RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: First Week Of July

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1946 Joe Sostillio won his second event of the year at Seekonk.

Seventy years ago in 1951, Dave Humphrey, who would become the New London-Waterford Speedbowl’s first Modified Champion, won the Wednesday night 25 lap feature. Dick Foster was the Claiming Car feature winner. No races were run on Saturday. Hank Stevens was the Stock Car winner at Seekonk.

Sixty five years ago in 1956, Dick Beauregard was the season opening Modified feature winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner. Fred Luchesi was the Sportsman winner and Joe Rosenfield was the was the non-Ford winner at Seekonk. Bob Malzohn and Bill Chevalier were the winners of twin events run at Old Bridge.

Sixty years ago in 1961 Ernie Gahan made it three in a row on the dirt at Stafford on Friday night. At Norwood on Saturday night Larry Antonellis took the win over Eddie Flemke and Gahan. Don Collins, who would record over 100 lifetime wins at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl was the 50 lap Modified winner on Saturday night at the shoreline oval. Bill Scriviner was the Bomber winner. Dave Dias was the Class A winner at Seekonk.

Fifty five years ago in 1966 Rene Charland made it two in a row at Catamount on Thursday night. Eddie Flemke and the second generation of the Eastern Bandits took the top five spots at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Pete Hamilton took the win and was followed by Dennis Zimmerman, Flemke, Elton Hill and Rene Charland. Jeep Herbert was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Johnny Thompson was the winner at Norwood on Saturday night. At Fonda on Saturday night Bill Wimble broke the toehold on Fonda’s victory lane that Jerry Cook held. Guy Chartrand finished second with Cook, third. At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Walt Dombrowski won the held over 35 lap Modified feature. Moose Hewitt was the winner in the Bombers. Charlie Webster was the regular 25 lap Modified feature winner at the shoreline oval. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber winner and Bill Sweet was the late model Daredevil winner. Ed Hoyle was the Class A winner and Pete Wilson was the Cadet winner at Seekonk. Elton Hill won at Utica-Rome on Sunday night. Flemke finished second and was followed by Wimble, Charland and Cook. The NASCAR Grandnational Northern Tour visited the Bridgehampton Raceway on Long Island David Pearson took the win over James Hylton and Marvin Panch. Two days later they traveled to Oxford Plains where Bobby Allison scored his first Grandnational win. Rene Charland finished 15th, Fats Caruso finished 16th and Ernie Gahan was 19th. Ray Hendrick won a 30 lapper at South Boston

Fifty years ago in 1971,the Thompson Speedway dropped its NASCAR sanction for weekly Modified racing citing the fact that driver demands for increases in the race purse were too steep. In their place was the New England Supermodified Racing Association (NESMRA). Events were run with Modifieds and Supermodified running together. Big Don McClaren was the first winner of the new Friday night series. Meanwhile many of the New England NASCAR modified hot shoes headed up the Mass. Pike to the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Bugsy Stevens won the Friday night event over Fred DeSarro, Guy Chartrand, Ken Cannestrari and Eddie Flemke Sr. While most of the New England contingent headed home Eddie Flemke elected to stay in New York State for a 200 lapper at Fulton Raceway. Flemke’s choice ended up being a wise won as he took the win over Dave Hafner, Gary Cornelious, Ronnie Wallace and Ben Stephens. Waterford winners were Bob Potter on Sunday and Dick Watson on Saturday night. Because of the holiday weekend, Stafford ran on both Saturday and on Monday. On Saturday night, Ernie Gahan led the way over Ray Miller, Bob Melnick and Hop Harrington. Stevens, who had won at Malta the previous night, experienced mechanical problems and finished 18th.Stevens bounced back from his set back at Stafford to make it an almost perfect weekend as he won a 100 lapper at Utica-Rome on Sunday night and a 150 lap Fourth of July Classic on Monday at Stafford. At Utica-Rome, home town favorite Bernie Miller finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Dave Lape and Jerry Cook. Leo Cleary finished second at Stafford with Hop Harrington, Jerry Cook and Bernie Miller rounding out the top five. Saturday night action at Fonda saw Lou Lazzaro take the top spot over Dave Lape. Fred Astle Sr was the Class A winner at Seekonk. The All Star League paid a visit to Islip on Wednesday night with Jerry Cook taking the 100 lap win over Richie Evans, Merv Treichler and Rene Charland.

