RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: Fourth Week Of April

RPW Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1950, Red Foote was the Saturday night winner at the Norwood Arena. At Seekonk, it rained.

Sixty five years ago in 1955, rain washed out the feature events at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as they were being lined up.

Sixty years ago in 1960 Wild Bill Slater made it two in a row in Modified action at the Waterford Speedbowl. Red Foote, another New England Legend, was the non-Ford winner and Dick Dunn was the Bomber feature winner. Norwood Arena ran its first NASCAR sanctioned Modified event. Red Bolduc who would lose his life two months later, won the opening feature. Down south at the South Boston Speedway in Virginia, Johnny Roberts made it two in a row as he won a 50 lap NASCAR championship event.

Fifty five years ago in 1965 NEAR Hall of Fame member Dick Watson was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Marvin Chase was the Bomber winner. Ken Shoemaker was the winner at the Fonda Speedway. Lou Smith took the 30 lap opener at Utica-Rome. Sadly, Smith would lose his life on May 15 in a violent crash at the Fonda Speedway. Carl Wojcyk took the win at the Riverside Park Speedway. Nathan “Smokey” Boutwell won the Modified feature at Norwood while George Summers took top honors at Seekonk. Tony Mordino was the Sunday Modified winner at the Thompson Speedway.

Fifty years ago in 1970, the Albany Saratoga Speedway opened for the season on Friday night. With no NASCAR Modified racing in New England on Friday night, the 4/10 mile upstate New York oval would draw the best from New England and Long Island every week through out the season. Taking the opener was Carl Bugsy Stevens, driving the mighty no. 3 of Len Boehler. Bill Henry finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook, Dick Fowler, Dave Lape and Gary Winters. At Stafford on Saturday night, Stevens continued his winning streak as he won both ends of the twin 25-lap program. Bill Greco finished second in the first event and was followed by Ed Yerrington, Moose Hewitt and Sal Dee. Lou Austin finished second in the nightcap and was followed by Yerrington, Tom Sutcliff and Greco. With the Modifieds out of Norwood the Late Models were elevated to being the lead division. George Savory took the Late Model win at Norwood before a sparse crowd. At Fonda, Kenny Shoemaker in the Bob Judkins 2x and Ron Narducci were the winners. At the Waterford Speedbowl Dick Dunn was the Modified feature winner. John DeLong won his second Daredevil LateModel feature. On the Island at Islip, Bob Holmberg won the opener at the tough 1/5-mile oval. George Brunnhoelzl finished second and was followed by Mousie Kempster, Gary Winters and Fred Harbach. On Sunday it rained at Thompson but not at Utica-Rome where Dick Fowler won a 100 lapper over Eddie Flemke, Jerry Cook, Dick Nephew and Lou Lazzaro.

Forty five years ago in 1975, Geoff Bodine scored his first victory for Dick Armstrong as he drove the Hop Harrington wrenched No.1 to victory in the Spring 150 at Martinsville. Jerry Cook finished second. At Shangri-La, Maynard Troyer beat out George Kent for the win and at Islip, ageless Russ Klar took the opening night win over Jerry Bartlett and Artie Tappen. Freeport ran a 200 lapper on Sunday. Richie Evans and Bugsy Stevens lapped the field with Evans taking the win at the historic 1/4 mile flat oval. Fred Harbach finished third with Tappen and Eddie Flemke rounding out the top five. Troyer made it two for two on the weekend as he dominated the Sunday afternoon program at Fulton. Kent was again second with Clayton Sonny Seamon, third. Steady Eddie Flemke, a Modified Legend in his own time, cruised to a 100 lap Modified win at the Waterford Speedbowl.

Forty years ago in 1980, Richie Evans captured the 150 at Martinsville. Ronnie Bouchard in the Armstrong No.1 finished second with Mark Malcuit, third and Satch Worley, fourth. . Geoff Bodine in the Taylor 99 lost a rear and finished 26th.Twenty miles down the road at Ashboro that same night, Bodine and Bouchard tangled on the start with Bodine KO’d for the night. Jerry Cook took the win. Bouchard recovered to finish second with Brian Ross, third. George Kent scored a one-two punch as he won at Shangri-La on Saturday night and the Lancaster 200 on Sunday. Doug Hewitt finished second at Shangri-La and at Lancaster, Roger Treichler finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook, Maynard Troyer and Richie Evans. At Fonda, legand Lou Lazzaro scored his 100th win. Racing at Islip was rained out.

