dennis Gada, second. It was also on Saturday night, July 17 that John F. Kennedy Jr. along with his wife and sister in law were killed in a plane crash near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. It was a busy weekend for the Featherlite Modified Tour. On Friday, during the day, they ran a make-up event at Nazareth. Spectators were charged only $5.00 to see the event. Ed Flemke Jr. took the win after Chris Kopec mysteriously spun while trying to pass. Mike Ewanitsko ended up second with Tony Hirschman, third. After an all night trip to Holland, N.Y. Kopec got his just do as he took the win, his first on the tour. Hirschman ended up second with Charlie Pasteryak, third. Kopec took the lead with six to go from Pasteryak.

Fiften years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine on Saturday night. Thirty-nine Modifieds were on hand. Donnie Lia was the Busch Pole sitter. Tom Cravenho drew the pole and led the first 19 laps. Ted Christopher was involved in an opening lap skirmish, which all but took him out of contention as he lost numerous laps making repairs. Point leader Eddie Flemke also had his problems early on but was able to stay in the lead lap. Nevin George was the class of the field as he took the lead on lap 20 and never looked back. Despite the fact that there were six cautions for 43 laps George beat Donnie Lia by .70 seconds. Zack Sylvester, a rookie on the tour, did an outstanding job as he came from a 14th starting spot to finish third. Jamie Tomaino and Ricky Fuller rounded out the top five. Preston Connecticut car owner Art Barry must have been shaking his head wondering if he made a mistake by putting Sean Caisse in his car. During one of the early cautions Caisse was attempting to scrub the rubber off his tires when he hit his team car, which resulted in damage to both Barry team cars. Quick repairs got Kenny Barry back in competition without losing a lap and he eventually finished 13th. Sixth through tenth were Jerry Marquis, Rob Summers, Tony Hirschman, Todd Szegedy and Cravenho. Eddie Flemke Jr. continued to lead the race for the championship with 1400 points. Second, with 1342 points was former champion Tony Hirschman. Third was Jerry Marquis with 1307.

The Busch North Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl also on Saturday night. Mike Johnson led from pole to pole in what had to be considered a yawner. Mike Stefanik finished second with Matt Kobyluck, third. There were 24 cars on hand.

The Stafford Motor Speedway conducted a bold experiment on Wednesday, July 14 when they presented what was labeled as Extreme Wednesday. Instead of the usual bill of fare of SK Modifieds, Late Models and DARE Stocks the Arute family brought in the ISMA Supermodifieds and NEMA Midgets. Despite threatening weather the event drew a real good crowd, estimated to be in the neighborhood of 6,000, which would leave one to believe that the program will be repeated in 2005. Ted Christopher, the winning-est driver at Stafford, played a major role as he competed and provided a lot of excitement in both the Supermodified 80 lapper and the Midget 30 lapper. In the Supermodified event Christopher drove from a seventh place start to the lead by lap five and had it not been for a fuel starvation problem could very well have won. Chris Perley of Rowley Mass took the lead from a slowing Christopher on lap 30 and went on to lap the entire 26-car starting field with the exception of the top four. Mike Ordway finished second with Bentley Warren, Scott Martel and Rick Wentworth rounded out the top five. Christopher, who dropped out on lap 44, finished 19th. In the 30 lap NEMA feature Nokie Fornoro went from pole to pole to take the win. It was Christopher again that provided a lot of excitement as he put his mount in a three wide situation on more than one occasion. Christopher ended up third behind runner-up Mark Buonomo. Mike LaJoie was the Pro-4 modified winner.

Todd Ceravolo got a little closer to claiming his second Sunoco Modified SK-type championship at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night as he made it two feature wins in a row. Taking the lead from Eric Berndt after a lap 12 re-start, Ceravolo made a determined run from there and was able to stave off the pressure applied by Berndt in the closing laps. Berndt finished second. Bo Gunning finished third after recovering from a semi-spin earlier in the event. Ted Christopher, who still leads the point standings by 8 over Ceravolo, finished fourth after coming back from a pit stop. Bert Marvin rounded out the top five. Jeff Malave, who was currently third in points, finished sixth. Malave was put to the rear shortly after a lap 12 re-start. David Berghman went two for two in Pro Stock action. Berghman, the son of three-time NASCAR Modified Champion Bugsy Stevens, won the night’s regular feature plus a make-up event from June 17. Other Thursday Night Thunder winners were Scott Michalski in the Mini-Stocks, Jeff Hartwell in the Late Models and Norm Ashline in the Limited Sportsman.

