Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago Eddie Casterline made it two in a row in Midget action at Seekonk.
Seventy years ago, in 1951, Dave Humphrey was the Wednesday night winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Beebe was the Claiming Car winner. No racing was held on Saturday night. Leo Boudreau was the winner at Seekonk.
Sixty five years ago in 1956, Johnny Sandberg was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday night. Lou Tetreault was the non-Ford winner. Tetreault won the 25 lap Modified event on Saturday night while Arnie Harris was the non-Ford winner. Rain washed out the racing action at Seekonk.
Sixty years ago in 1961, Arnie Harris won the 25 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Caso made it two in a row in Bomber competition. Saturday night racing at the shoreline oval and at Seekonk washed out. Eddie Flemke scored at Norwood.
Fifty five years ago in 1966 Steady Eddie Flemke headed north on Thursday night to the Catamount Stadium in Vermont where he took the win. Elton Hill was the Friday night winner at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Don MacTavish finished second with Jerry Cook, third. Dick Dixon and Rene Charland rounded out the top five. Joe Tiezzi scored his first and only win on the dirt at Stafford. The Norwood Arena hosted a Trenton qualifier. George Pendergast scored a surprise win. During a post race celebration Pendergast tripped over a trailer and fell, breaking his arm. Deke Astle was the Class A winner at Seekonk. Ernie Gahan padded his point lead in his quest for the NASCAR National Modified Championship as he won a 107-lap event on the dirt at Fonda on Saturday night and a 30 lapper on the asphalt at the Utica Rome Speedway on Sunday night. Gahan drove the same car in both events. Following Gahan at Fonda were Jerry Cook and Bill Wimble. Wimble finished second at Utica-Rome with Eddie Flemke, Dave Kotary and Bernie Miller rounding out the top five. Billy Blum took the win at the Shangri-La Speedway. Don Collins was the 30 lap Modified feature winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Marvin Shaw was the winner in the Bombers and Bill Sweet was the Daredevil winner at the Connecticut shoreline oval.
Fifty years ago in 1971, Lou Lazzaro took the top spot at Malta on Friday night. Maynard Forette finished second and was followed by Bernie Miller, Jerry Cook and Fred DeSarro. At the Fulton Raceway Don Diffendorf, driving the radical coach that would grace the 1972 Spring Sizzler poster, took a 60 lap win over Richie Evans, Merv Treichler, Mike Loescher and Sonny Seamon. Mike Beebe took the Saturday night win at Waterford over Don Kibbe and Art Moran. Rain washed out Stafford and Fonda on Saturday night. George Summers won a 100 lapper at Seekonk. While the NASCAR Modified point chasers were at Utica-Rome on Sunday, a bit of modified history was made at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine when car owner Bobby Judkins and driver Gene Bergin debuted an all-new Pinto bodied Modified. Bergin won the open competition event and the winds of change in the modified division were beginning to blow. Ernie Gahan finished second. At Utica-Rome, Ron Newman took the win over Dave Lape and Lou Lazzaro. Seekonk also held an open comp event on Sunday, which was won by hometown favorite George Summers. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Fred Astle Sr, third
Forty five years ago in 1976, Fred Harbach made it two in a row at New Egypt on Thursday night. Bob Park finished second with Jerry Cook, third. A 100 lapper scheduled for Riverhead on Friday night was rained out. Geoff Bodine took the Saturday night win at Stafford over Fred DeSarro and Dick Caso but the big news was that NASCAR Chief Steward, Ed Yerrington, had been named to take over the position of General Manager and Promoter as of August 1. Jackie Arute had been promoting the facility and had got an opportunity to pursue a career in broadcasting as an announcer for the Daytona based Motor Racing Network. Other weekend winners were Pete Fiandaca making it two in a row at Riverside Park, Bob Potter made it two in a row at Waterford and George Summers at Seekonk. Geoff Bodine’s domination at Thompson came to an end when his engine was torn down in a post race inspection and was found to be 61/1000 over stroke. Second place finisher Fred DeSarro was awarded the win.