Thirty five years ago in 1985, the Modifieds headed for Martinsville for the Spring 150 lapper. Charlie Jarzombek was on a tear as he beat out Brian Ross for the win. Richie Evans finished 12th and made a quick flight to Shangri-La where he scored his 200th career win. Ray Miller won out over SJ Evonsion at Riverside and at Riverhead, Wayne Anderson and Don Howe finished one-two. Waterford and Thompson rained out. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Harry Gant took the 500-lap win.

Thirty years ago in 1990, Jeff Fuller in the Sheba No.8 went from pole to pole to win the 150 at Martinsville. Mike Stefanik finished second. Rick Summers in the Simonds No.9 scored his first win at Riverside with Dan Avery, second. Don Howe edged Eddie Brunnhoelzl at Riverhead and at Waterford, Ted Christopher went pole to pole for the win. Mike Stefanik won at Monadnock on Sunday while in Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Geoff Bodine endured to take home the win.

Twenty five years ago in 1995, Jim Broderick won the Friday night opener at Stafford. Ed Flemke Jr finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Bob Potter and Mike Christopher. Doug Meservy won at Riverside on Saturday night and on the Island at Riverhead, Tom McCann won out over Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr and Tom Baldwin. Waterford had a 95 lapper scheduled which was rained out after 15 laps with Todd Ceravolo, leading. In Winston Cup action at Talladega, Mark Martin passed Dale Earnhardt with two laps to go to take the win. Jeff Gordon finished second after Earnhardt got dumped by Morgan Shepherd on the final lap. The Busch North Series was at Lee Raceway where Bob Dragon took the win over Dave Dion.

Twenty years ago in 2000, the weekend saw a full plate of racing. Waterford and Riverhead ran on Saturday night. David Gada took the win at Waterford over Tucker Reynolds and Jerry Pearl and at Riverhead it was Chuck Steuer over Howie Brode. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford for the Annual Spring Sizzler 200.Fifty one Modifieds showed. Ricky Fuller took advantage of Reggie Ruggiero’s bad luck as he took the lead on lap 191 and went on to take the win. Ruggerio, who had an ignition box go bad, made the switch and managed to come home in second spot. Ed Flemke Jr finished third and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Tim Connolly, Jerry Marquis and Bob Polverari. Twin 40’s were run for the SK’s with Zack Sylvester and Mike Christopher taking the wins. At Fontana, California, Jeremy Mayfield took the Winston Cup win. Mayfield was stripped of 151 points, his team was fined and his crew chief was suspended after NASCAR discovered that Mayfield’s car was found to have an improper oxygen enhancer in the fuel system.. On a sad note, Lou Lazzaro drove his last race at Fonda on Saturday night and suffered a stroke and died a couple of days later. Lazzaro was a legend in his native New York state and had raced in six decades and at Fonda, alone, had 113 wins.

Fifteen years ago in 2005 The Whelen Modified Tour headed for the Stafford Motor for the 34th annual Spring Sizzler. Friday was a beautiful day with sunny skies and temps in the low 50’s. Whelen Modified Tour Series teams were allowed to enter the pit area where they could park their tow vehicles and get inspected. The Stafford SK Modifieds and Late Models were allowed to practice. Competitors were instructed to have their scoring transponders in their cars as their speeds would be recorded and could be used to determine lineups for feature events if qualifying heats were rained out on Saturday. Heavy, monsoon type rain washed out all activity on Saturday. The 43 Whelen Modified Tour cars on hand were forced to wait until Sunday for their qualifying and 200 lap Sizzler. The Stafford management along with NASCAR made the decision to run the entire Sizzler program on Sunday. The Pit Party was eliminated as practice was started at 10:00am. Despite extremely long day competitors, officials and track management worked together and got the entire program in. The SK feature provided the usual sparks with Ted Christopher and James Civali slugging it out in the closing laps. Christopher got the win and Civali ended up fourth. Mike Holdredge finished second with Lloyd Agor, third. Civali was subsequently disqualified when he refused the tech inspection. Woody Pitkat moved up to fourth with Kenny Horton rounding out the top five. Tony Hirschman took the win in the 200 lap Whelen Modified Tour Sizzler 200. Zack Sylvester backed up his runner-up finish at Thompson with another second place finish.. Todd Szegedy, pinch hitting for injured Eric Beers in the Boehler Racing Enterprises No. 3 finished third. Reggie Ruggerio and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five. Jim Mavlogenes won the Late Model feature over Ted Christopher and Ryan Posocco.