Up until Friday night, only two competitors, Ted Christopher at Stafford and Todd Ceravolo at Thompson, were able to record back to back wins. Christopher got one up on Ceravolo as he made it three in a row in SK Modified competition at Stafford on Friday night. Starting deep in the field of the 40-lap feature, Christopher dodged the bullets to take the lead from John Sandberg on lap 34. When Sandberg faded Lloyd Agor moved into second spot in the closing moments and attempted to take Christopher out. Agor’s move backfired as he found himself spinning to the infield. Sandberg moved back into second and secured his best finish of the 2004 season. Mike Quintiliano won his fourth Late Model feature of the year and Stacey Botticello secured her first win in the Dare Stocks.

While the Busch North Series event Waterford on Saturday night lacked excitement the SK Modified feature more than made up for it. Rookie driver Mark Pane started on the pole and was well on his way to his first win when the entire complexion of the 35-lap feature changed. Tom Fox, while running second, used every trick he could think of to get by as Pane blocked his every move. Coming out of the fourth turn on the final lap Fox made one final attempt to make an outside pass. Pane moved up to block but Fox had got his nose in and wasn’t about to lift. The two made contact and lost enough momentum, which allowed Dennis Charette to dive low and take the win. Just as Charette took the win, Pane, who had bounced off of Fox, clipped the right rear of Cherette’s car sending him into a spin and ultimately into the wall, trashing the winning mount. Pane ended up in second spot with Pane, third. Jeff Pearl, Dennis Gada and Ed Reed Jr. rounded out the top six. Corey Hutchings, who trashed a car after suffering tire failure a week ago, took the Late Model feature. Allen Coates finished second. Phil Rondeau crossed the finish line in third spot but was put to the rear by Track Steward Bill Roberts. Roberts made the decision based on the fact that Rondeau was overly aggressive during the event. Mark St. Hillaire ended up with third spot. Ed Gertsch won the 20 lap Sportsman feature and Joe Bavolocco won the Mini-Stock feature.

The Nextel Cup division and the Busch Racing Series of NASCAR were off for weekend. Dale Earnhardt Jr suffered second degree burns to his face and arms when a Corvette he was driving at the Infenion Raceway hit a barrier and burst into flames. NASCAR made it official on Thursday when they announced that starting at the next event in Loudon, all Nextel Cup events would finish at speed under the green flag. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that thousands of fans had been unhappy when races were completed under caution. The showed their dislike by throwing everything from beer cans to chicken bones on the track. Crew chiefs will now have to re-calculate their fuel mileage in order to be prepared for a further than posted race distance. Word had it that NASCAR was close to announcing that they hoped to be racing in the New York Metro area. The sanctioning body had been looking at a site on Staten Island and it appeared that the project would start in the near future. Needless to say it didn’t. NASCAR didn’t pay the right people off and the project never got off the ground.

Ten years ago in 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued on “Summer Break before heading for the Riverhead Raceway on August 1. While the Whelen Modifieds continued to race for paltry purses at some tracks, teams that compete in the DIRT Car series had recently raced in a 100 lap event at the Cayuga County Fair Speedway in New York for a $100,000 purse that paid the winner $20,000. NASCAR rants and raves about the Modifieds and the great shows they put on yet they continued to throw crumbs their way. The recent Modified tour event at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway was clearly the best show of the weekend. Their racing purse was the least of those in competition. A recent edition of Area Auto Racing News, a highly respected trade paper based in New Jersey, stated that the total purse payout at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway was $7,005,549. The Sprint Cup purse consumed the lion’s share at $5,423,189. The Nationwide Series collected $1,197,559. The Camping World Series East purse was $217,884 and at the bottom of the barrel were the Modifieds whose purse totaled $166,917. In comparison to other Modified Tour events the New Hampshire purse was a good one. Based on the level of competition and the quality of the racing something was definitely wrong here. Hopefully those in charge at New Hampshire would correct this!

In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway the Sunoco Modifieds seem to want to self destruct as numerous wrecks continue to plague the division. A lot of it is attributed to rough driving that continues to go unchecked by officials in charge of the racing program. Bump and run, bonsai the leader, knock him out of the way is the norm. If its ok for the NASCAR Cup drivers to do it I guess its ok for the local guys to do it. Hopefully Richard Brooks and Ben Dodge will read the riot act to the competitors and take action if necessary.