Forty five years ago in 1976, rain washed out Thursday night action at New Egypt. Friday night at Riverhead, Jim Tyler took the win over Charlie Jarzombek. At Islip on Saturday, Tyler finished third behind Fred Harbach and Greg Sacks. Geoff Bodine was again the top dog at Stafford as Ron Bouchard and Bob Vee, followed. Other Saturday night winners included Leo Cleary at Westboro and Bob Polverari at Riverside. Donnie Bunnell won the Waterford 200 Modified Championship. Dick LaFlesh was the late model Grand American winner. Don Dionne won a 100 lap Modified event at Seekonk. Geoff Bodine was out to make it four out of five at Thompson when a power blackout ruined his chances as the racing was cancelled for the evening.

Forty years ago in 1981, Monadnock ran an open competition event on Wednesday night. Forty Modifieds were on hand. Home track favorite Punky Caron took the win after Ronnie Bouchard dropped out with engine problems while leading at the half way mark. Kenny Bouchard finished second and was followed by John Rosati, Kirby Monteith and Reggie Ruggiero. At Stafford on Friday night, promoter Ed Yerrington announced that the weekly modified purse was increased to $11,900.A crowd of 7130 was on hand as Reggie Ruggiero took the 30 lap main event. Ronnie Bouchard finished second and was followed by Richie Evans, Bob Polverari and Ray Miller. Other Friday night winners were Jerry Cook at Spencer and Jamie Tomaino at New Egypt. Double features were run at Waterford on Saturday night. Bob Potter and George “Moose” Hewitt shared top honors. At Seekonk it was Bugsy Stevens over Eddie StAngelo and Rick Donnelly and at Westboro, Jeff Fuller in the Tiger Tom Dunn T-5 won out over Corky Cookman and Mario”Fats”Caruso. Richie Evans won a 200 lapper at Riverside over Reggie Ruggiero and Jerry Cook and on Long Island, at Islip; it was Charlie Jarzombek leading the way to victory lane over Wayne Anderson and Tom Baldwin. At Lancaster, Roger Treichler got his fourth win of the season over Billy Colton. At Danbury the LaJoies dominated again as Don was the Modified winner and Randy was the Sportsman winner. Richie Evans capped off the weekend with a win at Thompson on Sunday over Brian Ross and Larry Record. In Busch Grandnational action at South Boston, Geoff Bodine took the win.

Thirty five years ago in 1986, Spencer Speedway started off the weekend with a NASCAR Modified tour event on Thursday. Jeff Fuller took the win over Jim Spencer, Jan Leaty, Brian Ross and Tony Hirschman. At Stafford on Friday night, Jamie Tomaino won the July 4th 100 lapper George Brunnhoelzl Jr finished second with Mike Stefanik, third. Also on Friday night, New Egypt ran a Race of Champions qualifier, which was won by Jim Spencer. Saturday night saw Bob Potter over Mark LaJunesse at Waterford, Stan Gregger over Bob Polverari at Riverside, Don Howe at Riverhead and George Kent winning double features at Shangri-La. The action shifted to Oswego on Sunday for the running of the Port City 150. Mike McLaughlin took the 75 lap win over Jim Spencer, Brian Ross and George Brunnhoelzl. In Winston Cup action at the Daytona 400,Tim Richmond took the win.

Thirty years ago in 1991,the Connecticut Department of Motor vehicles announced that because of budget cuts, they would not be able to provide inspectors at racing events over the holiday weekend and track promoters would not be allowed to operate, thus shutting them down. Stafford Speedway owner Jack Arute was very adamant over the fact that Stafford would not shut down as he would go to jail first. Arute stood tall but it was all for nothing as it rained at Stafford on Friday. Arute did prove a point as Waterford ran on Saturday night. Bert Marvin was the winner. The Modified Tour was at Jennerstown where Mike Stefanik took the win over Bob Park. Other Saturday night action saw Jerry Marquis over Stan Gregger at Riverside and Bill Park over Don Howe at Riverhead.

Twenty five years ago in 1996, Richard Armstrong passed away after a long battle with cancer. Armstrong owned Modifieds driven by Ray Hendrick, Hop Harrington, Freddie Schulz, Geoff Bodine and Ronnie Bouchard. Armstrong’s Modifieds driven by Bodine won record 55 races in 1978. Armstrong was also the President of the New England Drivers and Owners Club. Armstrong fought numerous battles with track promoters and NASCAR and did a lot to improve race purses. The Modifieds could use someone like Armstrong today! Steve Chowanski and Steve Park won twin 50’s at Stafford on Friday night. At Waterford, Mike Gada held off Jim Broderick and Jeff Pearl. Tom Fox got his 46th career late model win. Riverside ran a 100 lapper with Reggie Ruggiero taking the win over Dan Avery and Steve Park. Mike Ewanitsko was the winner of the Riverhead holiday program. Don Howe finished second with Bill Park, third. In Winston Cup action at Daytona, Sterling Marlin won the rain shortened Pepsi 400.Terry Labonte finished second in the event which went 117 laps of the scheduled 160.In Busch GN action at Milwaukee, Buckshot Jones took the win after Dick Trickle spun out with three laps to go.