Donnie Lia was the Busch Pole sitter and started fourth behind Nevin George, Todd Szegedy and Tony Hirschman. George led the charge to the green and led until lap 28 when Szegedy moved into the lead. Hirschman, who had been running third, spun but didn’t bring out the caution. The first caution came out on lap 40 when Jerry Marquis had a flat tire and collected Mike Stefanik as he attempted to cut across the track to pit road. Stefanik’s car dumped a lot of liquid on the track which forced officials to red flag the event on lap 42 in order to clean the track. The field went back to green on lap 47. Another caution on lap 50 for a mass tangle. Among those involved was Ed Flemke Jr. who was black flagged for having no nerf bars. The field went back to green on lap 55. Ted Christopher took the lead one lap later. The caution flew on lap 58 for Jerry Marquis who stopped on the back stretch. Green again on lap 64 with Christopher still leading with Szegedy on his tail. Two laps later another caution, this time for Mike Christopher who spun. The field returned to green on lap 68 with Ted Christopher leading Reggie Ruggiero and Rick Fuller. The next caution came on lap 76 when Ken Barry spun. Tony Hirschman pitted for tires and fuel on lap 78. The field returned to green on lap 82. Christopher led thru numerous restarts and cautions until lap 121 when he along with Szegedy and Ruggiero pitted. On a lap 127 restart Jamie Tomaino led with Hirschman and Sylvester following. By lap 130 Sylvester was in second spot and Hirschman was leading. By lap 195 there were only ten cars on the lead lap. Don Lia, who had been running ninth, hit the wall and set up a green-white-checker sprint to the finish. Following Hirschman, Sylvester, Szegedy, Ruggerio and Ted Christopher at the finish were Chuck Hossfeldt,Tomaino Charlie Pasteryak and Tom Bolles..

Time of Race: 1 hr. 40 mins, 45 secs Average Speed: 60.447 mph Margin of Victory:.28 Seconds. BUD POLE AWARD: Donny Lia, FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER AWARD: Charlie Pasteryak, POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE: Thomas Bolles, TOMMY BALDWIN MEMORIAL AWARD: Tony Hirschman. There were nine cautions for 52 laps. Estimated attendance was 8,000.

Ten years ago in 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series opened for the 2010 season at the Thompson Speedway with the Icebreaker 150 that carried a race purse of $87,231. Thirty seven Modifieds including southern invader Burt Myers were on hand. Bobby Santos III showed his determination early as he was clearly the fastest in practice despite blustery winds and a cool temperature. Santos was a little more than a half mile per hour faster than Rowan Pennick. Myers, who had never laid eyes on the Thompson Speedway before, ran close to 60 laps in practice and was clocked 29th fastest at the time.

The NASCAR Modifieds qualified as the sun was beginning to go down. Bobby Santos III, in his first time out in the Mystic Missile, put the Bob Garbarino owned mount solidly on the pole for the Icebreaker. The third-generation racer turned a fast lap of 18.418 seconds (122.163 mph) in qualifying for Sunday’s 150-lap season-opener. That lap surpassed the previous Whelen Modified Tour qualifying record at Thompson set by Eric Beers at 18.429 seconds (122.080 mph) prior to the 2008 World Series. Chris Pasteryak was the second-fastest qualifier on Saturday at 18.470 seconds (121.819 mph) followed by Ron Silk (18.514/121.530), Mike Stefanik (18.596/120.994) and Burt Myers (18.603/120.948). Ryan Preece, Doug Coby, Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink and Eric Berndt rounded out the top 10 qualifiers.