Thompson International Speedway implemented the new NASCAR rule where the leader decides if they want to restart on the inside or the outside. With weather moving in the action was hot and heavy. The rains came within minutes of the final checker flag of the evening. The TIS Modifieds did double duty as they ran two features, the Super Late Models had their 50 lap extra distance race. Ted Christopher took down a highly contested win in Sunoco Modified action. Larry Barnett continued his domination in the Limited Sportsman division. Tommy O’Sullivan took down his first Late Model victory of the season as did Scott Michalski in the Mini Stocks.

Kerry Malone led the field to the green flag in Sunoco Modified action. Jimmy Blewett grabbed the lead on lap 1. Malone had heavy pressure from Woody Pitkat who went low and took the spot on lap 3. Pitkat then glued himself to Blewetts’s back bumper. A lap later he went low and took the lead; however, Blewett wasn’t giving up easily. Ted Christopher now joined the fray in fourth and brought Keith Rocco with him. Rocco dove low under Christopher and took over the fourth spot and on the backstretch took over third. The action was slowed by a spin by John Catania.

On the restart Blewett jumped out to the lead but Josh Sylvester made heavy contact with the wall in between turns 1 and 2. When they went back to green, Blewett went back to the lead but Pitkat went high and took over the top spot bringing Rocco with him. Christopher went high on Blewett and took over third. Rocco took over the top spot after making slight contact with Pitkat. Christopher followed Rocco and grabbed second. Tim Sullivan had made his way up to the fifth spot. Just past halfway Christopher went low and took over the lead for a split second over Rocco who then took the spot back. Christopher inherited the lead when contact between Pitkat and Rocco sent Rocco hard into the wall in turns 1 & 2.

With the green back in the air, Christopher came across the line first. In almost the same spot where Rocco just hit, Harry Rheaume made hard contact with the wall. TC and Pitkat restarted their battle with the green flag back in the air. Sullivan went low and took the third spot from Rowan Pennink. On lap 21 Pitkat went low and took over the top spot. A spin by Rick D’Abate slowed the field again his machine onto pit road for some attention. Pitkat took the inside for the restart. It was a smart move as he took off with Christopher falling back. Christopher went low and retook the spot. Pitkat wasn’t giving up and battled back. He was looking high and low lap after lap. Pennink made contact with the backstretch wall slowing the field again. At lap 26 it was a single file restart. Christopher again took the lead but again Pitkat wasn’t going to lie down and give up. He looked high in turn 4, low in turn 1 and applied the pressure. Bert Marvin had moved his way up to fourth. After taking the white flag, Pitkat took the lead but he and Christopher made contact between 3 and 4 and TC took down the win. Tim O’Sullivan ended up in second spot and was followed by Bert Marvin, Woody Pitkat, Rick Shawn, Kerry Malone, Jimmy Blewett, Todd Ceravolo, Danny Cates and Wayne Arute.

Keith Rocco recovered from his wreck at Thompson to record his fourth win of the season at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Tom Butler took down his first feature win at Stafford since 2006 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Earl Pelletier was a first time 2009 winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand took home his fourth victory of the 2009 season in the in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly became the 9th different winner in as many features this season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green with Wade Mattesen powering to the outside of Joe Allegro, Jr. to take the lead. Allegro settled into second with Matt Gallo, Zach Sylvester, and Richie Pallai, Jr. making up the top-5. Sylvester quickly moved to third, with Tom Bolles taking fourth and Curt Brainard moving into fifth place. Mattesen had things well in hand out front, but the action was slowed for the first time with 18 laps complete for a spin by Willie Hardie on the frontstretch. Ted Christopher and Brad Hietala spun on the restart to bring the caution back out. The lap-19 restart saw Rocco power past Mattesen to take over the race lead. The field completed one lap before Christopher and Allegro went around in turn 2 to bring the yellow back out. Rocco charged to the lead on the restart with Mark Bakaj second, Jeff Malave third, Doug Coby fourth and Frank Ruocco fifth. The field ran in line until lap-26 when Bakaj got loose in turn 4 and touched wheels with Coby, which sent both cars spinning and brought the caution back out.

