Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1946, Eddie Casterline and Bill Randall won twin Midget events at Seekonk.
Seventy years ago in 1951 Dave Humphrey, who would go on to become the first Modified Champion at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, was the 25 lap Modified winner on Wednesday night. Moe Gherzi won a 25 lapper on Saturday night and on Labor Day, Wild Bill Slater won a 50 lap Modified feature. At Seekonk, Don Collins took the win.
Sixty five years ago in 1956 Don Collins was the Wednesday night winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Red Bolduc won a 100 lapper at the shoreline oval on Labor Day. Al Pilon was the Midget winner at Seekonk while Pete Frazee was the Sunday night winner at Old Bridge.
Sixty years ago in 1961, Ted Stack was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. At the Waterford Speedbowl, Johnny Sandberg was the Wednesday night winner. It rained at the shoreline oval on Saturday night but cleared by Labor Day where Don Bachand put one of the early versions of the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missiles in victory lane. Eddie Hoyle made it two in a row at Seekonk. Jim Hoffman was the winner at Old Bridge.
Fifty five years ago in 1966, the Albany Saratoga Speedway ran their final event of the season. Kenny Shoemaker took the win over Elton Hill, Jerry Cook, Bill Wimble and Hank Stevens. Pete Corey took the win on the dirt at Stafford. Fonda got back in action on Saturday night with twin features that were won by Lou Lazzaro and Bill Wimble. In the first feature, Wimble finished second with Pete Corey, third. Jeep Herbert finished second in the second event with Cook, third. At the Waterford Speedbowl, Don Collins took the 30 lap Modified feature while Eddie Bunnell was the Bomber winner. Ronnie Bouchard was the Class A winner at Seekonk.
Twin 200’s made up the New Yorker 400 at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night. Bill Wimble won the first 200 over Kenny Shoemaker, Rene Charland, Sonny Seamon and Jerry Cook. In the nightcap it was Don MacTavish taking the win over Robbie Kotary, Wimble, Ernie Gahan and Charland. South Boston ran two events over the weekend. Perk Brown won a 300 lap Modified event while LeeRoy Yarbrough won a 50 lapper.
Fifty years ago in 1971, Albany Saratoga ran their final event of the season. Guy Chartrand in the Ed Cloce Hemi-Cuda took the win over Richie Evans. Stafford had a 30 lapper scheduled for Saturday night but rain prevailed as it did on Sunday at Trenton, NJ where an All Star League event was planned. Waterford and Thompson were rained out. Eddie Hoyle beat the rain at Seekonk where he took the win.
Forty five years ago in 1976, Islip ran a 300 lapper on Saturday night. Richie Evans took the win over Charlie Jarzombek, Jerry Cook, Fred Harbach and SJ Evonsion. Dick Dunn, in the Al Gaudreau No. 3 won a 100 lapper at Waterford and on Sunday at Thompson, Fred DeSarro broke Geoff Bodine’s win streak. Leo Cleary finished second with Don LaJoie, third. Dave Dias was the 50 lap winner at Seekonk.
Forty years ago in 1981, Ray Miller scored the biggest win of his racing career as he won the Thompson 300 in front of a crowd of 12,000. Geoff Bodine finished second and was followed by Jim Spencer and Jamie Tomaino. Miller qualified 19th and took the lead on lap 280 from Geoff Bodine. Tom Sylvester won the non-qualifiers second in a close duel with Dickie Doo Ceravolo. In other weekend action, George Kent beat out Maynard Troyer at Spencer, Wayne Anderson won a 200 lapper at New Egypt, Kenny Bouchard took the win at Seekonk, Stan Gregger was victorious at Riverside and Roger Treichler won his eighth of the season at Lancaster. At the Danbury RaceArena Lou Funk was the winner over Don LaJoie in a 50 lap Modified feature
Thirty five years ago in 1986, Jim Spencer won the Thompson 300.Spencer took the lead from Carl Pasteryak on lap 266.With worn out tires, Pasteryak faded and wound up sixth. Mike Mclaughlin finished second and was followed by Kenny Bouchard, George Brunnhoelzl and Tom Baldwin. Ted Christopher won the SK modified portion of the 300 weekend. In addition to the 300,Spencer won at Shangri-la on Saturday night. Other weekend winners were Sal Accardi at Riverhead; Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and at Wall Stadium, ageless veteran Gil Hearne got his 83rd career win. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Tim Richmond took the win.