Twenty years ago in 2001, Lee USA Raceway in New Hampshire ran an open competition Modified event on Friday night which drew 37 Modifieds. Rob Summers took the win over Doug Meservy and Eric Beers. Those on hand said there was lots of rough stuff and spot stealing going on during the event. Todd Szegedy was the SK Modified winner at Stafford over Curt Brainard and Lloyd Agor. Dennis Gada got his fifth win of the season at Waterford on Saturday night. Ed Dachenhausen finished second. Joe Hartmann went pole to pole as he won a 50 lapper at Riverhead over Howie Brode and Don Lia. Down at the Jersey shore, Dave Michael won at Wall Stadium. Tioga presented the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lap event which was won by Zane Zeiner. In Winston Cup action at the Pepsi 400 at Daytona Beach, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip finished one-two. Tony Stewart was given the black flag after he drove below the yellow line after being moved down by Johnny Benson. Stewart lost his temper in post race confrontations with NASCAR and a southern reporter and was fined $10,000 and put on probation in addition to be required to apologize to NASCAR and the reporter for his actions.

Fifteen years ago in 2006 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour finally got to run the rained out Memorial Day Weekend, Connecticut Classic 150 at the Stafford Motor Speedway. John Blewett III had chosen not to chase tour points as he had indicated that he would like to annex the Wall Township Track Championship to his racing career. Blewett had no race conflictions on the Fourth of July as he traveled to Stafford Springs with his family owned Modified and earned his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series win of 2006. His win came at the expense of his brother Jimmy whom he passed for the lead with 15 laps to go in the 150-lap event. Donnie Lia finished third with Zach Sylvester and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top five. John Blewett stopped for tires while the field was under caution on lap 65, Jimmy did not stop. He restarted the race in 10th and worked his way back to the front. Jimmy Blewett’s second place finish in the Eddie Partridge/T.S Haulers entry gave the series a 1-2 by brothers for the first time since 2004. Calling the shots in the Partridge camp was Brad Lafountain

Jimmy Blewett led the first 69 laps and swapped the lead with James Civali four times before John, who started 12th. made the pass for the win. Civali dropped out with ignition problems while running second on lap 101. Jimmy Blewett and Civali were among a handful of drivers who elected not to pit for fresh tires during the race.

There were 42 Modifieds on hand. Mike Stefanik was the Busch Pole sitter. Stefanik re-drew 6th spot while Ronnie Silk drew the pole. Jimmy Blewett drew the outside pole. Rookie Ron Yuhas got a scare on lap 23 when his car crashed into backstretch wall and caught fire. Yuhas emerged unhurt. Eric Berndt won the SK Modified 40 lapper, Tom Butler, the Late Model feature, Joseph Ferrigno, the Limited Late Models, Sean Foster the Limited Late Models, Chris Matthews, the SK Lights and Jeff Jolly, the DARE Stocks. Kenny Horton was disqualied from his runner-up finish in Tuesday night’s SK Modified race at Stafford for failing to make weight. Also, Joey Ferrigno was stripped of his Limited Late Model victory after failing to meet wheel-base specs.

The clock began ticking as NASCAR announced several changes to its organization in relation to its Weekly and Regional racing programs. George Silbermann was named the Managing Director of Racing Operations, with a focus on the weekly and regional racing levels; Richard Buck was named Director of Touring Series; and Bob Duvall was named Director of Weekly Racing. The job security in these positions has not been very good. Tick-Tick-Tick!

