Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1949, Bill Rafter was the 20 lap feature winner at the Buffalo Civic Center. Don Hall won a 50 lapper at Seekonk.
Sixty five years ago in 1954 racing on Wednesday night at the New London Waterford Speedbowl was cancelled due to a power outage. On the morning of August 31, Hurricane Carol, the most destructive hurricane to strike Southern New England since the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, came crashing ashore near Old Saybrook, Connecticut, leaving 65 people dead in her wake. Sustained winds of 80 to 100 mph roared through the eastern half of Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, and most of eastern Massachusetts. Scores of trees and miles of power lines were blown down. By September 4 electrical power was restored to the inland Waterford region allowing races to be held on Sunday and Labor Day, Monday. Fred Luchesi was the 25 lap Sportsman winner on Sunday and Moe Gherzi won a 100 lapper on Monday at the shoreline oval. Lou Tetreault and Butch Caswell were the non-Ford winners. At Seekonk, Red Bolduc won a 200 lap Class A event.
Sixty years ago in 1959, Ernie Gahan, driving the Woodchopper Special of John and Sonny Koszela, was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford Springs. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl ran three times over the Labor Day weekend. In the Sportsman division Dick Beauregard won on Wednesday night and on Monday afternoon while Bill Slater won on Saturday night. Non-Ford winners were Ted Stack on Wednesday and Monday and Charlie Webster on Saturday. In the Bombers at the shoreline oval Newt Palm won on Wednesday and Saturday while Ben Hewitt won on Monday. Don Hall was still winning at Seekonk as he won a 25 lap Class A event.
Fifty five years ago in 1964, Bill Wimble was back in victory lane as he won the Friday night NASCAR Modified feature on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway over Kenny Shoemaker and George Janoski. Wally Silva won the Minuteman 400 at the Norwood Arena Speedway in Norwood, Ma. Charlie Webster made it two in a row in Modified action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber winner at the Ct shoreline oval. Babw Broulette was the Class A winner at Seekonk. Norm Dresser was the Cadet feature winner.
Other weekend winners were Al DeAngelo at Islip, Don Stives at the Wall Stadium, Rene Charland at Fort Dix (New Egypt), Lou Lazzaro at Fonda and Tommie Elliott at Old Bridge.
Fifty years ago in 1969, Labor Day weekend meant many extra distance events were on the schedule. Albany -Saratoga started it off with a regular program, which saw Lou Lazzaro take the top spot over Bugsy Stevens and Jerry Pennock. Saturday night at Norwood Eddie Flemke won a double point event over Freddie Schulz and Bob Bacciocce. At Airborne it was Dick Nephew over Guy Chartrand and in South Boston, Va., Mr Modified, Ray Hendrick won a 400 lapper over Perk Brown and Jimmie Hensley. Charlie Jarzombek made it two in a row at Islip as he beat out Jim Hendrickson and Fred Harbach. Waterford ran on Saturday night as well as on Monday. Fred “Fuzzy” Baer was the Saturday night winner with Don Collins taking the victory on Monday. At Seekonk, Bill Anderson was the Class A winner. Lou Lazzaro made it two for two on the weekend as he won the Utica-Rome 400 on Sunday night. Dave Lape finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens, Jerry Cook, Perk Brown and Bill Slater. From Utica it was off to Dover Downs for the All Star 100. Ray Hendrick cleaned house for the win. Sonny Hutchins finished second and was followed by Buzzie Reutiman, Bill Greco, Charlie Jarzombek and Bugsy Stevens. A 150 lapper scheduled for Labor Day at Stafford was cancelled. It was also during this week that NASCAR Winston Cup drivers formed the Pro Drivers Association and elected Richard Petty as their president.
Forty five years ago in 1974, Wednesday night racing at Riverhead and Friday night racing at Freeport rained out. Utica-Rome ran a 100 lapper on Friday, which saw Geoff Bodine take the win. Lou Lazzaro finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook and Richie Evans. Saturday night at Islip saw Charlie Jarzombek take the win over Charlie Siebert and at Stafford Bugsy Stevens edged out Leo Cleary and Ronnie Bouchard. Racing at Shangri-La was cancelled due to a power failure. Rain prevailed at the Waterford Speedbowl. At Fulton on Sunday, Clayton Sonney Seamon held off Bernie Miller and Maynard Troyer. In New England, Monadnock, Seekonk and Thompson went head to head. Jerry Pearl won at Thompson while it was Eddie Flemke at Seekonk and Brian Ross at Monadnock. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Labor Day and Bugsy Stevens made it two for two at the half-mile oval for the weekend. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Fred DeSarro, fourth.