After several more caution periods from lap-27 to lap-29, Rocco was still out front, with Malave, Donny Travaglin, Woody Pitkat, and Christopher behind him. The leaders ran in single file until lap-26 when Travaglin made a move to the inside of Malave for second, which allowed Christopher to follow Travaglin past Malave. Christopher and Malave would both get back by Travaglin in the last couple laps, but it was all Rocco at the front as he scored his fourth feature victory of the 2009 season. Christopher finished second, with Malave, Travaglin, and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.

True Value Modified Racing Series point leader Jon McKennedy roared to his third win of the season and his sixth career victory Saturday night, July 18, as he captured the “Maine-ly Sports 100” at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME. McKennedy, fast in earlier practice sessions, won his qualifying heat, and started on the pole in the 100 lap event. McKennedy jumped into the lead from his pole starting position and held it until passed by Rob Goodenough on lap 17. Andy Seuss took over the top spot on the 43rd lap and held off the constant challenges of Goodenough, and then McKennedy, until lap 77. McKennedy, using lapped traffic to his advantage, grabbed the top spot from Seuss. McKennedy then set a torrid pace to go on and score the win.

Dwight Jarvis who started 16th in the field, finished in a respectable runner-up spot, with David, Pinkham, last years race winner, finishing third. Pinkham started last in a 22 car field. Seuss finished fourth, with Eddie Dachenhasuen, making a late race charge finishing fifth. The race, slowed by only two caution flags on laps 16 and 98, was run off in just 28 minutes.

The racing action at Waterford Speedbowl took on a different look as the regular Saturday night divisions had the night off. The first ever Saturday Wild ‘n Wacky racing event took place at Waterford Speedbowl under sunny and warm conditions. The Legends Car series was in the spotlight, competing in a national qualifier event with the winner earning a guaranteed berth in the Raceceiver Legends Nationals at Georgia’s Lanier Speedway in October. Berlin, CT competitor Jason Palmer continued his domination in the division this year, bouncing back from early race trouble to secure the win. Ledyard’s Charles Beal won his second consecutive Super X-Car race, Willington’s John Bowes dominated the X-Car event, and David Flammia Jr. of Waterbury was the late benefactor in winning the X-Modified race. Tyler Chalue won the Bandolero race.

The Seekonk Speedway ran their annual Open Modified 100 on Wednesday, July 15. Chris Pasteryak started 8th and after dogging Mike Stefanik for many laps, passed him for the lead and eventual win on lap 85. For his efforts Pasteryak collected $10,000. Jon McKennedy finished second and was followed by Jimmy Kuhn, Stefanik and Matt Hirschman.

Kyle Busch dominated the NASCAR Nationwide Series again, cruising to victory in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 on Saturday. Reed Sorenson finished second and Carl Edwards was third. Mike Bliss and Brad Coleman rounded out the top five. The Nextel Cup division had the week off.

Five years ago in 2014, The fourth of July weekend began on a wet note as heavy rains from Hurricane Arthur forced officials of the Stafford Motor Speedway to cancel their holiday special. The Inaugural NAPA SK 5k was postponed last Thursday to Friday July 25th due to the impending threat of Hurricane Arthur. The SK 5k, dubbed the biggest race in SK Modified history, will take place in three weeks on July 25th under what will hopefully be beautiful clear skies. Close to three inches of rain was recorded in Connecticut from the storm.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series took on the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH on Saturday night. Richard Savory, who won the series race at Lee NH recently made it two in a row and three for the year. With 28 cars strong, three qualifying heats were run. Savory started 14th and at the half way 50 lap mark was running sixth behind leader Chris Pasteryak. Savory waited until the closing moments as he took the lead with only three laps to go. Pasteryak settled for second withJustin Bonsignore, third. Rowan Pennink who qualified thru the consi came from the rear to finish fourth. Russ Hersey rounded out the top five.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, One week ago Bill Park and his team were thrashing on the orange no. 20 in the Riverhead Raceway pit area following a crash in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Hoosier Tire 200 with Todd Szegedy behind the wheel. Seven days later that same orange no. 20 car, albeit with a new white nose, was in Riverhead’s victory lane with Ryan Preece celebrating his second win of the season.