Forty years ago in 1981, Richie Evans scored his 299th career modified victory at Stafford on Friday night. Hot on his tail was Ronnie Bouchard, Reggie Ruggiero and Brian Ross. Evans scored No.300 at Shangri-La the following night. Other Friday night winners were Marty Radwick at Monadnock, George Kent at Spencer and John Blewett Jr. at New Egypt. Waterford ran twin features on Saturday night with Rodney Tulba and Sleepy Knapp taking the wins. George Murray ruled at Seekonk and Joe Howard at Westboro. Other Saturday night winners were Fred Harbach at Islip, Jamie Tomaino at Wall, Billy Layda at Danbury and Stan Gregger at Riverside. The stage was set for a classic battle between Richie Evans and Geoff Bodine at Thompson on Sunday with an 81 lapper. Carl Pasteryak led the first four laps before being overhauled by Corky Cookman. Cookman led until lap 16 when he lost a transmission. Evans assumed the lead and appeared headed for win No.301 when his engine went up in smoke on lap 54.From then on it was Bodine all the way to the checker followed by Ray Miller, George Kent, Reggie Ruggiero and Bentley Warren. It was also at this event that a young upstart by the name of Mike Stefanik was given the opportunity of driving the Richie Evans back-up car known as the Grey Ghost. Stefanik was, at one time in contention in the top five when he fell victim to a shorted-out battery.
Thirty five years ago in 1986, New Egypt ran what was to be their last NASCAR sanctioned Modified event on Wednesday. It was a 150 lapper with George Kent taking the win over Jerry Cranmer, Jamie Tomaino and Jim Spencer. The competitors were paid by checks, which ultimately bounced. Once NASCAR got wind of this, the sanction was pulled. Kent made it two for two as he won a special event at Holland on Thursday night. Stafford ran twin 25’s on Friday night. John Anderson, in the Mario Fiore No.44 took the opener over Brian Ross and John Rosati. Rosati came back to win the nightcap over Mike Stefanik and Charlie Jarzombek. Saturday night at Riverside Park saw Ed Kennedy go pole to pole, non stop, to win the 50 lap main event. Dan Avery finished second. Rick Holmberg won at Riverhead and it was Jim Spencer over Jan Leaty at Shangri-La. At Thompson on Sunday, the 300 outside pole position was up for grabs. Brian Ross left no doubt that he was after the spot as he cleaned house, beating out Jim Spencer and Mike McLaughlin for the win. Other weekend winners included Leo Cleary at Seekonk and Jamie Tomaino winning the Garden State Classic at Wall Stadium over Doug French. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Tim Richmond took the win.
Thirty years ago in 1991,Bob Georgiades, son of John Georgiades, scored his first ever win as he won the SK Modified main at Stafford on Friday night Steve Chowanski finished second with Bob Potter, third. The Modified Tour was also at Stafford. Jeff Fuller was the class of the field. Despite starting last because he missed the time trials and heats Fuller had the field covered as he took the win over Steve Park, Reggie Ruggiero and Tom Baldwin. On Saturday, Bruce Del won at Riverside and Bill Park at Riverhead while rain prevailed at Waterford.
Twenty five years ago in 1996, Riverside Park hosted the Featherlite Modified Tour on Wednesday. Jerry Marquis, in the Art Barry No.21, took the win over Steve Park, Mike Ewanitsko and Rick Fuller. Waterford ran on Thursday because of a fireworks display was planned for New London on Saturday night. Mark LaJunesse took the win over Bob Potter and Scott Spaulding. Tom Fox, in the Al Gaudreau Late Model, won his seventh feature of the year. Stafford rained out on Friday and on Saturday; Mike Ewanitsko won the Richie Evans memorial 76 lapper at Riverhead over Chuck Steuer and Tom Baldwin. At Riverside, it was Reggie Ruggiero over Richard Savory. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Rusty Wallace took the win and at Oxford Plains, Larry Gelinas won the Oxford 250.
Twenty years ago in 2001 Thursday night match race between Steve Park and Michael Waltrip at Thompson drew 11,000 fans. In regular race action, Ted Christopher made it five in a row as he took the lead from Bert Marvin on lap 23 of the 30 lap SK-Modified feature. Marvin finished second with Kerry Malone, third. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series ran a 100 lap event at Loudon on Friday afternoon. Tony Hirschman passed Ted Christopher on lap 97 and held on to take the win. Christopher finished second but was moved back to last on the lead lap, 21st, when it was discovered that his crew put an illegal tire on the left front. Mike Stefanik was moved up into second. Rob Summers, Dan Avery and Chris Kopec rounded out the top five. Lloyd Agor was the Friday night winner at Stafford as Christopher, who flew in from Loudon, finished second. John Sandberg had taken the checker as the leader but was disqualified, as he didn’t make weight. Dennis Gada got his sixth feature at Waterford on Saturday night. Tom Fox finished second. At Riverhead, Howie Brode went pole to pole, holding off Ken Heagy for the win. In Winston Cup action at Loudon, Dale Jarrett took the win with Jeff Gordon, second. On a sad note, it was announced that long time Modified Racing supporter Sonny Richards had passed away.