Forty years ago in 1979, Labor Day weekend started on Wednesday with a 200 lap event at New Egypt. Richie Evans took the win over Jerry Cook and John Blewett Jr. Friday night at Stafford belonged to Ronnie Bouchard who led the way to victory over Evans. Oswego ran their annual Modified 200 on Saturday, which drew 72 Modifieds. Geoff Bodine and Jerry Cook finished one-two in a lap by themselves. Richie Evans finished third, one lap down. At Seekonk, Leo Cleary gave Eddie StAngelo a driving lesson and at Waterford, Rick Donnelly took the win. Charlie Jarzombek beat out Greg Sacks at Islip and at Westboro; Jeff Fuller took the top spot. Stafford capped off the weekend with their annual 200, which drew 60 Modifieds. Richie Evans took the win and sewed up the track championship. Maynard Troyer finished second and was followed by Mark Malcuit, Gil Hearne and Jerry Pearl.
Other weekend winners were Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and Monadnock, Jerry Cook at Spencer, Bruce Batchelder at Claremont, Ronnie Rocco at Plainville and Ronnie Bouchard at Thompson. Joe Howard sewed up the Thompson championship. Two days after his Oswego win, Geoff Bodine and car owner Lee Allard split up.
Thirty five years ago in 1984, Reggie Ruggiero was the kingpin at Stafford as he won the Friday night 30 lapper and the Labor Day 200. Kenny Bouchard finished second on Friday and was followed by George Brunnhoelzl and Ray Miller. Richie Evans finished second in the 200 and was followed by Bouchard, Brian Ross and Brett Bodine. At Waterford on Saturday, Dale Holdredge beat out Gomer Taylor and at Riverside John Rosati took the win. The Oswego 200 was still the race to win as 62 Modifieds were on hand. Richie Evans took the win, which was worth $17,500. Jeff Fuller finished second and was followed by George Kent, Roger Treichler and Tony Hirschman. Other weekend winners included
Kent at Spencer, Don Howe at Islip and Tom McCann at Wall Stadium. Down in the southland, Ronnie Bouchard won the Saturday Grandnational event at Darlington.
Thirty years ago in 1989, it rained at Stafford on Friday night. At Waterford on Saturday, Richie Gallup was the winner and Phil Rondeau scored his 12th win of the season in the late model ranks. The Oswego 200 was won by Tony Hirschman. Brad Hietella won at Riverside and Fred Harbach took the win at Riverhead.
Twenty five years ago in 1994, Thompson ran on Wednesday. Wayne Dion took the win over John Sneade and Frank Cardile. Ted Christopher was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Bob Potter finished second with John Jensen,third. Waterford ran double features with Jim Broderick winning both. Dan Avery won at Riverside and Dan Watts won at Riverhead. The Modified Tour Series was at Apple Valley (Shangri-La). Mike Ewanitsko recovered from a mid race flat tire to win the event. Wayne Anderson finished second and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak. Richie Gallup and Rick Fuller were eliminated in separate wrecks after tangles with Ed Flemke Jr. Flemke ended up seventh. At Darlington, Mark Martin was the Grand National winner and Bill Elliott won the Winston Cup event.
Twenty years ago in 1999, Willie Hardie took the Friday night SK Modified win at Stafford. Todd Szegedy finished second with Curt Brainard, third. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour made its final visit to the soon to be closed Riverside Park Speedway for a 200 lapper. The event drew 49 Modifieds and a packed grandstand. Pole sitter Bob Polverari. Polverari led the first 61 laps before giving way to Reggie Ruggiero. Ruggiero held the point until passed by Ricky Miller on lap 126. Ruggerio faded to eventually finish 15th while Miller went on to take the win. Mike Ewanitsko, in the Art Barry No. 21, finished second and was followed by Ted Riggot, Tony Hirschman and Ricky Fuller. Dennis Gada scored his eighth win of the season at Waterford. David Gada, who initially finished fourth was moved up to second after it was discovered that the cylinder heads on the cars of Todd Ceravolo and Tucker Reynolds were illegal. Jay Stuart recorded his fourth in a row in Late Model competition and Richard Brooks took the Mini Stock feature. Eddie Brunnhoelzl won at Riverhead and at Thompson on Sunday Todd Ceravolo took the win over Curt Brainard. In Winston Cup action at Darlington Jeff Burton won the rain shortened Southern 500. Burton also earned the No-Bull $1million bonus. Ward Burton finished second. Mark Martin won the Darlington Busch Series 300.