While Preece put down the fastest lap in time-trials earlier in the evening it was clear that he didn’t have the fastest car during the Cromarty Cup 50-lap feature. But as Preece said at the end of the night, sometimes you get lucky, and he ended up winning this race for the second year in a row even with only leading just the last three laps.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval’s l’s mid-season championship Overdrive Radio 300 event hit the asphalt Saturday night with extra distance racing by the track’s regular six divisions. The big winner was Keith Rocco scoring top honors in the night’s 100-lap SK Modified® main event. Bruce Thomas Jr. won an entertaining 50-lap Valenti Auto Mall Late Model race, while Jeff Smith was a first-time winner in the SK Light Modifieds after an impressive performance. Josh Galvin was back in Victory Lane in the 50-lap Street Stock race and Garrett Denton won his second consecutive race in the night’s 50-lap Mini Stock event. Mike Christopher Jr. won his third straight INEX Legend Cars race to round out the winners.

Rocco, the class of the field, as he methodically picked his way through the top ten until he landed in the lead on lap-34. He was in control the rest of the way to pick up his seventh win of the year in the division. Rob Janovic put forth a strong effort to wind up runner-up. Jeff Rocco had a solid outing to run among the top-three all race and finish third with limited appearances in the division in 2014. Tyler Chadwick and Kyle James completed the top-five.

A big spike was driven into the heart of the speedbowl early in the evening when an official with his mouth drove Sid DiMaggio and his crew out of the track which they have done so much for no pay. A Waterford Speedbowl rule states “No crew member could touch a car after it crossed the inspection pad for time trials”. Evidently an official got his jockey shorts twisted when an adjustment was made to an in-car camera. Fans were sad to learn that the Sids Vault team has left the Bowl. With all the free advertisement and promotion the track has received it would be a smart move on the part of track operator Terry Eames to mend the fences that this over zealous official has torn down.

In Modified racing in the Southland, Andy Seuss continues to roll in NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour events at Caraway Speedway. The 27-year-old from Hampstead, New Hampshire, completed the sweep on the day’s on-track events at the .455-mile banked asphalt oval. Seuss was fastest in practice, won his eighth pole Coors Light Pole Award at the track and led every lap en route to winning the Daggett Shuler Attorneys At Law 150 at Caraway. It was his fourth consecutive victory at the track and 10th of his career. Following Seuss was George Brunnhoelzl III, J.R. Bertuccio, Danny Bohn and Kyle Ebersole.

Gary Putnam was sixth, followed by Jason Myers, Bryan Dauzat, Spencer Davis and David Calabrese. The wire-to-wire win was the fifth of Seuss’ career and fourth at Caraway. He won the 2014 season opener in similar fashion. There were 19 cars on hand. Among those who had problems was Burt Myers who completed 72 laps before retiring with electrical problems which placed him 17th.

The Bowman Gray Stadium was quiet for the holiday. On Saturday night 20 southern Modifieds ventured to the Hickory Speedway in North Carolina for the KOMA Unwind American Freedom 125. Zach Brewer took the win over Burt Myers, Bobby Sheffield, Mike Speeney and Jason Myers.

Aric Almirola won a rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Int’l Speedway, which ended after 112 laps and the fourth rain delay of the weekend. In the process, the Richard Petty Motorsports driver collected his first career Sprint Cup victory and the first for car owner Richard Petty’s legendary No. 43 since April 1999. Friday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 produced another classic Daytona Int’l Speedway finish. Kasey Kahne used a push from Ryan Sieg on the final lap to overtake Regan Smith to win Saturday’s event at Daytona Int’l Speedway by a scant .021 of a second.

Last year, 2018, The Tri-Track Modified Series in conjunction with Open Wheel Wednesday at the Seekonk Speedway was continued on Tuesday after a six day rain delay. Unfortunately, rain intervened on lap 22 of the event. The 100 lapper was continued on Tuesday night, July 3. Richard Savory led the restart with Keith Rocco in the runner-up spot. Ryan Preece, Jon Kievman, Anthony Nocella, Les Hinckley, Mike Holdridge, and Steve Masse withdrew. Chase Dowling pinch hit for Rowan Pennink.

Ron Silk took the lead on lap 36 in turn one and held it until pitting for tires on lap 57. Restarting in the rear Silk made a determined run as he re-took the top spot on lap 72 and never looked back. Hirschman rallied after losing a lap early on and recovered to finish second with Chase Dowling, third. Russ Hersey and Todd Annarummo rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Sam Rameau, Jon McKennedy, Woody Pitkat, Savory and Dana D’Matteo. Rocco finished 11th.

The Stafford Motor Speedway added fireworks to their Friday night program. Scoring feature wins were Ronnie Williams in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno in the SK Light feature, Jeremy Lavoie in the Limited Late Model feature, George Bessette, Jr. in the Street Stock feature, and Jason Chapman in the Wild Thing Karts Junior Outlaws feature.