Fifteen years ago in 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made its first of two stops at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. A total of 35 teams were signed in the pit area preparing for practice before the event was canceled shortly after noon. The Thompson Speedway beat the rains that came with tropical storm Beryl on Thursday night. Scoring his second Sunoco Modified feature victory of the season was Keith Rocco. Rick Gentes also scored his second of the season in Late Model action. Fred Astle, Jr. claimed his first Pro Stock feature win of the season while career firsts went to Brian Blaise and Tim Sullivan in Limited Sportsman and TIS Modified competition respectively. Rick Blanchard of Pascoag, RI continued his domination of the Mini Stock division with his fourth win of the season.
Rocco jumped out from his third place starting spot and led the entire 30 lap distance. On a single file restart, with four laps to go, Rocco led a battle for second. Woody Pitkat dove underneath Tom Cravenho but Cravenho held strong . On the white flag, it was a replay of the same move by Pitkat. This time the move worked. Pitkat took second from Cravenho by inches to earn the runner-up spot to winner Rocco. Cravenho, whose crew worked feverishly during the week to get his car repaired after last week’s incident, finished third. Jeff Malave and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five.
The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of the 33rd annual SK Modified 100. Todd Owen was the big winner of the evening, outlasting last year’s winner Willie Hardie. In other weekly action, Woody Pitkat made it three in a row as he took home his sixth Late Model feature win of the season, Brit Andersen was a first-time winner in the SK Light feature, Sean Foster became a two-time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, Carla Botticello outlasted Norm Sears for her first win of the season in the DARE Stock feature, and Kenny Horton won the 21 Means 21 SK Modified feature. In the 33rd annual Coors Light SK Modified 100 feature, John Blewett, III and Lloyd Agor were the early race leaders, setting a blistering pace at the front of the field. Near the midway point of the race, Bo Gunning, who was last week’s SK Modified feature winner, moved out front and led the half-way point to pick up a $100 bonus from Reliable Welding and Speed. Gunning’s good run turned sour when he and Frank Ruocco made contact while racing for the lead, which sent Gunning spinning and Ruocco to pit road for three fresh tires. Owen took over the lead of the race with Gunning and Ruocco’s spin, and he led the rest of the way, outlasting Willie Hardie over the final 10-laps to take the win. Rounding out the top-5 behind Owen and Hardie were Jeff Malave, Ruocco, and Zach Sylvester. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, hometown favorite Woody Pitkat, didn’t take the lead of the race until lap-25, and then had to survive several restart situations to nail down his sixth feature win of the 2006 season. Wayne Coury, Jr. led the first 24-laps of the race from the pole position, but his night ended with a crash in turn 1. Late Model points leader Jim Peterson finished second behind Pitkat, with Tom Butler, Tom Fearn, and Mark Lewis rounding out the top-5.
Denny Hamlin completed the Pocono sweep by winning the Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday in Long Pond, dominating the field for his second career victory. Hamlin’s first victory came six weeks ago at Pocono when he recovered from a spin through the grass and held on after a late restart. This race was easier, as Hamlin led 151 of 200 laps, putting him eighth in the Nextel Cup points standings. Hamlin’s teammate Tony Stewart nearly self-destructed and Dale Earnhardt Jr. slipped in his pursuit of the title. Stewart, the defending Cup champion, was black-flagged early in the race for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer. Stewart had been pushed up the track and against the wall by Bowyer, and waved a hand out the window as the cars separated. He then swerved directly into the side of Bowyer’s car, sending it spinning into Carl Edwards. Stewart was flagged for aggressive driving, and had to pull into the pits for a one-lap penalty that dropped him to 41st. Stewart wasted no time getting back on the lead lap. But on the next round of pit stops, Edwards gave him a retaliatory shove that spun Stewart and earned Edwards a penalty. Stewart still worked his way to a seventh-place finish, moving him back to 10th in the standings. Kevin Harvick held off Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer by .271 seconds Saturday to win the Goody’s 250 Busch race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway – the first series race at the track since 1994. The victory was Harvick’s series-leading fourth of the season. Harvick is one of six Nextel Cup drivers who are running full-time schedules in both that series and Busch this season .It was Harvick’s 21st career Busch win and ties him for seventh place all time with Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Harry Gant. Mark Martin leads the series with 47 victories. Harvick’s No. 21 Chevrolet was by far the dominant car Saturday, leading 149 of 250 laps. He did, however, have to navigate several tricky restarts as the race was marred by a track-record 19 cautions covering 87 laps.