Following qualifying, a redraw of the top-10 cars saw Santos also draw the No. 1 spot. He was joined on the front row by Coby, and the second row consisted of Stefanik and Berndt. Myers drew fifth.

It was a dream come true for Bobby Santos III as he all but cleaned house at the Thompson Speedway Icebreaker. Starting from the pole, Santos led 91 laps of the 150 lap Whelen Modified Tour opener. The Ron Hutter engine in the Garbarino Mystic Missile never missed a beat as it provided ample power when Santos nailed the accelerator. Santos took the lead for the final time during a restart on lap 119. After running side by side with Ryan Preece, who was in the Boehler Family No.3, for almost a lap Santos pulled ahead as they completed lap 120. The race, which produced seven caution periods for 26 laps, went green from lap 119 on. In the end, Santos finished a little more than a quarter secon ahead of Preece. Mike Stefanik, who led from lap 70 to 101, finished third. Stefanik was in contention the entire race. Ted Christopher and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Christopher led from lap 61 to 69 after inheriting the lead when almost the entire field pitted for fuel and tires following a lap 57 caution. Christopher, who gave way to Stefanik after a lap 69 restart, elected to pit for fresh tires after James Civali hit the turn two wall on lap 96. Christopher took on both rear tires and a right front. His charge back to the front of the field fell short. Rowan Pennink, Chris Pasteryak, Ron Silk, Eric Goodale and Eric Beers rounded out the top 10.

Southern invader Burt Myers ran in the top ten during the first half before having transmission problems which hindered his efforts. Needless to say he finished 14th, on the lead lap, at the finish. While not to happy with his finish, Myers remained upbeat as he greeted hundreds of fans in the pit area after the event. Myers, who made himself available, hit a Public Relations Home Run. Myers stated that he likes Thompson Speedway very much and is looking foreward to returning when his schedule permits

In other action at Thompson, Keith Rocco, running for a new team at Thompson for the 2010 season and the defending track champion, was back to his old and winning ways as he scored a victory in the first race of a weekend twin bill for the Sunoco Modifieds on Saturday night. Rocco and Ted Christopher swapped the lead position in the late stages but the young gun was able to dust the veteran in the end. The Super Late Models were the second of the twin bill on Saturday. Defending divisional champion, Derek Ramstrom bested the strong field of Super Late Models in convincing fashion.

Ted Christopher had to use his experience on restarts to score a victory in the Sunoco Modified feature event on Sunday. Defending champion, Derek Ramstrom swept the twin bill for the Super Late Models while Rick Gentes scored Late Model honors. Shawn Monahan bested a strong field of Limited Sportsman competitors to score the victory. Another champion, TIS Modified ace Brian Sullivan made a statement with an opening day victory. Leo Defevers opened Day Two of the Icebreaker with a victory in the Mini Stock Division.

The Waterford Speedbowl made a lasting impression with Southern invader Burt Myers. With the exception of eight SK Modifieds running on the lead lap when the race was stopped at the end of 12 laps, the remainder of the 23 starters were wrecked or disabled to the point where they were out for the night. Myers was one of them. There were eight cautions in the first six laps which made the rough and tumble action at the Bowman-Grey Stadium seem tame. Race Director Tom Fox ended the agony when he called for a red-checkered finish. Defending division champion Ron Yuhas Jr. was declared the winner, followed by Justin Gaydosh and Tyler Chadwick.

In other action at the shoreline oval three-time defending Late Model champion Bruce Thomas Jr. held off a late-charging Tim Jordan over the last three laps to win his first feature of the season. Other winners were Josh Galvin (Street Stocks) and Danny Field (Mini Stocks).

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and Whelen Engineering, Inc., announced an extension that will see Whelen remain as the entitlement sponsor for three of NASCAR’s developmental series through the 2019 racing season.

The extension means Whelen, which became an entitlement sponsor in 2004, is the longest running current entitlement contract for any of NASCAR’s series.