The Thompson Speedway and the North East Midget Association paid tribute to Marvin Rifchin on Thursday night. The tire manufacturer had been a mainstay in auto racing for decades. Rifchin’s contributions to the sport of auto racing were felt in both oval track and drag racing. His notoriety comes from both his innovations with race tires and his generosity to the racing community. After being down on power and suffering through handling problems Todd Ceravolo had things go his way as he took the win in the Sunoco Modifieds. It was tough going right from the start. Jimmy Blewett was an early casualty as he parked the Eddie Partridge No.12 before one lap was completed. After a complete restart Ceravolo jumped out to an early lead. Jeff Malave and Bert Marvin brought out the caution shortly after the ten lap mark. Ceravolo continued to lead with Joe Lemay, second. Malave, who had restarted in the rear made a tremendous charge as he moved into the third spot on the final lap. Keith Rocco finished fourth with Tom Cravenho, fifth. Other winners were Randy Cabral in the NEMA Midgets, George Bessette in the Pro Stocks, Dennis Perry in the Late Models, Danny Cates in the Limited Sportsman, Rick Blanchard in the Mini Stocks and Roger Larsen in the Thompson Modifieds.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of Woody Pitkat throwing a one-two punch on Friday night as he won the SK Modified 40 lapper and the Late Model 30 lapper. Pitkat and Bo Gunning staged a late race battle. The end result was Gunning spinning to the infield with two laps to go. Pitkat then had to hold off Chris Jones before recording the win. Rounding out the top-5 behind Pitkat and Jones was Jeff Baral, Todd Owen, and Chris Osella. Pitkats Late Model win was his fourth of the year. Kyler Cafro and Kevin Gambacorta were both first time feature winners in the SK Light and Limited Late Model feature events respectively, and Stacey Botticello became the first repeat DARE Stock feature winner of the 2006 season.

At the Waterford Speedbowl the main topic of conversation is the impending foreclosure on the property by the Washington Mutual Bank, holders of the mortgage. The mortgage holder, T.H.E Enterprises (Terry Eames) had been trying to drum up revenue to keep the track afloat but has been unsuccessful. There had been individuals who had indicated that they would be interested in taking over the property and keep it as a race track. The big stumbling block was that Eames wanted to be part of any management team that takes over. The Speedbowl was in it’s then current fix because of Eames’ management and it would not be good business to keep him around if and when the property is sold or foreclosed upon. Had it not been for the efforts of Bill Roth and Pete Zanardi there would have been no 2006 season at the shoreline oval.

Rob Janovic Jr. became the season’s first two-time SK-Modified winner, besting point leader Dennis Gada by a car length in Saturday night’s 35-lap feature at Waterford Speedbowl. The first double winner came in the ninth race of the season. The other winners – Glenn Colvin (Late Models), Richard Staskowski (Sportsman) and Jeff Miller (Mini Stocks) won for the first time this season. A lap 29 restart, the second of the race, was the final challenge for Janovic. Getting the edge on the green, he got a great run out of two and was never challenged. Taking the lead four laps in, Janovic’s only other challenge came on a lap 12 restart against Chris Pasteryak. Colvin wound up the winner in a feature red-checkered by a horrendous crash involving five cars 12 laps short of the scheduled 30 laps. Contact between Bruce Thomas Jr. and Jay Stuart, running one-two, coming out of turn four started the crash. Jay Lozyniak went over Allen Coates and barrel-rolled several times before coming to a stop on his roof on the front stretch. Larry Goss was also involved. Colvin, the early leader, was running third in a tight bunch with Thomas and Stuart when the mayhem started. The Speedbowl management was seriously considering giving the Late Models at least a week of as an “Attitude Adjustment”

A bang from Jeff Gordon’s bumper sent Matt Kenseth spinning out of the lead with four laps to go in regulation during Sunday’s Nextel Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, allowing Gordon to hold on in a two-lap overtime period to win his second race of the season and 75th of his career. In Busch Series racing, Casey Mears stretched the fuel and grabbed his first ever NASCAR win (at any level) at the Chicagoland Speedway. Carl Edwards finished second and trimmed 15 points from Kevin Harvick’s lead.

Ten years ago in 2011 The Whelen Modified Tour made its second visit of the season to the Thompson Speedway. Despite the fact that there were only 27 Modifieds on hand, 20 of them were potential winners. In New Jersey they refer to Jimmy Blewett as “Show Time”. In New England that moniker belongs to Ted Christopher. Christopher put on a display of hard charging – belly to the ground racing as he scored a convincing win in the Budweiser ‘King of Beers’ 150 at the high banked, northeastern Connecticut oval. After setting fast time for the pole position Christopher was sent to the rear of the field at the start of the race after missing the driver’s meeting, and then had to come through the field again after getting involved in a spin on Lap 66, but it didn’t stop the Plainville, Conn., driver from picking up his fourth-consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win at Thompson. Christopher pitted for a second time on Lap 121 and knifed through the field after restarting outside the top 10. He made the decisive pass of Ron Silk on Lap 142 and survived a four-lap sprint to the finish after the final caution flag was given to the field on Lap 143.