Fifteen years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Tongues were wagging in a positive way over the announcement that Whelen Engineering would take over as title sponsor of the series in 2005. Thirty-four Modifieds were on hand for the event that carried a $70,000 purse. Tony Hirschman took the Busch Pole. The draw for starting spots saw Hirschman draw the outside pole along side Eddie Flemke Jr. who drew the pole. Flemke took the lead at the start and held the position for 42 laps when Doug Coby was able to get by Coby lasted five laps on the point until Flemke took it back. The lead seesawed back and forth until lap 76 when Coby became the victim of a slipping clutch, ending his night. Flemke led until lap 96 when he began backing up, giving the lead to Todd Szegedy. Szegedy led the remaining distance to complete the 150-lap distance. Jerry Marquis, who started 12th, moved into the second spot on lap 96 but couldn’t catch Szegedy sleeping. Marquis settled for second. Mike Stefanik ran virtually without fanfare and ended up third while Flemke slipped to fourth at the finish. Tony Hirschman, in a determined run after having to pit with a flat tire, finished fifth. Sixth through tenth were Chuck Hossfeld, Kevin Konopka, Kenny Barry, Jamie Tomaino and Greg Shivers. Seven cautions for 42 laps slowed the event The most severe came as the field completed the first lap when a multi-car tangle occurred on the front stretch which resulted in Ted Christopher receiving severe rear end damage. Christopher drove to the pit area but never returned.
The Modified Tour Series continued to be the strongest regional touring series that NASCAR has. Among those missing from the Waterford Mod Tour event were Bobby Santos III who normally drives the Joe Brady No.00. John Blewett III pinch-hit for Santos while he was at Oswego, NY for their annual Supermodified Classic. Santos finished second to Greg Furlong in the 200-lap grind. In the companion ISMA Super Nationals Santos swapped spots with Furlong as he took the win.
In Dodge Weekly Racing Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway Todd Ceravolo put himself back on top of the Sunoco Modified standings with a convincing win over Bert Marvin and Kerry Malone. It was his fifth win in which may be his final season. Ceravolo, an electrical contractor, had indicated that he would retire from racing at season’s end and would like nothing better than to go out as a champion. Ceravolo also stands a good chance of a high finish in the first tier of the NASCAR Dodge Regional standings. A single file re-start with three laps to go told the story. Bert Marvin was looking to record the win until Ceravolo powered by on the backstretch and that’s all she wrote. Following Ceravolo and Marvin at the finish were Kerry Malone, Eric Berndt, Jeff Malave and Richard Savory. Ted Christopher, who was the odds on favorite to become the NASCAR regional champion finished eighth after recovering from a lap six spin. David Berghman rebounded from a two-race slump as he recorded his seventh Pro Stock win of the season. Other Thursday night Thunder winners were Ryan Posocco in the Late Models, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Jason Paquette in the Mini-Stocks. On a sad note, Bo Gunning took a mean fall from atop the Eddie Partridge hauler and had to be transported to a nearby hospital. Evidently Gunning was assisting his crew in the removal of his car from the hauler when his cell phone rang which diverted his attention. The car rolled out of the truck on to the elevator ramp, striking Gunning. Gunning was taken to the hospital and released. Car owner Eddie Partridge made the decision to call it a night and did not enter his car into competition. Partridge, who was at Waterford on Saturday night stated that Gunning was sore but had no broken bones.
Double features were on tap at Stafford on Friday night. Ted Christopher wrapped up his fifth track championship but it wasn’t pretty and he wasn’t happy. Steve Chowanski won the opening 30 lap SK Modified event with Jeff Malave hot on his tail. Todd Owen finished third. Christopher finished a conservative 10th. Christopher needed to finish 20th in the second event. Jeff Malave ended up taking the win in the second event after Christopher was put to the tail of the field for rough riding and ended up finishing tenth, again. Chris Jones, who has a short temper at times started on the pole of the second event and was able to hold onto the front spot until the five to go signal was given. All of a sudden Jones’ car drifted up and Christopher, running in second made a move to take the lead. Once Jones realized what was happening he turned left to block, making contact with Christopher and ended up spinning into the infield. Taking somewhat of a fit, Jones spun his car in the dirt. Race director Frank Sgambato Jr. gave the word that Jones was done for the night. The next thing you know, he puts Christopher to the rear for rough riding. Christopher, not a saint by any means, was the victim of a bad call. Jones came into him, period! Christopher vented his frustration with the Stafford management on Saturday night at Waterford. “I hope they enjoy themselves at the banquet this year, I know I won’t be there”, he said. In Late Model action Ryan Posocco made it three in a row.