The weekend saw the Mad House come to the Thompson Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl. Mad House is a reality TV show that focus’ on the racing and drivers at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. Burt Myers, one of the stars of the show, raced at both tracks. Prior to heading North to compete Myers was an honored guest on the weekly radio program, Gary Danko’s Speedway Line Report. Myers, a third generation racer, stated that he feels that the NASCAR Modifieds are the heart of NASCAR racing. His race shop includes two complete Troyer Modifieds, one that used exclusively at Bowman-Gray. As far as the reality show goes, Myers stated that it was business as usual at his shop and in general, the show was 90% accurate. When questioned about the aggressiveness of Junior Miller, Myers stated, “we would let it go if he would”. The bad blood between Miller and the Myers family goes back to a motor deal between Gary Myers, Burt’s dad and Miller, that went sour years ago. On the subject of Ted Christopher, Burt stated “I like Ted, he’s a good guy”. Myers added that Christopher didn’t volunteer any tips on the Thompson Speedway. “He did tell me to get off Rt.395 at Exit 100.” He found out later that exit 99 was the Speedway exit.

Mad House has portrayed Modified Racing on a short track the way it is. Despite the rough stuff the program has been good for the Modifieds. It is a true family sport.

The New London Day reported that Waterford resident and Late Model driver Dillon Moltz was about to get the biggest shot of his 18-year-old racing life. Moltz, who drives in the Late Model division at Stafford Motor Speedway, was one of 12 drivers selected to participate in the Richard Petty Driver Search April 26-29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Moltz, and 11 others were picked from a pool of thousands of applicants from across the country.

Moltz, who was third in the Late Models at Stafford in 2009 with a division-high five wins, will have a busy week. After the season opens at Stafford April 23-25, he’ll fly to Charlotte Sunday night and begin a week of racing on Monday. After that, he’ll come back home and be ready for another full weekend at Stafford.

The winner of the competition will get a fully-funded ride in a Petty car in an ARCA race at Pocono Speedway on June 5. The competition will put the 12 drivers in four different cars and test each one in car control and knowledge, track management, mechanical knowledge, speed and other categories.

In some sad news, Speedway Illustrated Magazine has ceased operations.

A tip of the hat to NASCAR with the announcement by NASCAR and VERSUS of the broadcast schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tours in 2010.

VERSUS’ first NASCAR race will feature the Whelen Modified Tour’s annual appearance at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on July 31 and the first Whelen Southern Modified Tour broadcast will be its stop at historic Bowman Gray Stadium on Aug 7 in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Riverhead event will air on Wednesday, August 4, at 7:00pm. The re-air date is Sunday, August 8 at 11:00pm. The Bowman Gray event will air on Wednesday, August 11 at 7:00pm and re-air on Sunday, August 15, at 11:00pm.

In addition to Riverhead, the Whelen Modified Tour broadcast schedule will also include August dates at longtime Modified strongholds Stafford ( Conn. ) Motor Speedway and Thompson ( Conn. ) International Speedway as well as the last two races of the season, also at Stafford and Thompson. The Whelen Southern Modified Tour broadcast schedule also includes the August date at Caraway Speedway (Asheboro, N.C.) and September races at Langley (Va.) Speedway and Tri-County Motor Speedway ( Hudson , N.C. ).

VERSUS’ schedule, combined with SPEED’s coverage of seven races between the two Tours, means that that nine of the 14 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races were shown on national television in 2010 as well as seven of the 10 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour events. It was previously announced that SPEED would air seven races between the two Tours .

SPEED will broadcast Whelen Modified Tour events from Martinsville Speedway (June 6), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (June 26), Lime Rock Park (July 3), Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 18) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 18).

Ryan Newman ended a 77 race losing streak as he won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Phoenix Int Raceway. Kyle Bush was the Nationwide Series winner at the Arizona track.

Five years ago in 2015, The 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler got underway Friday, April 24 with a practice session for Stafford’s weekly divisions.