The victory was the 40th in Christopher’s Whelen Modified Tour career and 13th at Thompson. He has won seven of the last nine races at the .625-mile oval. Silk held on for second and point leader Rowan Pennink enjoyed another consistent run with a third-place finish. Bobby Santos and Eric Berndt completed the top five. Todd Szegedy, Doug Coby, Eric Beers, James Civali and Eric Goodale rounded out the top 10.

Rowan Pennink inherited the pole position for the start and after taking the lead at the initial start led the opening 56 laps before giving way to Doug Coby. Bryon Chew became the first casualty when his engine expired on lap 29. Matt Hirschman was having a less than impressive run in the early going as he became a lapped car on lap 50. Hirschman rebounded to finish 12th after a pit stop for adjustments and receiving the Lucky Dog award which put him back on the lead lap. The first caution of the night flew for Mike Stefanik who stopped on the racing surface after his engine sputtered and quit. It was later determined that the fuel pump on his engine had malfunctioned and quit. Stefanik ended up 26th. Under caution, Pennink pitted along with Bobby Santos, Todd Szegedy and Ron Silk. Coby, who chose not to pit, inherited the lead with Justin Bonsignore hot on his tail. Shortly after the green came out on lap 62, Santos came alive as he moved into the second spot.

The second caution flew on lap 66 when three cars including that of Christopher made contact in turn three. Coby led the restart on lap 71. Pennink, who had made his way to fourth, moved into the second spot on lap 72 as Santos began to fade. Shortly after completing lap 75 Pennink shot by Coby as they entered turn three. Bonsignore, who had been running in the top five, dropped out on lap 83 when his battery shorted out and killed his engine. Bonsignore ended up 24th in the final run-down. The third caution flew on lap 118 for Wade Cole who spun in turn two. Meanwhile, a determined Christopher had worked his way back into the top ten. Shortly after the field restarted on lap 124 Ronnie Silk took the lead in turn two. Christopher had now broken into the top five. On lap 133 Christopher passed Santos for third only to see the field slow again for a spin by Richie Pallai. One lap after the lap 139 restart Christopher shot from third to second and after completing lap 141 took the lead from Silk in turn four. A minor spin on lap 142 and a restart on lap146 did not hinder Christopher’s efforts as he sprinted home the winner.

It was simply a fantastic race, especially the last half. The checkered flag dropped at 10:02pm.

In regular weekly action at Thompson, Keith Rocco waged a heated battle with Ryan Preece to score a victory in the Sunoco Modifieds. Mike O’Sullivan was victorious in the Super Model division. His triumph was matched by his brother Tommy O’Sullivan who scored his second straight Late Model feature win. Chris Douton earned the victory in a rough-and-tumble Limited Sportsman feature. Glenn Boss wired the field to score his first TIS Modified feature win of the season. Danny Field continues to make history at Thompson International Speedway with his sixth consecutive victory in the Mini Stocks.

The Sunoco Modified field which drew a season high 14 cars saw Rocco take down a hotly contested event to score his third win of the season at Thompson.

The Stafford Motor Speedway started the week off on Tuesday night with the 8th annual CARQUEST Extreme Tuesday program. Chris Perley won the 50-lap ISMA Supermodified feature, Russ Stoehr won the 30-lap NEMA Midget feature event, and Norm Wrenn made it four wins in a row at Stafford by taking the 25-lap Pro-4 Modified feature event. In the CARQUEST Champions For Charities event, Keith Rocco took the checkered flag but the real winner was charity as the 14 champion drivers raised over $40,000 for their selected charities.

In the Supermodified feature, Perley made the pass for the lead on lap-43 and he led the remaining 7 laps as early leader Ted Christopher began to fall back from Perley. Johnny Benson came home in third behind Perley and Christopher, with Timmy Jedrzejek, and Russ Wood making up the top-5.

In regular Friday night action at Stafford Keith Rocco carried his winning ways over. Rocco was the big winner of the night as he doubled up by winning both the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event and the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Cipriano took his third feature win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Cory Casagrande was the winner of the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cory’s brother Kyle Casagrande nailed down his third win of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In action at the Waterford Speedbowl, the shoreline oval presented the Speedbowl.com 300 mid-season championship event Saturday evening. In all, six divisions were on hand with five competing in extra-distance length races. Scoring NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victories were Keith Rocco, who claimed his second consecutive and sixth overall win in the SK Modified® division on the year. Ray Parent Jr. won the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, Ed Puleo took the Street Stocks and Ken Cassidy Jr. was the winner in the Mini Stock feature. Dana Dimatteo was the benefactor of a last-lap tangle in the Legends Cars race, vaulting him to the checkered flag. Twelve-year old Ken Morin Jr. rounded out the winners on the night, taking down the Bandolero feature win.