The tech man at the Waterford Speedbowl got tough on Saturday night. Doug Coby, who apparently had won the SK Modified main event found himself disqualified after the tech man discovered illegal chassis height. Rob Janovic, who finished second, was declared the winner. Tom Fox ended up second with Ed Reed Jr., third. Allen Coates, who was unhappy to hear he had to pay income tax on the vehicle he won in the Funkmaster event, took his fourth Late Model victory of the year. Richard Brooks made it two in a row in Mini Stock action and Jim Procaccini won the Sportsman feature. Twin 25’s at Wall Township were won by Kevin Flockart and Shannon Mongeau. At Riverhead, Bill Park took the win.
The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were at the California Speedway in Fontana last weekend. For the first time since 1950 the Nextel Cup and Busch Racing series was not at the Darlington Speedway in South Carolina as NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation has seen fit to break tradition. Gregg Biffle won the Busch Series event after putting the fender to Casey Mears late in the race. Elliott Sadler was the Nextel Cup winner.
Ten years ago in 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Thompson Speedway last Thursday night. The competition and excitement provided by the “Men that Live by the Grace of God and 600 horsepower” was at a fever pitch as fans were on the edge of their seats for almost the entire 150 laps of the event. Donny Lia, in a show of sheer determination after being all but ridden into the wall by Ted Christopher, came from the rear of the field after a lap 113 restart and latterly blew the defending series champion away as he retook the lead in turn 4 on lap 139. Many of those on hand expected a “Pay Back” to Christopher was coming but Lia didn’t lower himself as he was in a hurry. Once back in the lead Lia dominated to the end as he recorded a convincing win. Christopher, who was experiencing electrical problems with his radiator fan ended up in the runner-up spot and was followed by Todd Szegedy, Rowan Pennick and Keith Rocco who was making his debut in the Eddie Partridge No.12 that had been vacated by Jimmy Blewett. Sixth through tenth were Eric Beers, Eric Berndt, Bob Grigas, Glen Reen and Eric Rudolph.
There were 33 cars on hand as the economy and high cost of racing is taking its toll. Christopher, who drew the pole starting position, took the lead on the start after running outside pole sitter Mike Stefanik into the marbles between turns one and two. Christopher led until a restart on Lap 29 when Ryan Preece took the lead away in turn 2. Preece was running like a bear as he had ‘Ole Blu flat out. Stefanik spun out and hit the inside wall on the backstretch on lap 32. Preece led the restart on lap 37 but quickly lost the lead to Christopher. Preece developed power steering problems and eventually ended up going laps down before his crew cut the power steering belt in order to bypass the steering pump. While Preece was having his problems Lia, who started ninth, moved into the second spot on lap 39. Lia took the lead in turn three on lap 47 as Christopher’s tires were shot and he began fading fast. Rowan Pennick moved into the second spot on lap 52.
Preece spun on lap 72 which allowed almost the entire field to pit for tires. Lia only took on a right rear tire, which allowed him to get back out ahead of most of the field as he restarted in third spot behind Berndt who chose not to pit. Berndt led the restart on lap 76 and held Lia at bay until a restart on lap 92 when Lia retook the point. A nine-car wreck on the backstretch on lap 93 brought out the red as the track was blocked. Among those who were involved were Woody Pitkat, Renee Dupuis, Kevin Goodale, Johnny Bush and Rob Summers. Once the wrecks were cleaned up Lia led the charge to the green on lap 98. Christopher took the lead in turn 4 on lap 103. Lia took it back in turn 4 on lap 106. One lap later Christopher attempted to move Lia up between turns one and two. Lia went into the concrete slightly, doing no damage. On the lap 113 restart Lia started in the rear of the field while Christopher diced for the lead with Todd Szegedy. Szegedy took the lead in turn 3 while Lia began his determined march to the front. By lap 123 Lia was back in the top five and closing fast. Following a lap 137 restart, Christopher took the lead with Lia hot on his bumper. The final lead change came in turn 4 on lap 139 when Lia took the lead for the final time.
There were seven caution periods for 35 laps. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will hold its 10th race of the 2009 season at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 19. The pit fee was $50.
The Hartford Courant announced that Jimmy Blewett had given up his Whelen Modified Tour Series ride and his SK-Sunoco Modified ride. Long Islander Eddie Partridge owns both cars. Blewett left to concentrate more time to his family and the family owned scrap metal business. Keith Rocco moved into Blewett’s vacant seat in the WMT car while Ron Silk assumed the driving chores in the SK-Sunoco car. Following the WMT event Partridge stated that he was happy with Rocco’s performance. Partridge was also happy with Silk as he finished fifth in the Sunoco-SK type Modified event.