Thirty years ago in 1991, the Thompson 300 for the Featherlite Modifieds and the Busch North Series ran together at Thompson. Steve Park, in the Curt Chase No.77 took the lead with 20 to go from Mike Stefanik and went on to record the big win. Reggie Ruggiero finished second while Stefanik faded to finish third. Jeff Fuller had been the dominant car until he blew a tire and crashed on lap 127.Fuller ended up 28th. Rounding out the top five were Rick Fuller and Doug Hevron. Ricky Craven wrapped up the Busch North Series title in fine style as he took the BNS win over Tony Hirschman and Dave Dion. Waterford ran on Saturday night with Don Fowler taking the win over Bob Potter and Ronnie Rocco. Harry Gant delivered a one-two punch at Richmond as he won both the Busch Grandnational and Winston Cup events.
Twenty five years ago in 1996, it was make up weekend at Loudon for the Modifieds with a left over 40 lapper starting the weekend off on Saturday. Steve Park passed Tony Hirschman with three laps to go to win the Saturday afternoon event Hirschman finished second with Tim Connolly, Charlie Pasteryak and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top five. Park finished second in the make up for the Busch North Series behind Dale Shaw. On Sunday at Loudon, Ted Christopher led three different times for a total of 102 laps to win the Busch North Series 125.In Sundays Modified 125,Tony Hirschman took the lead from Dan Avery on lap 94 and went on to take the win over Mike Stefanik and Tim Connolly. Avery ended up fourth with Tom Baldwin rounding out the top five. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Ernie Irvan took the lead from Johnny Benson with 19 laps to go in the 400-lap event. Jeff Gordon finished second.
Twenty years ago in 2001, Lloyd Agor won the final Friday night event at Stafford. Eric Berndt finished second with Chuck Docherty third. Saturday night at Waterford, Eric Berndt took the win over Jay Miller, Ron Yuhas JR and John Brouwer. During a post race inspection, Waterford Tech officials felt that Berndt’s shocks were illegal and disqualified him, handing the victory to Miller. The disqualification was reversed six days later after Waterford officials conferred with their counterparts at Stafford and at NASCAR in Daytona. At Riverhead, Don Lia took the season ender over Dan Jivenelli. Ted Christopher won twin-20s at Thompson and moved himself within 6 points of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series title. The Thompson 300 was run on Sunday. With over 7000 on hand, Jerry Marquis scored an impressive win over Reggie Ruggerio, Ted Christopher, Ed Flemke JR and Mike Stefanik. Marquis took the lead for the win on lap 255 from Christopher. There were 12 cautions for 61 laps. A frightening crash occurred on lap 156 when Carl Pasteryak hit the wall and burst into flames. Paul Suprenant came to his aide and pulled the paving contractor out of the wreckage, saving him from serious injury. On a sad note, Mrs.Jennie Nicol, who built and owned the Wall Stadium in New Jersey, passed away at the age of 86. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Kevin Harvick bumped Ricky Rudd out of the lead with 17 laps to go. Rudd returned the favor and bumped Harvick out of the lead with five laps to go and went on to take the win. Jim Spencer won the Richmond Grandnational event. A few days later, on September 11, our world as we know it would change, as terrorists would crash planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
Fifteen years ago in 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was part of what was called Modified Mania at the Thompson Speedway. Modified Mania replaced what was the Thompson 300. The 150 lap Whelen Modified event carried a posted purse of $86,753. A somewhat slim field of 39 cars was on hand to qualify for the 36 starting spots up for grabs. Donny Lia, who had somewhat of a bland season, took the Busch Pole as he toured the 5/8-mile oval in 18.793 seconds. Tony Hirschman Jr. was second fastest with a run of 18.798 seconds. The re-draw for starting positions saw Ron Silk draw the pole with Matt Hirschman drawing the outside pole. Tony Ferrente Jr., Tony Hirschman and Eric Beers drew positions three through five. Rounding out the top ten starting spots were Ron Yuhas Jr., Mike Stefanik, Reggie Ruggiero, Lia and Jerry Marquis.
Eric Beers finally got the monkey off his back as he put the mighty No.3 of Michael and Janice Boehler in victory lane. Beers pitted just before the 1/3 mark of the 150-lap event for fresh tires and did a masterful job of working his way to the front and took the lead from Ed Flemke Jr. on lap 102. Flemke faded in the later stages as he ended up fourth in the final rundown. Reggie Ruggiero ended up second with John Blewett III in third spot. Rounding out the top five were Flemke and Tony Ferrente Jr. Sixth thru tenth were Jerry Marquis, Doug Coby, Matt Hirschman, Mike Stefanik and Rick Fuller. Of the 36 starters, 26 of them were running on the lead lap at the end. For the most part it was a clean race with only 8 cautions for 38 laps slowing the field. There were four lead changes among four drivers. Matt Hirschman led from his outside pole starting spot to lap 52. Mike Stefanik, who still leads the point standings, led from lap 53 to lap 73. Stefanik currently holds a 94 point edge over Ted Christopher who finished 28th, three laps down at the finish. Matt Hirschman led again from lap 74 to lap 87 and Flemke led from lap 88 to lap 101 before giving way to Beers who led the rest of the way.