For Rocco, the 100 lap win capped off a perfect weekend as his stats showed three for three in open wheel Modified competition. The defending NASCAR National Champion had also won the Late Model event at Stafford on Friday night.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH for a 100 lapper on Saturday night. Jon McKennedy scored his first ever win at the fast quarter mile oval. McKennedy, who started seventh broke the strangle hold that Kirk Alexander had previously held as he won the previous four races at the place they call “Mad Dog”. McKennedy took the lead from Alexander on lap 65 and never looked back. Alexander finished second and was followed by Les Hinckley, Rowan Pennink and Rob Goodenough. Sixth through tenth were Dwight Jarvis, Mike Holdridge, Jim Boniface, Chris Pasteryak and Max Zachem.

The race, slowed by three caution flags, was completed in 40 minutes. There were 23 race teams entered in the event, 17 cars were running at the conclusion, 14 on the lead lap.

In the Southland at the Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC, L.W. Miller capped off a dominating run Friday night with a furious finish to claim the Whelen Southern Modified Tour Firecracker 150 presented by Budweiser. Miller held off George Brunnhoelzl III on two green-white-checkered finish attempts before claiming his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified win since August 10, 2010.

Andy Seuss finished third. John Smith and Burt Myers were fourth and fifth, respectively.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC was silent.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Shawn Solomito was the Modified winner.

Joey Logano picked up his first win of the season Friday night with a last-lap push from teammate Kyle Busch to win the Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway. It comes on the heels of him winning the pole at Sonoma then finishing a career-high sixth on the road course.

In Sprint Cup action at Daytona, Matt Kenseth pushed David Ragan for the final two laps as Ragan cruised to his first career Sprint Cup win in 163 starts.

Five years ago in 2016, The Modified Tri-Track Series visited the Seekonk Speedway on Wednesday night. With 39 cars on hand it made for an exciting set of qualifying heats. Doug Coby scored a double shot as he won the Boston Louie NEMA Midget event and the Tri Track Modified 100. It was the third time that Coby won the Tri Track event.

In the 100 lap event that paid $10,000, Coby started fourth and took the lead following a lap 40 restart. Coby fought off challenges from Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore to the end which came at 11:30pm. Silk prevailed in second spot while Bonsignore was penalized for an improper restarting spot and placed in sixth spot at the finish. Rowan Pennink finished third with Les Hinkley and Matt Hirschman rounding out the top five.

Twenty three of the original 27 starters finished on the lead lap. Among those who didn’t finish was Tommy Barrett who was making his first start of the season. Barrett was up to sixth with 15 laps to go when his car quit. He ended up dead last. Among those who didn’t qualify was Ted Christopher who was eliminated after a crash in the fifth heat. Christopher was third fastest in practice.

Due to the severe weather forecast for Friday night that included thunderstorms and hail, Stafford Speedway cancelled their Fourth of July Celebration program.

The competition at Stafford this year has been nothing short of being fabulous with close wheel to wheel action in all divisions.

Ted Christopher had a tough couple of weeks in SK Modified competition at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. On Saturday night at the shoreline oval his previous bad luck awarded him a pole shot in the feature which he took full advantage as he led every lap to record his first victory at the track in 2016. Diego Monahan was second and Keith Rocco, third. Todd Owen and Justin Gaydosh rounded out the top five.

In other events Keith Rocco won the first Late Model feature, Anthony Flannery was victorious in the second Late Model feature, Andrew Molleur won the SK Light Modified feature, Monte Gibbs topped the field in the Limited Sportsman feature, Wayne Burroughs Jr. won the Mini Stock feature and Ryan Locke won the NEMA Lites feature.

Keith Rocco continues to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco’s recorded a win in the Late Model division at the shoreline oval brought his track win total to 126 wins. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 222 wins which also include victories at Thompson and Stafford Speedways.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH on Saturday night for a 100 lapper. Jon McKennedy made four attempts in the final nine laps only to make the last one count for the win. McKennedy drove it in hard in turn three and snuck under leader Russ Hersey to steal a victory. Todd Patnode finished third and was followed by Steve Masse and Chris Pasteryak.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, sophomore NASCAR Modified talent Kyle Soper rewarded his hard working team with a win on Saturday night winning the 66th Year Celebration 66-lap feature for his second straight Whelen All American Series triumph. Shawn Solomito was runner-up noting afterwards, “this is our tour car, we were just a tick off but hats off to Kyle he earned it”. Dave Brigati was third with John Fortin Jr. and Howie Brode rounding out the top five.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Brad Keselowski was the class of the field during Saturday’s Coke Zero 400, leading a race-high 115 laps en route to a dominating victory at Daytona Int’l Speedway. The victory was Keselowski’s fifth restrictor plate victory, but his first at Daytona in his 15th attempt at the 2.5-mile oval. The victory was also the 100th in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition for team owner Roger Penske. While he was the dominant driver all night, Keselowski had to survive three caution flags in the final 31 laps before he rolled his Team Penske Ford into victory lane.