In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Rowan Pennink took a hard fought win in the Sunoco SK type Modifieds. Pennink led the opening lap but immediately had his hands full with Kerry Malone and Ted Christopher. Pennink was able to maintain the lead as Malone settled back in line ahead of Christopher. The fiercest battle amid the pack was for the fourth position between Tim Sullivan, Keith Rocco and Woody Pitkat. Sullivan had the spot with Rocco and Pitkat within striking distance. The action cooled when the first caution flew for a spin by Harry Rheaume. On the restart, Malone was able to get the edge but his advancement was for naught as the caution flew before the leaders could get out of turn two. The dreadful season for Sullivan continued as he made hard contact with the outside wall in turn one to bring out the second caution. Malone got slightly out of shape on the ensuing restart making contact with Ted Christopher. Christopher slid through the infield making contact with the inside wall on the front stretch. The damage forced Christopher to retire from the event.
Rocco looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the restart moving to the second spot. Pitkat was able to get by Malone as well. A quick restart allowed Pitkat to gain another spot into the second position. Ronnie Silk, the new driver of the TS Haulers #12, made his first appearance inside the top five. After a stop on pit road, Danny Cates had come back to ride in the sixth spot. A bobble by leader Pennink exiting turn four one lap shy of halfway gave Pitkat a shot at the lead. Pennink recovered to maintain the position. A half-lap later, Pitkat tried the low side in turn three. The lane swap gave Rocco the edge to put him back in the runner-up position. Pennink continued to show the way with Rocco bearing down. Pitkat had settled back into the third position before the fifth caution of the event flew for a spin by Carl Oberg. Cates was back on pit road during the caution at lap 17.
It was much of the same on the restart as Pennink had to fight off the advances of Rocco. Pitkat laid in wait in third followed by Malone and Silk. Rocco pushed Pennink on the straight-aways lap-after-lap. Rocco got alongside Pennink exiting turn four on lap 21. He had to settle back in line as Pitkat began to apply pressure to Rocco. On a restart on lap 24, Rocco tried the crossover move looking for the lead. He got the car a bit out of shape as he dove too low and into the dirt giving Pitkat daylight. Pitkat was able to take the second spot away. Rocco pulled in behind Pitkat. The two continued to dog Pennink. On the final two laps the cat and mouse for the second position between Pitkat and Rocco allowed Pennink to celebrate his birthday with a victory as he flashed under the checkers. Pitkat finished a strong second followed by Rocco. Malone and Silk completed the top-five.
In other Thursday night Thunder action, Derek Ramstrom and Larry Barnett stretched their point leads in the Super Late Model and Limited Sportsman divisions respectively. After post race tech, Tommy O’Sullivan was awarded his third Late Model victory of the season. Brian Tagg streaked in TIS Modified competition with his second straight victory. Randy Churchill took down his first Mini Stock feature event win at Thompson.
Among those on hand at the Thompson WMT event was former three time NASCAR Modified National Champion Carl “Bugs” Stevens. Getting a Bear Hug from the Bugman was the highlight of this reporter’s night. Also spectating was recently retired Dick Berggren. Berggren who was at the helm of Speedway Illustrated says that he will continue his work as a pit reporter on televised races but will take life easy when not doing that.
The Stafford Motor Speedway Stafford Speedway returned to action after two rainouts with its Second Annual Late Model 100. Tom Butler was the big winner of the night, taking his second win of the 2009 season in the 100-lap extra distance race. Woody Pitkat made it two for the weekend as he scored his first Stafford win of 2009 in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Earl Pelletier was the winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn was the winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
Justin Gaydosh and Keith Rocco split the twin 25-lap SK Modified races, which headlined the Waterford Speedbowl’s Thunder on the Sound event. Other 25-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series wins went to Bruce Thomas Jr. in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Al Stone in the Street Stocks while Louis Bellisle III was a popular winner in the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock event. Jason Palmer, Allen Coates, Rob Corey and Onie Pierce also found themselves in Speedbowl Victory Lane on the night taking 25-lap wins of their own. With his win Gaydosh earned a guaranteed starting birth in the annual North-South Shootout taking place November 5th – 7th at Concord Motorsports Park in North Carolina. Fans at the shoreline oval got a little extra excitement as a concession stand caught fire. The Cohanze Fire Dept. made short order of the blaze.
Kasey Kahne greatly improved his hopes of making the season-ending Chase for the Championship with a Sprint Cup victory Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, pulling away from Kevin Harvick after a fortunate yellow flag late in the race. Kevin Harvick, who won the Nationwide race Saturday night, was in position for a weekend double until teammate Clint Bowyer spun with 15 laps to go, bringing out the final caution of the night. Kahne got Harvick on the restart and pulled away to an easy 1.766-second win. Juan Pablo Montoya finished third.
