RPW Column: The Champ Trail; Racing Continues Doing Well At Stafford, Tri-Track News & More…

RPW Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WAVERLY, RI – The Stafford Speedway continued their Weekly Racing action on Friday, August 14 with all 5 of its divisions in feature action.

After winning the biggest SK Modified® race of the season one week ago in the NAPA SK 5k, Chase Dowling made it back to back wins by taking the checkered flag in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature.

Paul Arute was a first time 2020 winner in the Late Model feature, Derek Debbis won for the second time in the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand scored his third win in the Limited Late Model feature, and Zack Robinson scored his third points paying win and fourth overall win in the Street Stock feature.

In the 40 lap SK Modified feature Dowling started deep in the field in 14th spot. Troy Talman, who had led from lap seven, found Dowling on his tail as the laps wound down with ten to go. Dowling made the decisive move on lap-31 coming out of turn 4 and took over the lead. At the finish it was Dowling making it two in a row. Talman hung on for second with Mike Christopher Jr, third. Stephen Kopcik and Andrew Molleur rounded out the top five.

In some big news, Tri Track Open Modified Series Officials and Stafford Motor Speedway officials jointly announced last Saturday a race date for the 2020 season. The Tri Track Open Modified Series will make their debut at the Connecticut half-mile on Saturday, October 24, marking the conclusion of the year for both the Tri Track Series and Stafford.

The race was originally scheduled to take place at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts, however, due to guidelines from the state, and on-going discussions about possible fan capacity at the third-mile oval, Tri Track officials decided to make the move to lock-up another confirmed date.The event will bring some of the top Modified drivers together to chase more than $40,000 in purse money with a $10,000 winning prize.

The SK Light Modifieds and Street Stocks will join the card on October 24 to fill out a thrilling day of racing in Connecticut. Both Stafford and Tri Track have had their seasons affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic but feel like this will give both a chance to end the season with a major event. “This is great for Modified racing,” Mark Arute, President of Stafford Motor Speedway, said. “The team at Tri Track shares the same passion for Modified racing that we have at Stafford and the craziness of 2020 has allowed this event to come together. It should be a great show for the fans and will be an event that ends this season on a positive note.”

The Tri Track Open Modified Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire last Saturday night. Sam Rameau scored an upset victory as he withstood a last lap slam by Ronnie Williams to win the 100 lap contest. Rameau pocketed a $6,000 check with the victory as part of a lucrative purse that was over $40,000. The final corner was nearly a repeat of the July 5 Tri Track race at Monadnock. While Rameau took the top spot from Silk on lap 72, and looked to be driving off to victory, a caution flag with just four laps to go doubled the field back up. Rameau spun his tires on the restart, but got away, before another quick caution stopped the action. Although Rameau hit the final restart perfectly, he couldn’t quite get away from Ronnie Williams. Williams, the two-time and defending SK Modified champion at Stafford Motor Speedway, drove deep into turn three, slammed the back of the No. 06 Central Mass Tree machine of Rameau, and lost control. Williams would spin as the car dropped fluid, while the rest of the field rushed to find a way around. Some made it, some didn’t.

Monadnock Modified regular Brian Robie escaped the final corner carnage to finish second, while Matt Hirschman, a winner at Star Speedway on July 25, finished third. Woody Pitkat drove the Stan Mertz prepared No. 6 to a fourth-place finish, with Anthony Nocella finishing the top-five. Matthew Kimball was sixth, followed by Craig Lutz, Ron Silk, Carl Medeiros Jr. and Austin Kochenash. Williams ended up 14th.

Thirty-one cars attempted to qualify for the Monadnock 100, with 26 of them taking the green flag in the feature. Austin Kochenash, Brian Robie, Matt Hirschman and Kirk Alexander picked up an extra $300 each for winning heat races part of the Pepsi Challenge. Woody Pitkat would collect the Hard Charger award courtesy of Green Construction, a $500 bonus.

Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco made his presence known as he dominated the SK Modified ranks with another win. Rocco brought his track win total to 151wins, 90 of those in an SK Modified. Rocco also has 49 career Late Model victories, four Limited Sportsman division wins, four Valenti Modified Racing Series victories, two Truck Series wins, one Pro Four Modified win and one NEMA Lite win during his career at Waterford.

The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 284 wins which also include 151 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 63 at Thompson and 70 at Stafford Speedway.

Kyle James finished second with Joey Gada, third. Opening night winner Tim Jordan finished fourth with Joey Ternuilo fifth and Bryan Narducci, sixth.

In other action at the Speedbowl, Ryan Morgan scored victory in the 30-lap Late Model feature. Mark Panaroni won the 20-lap Mini Stock feature. Shawn Monahan was victorious in the 25-lap Open Street Stock feature. Travis Hydar topped the field in the 25-lap SK Light Modified feature. Wayne Burroughs Jr. was second and Nichole Thibeault third. Al Stone III won the 25-lap Sportsman feature. It was the 55th career Sportsman win at the track for Stone, extending his all-time record for wins in the division.

It appears that the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Stars Series (PASS), officials have made things right at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Speedway as they have released the purse structure for all local divisions which will be part of the Thompson 150 on Wednesday, September 2. The locals will race for nearly $24,000 in combined posted awards on a card that also includes the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The Sunoco (SKtype) Modifieds will have a 30-lap, $1,500-to-win feature Second place receives $900 with a $600 prize for the third-place finisher. Every racer who takes the green flag will collect a minimum of $200 with more than $8,500 in total awards for a 24-car starting field.

Previously under the management of the Hoenig family local division races had less of a sub-par racing purse which was an insult to competitors.

In a surprise turn of events Kevin Rice reported in Area Auto Racing News last week that there maybe no racing action at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem North Carolina next year, 2021. The college football season for the Winston-Salem State College is expected to be using the facility in the spring when auto racing usually starts plus a planned construction project is also on the horizon.

Rice also alluded to the fact that a new southern tour for the modifieds is expected to be announced shortly. The new series will have similar rules to that of the Tri Track Series which will be led by Hoosier Tire Rep Gary Freeman.