In the Daytona Xfinity event, NASCAR declared Aric Almirola the winner of Friday’s Subway Firecracker 250 after a caution flag waved during the final lap after an overtime restart. Almirola and Justin Allgaier were side-by-side racing for the lead coming out of turn four heading to the checkered flag when NASCAR called the caution flag because of a crash on the backstretch. It took several minutes for NASCAR to review video before officials eventually declared Almirola the race winner.

Last year, 2020, In what was set to begin a three day weekend of racing got spoiled by a late afternoon-early evening storm that threatened the Stafford Motor Speedway causing the speedway management to postpone the Friday night event at the Connecticut oval. The Mid State Firecracker Street Stock 30 will be run this coming Friday, July 10.

The skies cleared by Saturday morning for a beautiful July 4th holiday. Thirty one Modifieds were on hand for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series event at the White Mountain Motorsports Park track.

Was it a bump and run by Justin Bonsignore or was it a brake job by Matt Hirschman? In the end, Justin Bonsignore was 2-for-2 on the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season. The Long Island driver driver hit Hirschman and got him out of shape enough to take the lead with seven laps to go and then withstood a challenge from Hirschman and Doug Coby on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Independence Day 200 in the tour’s inaugural visit to White Mountain Motorsports Park.

A late caution pushed the race to 205 laps and Bonsignore edged Hirschman by .127 seconds at the line. Hirschman, who won the Mayhew Tools Pole Award earlier in the day, crossed the finish side-by-side with Coby. Tommy Catalano finished fourth and Woody Pitkat made a late run to finish fifth. Dave Sapienza was sixth, followed by Chris Pasteryak, Craig Lutz, Jon McKennedy and Chase Dowling.

In a post race interview Hirschman said “He punted me, he moved me”

Two months delayed due to COVID-19, the Tri Track Open Modified Series season hit full speed on Sunday at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire. Thirty six modifieds were on hand. Four qualifying heats and two consolations were run to fill the field. Heat winners were Brian Robie, Chase Dowling, Ben Byrne and Dave Sapienza.Consi winners were Matt Swanson and Craig Lutz.

The 100 lap main had a carbon copy finish from the White Mountain event. The leader on the last lap, Les Hinkley, got punted out of the lead on the last lap by second place runner Craig Lutz. Like Bonsignore, Lutz is from Long Island. Hinkley, not a happy camper to say the least, voiced his displeasure with Lutz. But while Lutz was calm and collected in Victory Lane, Hinckley was furious. “[Lutz] just drove through me on the last lap,” Hinckley said. “Had no other choice, just flat out drove through me. What can you do? He can have the second-place trophy too.” Hinckley appeared to be covering his spot and admitted that he knew a bump might have been coming, but he was not prepared for what he ended up receiving.

That’s their (Long Island) type of racing. That’s what’s commonplace now. When I grew up, you didn’t do stuff like that, and when you did do it, it came back to you. It won’t happen again to me.” Stated Hinkley. During his Victory Lane interview, Hinckley overheard Lutz telling the raucous fans, “It is what it is”. “I come here to win races. I came through the consi, started 22nd. It’s not the right way to win, but I’m still standing here in Victory Lane. We’re here to win races, not make friends, so that’s what we did today.” Hinkley responded with, “It ain’t what it ain’t, pal, you’re gonna pay.”

Hinckley lead the race until turn three on the final lap and appeared to be on the way to his first Tri-Track victory. Lutz, who worked his way up from a 22nd starting position, made a last-ditch effort in the final turn, making hard contact with the rear of Hinckley No. 06. Both cars got loose, but Lutz got back to the gas first and beat Hinckley to the line by 0.085 seconds. It was Lutz’s first career Tri-Track Modified win.

Monadnock weekly racer Ben Byrne, who almost won this race last year, brought his bright green No. 6 home to a third-place finish after leading 31 of the 100 laps. Ron Silk, driving the Bob Horn Racing No. 50S, gained four spots in the last 10 laps to finish fourth. Chase Dowling, after fighting with Hinckley for the lead for more than 20 laps, completed the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Matt Kimball, Matt Hirschman, Woody Pitkat, Ronnie Williams and Matt Swanson. Rookie Jacob Perry finished 17th, on the lead lap.