Among the missing on Saturday when the tour modifieds rolled in was Tommy Barrett. Internet news site Racedayct reported that NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Tommy Barrett Jr. was arrested on April 17 in Willimantic, CT for driving under the influence. The drinking age in Connecticut is 21. Sergeant Alex Coriaty of the Willimantic Police Department confirmed that the 19-year old Barrett was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs at 1:48 a.m. on April 17 in Willimantic, CT. Barrett was also cited for driving unreasonably fast and failing to signal a turn. Barrett, of Millis, Mass., is due in Danielson, CT Superior Court on April 27. Barrett was replaced by car owner Robert Our for the Stafford event by Keith Rocco.

NASCAR released the following statement Thursday evening: “NASCAR is aware of Tommy Barrett Jr.’s recent DUI arrest. As we continue to gather information, Barrett will not be allowed to compete in NASCAR-sanctioned events pending a formal review. We have no additional information to share at this time.”

Getting suspended and arrested didn’t seem to bother Barrett as he was seen at the Stafford enjoying the Sizzler.

Barrett made his first appearance at Danielson Superior Court Monday morning, May 27, as a result of his arrest April 17 for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Internet racing web site RacedayCt.com reported that Barrett met briefly with his attorney before the two filed paperwork with the clerk’s office and left the court. Barrett did not face a judge. Barrett had no comment on the appearance and his attorney also refused comment.

Asked if Barrett was applying for the state’s Pre-Trial Alcohol Education Program, the attorney said he does not comment to the media concerning his clients. The state’s Pre-Trial Alcohol Education Program is a diversionary program open to those who are charged with driving under the influence for the first time.

When the program is applied for the court file for the defendant is sealed. Those who apply for the program are evaluated by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and that evaluation is used to recommend that the applicant be placed in one of the three programs, if the court grants the application.

The three programs include a 10-week educational program, a 15-week educational program or a treatment program. If the defendant finishes the assigned program successfully, the charges will be dismissed by the court.

Thirty-three NASCAR Modifieds were on hand Saturday for qualifying on a cool and blustery day. Ryan Preece, of Berlin, Connecticut, turned in a fast lap of 17.960 seconds (100.223 mph) to score his 13th career Coors Light Pole Award. Starting alongside Preece’s No. 6 TS Haulers/East West Marine Chevrolet in the front row with the second fastest time was Woody Pitkat, who recorded a quick qualifier of 18.047 (99.740) behind the wheel of his No. 88 Buzz Chew Chevrolet/Elbow East Chevrolet. Rowan Pennink, Donny Lia and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five qualifiers. Sixth through tenth were Ted Christopher, Bobby Santos, followed by Timmy Solomito, Todd Szegedy and Keith Rocco. Defending Whelen Modified Tour champion and 2015 season-opening race winner Doug Coby qualified 11th at 18.230 (98.738).

Melissa Fifield, the only female in the field, qualified 33rd. Her speed, 88.106mph was 12.117 mph off the pole speed. We all know she works hard and tries real hard but in reality she is way out of her league and should not be allowed to race in this division. Needless to say she did start the Sizzler. In the early going she was lapped on Lap 10 and again on lap 17. Finally NASCAR determined that she was a safety hazard and black-flagged her on lap 90 for not maintaining minimum speed.

Rowan Pennink got a gift when he won the 40 lap SK Modified preliminary that was run prior to the Sizzler on Sunday. Pennink inherited the lead after Keith Rocco was black flagged for aggressive diving on a lap 20 restart. Pennink survived after being passed by Glen Reen on a lap 27 restart as he passed to regain the lead on lap 32 and never looked back after that. Reen ended up second with Ryan Preece, third. Dan Avery and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five. Rocco recovered from restarting in the rear and finished sixth. Of note, Mike Christopher JR made his SK Modified debut and finished 16th in the 25 car starting field. Michael Bennett was the Late Model winner.

Following the completion of the April 25-26 NAPA Spring Sizzler NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature events, Stafford Motor Speedway officials have announced the following penalty:#39 SK Modified, Driver Chris Jones,

Infraction- Unsportsmanlike conduct, on-track. Unsportsmanlike conduct, off-track. Actions detrimental to the sport. Penalties- Disqualification from Spring Sizzler feature event, placed to last in the finishing order. Suspended from competition at Stafford Motor Speedway for the next 6 completed events. $250 fine payable to The Shane Hammond Foundation or The Spalding Foundation, through Stafford Motor Speedway. The fine must be paid to the Speedway office prior to the next attended event. Placed on probation through December 31st, 2015.

