RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; Getting Ready For NHMS; Racing At Riverhead, Stafford & More…

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series had the weekend off in order to prepare for a double header scheduled for this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The All-Star Shootout is scheduled for this coming Friday, July 19 and the ninth race of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points championship schedule will take place on Saturday, July 20.

Both events will be live streamed by FansChoice.TV starting at 6:30pm..

Riverhead Raceway on Long Island ran on Wednesday night. John Beatty Jr who came within inches of winning the July 6 Whelen Modified Tour event got his just due on Wednesday night in a 50-lap midweek special. The win was the 7th of Beatty’s career and in a odd statistical twist 3 of those 7 victories have come on a Wednesday night with John having swept Twin 50 lap NASCAR Modified races in 2018. Second generation driver Chris Young finished second while Kyle Soper claimed third place money. Dave Brigati and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night tour style modifieds took center stage for an 80-lap race around the Connecticut half-mile, Ronnie Williams came home as the big winner, holding off Matt Swanson in a four lap sprint to the finish.

The SK Modified® division ran their regularly scheduled 40-lap feature as well as the 2nd Annual TC 13 Shootout, a 13 lap race contested between the top-13 finishers from the 40-lap feature that paid the winner an extra $1,313 from a purse of nearly $7,000. Stephen Kopcik won the 40-lap SK Modified® feature and Keith Rocco came up the big winner of the TC 13 Shootout. Other feature winners included Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Bryan Narducci in the SK Light feature, Alexandra Fearn in the Limited Late Model feature, and Zack Robinson in the Street Stock feature.

In the SK 40 lapper, Kopcik got clear from Rocco and Owen got clear from Cipriano with ten to go. Kopcik then pulled alongside Ron Williams in a fight for the race lead. Kopcik got clear to the lead on lap-33 with Keith Rocco and Williams now side by side for second behind Kopcik with Todd Owen on the back bumpers of Williams and Rocco.

Williams cleared Rocco for second on lap-34 and was all over Kopcik’s bumper looking to retake the lead. Williams dove to the inside of Kopcik into turn 3 on lap-37 but couldn’t make the pass. Rocco and Williams were side by side for second coming to the white flag and Rocco took the spot at the line. Rocco couldn’t get around Kopcik as he took down his first win of the 2019 season. Williams finished third with Owen and Glen Reen rounding out the top-5. Following the completion of the 40-lap feature, Ted Christopher’s niece Nicole redrew the number 7 to invert the top-7 of the 13 cars transferring into the TC Shootout.

In the 13-lap TC Shootout, Joey Cipriano took the lead on lap-1 with Eric Berndt and Todd Owen side by side for second. By lap-3 Owen was in the lead, Cipriano and Keith Rocco were side by side for second, Berndt was fourth and Glen Reen was fifth. Rocco took the lead from Owen on lap-5 but Owen wasn’t going away quietly. Owen ran side by side for a lap with Rocco before nearly executing a crossover move on lap-7. Owen was able to get to the inside of Rocco on lap-8 and he had the lead at the line. Rocco came back to Owen’s inside on lap-10 and took the lead by a nose at the line. Reen was third with Kopcik up to fourth and Cipriano fifth.

The cars came to the white flag with Owen glued to Rocco’s back bumper. Rocco held off Owen’s last ditch effort to take the checkered flag and the $1,313 winner’s purse. Kopcik finished third behind Rocco and Owen with Cipriano and Berndt rounding out the top-5.

In the SK Lites, Bryan Narducci continues to be the real deal as he wracked up his fourt win of the season at Stafford. In an event that went non-stop, Narducci started 15th and took the lead after sliding by Mikey Flynn in turns 1+2 on the final lap.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series was scheduled to run at the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire on Friday night. When that event was cancelled late in the afternoon some competitors opted to go to Stafford which swelled the field of cars in competition to 30.

Ron Williams got a good run to Todd Owen’s inside on lap-56 and he took the lead on lap-57. With 20 laps to go, the order was Williams in the lead with Eric Goodale, Owen, Matt Swanson, Matt Galko, Chase Dowling, Rocco, Christopher, Molleur, and Gallup making up the top-10.

With 10 laps to go, Williams was slowly stretching out his lead over Goodale in second while Swanson got by Owen to move into third. Dowling was now looking to get by Owen to take fourth with Rocco right behind Dowling. Dowling took fourth on lap-73 and Rocco took fifth from Owen on lap-74 as Williams continued to pull away. Williams’ advantage was erased by the caution for a spin by Kopec in the middle of turns 3+4 with 75 laps complete.

Williams took the lead on the restart with Goodale in second. Owen drifted up the track in turn 4 to lose a couple spots but the race stayed green until a multi car spin brought the caution back out with 76 laps complete.

Williams took the lead while Swanson pulled alongside Goodale for second. Swanson cleared Goodale on lap-78 with Rocco in fourth and Galko in fifth. Goodale and Swanson touched wheels with Goodale going through the grass and rejoining the track to keep the race under green. Williams led Swanson to the checkered flag to pick up the win. Rocco finished third with Galko and Christopher rounding out the top-5.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium it was Girls Night Out with all females getting in for $2.00. Jonathan Brown held off James Civali and Burt Myers on Saturday night in the 100-lap race for his first win of the season. Brown started fourth, took the lead on lap 42 after he, Jason Myers, Tim Brown and Danny Bohn made contact coming around turn 4. Jonathan Brown got through unscathed and took first place. There was another caution on lap 59 and Burt Myers moved to second ahead of Civali. Civali slipped past him coming around turn 1 on the restart.

After another caution on lap 81, Jonathan Brown led and bolted past Burt Myers and Civali. Saturday’s race was one of the Fans’ Challenge races in which the top four qualifiers in the Modified Division have the option to go to the back of the field to try to finish in the top four to collect all or a portion of the $3,000 Challenge. Brown elected to do it in the last Challenge in June, but after qualifying second on Saturday, he chose not to do the Fans’ Challenge.

In 100-lap Modified races there’s a full-field redraw anyway, and with double points in all divisions Saturday night, he wanted to take the chance at a straight redraw. Tim Brown was the points leader by 10 points over Myers, but Myers, the nine-time and three-time defending champion, finished runner-up and Tim Brown finished eighth to allow Myers to overtake Tim Brown and lead the points by 10. Jonathan Brown went from fourth place to second and trails Myers by four points.