In the 40 lap SK Modified feature, Williams passed Eric Berndt on lap 36 and then held off Berndt’s challenges over the final three laps. Stephen Kopcik was third. Keith Rocco came into the evening leading Williams in the standings by 28 points. An 18th place finish for Rocco allowed Williams to move into the points lead by six ahead of Rocco.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled across Long Island Sound to the Riverhead Raceway on Saturday.

Justin Bonsignore held off Ryan Preece through a furious finish to capture the Buzz Chew Auto Group 200 checkered flag. A member of the Long Island Gang, Bonsignore took the lead for good on Lap 171 and drove to his fifth career victory at the Long Island quarter-mile.It marked the 16th career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Bonsignore, who has won four of seven in 2018 as the season nears the halfway point. He now has a 33-point lead atop the standings.

Bonsignore won his seventh career pole earlier in the afternoon, but Timmy Solomito gained the lead from the drop of the green. Preece moved to the front on Lap 19, and it was a two-horse race with Bonsignore from there. Preece had a commanding lead when a caution came out on Lap 100. On the ensuing restart, Preece appeared to get loose, allowing Bonsignore to move to the front. There would be one more lead swap with 60 to go before Bonsignore’s decisive pass.

Preece settled for second while Doug Coby came home third as only the podium drivers finished on the lead lap. Dave Sapienza and Solomito brought home the top five. Craig Lutz rallied from a mid-race incident to finish sixth, followed by Chase Dowling, Tom Rogers Jr., Kyle Soper and Ronnie Williams.

Dowling is second in championship points, behind Bonsignore and 18 in front of Solomito. Lutz and Preece are fourth and fifth, respectively.

An era came to an end with the last of the Mystic Missile Modifieds going up for sale. Chuck Hossfeld is the sales agent. The last two, v4 Mystic Missiles are 100% complete. Just add seat. One, 2016 Troyer TA1 with NASCAR spec engine built by Ron Hutter. 6 races on it. $60k. The second is a 2014 Troyer 01-08 style also with a Hutter spec engine built in 2015. $50k. These are turn key complete cars, gas in the tank and air in the tires!.

Hossfeld, a former driver of the Mystic Missile, is the Co-owner/Sales Consultant at Jerry Gradl Motors Inc.in Lockport, NY.

On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Todd Owen was the SK Modified winner over Rob Janovic and Kyle James. Ryan Morgan scored a convincing win in the Late Models, Bo Norman won the Limited Sportsman feature, Charles Canfield won the Mini Stock feature and Brett Meservey was the Pro 4 winner.

In the 40 lap SK Modified feature, Owen kept digging and digging until he finally struck gold.The Somers Ct driver made several attempts to dive-bomb underneath Rob Janovic Jr. during the first half of the 40-lap SK Modified feature. With 18 laps remaining, however, Owen got a dazzling run off turn 4 and swooped underneath Janovic in turn 1 to move into the lead. He maintained it the rest of the way to grab his second feature of the season.

In the Late Models, Mike Benevides led the early laps of the race, however, and then Tyler Chapman took over the lead before Morgan zipped into the top spot on lap 10. He spent the rest of the feature holding off a hard-charging Flannery and Palmer.

“It’s great that the three of us are duking it out all the time,” Morgan said. “There was some beating and banging, but we also respect each other.” Morgan also climbed into a tie for the point lead with Jason Palmer.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina all was quiet as the Stadium celebrated the Fourth of July.

Justin Haley started last and crossed the finish line first. It would have been a stellar run in just his second Xfinity Series race if only he could have kept two tires above the double-yellow line at Daytona International Speedway.Kyle Larson was declared the winner of the Firecracker 250 on Friday night when Haley’s late pass in overtime was ruled illegal. Ryan Preece finished 39th after dropping out on lap 51 with overheating problems.

Erik Jones gets 1st Cup win in crash-filled race at Daytona. Jones survived several gnarly wrecks, defending Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. on his bumper late and the pressure of overtime at NASCAR’s most famous track. Jones won a crash-filled race at Daytona International Speedway, passing Truex on the final lap and then wildly celebrating the first victory of his Cup career. Jones created so much smoke during his burnout that he had trouble breathing afterward. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., had the most memorable run of the night. He started two early accidents that wrecked more than half the field and was part of two more cautions late.

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