Hometown hero Woody Pitkat in the Long Island based Buzz Chew Chevrolet won the 200 lap Spring Sizzler 2.6 seconds ahead of Todd Szegedy who drove Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile. Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale and Donny Lia rounded out the top five. In victory lane Szegedy paid Pitkat the ultimate complement. “I would say that Woody just won the race of his life,” said Szegedy, who finished second. “To win at his home track, to win the Spring Sizzler, that has to be amazing. He’s mastered this track and he’s come a long way.” Pitkat, who started on the outside pole, was in contention most of the day as he consistantly ran in the top five. Once taking the lead on lap 161 from Szegedy the Stafford Springs resident opened up a sizable lead as the race ran non-stop from there. After just two races Woody Pitkat leads the points over Doug Coby and Ryan Preece. According to NASCAR, it is the first time Pitkat has ever been the points leader in his career.

Sixth through tenth were Thompson IceBreaker winner Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink, Patrick Emerling, Jamie Tomaino and Brandon Bock. It was the first top ten for Tomaino in quite some time.

Pole sitter Preece led the first 21 laps before giving way to Pitkat who led lap 22. As Preece faded a bit Justin Bonsignore move by him and Pitkat to take the lead on lap 31. Preece was not ready to quit as he stormed back to take back the lead on lap 69, holding it to lap 98 before giving it up to Pitkat for one lap. Preece took it back on lap 100. Szegedy, in only his second time out in the Mystic Missile came on strong, taking the lead on lap 117 and holding it thru lap 138. Preece took it back on lap 139 for one lap before Szegedy took it again on lap 140, holding the point for 20 laps before giving way to Pitkat for the final lead change on lap 161.

Keith Rocco, pinch hitting for Tommy Barrett JR had quite a day and in fact had worked his way to the runner-up spot before being slowed by a faulty alternator. Rocco ended up 12th, one lap down, at the finish.

There were eight cautions for 41 laps. Most were for minor spins except for the yellow on lap 89 for Spencer Davis who pounded the wall in turn four with the Hills Enterprises entry. Davis emerged unhurt.

In Saturday preliminary action at Stafford, D.J. Burnham took the checkered flag in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Al Saunders was the winner of the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Dan Dembek won the 15-lap DARE Stock feature, Cory DiMatteo won the 20-lap Legend Cars feature, and Roger Turbush won the 20-lap Mr. Rooter Truck Series feature.

The Stafford pit area was jammed with over 165 cars in competition. Weekly racing at Stafford begins this Friday, Featured competition will be SK Modified® (40), Late Model (30), SK Light (20), Limited Late Model (20), DARE Stock (15), Legend Cars (20).

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium, better known as the Mad House, the season opening 200 lap Modified event was postponed because of rain until next week. The same storm blanketed the Richmond VA area causing NASCAR to postpone a scheduled Sprint Cup event to Sunday afternoon.

Kurt Busch scored the 26th victory of his career after leading 291 of 400 laps to claim the Toyota Owners 400, his first win since March 31, 2014 – which also came at a Virginia short track, Martinsville Speedway. Kevin finished second.

On a sad note, noted broadcaster Steve Byrnes, 56, passed away after a battle with cancer. Steve enjoyed a successful and highly respected television broadcasting career for 30 years. He joined the FOX Sports family in 2001, hosting and reporting for multiple NASCAR programs and serving as a pit road reporter for NASCAR on FOX’s broadcast of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races from 2001-2014. Most recently, he was the play-by-play announcer for FOX Sports 1 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and was co-host of NASCAR Race Hub for the network.

Prior to joining FOX, Byrnes also hosted Darrell Waltrip’s Racers on TNN, worked as a pit road reporter for CBS, WTBS and TNN, and hosted a variety of NASCAR programs for The History Channel and TNN, for which he moved to Charlotte in 1985 and remained in the area ever since. His first on-air job was at WCIV-TV in Charleston, S.C., in 1982, after commencing his television career as weekend sports producer at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., immediately following graduation from college. Steve also called play-by-play for a Carolina Panthers/Minnesota Vikings NFL game on FOX and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races for DirecTV Hot Pass.