Ten years ago in 2011 The Whelen Modified Tour headed to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past Saturday, July 16 for the F.W. Webb 100. It appears that the winds of change are beginning to blow as only thirty four cars were on hand for practice and qualifying. Sprint Cup ringer Ryan Newman, who clearly has a distinct advantage because of his Sprint Cup team, was the top qualifier as he was over one mile per hour faster than Ron Silk who was second fastest. Todd Szegedy was third fastest with Bobby Santos and another Cup ringer, Andy Petree, rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink, Ryan Preece, Matt Hirschman and Ted Christopher. Justin Bonsignore experienced engine trouble and did not take time. He was given the last starting spot in the 34 starting spot field.
Ryan Newman capitalized on a relatively caution-free race to sail to his fourth straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race Saturday in the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With the power and technology behind that car he all but stunk up the show as he could out power and pass the competition at will. Newman, who will also won the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.058-mile oval, led a race-high 61 laps. He passed Ron Silk on Lap 84 and won by 1.901 seconds over runner-up Todd Szegedy.
The race was slowed by just two cautions and featured an 88-lap green-flag run to the checkered flag. Newman led the first 33 laps and drifted back to third under the long run before moving back to the front in the closing stages. Szegedy edged Ron Silk at the finish line for second. Matt Hirschman and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Points leader Rowan Pennink was sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Ron Yuhas Jr., Ed Flemke Jr. and Woody Pitkat. Ted Christopher was the last car on the lead lap as he finished 11th. The race featured four lead changes among three drivers. Newman led 61 of the 100 laps.
NASCAR impounded the #7NY car and brought the car down to Concord, NC to NASCAR facilities for testing. NASCAR will announce their official decision this coming Wednesday. It had been strongly hinted that Newmans car is illegal or has illegal parts and there could very well be a disqualification coming in the near future. In the words of NASCAR Media Coordinator Jason Cunningham, “We don’t take away wins anymore, if there is a penalty to be assessed it would not affect the finish of the race”.
According to those on hand the race was taped, but who knows when it will be shown!
In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Woody Pitkat earned his second Sunoco Modified victory this season as he was awarded the win in the special 50-lap feature event. Pitkat took the lead from Danny Cates on lap 28 and appeared to be on his way to victory until the final lap of the race. Contact with Keith Rocco had Pitkat cross the line second, but a penalty issued to Rocco for the contact handed him the win. Rocco drove deep into turn three of the final lap and made contact with Pitkat, who saved his car but lost the lead. Track officials issued a penalty to Rocco, who took the checkers first, and put Pitkat into victory lane. Rocco was awarded fifth place. Rick Fuller was moved up to the runner-up spot. Andrew Charron and Joe Allegro followed.
In other Thursday night Thunder action Tyler Poulin was the Mini Stock winner, halting Danny Field’s win streak. Tom O’Sullivan was the Late Model winner, Derek Ramstron won the non-stop Super Latemodel feature, Shawn Monahan won the Limited Sportsman Feature and Cam McDermott won the Thompson Modified feature.
The Stafford Motor Speedway avoided a couple of pop-up showers as Keith Keith Rocco picked up his fifth victory of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Ryan Posocco took his first feature win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko recovered from an early race incident to take his third feature win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault picked up his third win of 2011 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande picked up his fourth feature victory of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. Casagrande’s feature victory tied him with Stacey Botticello and Norm Sears as the winningest drivers in DARE Stock history with 10 career feature wins each.
Ted Christopher made a move to the inside of early leader Glen Reen in turn 3 on lap-23 to take over the race lead. Rocco caught Reen and he moved into second on lap-27 while Christopher continued to hold the lead. With 10 laps to go Christopher had a lead of several car lengths over Rocco, who had an advantage of several car lengths over Reen in third. Rocco closed the distance to Christopher and he made a power move to the inside of Christopher in turn 3 on lap-36 to move into the race lead. Christopher bobbled slightly in turn 1 on lap-38, which allowed Rocco to stretch his lead out by a couple of car lengths. Christopher caught back up to Rocco on the final lap, but Rocco was too strong to be overtaken and he took his fifth win of the 2011 season by a car length. Rounding out the top-5 behind Rocco and Christopher was Reen, Dan Avery, and Woody Pitkat.