The Tri-Track Open Modifieds will hit the track again later this month, taking on the annual SBM 125 at Star Speedway (NH) on Saturday, July 25.

Based on the fact that opening night at Stafford was a rousing success along with the Pay Per View participation, the Arute family has opted to add two Saturday nights to their schedule. The added events will be on July 18 and August 1st.and will feature Open Modified 80 events along with non-points SK Light Modified and Street Stock events. All events will continue to be capped at 25% capacity with tickets going on sale the Saturday prior to the event at 8am. Race fans will also be able to tune in live on StaffordSpeedway.tv, a new pay-per-view streaming service with 25% of each sale going directly to the drivers. Visit StaffordSpeedway.tv for more information. Stafford Speedway season passes are good for all events. The schedule for the remainder of the 2020 season will be posted in early to mid-July.

Stafford is the only oval track speedway in Connecticut that was currently running on a weekly basis and running on Saturdays will fill a void that has been left. Currently it is a foregone conclusion that the New London-Waterford Speedbowl will not open in 2020. The Thompson Speedway ownership has shown a general lack of interest in oval track racing and has apparently canceled their initial schedule of weekly cut-race purse events.

The Hoenig family that owns the Thompson Motorsports Park has leased their oval to Terry Eames, the guy who still owes competitors who raced for him at the Speedbowl before he lost it to foreclosure and auction. Eames plans on running the Bud 150 on Wednesday, Aug 19 and the World Series on Oct 9-11. Both events will feature the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series.

Chase Briscoe put on four new tires during a late pit-stop Saturday, then held off AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric over the final five laps to win the first NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

Kevin Harvick turned up the pressure on Denny Hamlin late in the Brickyard 400. And on a cooling track, Hamlin’s worn tires simply gave out.As the sun set Sunday over Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Hamlin seven laps from one of the few victories that has eluded him, he went careening into the first-turn wall with a flat right-front tire, and Harvick beat Matt Kenseth off the final restart to win his second straight Brickyard 400.

In some sad news, Frank P. Sgambato, 83, passed away Monday, June 29, 2020 at home surrounded by his loving family. He was the husband of the late Barbara B. (Fusco) Sgambato for 57 years before her passing in 2016. Born in Providence, he was a son of the late Stephen and Mildred (Alburn) Sgambato. Mr. Sgambato was the owner of the former F. Sgambato & Sons Construction Co. for over 40 years before retiring in 2000.

He was a starter/flag man for NASCAR auto racing tracks throughout the Northeast. His career as a tremendously talented starter started at the Seekonk Speedway in the 50’s when there were no starter stands. When Jack Arute bought the Stafford Speedway in1970 he wanted the best in the business on the flagstand and Frank was it. For close to 20 years Sgambato and his assistant Eddie LaRue waved the flags as the best in NASCAR Modified racing raced under him. He was also the Chief Starter at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl for a short time. He loved Hawaii and traveling with his wife Barbara. He enjoyed Sunday’s with his family who relied upon him for words of wisdom. He was a member of Roger Williams Masonic Lodge and his dog; Cilla will miss him immensely.

Frank. Sgambato was the father of Deborah M. D’Alessio of Lincoln, John L. Sgambato of N. Providence, Frank S. Sgambato of North Providence, Stacy S. DeMedeiros of North Providence, and the late Frank P. Sgambato, Jr. He was the brother of Elizabeth DiDonato, David Sgambato and the late Stephen, John and Walter Sgambato. Mr. Sgambato is also survived by his grandchildren Dyana LeBlanc, Jessica D’Alessio, John and Christopher Sgambato, Anthony and Sydney DeMedeiros; and also 4 great-grandchildren. His funeral and burial will be private.

Dr. Rose Mattioli, who co-founded Pocono Raceway with her husband and served as the Pennsylvania track’s matriarch for more than five decades, died Monday. She was 92. Dr. Rose and Dr. Joseph “Doc” Mattioli established the 2.5-mile speedway in 1968 on land they developed in Long Pond in the Pocono Mountains. Their track’s first major event for IndyCars came in 1971. Pocono became an annual stop for the NASCAR Cup Series in 1974 and moved to two races per year in 1982.

June 17, 1972 Ray Miller in the Meyers-Sweatland Mustang took Stafford by storm on Saturday night. Following Miller at the finish were Fred DeSarro, Billy Harman, Bob Santos and Eddie Flemke. Del Cushing was the All-American Sportsman winner.

. Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

  •  
  •