Five years ago in 2014, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the high banks of the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on Wednesday. A field of 39 cars including 19 from the north were on hand. Rookie Tommy Barrett Jr. out-ran veterans Bobby Santos and Justin Bonsignore with a dozen laps to go and drove on to his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory in Wednesday’s Bush’s Beans 150.
Barrett, from Millis, Massachusetts, was running third in the late stages of the hotly-contested race when he drove through and by Bonsignore and Santos, who had been the dominant cars of the night, on Lap 139. The 19-year-old held on to the lead in his No. 22 Canto Paving/Ferguson Waterworks Chevrolet through one final restart on Lap 146 for his milestone first victory.
It was just his 10th career start, and first time competing in the sixth annual combination race between the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours. Santos held on for a runner-up finish and Ron Silk joined him on the podium in third. Whelen Modified points leader Doug Coby crossed the line fourth and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Ryan Newman was fifth. Bonsignore, the event’s Coors Light Pole Award winner, slipped to sixth in the final running order followed by Eric Goodale, Patrick Emerling, Timmy Solomito and Jimmy Zacharias. JR Bertuccio ended up as the highest-finishing Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver in the event, 13th overall, and was credited with a victory for that tour. Southern tour points leader Andy Seuss was scored 27th in the final rundown.
Twenty six of the original 39 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who failed to finish was Gary McDonald who was involved in an accident on lap 94, Todd Szegedy dropped out on lap 79 with rear end failure, Don Lia dropped out on lap 62 with engine failure, Wade Cole lasted 38 laps before overheating and Jason Myers had a mechanical failure on lap 3.
With four events remaining on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule, Coby leads Bonsignore 407-403 in the championship standings with Ted Christopher in third at 374. The Whelen Southern Modified Tour has seven events remaining and Seuss now leads George Brunnhoelzl III 301-286 with Bertuccio ranked third at 274.
The Stafford Motor Speedway ran under cloudy and cool skies. Taking down NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly feature wins were Rowan Pennink in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett in the 30-lap Late Model Feature, Branden Dion in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Hayes in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Ryan Fearn in the 15-lap DARE Stock, and Mike Christopher, Jr. in the 20-lap Legend Cars feature.
In the SK Mod 40 lapper, Pennink led Preece back to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2014 season. Keith Rocco finished third, with Woody Pitkat and Eric Berndt rounding out the top-5. Nichole Morgillo, who joined the SK Modified ranks at Stafford after a dispute with officials at the Waterford Speedbowl a week previous, finished 13th.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco went two for two cleaning house as he scored wins in both the SK Modified® and Valenti Auto Mall Late Model features to reach his 100th career victory at the track. Al Stone III was the winner of a thrilling Street Stock race, Garrett Denton won his fourth Mini Stock feature and Randy Churchill won for the second consecutive outing for the SK Light Modifieds. Mike Christopher Jr. won for the twentieth time of the year in INEX Legend Cars.
Rocco’s night began with his tenth win of the year in the SK Modified® ranks, coming after some late race heroics in the division’s 35-lap feature. Rocco started the race twelfth, moving up while Ed Puleo led. A lengthy green flag run saw Tyler Chadwick get by Rob Janovic Jr. for second, clearing him for the spot on lap-15. Rocco made his way into the picture by lap-20, completing and outside pass on Janovic for third. While Chadwick looked for a way to unseat Puleo, Rocco struck. He made a diving move underneath Chadwick to the third turn on lap-25, taking second. Puleo was able to hold back Rocco’s charges for six laps before he was victim of a well-executed crossover maneuver on lap-31. Rocco went from the top of the track down to the bottom lane in turn four to get underneath Puleo as they raced to first turn. Rocco completed the move, led lap-32, then survived three green-white-checkered flag restarts for late race incidents behind him. Tim Jordan was able to race his way to a runner-up finish late in the going. Puleo wrecked hard out of the final corner coming to the finish line, enabling Chadwick to take third. Paul Kusheba IV finished fourth while Puleo had enough foreward momentum to finish fifth.