At the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco made it three in a row in SK Modified competition. Bruce Thomas Jr. won his fourth feature in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model s, Ed Puleo rallied late in the Street Stock s to win his fifth race of the year, but in the Mini Stocks it was the first of the year for Nick Pappacoda who wound up taking the checkered flag. Paul French was victorious in the SK Light Modifieds, his second in three events for the division. Patrick Williams won the X-Car feature.
Following Rocco in the SK Modified feature was Jeff Pearl, Kyle James, Joe Perry and Frank Mucciacciaro.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series was in action at the Cannan Speedway in New Hampshire. Louie Mechalides was the only purple and yellow car in the field. He drew the pole, led all the laps and won the race. It was ironic that the late Ricky Miller, for whom the race was named, drove a purple and yellow car. Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Norm Wrenn, Kirk Alexander and Chris Pasteryak. There were thirty cars on hand.
The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC hosted twin 25 lap Modified features. Tim Brown won the pole position for the first race with a qualifying lap of 13.298 seconds (67.7 mph) on the quarter-mile track. He held off Burt Myers in a side-by-side battle in the first lap, and again survived pressure from runner-up Myers in the closing laps. Jonathan Brown finished third. In the second Modified race, Jason Myers, went pole to pole to record his first victory of the season. Chris Fleming finished second, after slipping past a sliding Brad Robbins in the eighth lap. Robbins finished third after picking up two spots by bumping and squeezing past Austin Pack and Steven Truell in the opening laps. Burt Myers was eighth in the second race and Tim Brown ninth, maintaining Myers’ 28-point lead margin in the standings.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Don Howe came out of retirement to win the Modified feature. Howe hadn’t won in 15 years.
Modified driver Chris Young bought the Bronson Speedway in Florida, which held their first event in late-June. Young is exploring the possibility of hosting a Tour-Type Modified event at the track during Speedweeks next February.
In some sad news Kenneth J. Gouvin, 83, passed away after a lengthy illness on Thursday, July 7, 2011. During his younger years Kenny raced at the Kingston Fairgrounds in Kingston, RI.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Loudon, Ryan Newman’s first victory of the season from the pole and Tony Stewart’s second-place finish gave Stewart-Haas Racing its first 1-2 start and finish. Kyle Busch joined an elite list in auto racing history, becoming the third NASCAR driver to win 100 races. Busch’s victory in the Nationwide Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway also tied him with Mark Martin for first place in career Nationwide Series victories with 49. Busch has 22 wins in Sprint Cup and 29 in the Trucks Series.
Five years ago in 2016, The New Hampshire Motor Speedway took center stage for the All Star Shootout and the New England 100 for the Whelen Modifieds. Bobby Santos took the lead on the last turn of the last lap to record the win. In Santos’ own words Woody Pitkat and Todd Szegedy got together while fighting for the lead and Eric Goodale drifted high which allowed the third generation racer to make his move and solidify the victory. Goodale recovered to finish second with Ron Silk, third. Ryan Preece and Doug Coby rounded out the top five.
Doug Coby led the final six laps and crossed the finish line .037 seconds ahead of Donny Lia to win the New Hampshire 100. Coby led eight times for 55 laps in a race that featured 22 lead changes among four drivers. Lia led 25 laps. Patrick Emerling finished third. Ron Silk, who won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day, was fourth and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman came home fifth. Ryan Preece, Woody Pitkat, Justin Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and Todd Szegedy completed the top 10.
The race was slowed by caution only once, for the halfway break. There were 33 cars on hand for the event.
Matt Kenseth survived multiple late-race restarts before eventually pulling away to a comfortable victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The competition had nothing for Kyle Busch on Saturday afternoon as the driver of the No. 18 NOS Energy Toyota drove off into the sunset in a dominant performance to win the Xfinity series AutoLotto 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ron Williams had what he thought to be a big night as he was the first across the finish line in the SK Modified feature. Joy turned to frustration during a post race inspection when Williams’ car did not meet the minimum frame height requirement and he was disqualified, making Todd Owen the winner. Following Owen after the Williams disqualification was Mike Christopher Jr. Tom Bolles finished third with Eric Berndt, and Matt Galko rounding out the top-5. Other feature winners at Stafford on Friday night were Josh Wood in the Late Model feature, Tony Membrino, Jr. in the SK Light feature, Bryan Narducci in the Ltd. Late Model feature, Zack Robinson in the DARE Stock feature, and Teddy Hodgdon in the Legend Cars feature.