A memorial service was held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28 at Calvary Church with visitation immediately following. Palmetto Funeral Home in Fort Mill, NC assisted the family.

Last year, 2019, The 48th edition of the NAPA Spring Sizzler® at Stafford Speedway was rained out and re-scheduled for the following Saturday and Sunday. Shortly before NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams were scheduled to take to the track for group qualifying, officials decided that the weather forecast for the remainder of Saturday, and the duration of Sunday, wouldn’t allow the event to take place.

Prior to the rain, snow and sleet, teams did have two practice sessions, with defending series champion Justin Bonsignore pacing both of them. There were 30 cars on hand. Following Bonsignore on the speed charts were Doug Coby, Chase Dowling, Rob Summers, Ron Silk, Craig Lutz, Joey Cipriano III, Jeff Rocco who was pinch hitting for Burt Myers, Timmy Solomito and Tommy Catalano.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued to be the best competition that NASCAR has to offer.

While it was raining in Connecticut close to 10,000 fans came out in North Carolina for opening night at the Bowman-Gray Stadium where Brian Loftin surprised many of the people who came to watch Saturday’s races after he won the scheduled 200-lap Modified race. The race went to 203 laps and Loftin defeated Tim Brown to win his first race at Bowman Gray since 2010. For the first 125 laps Burt Myers and Tim Brown traded the lead numerous times. Myers’ hope for victory went away on lap 125 when James Civali bulled his way into Brown and Myers in an attempt to take the lead. Civali did get the lead but lost it on lap 193 when Brian Loftin did to him what he did to Myers and Brown. As he headed to the pit area to change a flat tire Civali attempted to take Loftin out under caution but was unsuccessful. Finishing up with a green-white-checker situation Loftin held off Tim Brown for the win. Chris Fleming finished third followed by Lee Jeffreys and Randy Butner who rounded out the top five. Jason Myers finished eighth and Burt Myers finished tenth.

At a track where Ronnie Bouchard had his greatest moment Ryan Preece followed suit as he finished a fantastic third behind Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman in the NASCAR Monster Cup event at the Talledega Super-Speedway.

Word ccame from noted author Mark “Bones” Bourcier that three-time NASCAR National Modified champion Bugs Stevens phoned to report that he’d fractured a couple of vertebrae (one thoracic, one lumbar) in a slow-speed Florida bike-riding crash. “That’s the fourth time I’ve busted my effin’ back,” Bugsy declared. True enough; the first was when he sailed the Boehler #3 coupe out of Thompson (CT) Speedway in the late ‘60s, and the second was in 1982 at Stafford Motor Speedway, also in Connecticut, when his left-rear tire deflated as he barreled into turn one aboard the Garbarino #4. Like most champions, Bugs didn’t crash often, but when he did, it was usually a doozy. The third broken back, like this last one, was in another post-retirement fall. So Bugsy was in some pain (again), but his sense of humor remained intact, and he had me laughing at eight or ten lines that, sadly, cannot be repeated here. In just a few weeks he’ll hit his 86th birthday, but mentally he’s still 17 going on crazy. Anyway, keep our pal in your thoughts. He’s one of a kind, which is a good thing, and he’s also one of the greatest American short-track racers of his generation. Get well quick Champ.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) has announced it had received a non-binding proposal from Sonic Financial Corp. to acquire all outstanding shares of common stock not already held by Sonic.

Sonic is owned and controlled by Bruton Smith and family. Smith being the founder of SMI. The offer is $18 per share. SMI operates eight racetracks on the NASCAR schedule: Charlotte, Atlanta, Bristol, Texas, Las Vegas, and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as well as Sonoma Raceway and Kentucky Speedway.

In November it was announced NASCAR had made a non-binding bid to acquire all the outstanding shares of Class A and B common stock of International Speedway Corp. (ISC). The move would make the company private.

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