Rocco recorded the 100th victory after his win in the night’s extra-distance Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, his second win of the night. He joins Phil Rondeau and Don Collins as the only drivers to ever reach the century mark in career wins in the track’s 64-year history. Rondeau is the the all-time wins leader at the track with 106 victories. Rocco’s first win came on August 30, 2003 in the Street Stock division.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series went “up country” to the Monadnock Speedway on Saturday night. Dwight Jarvis won the annual ‘Victor Johnson Memorial 100’. Jarvis, of Ascutney, Vermont, started 22nd in a 25-car field, worked his way to the front like he’s done many times. Maintaining tire usage, staying out of trouble, and passing cars when he felt it was time to go, Jarvis moved to third bringing the crowd alive and stayed there until a lap-71 restart when he slipped by Woody Pitkat to settle into second. With heavy fog rolling in over the speedway, Jarvis used a lapped car to his advantage to pass Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, PA, on lap 93 and went on to win his eighth career VMRS race. It was the sixth series win at Monadnock.
Pennink hung on for second and was followed by Pitkat. Max Zachem and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Kirk Alexander, Richard Savory, Russ Hersey, Jean Paul Cyr and Rob Goodenough.
In Modified racing in the Southland, Danny Bohn won Saturday night’s season-ending Carolina Farm Credit 150 at the Bowman Gray Stadium, and wound up finishing far enough ahead of Lee Jeffreys to claim his first NASCAR Modified title. Bohn took the lead in the 80th lap after leader Tim Brown, who returned to race for the first time since being penalized for his part in a July 19 skirmish with Burt Myers, got caught behind a lapped car. Bohn led the rest of the way.
Bohn had to wait out a 45-minute rain delay to run the race’s final three laps. Just before raindrops began to fall, Jonathan Brown, driving Bohn’s backup car, sent title-contender Jason Myers spinning from the third position to out of the top 10. Burt Myers then spun Jonathan Brown. Tim Brown ended up second with Jonathan Brown recovering to finish third. Burt Myers and Tony Black rounded out the top five
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Ryan Preece scored his third win of the season as he best out Howie Brode for the win. There were only twelve Modifieds at the east end oval.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Joey Logano surged past Matt Kenseth with 44 laps to go and won for the first time in his career at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night, foiling the 2003 series champion’s gambling attempt to secure a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs.
Logano, just 24, became the fifth driver this season to win three times, joining the Hendrick Motorsports trio of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, who finished second.
In Nationwide series racing Ryan Blaney won the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch, who started from the pole, finished second followed by Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon, Reagn Smith, Brendan Gaughan, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, James Buescher, and Chris Buescher.
Blaney took the lead from Busch on the final restart with 6 laps remaining. It was his first win of 2014 and the 2nd of his Nationwide career.
Last year, 2018, The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island ran a special Wednesday night program featuring twin 50’s for the NASCAR Modifieds. John Beatty scored back to back wins in the 50 lap Modified features. In the first 50 lapper Craig Lutz finished second with John Fortin Sr, third. Rounding out the top five were Tom Rogers and Kyle Soper. In the nite-cap, John Fortin Jr finished second and was followed by Dave Sapienza, Soper and George Brunnhoelzl III.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday the Late Model division took center stage with their extra distance Call Before You Dig Late Model 50 feature event on Back 2 SKool Blitz Night. Paul Arute wired the field, leading all 50 laps to take down his first feature win of the 2018 season and the $1,811 purse that was boosted up to $1,961 with contingency bonuses from iRacing and New England Racing Fuel, Sunoco. The SK Modified® race came down to a wild finish that saw the top-2 involved in late race incidents that allowed Eric Berndt to emerge with his third win of the 2018 season in a hard fought duel with Michael Christopher, Jr. Teddy Hodgdon became a first time SK Light feature winner after winning Wild Thing Karts and Legend Cars feature events on Stafford’s mini-mile, Justin Bren won the Limited Late Model feature, and Nicole Chambrello won the Street Stock feature.
In the SK Modified 40 lapper with 10 laps to go it was Ron Williams, Mike Christopher, Jr., and Keith Rocco out front with Todd Owen and Eric Berndt making up the top-5. Berndt got by Owen to move into fourth on lap-34 with Rocco and Christopher, Jr. still giving chase to Williams for the race lead. Glen Reen came to a stop backwards on the backstretch access road to bring the caution out with 36 laps complete and set up a 4-lap sprint to the finish.
On the restart, David Arute and Gervais touched wheels with Mike Gervais spinning into the turn 2 wall to bring the caution right back out. Williams took the lead on the restart with Rocco and Christopher, Jr. side by side for second, Berndt in fourth and Owen in fifth. Tommy Membrino spun in turn 3 to bring the caution back out with 38 laps complete to set up a green white checkered finish.
Williams took the lead on the restart but coming out of turn 2, Rocco and Williams touched with Williams sliding through the grass and falling to the rear of the field. Then Rocco spun on the frontstretch and collected the car of Membrino to bring the caution back out and set up another green white checkered finish with Christopher, Jr. now the race leader with Berndt, Owen, and Josh Wood making up front two rows.