Special congratulations to Bryan Narducci on his first ever win. Narducci’s paternal grandfather, Ron Narducci was a two-time Sportsman track champion, 1960 and 1966 with nine wins on the dirt surface. Narducci’s maternal grandfather Jerry Pearl is a two-time SK Modified champion with 12 wins to his credit.
The temperature was in the low 90s and the humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife but it didn’t phase Keith Rocco as he blistered his way into the lead with 11 laps remaining on his way to his fourth win of the season in the 35-lap SK Modified feature Saturday at New London Waterford Speedbowl.
Jacob Perry, a 14-year-old from Pawcatuck, Ct won his first 25-lap Ministock feature while Chris Meyer and Monte Gibbs each captured 25-lap Sportsman features. Chris Correll won his first SK Light feature, while Cameron Morga, a visitor from New Mexico, was a winner in the 25-lap U.S. Legends feature.
The SK Modified race was slowed by seven caution flags. Tom Abele Jr. led for the first 20 laps, but spun out into the infield once Ted Christopher passed him. He rallied to finish fourth, one sport behind Diego Monahan. Dennis Perry rounded out the top five. Rocco also captured the mid-season championship, making him a double winner.
Rocco continues to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco’s win in the SK Modifieds brought his track total to 127 wins. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 223 wins which also include victories at Thompson and Stafford Speedways.
Special congratulations to third generation racer Jacob Perry who recorded his first ever win at the shoreline oval. Perry is the son of SK Modified competitor Dennis Perry and retired Modified driver Roger Perry.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it was another night of racing between the rain drops Saturday night and when the checker flag waved on the 40-lap NASCAR Modified main event Jason Agugliaro would go wire to wire in the non-stop race to claim victory. Once again the staff of Riverhead NASCAR Whelen All American Series officials did a stupendous job of getting all 140 laps of NASCAR feature event racing completed in just a tick over two hours under threatening conditions as a near capacity crowd looked on.
In the NASCAR Modified 40 lapper, 14-year old NASCAR Modified rookie Dillon Steuer and Jason Agugliaro made up the front row for the feature event and when the green dropped the duo ran side by side for the first lap before Agugliaro rode the outside lane to the race lead. Another impressive NASCAR Modified rookie Cory Midgett made his way by Steuer on lap two to come to second with Dillon settling in for third. With no yellow flags in sight the top three strung out a couple of car lengths apart which was just fine with leader Jason Agugliaro. The driver on the march during the caution free affair would be Shawn Solomito who without the aid of any double file restarts was methodically making his way to the front from a 8th place starting berth. After disposing of Steuer for third Solomito the championship leader made his way to second place Cory Midgett and with just two laps remaining in the race made his way by the freshman driver for second on lap 38. When the checker flag waved on the caution free race Jason Agugliaro steering his Northeastern Bus Rebuilders Chevy who lay claim to his third career NASCAR Modified victory. Shawn Solomito of Center Moriches was runner-up
In Modified competition below the Mason-Dixon line rain washed out all action at the Bowman Gray Stadium.
Last year, 2020 The Stafford Speedway hosted its second event of the 2020 season on Friday night with the Street Stock division taking center stage with the extra distance Midstate Site Development Street Stock 30. The Street Stocks raced for total posted awards of over $5,000 with defending Street Stock champion Zack Robinson taking home the winner’s share of $700 with contingency bonuses from Big Haus USA, New England Racing Fuel, Sunoco Brand, and Del’s Vinyl Siding and Bob’s Painting that pushing that winning total up to $900. Keith Rocco and Andrew Durand both made it 2 for 2 in 2020 as they won the SK Modified® and Limited Late Model features respectively while Al Saunders won the Late Model feature and Brian Sullivan won the SK Light feature.
In the Street Stock event Meg Fuller recovered from an early spin to finish second.
With 5 laps to go in the SK Modified 40 lapper Todd Owen was in the lead with Rocco all over his back bumper. Mike Christopher Jr was third with Woody Pitkat fourth and Michael Gervais, Jr. now up to fifth. Rocco took the lead from Owen on lap-39 with a move in turn 1 that saw Owen drift up the track and fade back to fifth in line. Rocco hounded Owen’s bumper for the next five laps before the pair headed into turn one on lap 39. As fog began to engulf the track Rocco gave Owen a bump sending him up the track toward the wall. Rocco came out of turn two with the lead while three more cars got by Owen while he got his car back under him. Rocco won the race to the line to score his second consecutive win of the season with Pitkat, Christopher, Gervais, and Owen rounding out the top-5. Rocco’s win was his 69th at Stafford.
In a post race statement Owen admitted he was slowing and blocking to protect his lead.
Jack Arute leased the Stafford Speedway in the middle of the 1969 season. At the end of 1969 the Norwood Arena in Massachusetts dropped the NASCAR Modifieds. That decision opened the door to Arute who petitioned NASCAR to change the race night from Friday to Saturday nights. Riverside Park in Massachusetts and the New London-Waterford Speedbowl were also running on Saturday nights but they were unsanctioned by NASCAR at the time. Stafford ran on Saturday nights for a few years before switching back to Fridays. Fast forward 50 years, Jack Arute had passed away, Riverside is gone and the Speedbowl is closed for renovations plus the Coronavirus has crippled the country.
With the second generation in command at Stafford the decision was made to run an Open Modified Tour type program on a few selected Saturday nights, the first one being this past Saturday. In near 100 degree heat the experiment was a success. With attendance limited to a state mandated 25% the event was a sell out plus participation in the Pay per View project was deemed a success.
During the late 60’s and well into the 70’s the late Fred DeSarro was a consistent front runner and winner at Stafford. Many of his wins came from starting in the rear and he never had to park anyone to record the win. In DeSarro’s style, Marcello Rufrano, coming from 24th starting position out of 26 cars after having to qualify through the consi, won the Bud Light Open Mod 80 with a thrilling pass on Chase Dowling after a late restart. To his credit, he did it in a clean way!
The Bud Light Open 80 took the green flag with Chase Dowling taking the early lead from pole position. Joey Cipriano slotted into second with Michael Gervais, Jr. third, Craig Lutz fourth, and Anthony Nocella in fifth. Lutz took third from Gervais on lap-3 while Matt Galko moved into sixth just behind Nocella as Dowling and Cipriano continued to pace the field.
With 15 laps complete Dowling was still in command with Cipriano, Lutz, Gervais, and Nocella making up the top-5. Eric Goodale was up to sixth with Galko, Charlie Pasteryak, Ronnie Williams, and Dave Etheridge making up the bottom half of the top-10. With 30 laps complete the order at the front of the field remained unchanged with Dowling setting the pace followed by Cipriano, Lutz, Gervais, and Nocella. Goodale was still sixth with Galko, Williams, Etheridge, and Pasteryak making up the top-10.
At the halfway point of the race, Dowling began to encounter lapped traffic, but it wasn’t slowing him down. The caution came out with 41 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Tommy Barrett, Jr. Under the caution Etheridge, Carl Medeiros, Jr., and Ryan Doucette all came to pit road before it was open to change tires. One lap later the entire field except for Dana DiMatteo and Timmy Catalano came to pit road for a tire change. Dowling won the race off pit road followed by Goodale, Lutz, Nocella, Gervais, Tommy Catalano, Williams, Cam McDermott, Pasteryak, and Jon McKennedy. On the restart Dowling powered his way by Timmy Catalano to retake the lead. Lutz followed him by Catalano to move into second with Goodale third, Gervais fourth and Williams fifth. Tommy Catalano took sixth with Timmy Catalano falling back to seventh with Nocella, McDermott, and Pasteryak behind him. Timmy Catalano took a hard hit into the turn 2 wall to bring the caution out with 46 laps complete.
With 15 laps to go, Dowling was still in command of the race with Lutz and Goodale in tow. Marcello Rufrano broke into the top ten. The caution came out with 72 laps complete for a spin in the middle of turns 3+4 by Tommy Catalano, setting up an 8-lap dash to the finish. McKennedy and Williams spun in turn 2 to bring the caution right back out. Dowling took the lead on the restart with Lutz and Goodale locked in a duel for second. Rufrano charged up to fourth and took third from Goodale before the caution came back out with 73 laps complete for a spin by Kevin Iannarelli.
Dowling took the lead back under green with Rufrano charging into second. Cipriano was third in line followed by Goodale, DiMatteo, Galko, Nocella, and McDermott. Rufrano was closing in on Dowling’s back bumper when the caution came back out with 76 laps complete for spins on the backstretch by McDermott and Pasteryak.
Not to be denied, Rufrano charged by Dowling on the restart to take over the lead. Cipriano came up to second with Dowling sliding back to third before the caution came back out with 78 laps complete for spins by Pasteryak and Dan Meservey, Jr. On the restart, Rufrano took the lead with Dowling and Cipriano side by side for second. Dowling cleared Cipriano coming to the white flag but he couldn’t catch Rufrano as he won his very first Tour type Modified feature event. Cipriano finished third with Goodale and Lutz rounding out the top-5.