Christopher and Berndt went side by side on the restart and as they came to the white flag, Berndt had the lead by a nose. Berndt cleared Christopher going into turn 1 on the final lap and he led Christopher back to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2018 season. Owen finished third with Matt Galko and Matt Vassar rounding out the top-5.
On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Kyle James returned to winning form in SK Modifieds scoring his sixth win in nine events. Wayne Burroughs survived a late shootout to record the SK Light win, Al Stone pulled off his 52nd career Sportsman win, Charles Canfield continues Mini Stock domination with his sixth win, Brandon Plemons collected his first-ever Truck win, Jordan Churchill hits Legends homer in pinch-hitting appearance and Rob Richardi continues on a roll in the Pro 4 Modifieds.
In the SK Modified 40 lapper, James’ comeback effort, drew much of the attention. He severely damaged his car in a race on Aug. 18 and finished 10th. He had to replace the entire right front of the car and really didn’t know what to expect.It didn’t take him long to find out as he thundered past the two divers who were on the front row, Joey Turnullo and Andrew Molleur, and it only took him two laps in which to do it. He was never threatened the rest of the way in a race that ran green to checker. Andrew Molleur finished second with Tim Jordan, third. Rounding out the top five were Rob Janovic Jr. and John Montesanto,
During the running of the Pro 4 event Brett Meservy had the unfortunate luck of having something breaking in the suspension of the car. Meservey’s car careened into the first turn concrete at high speed. Thanks to neck restraints and high-quality safety Meservey was able to walk away from the wreck.
A large crowd was on hand at the Speedbowl on Saturday night.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH this past Saturday night. Local favorite Todd Patnode continued his winning ways capturing the ‘Fenton Family Dealerships 100’ presented by Mayhew Tools in front of a large crowd at the quarter mile oval. The win was the former Monadnock track champion’s second this season and his fourth series win. Patnode, driving the Gomarlo’s Supermarket, Gary’s Power Equipment, # 24, started 16th in a 26-car field and patiently worked his way to the front taking the lead from pole-sitter and leader Richard Savary on lap-73 to go on to victory.
Sammy Rameau completed the top three with a solid third place finish and moved into second place in the point standings after last weeks Waterford CT. race. Rounding out the top five were Chase Dowling and Woody Pitkat. Sixth through tenth included Matt Mead, Russ Hersey, Mike Willis Jr, Joel Monahan, and Dylan Izzo. 19 cars of the 26-car field finished on the lead lap.
The VMRS has its next event this coming Friday, August 31, at the Stafford Motor Speedway.
Congratulations went out to Pawcatuck Ct,s Ryan Morgan who finished a solid ninth in the American-Canadian Late Model Tour event held last Saturday night at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford Plaines, Maine. Morgan is a regular competitor in the Late Model divisions at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway.
Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Massachusetts, known as ‘The Outlaw’ in Late Model racing circles, added to his impressive resume in that class at Oxford Plains Speedway Saturday night with a win in the headlining American-Canadian Tour 150-lapper at the historic Route 26 oval racetrack in Oxford, Maine.
What happens when a guy called ‘Redneck Jesus’ travels to Maine? He wins a stock car race, of course. Bubba Pollard added to his extensive resume on Sunday night with a victory in the prestigious Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. The southern-based superstar outdueled 2012 race winner Joey Polewarczyk over a series of late-race restarts. But even more impressive is that Pollard had never seen Oxford Plains until this weekend, showing flexibility to adapt to a new track against a world class field of competitors. Pollard earned $28,300 — consisting of the $25,000 winner’s portion of the purse and $3,300 for 33 laps led at $100 per lap.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, all was quiet as their season has ended and the stadium will be transformed into a football field for the Wake Forest team. Burt Myers capped off his season by winning his third straight Modified division points championship and ninth overall after second-place Jonathan Brown won the 150-lap season finale.
On a sad note, John Grady, who took thousands of the photos that have graced this and numerous other sites, passed away at the age of 88. Racing fans owe John a huge debt of gratitude. John’s work greatly enriches our understanding of the Golden Age of Modified Racing.
Justin Allgaier won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Road America road course on Saturday, pulling away over the final five laps to pick up his second victory in three weeks. Allgaier held a 5.4-second advantage over second-place Matt Tifft to take a tense race filled with bumps, scrapes and spin-outs around the 14-turn course on Saturday. Daniel Hemric was third.
The NASCAR cup division enjoyed the weekend off.