In weekly racing action, Jon Puleo won the SK Light Modified feature and Zack Robinson won the Street Stock feature.
In a ground breaking move for short track weekly racing, the Stafford Motor Speedway launched StaffordSpeedway.tv, a new pay-per-view live streaming service featuring Stafford Speedway’s Friday night and Saturday night’s racing program. Stafford Speedway race teams will receive 25% of every pay per view sale (approximately 50/50 split after expenses), creating another payout for drivers across all Stafford divisions.
Pricing for the service is set at $20 for regular events and $30 for Open Modified, Pro Late Model, and other special events. “We’ve been wanting to get into live streaming our events for a long time now,” explained Stafford Speedway COO Paul Arute. “A few years back we had a discussion about it and all of us at Stafford agreed that the only way to make it work would be through a revenue share with the race teams. We have some amazing short track talent at Stafford Speedway and we’re excited to showcase it to the world.”
Driver’s payouts will be distributed based on the number of feature laps completed at each event. This allows for more equitable distribution across all competitors in the field. SK Modified® drivers run more feature laps each week and will get a little larger piece of the revenue share vs. the Street Stock division.
A pre-race count on Facebook indicated over 37,000 followers.
It appeared that significant progress had been made at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Paving of walkways around and in front of the new grandstands has been completed. The wall has been painted and lanes thru the infield have been paved. The only thing left is the construction of an announcers/officials tower and then its race time. Word from the shoreline oval is that they will re-open on Aug 1. Stafford will be running a Modified Open that night and the Whelen Modified Tour Series will be running at the White Mountain Motorsports Park in New Hampshire.
Bowman Gray Stadium Racing’s 2020 season has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. On July 14, North Carolina Governor Cooper extended “Phase 2” of COVID-19 restrictions for another three weeks until August 7. During this phase, events such as the racing at Bowman Gray Stadium are not permitted to have more than 25 spectators. Speedway Management believe it is highly unlikely that Governor Cooper will significantly relax these restrictions in August or even September.
Motorsports publisher Coastal 181 announced on July 20 the release of “The Soul of a Modified: Lenny Boehler’s Ole Blue,” by Lew Boyd. It is the newest in a long string of popular racing books presented by the company over the last 20 years, focused on recording and preserving the color and drama of open-wheel and short-track racing.
Austin Dillon stayed in front after a restart with two laps to go and beat rookie Tyler Reddick to the checkered flag at Texas, giving Richard Childress Racing a 1-2 NASCAR Cup finish and quite a show for spectators spread out in the stands on a scorching Sunday. Joey Logano finished third, with Kyle Busch coming in fourth a day after he finished ahead of the field in two races — having an Xfinity Series victory taken away after his car failed a postrace inspection before winning the Truck Series race at night. Series points leader Kevin Harvick was fifth. There were an estimated 15,000-20,000 spectators at the track, where it reached 97 degrees
Former Late Model competitor C.J. Frye passed away last week after battling cancer. He was one of the coolest guys you’d ever meet. Very humble, but always a tenacious competitor. C.J. won championships at all three Connecticut short tracks, Waterford in 1984, Thompson in 1994-1995 and Stafford in 1995. The racing community has lost another great guy. Voluntown – Christopher Lawrence “Chris” Frye III passed away peacefully in his Voluntown home Monday, July 13, 2020.
Christopher, known to many as CJ, graduated from Ledyard High School in 1978, and was a true jack-of-all-trades. He started his career as an engineer on the Sabino steamboat in the Mystic Seaport. He went on to acquire and hold licenses in three major fields all at once: electrical, plumbing and carpentry; and still found time to pursue his main passion – racing! Well-known for driving the orange and yellow Gordon Rodgers 6X car, Chris ended up winning track championships at the Waterford Speedbowl and Thompson and Stafford motor speedways, the latter two in the same year, which many said could not be done!
July 15, 1972 Stafford ran their twice rained out Permatex 150 on Saturday night with Ronnie Bouchard taking the win over Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary and Bobby Santos who all finished on the lead lap. Bouchard started 12th after winning the second heat and took the lead on lap 72. Fred DeSarro finished fifth, one lap down. Rounding out the top ten were Ray Miller, Ernie Gahan, Jerry Cook, Gene Bergin and Ed Pieneziak.
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!