In addition to the Whelen Modifieds the True Value Modifieds, Race of Champions Modifieds, Sunoco SK type Modifieds and Pro Four Modifieds also raced at the Thompson Speedway last weekend. The support events provided numerous wrecks. Woody Pitkat won the Sunoco SK type Modified event over Jeff Malave, Tom Cravenho and Todd Ceravolo.
Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT scored his fourth Sunoco Modified victory of the season to extend his lead another two points over race runner-up Jeff Malave. The Sunoco Modifieds went 35-strong for the 50-lap special for Sunoco Modified Mania. Steve Masse led the opening lap but a caution flew immediately when the accordion effect at the head of the field put Joe Lemay in the outside wall. On the ensuing restart, Bert Marvin was able to jump out to the lead. Masse was slow exiting turn two bunching up the pack once again to send cars at the rear of the field scattering and spinning. Marvin had to contend with Salzarulo, Malave and Cravenho on the restart. Marvin was up to the task resuming his lead with Malave in second and Keith Rocco charging into third. Malave immediately got alongside Marvin and was able to take over the top spot on lap three. Malave led Marvin, Rocco, Ceravolo and a battle for fourth between Jimmy Blewett and Ted Christopher. Blewett got by Christopher leaving him to fight off Pitkat. On lap 8, Pitkat moved into sixth while Christopher continued to backslide losing a position to Tommy Cravenho as well. The leader began to stretch his lead over Marvin. The best battle was for the third position with Rocco, Ceravolo, Blewett and Pitkat. Ceravolo got a run inside Rocco and the two made contact. Rocco held on while Blewett was able to get by both. Blewett started to chase down Marvin. Malave watched his lead evaporate when the caution flew for an incident involving Ryan Stone and David LaCroix. Under the caution, Rocco headed down pit road for a chassis adjustment. The restart order found Malave, Marvin, Blewett, Pitkat and Ceravolo inside the top five. Malave was out front with Blewett and Marvin running nerf-bar to nerf bar for second. Blewett was able to grab the runner-up position. Cravenho was also able to advance moving into the fifth position over Ceravolo. Pitkat began his run to the front taking over the third position from Marvin, taking Cravenho along for the ride. Blewett completed his charge over the second position from Malave on lap 22. The halfway marker was marred by a scary wreck that resulted in John Catania sliding down the backstretch on his roof. Catania was uninjured. Both Marvin and Christopher pitted under the caution. With Blewett back out front, Malave bobbled on the restart giving up the second spot to Pitkat. Pitkat got alongside Blewett for the lead on lap 26. The two ran side-by-side for several laps before a slide by Pitkat gave Blewett the lead. Malave made a run on Pitkat in second to no avail. The action was slowed on lap 32 when Dan LaJeunesse spun on the front stretch. Other cars were ultimately involved in the incident. Blewett handily ran out to the lead again as Pitkat and Malave resumed their battle for the second spot. Action was halted immediately for Dave Nordman and Russ Blanco. Matt Hirschman, making a rare appearance in the Sunoco Modifieds, failed to come up to speed on the ensuing restart sending cars scrambling. Rocco caught a wheel and launched into the outside wall. The car burst into flames. Rocco was able to walk away from the incident. There was a shocking development when leader Jimmy Blewett headed down pit road with mechanical woes as the rear end in his car broke. Pitkat inherited the lead with Malave in second, Cravenho in third. Ceravolo ran fourth and Earl Paulus in fifth. With ten laps remaining the top five got strung out with Pitkat stretching his lead ever-so-slightly over Malave.
The northern New England based True Value Modified Series finished under a yellow-checker after a massive wreck on a restart with two laps to go. Kirk Alexander took the eventual win over Les Hinkley, Jon McKennedy and Dwight Jarvis. Earl Paules won the Race of Champions Modified Tour event over Matt Hirschman and Eric Beers.
The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway hosted round two of its September Series on Friday night. Two more Friday night events remain before the season CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, scheduled for September 30th and October 1st. Willie Hardie drove to his second SK Modified feature win in the last three weeks, Tom Fearn won his first Late Model feature win of the 2006 season, Chris Matthews won his fourth SK Light Modified feature of the 2006 season, Paul Conte scored his firsts career Ltd. Late Model feature win, and Norm Sears picked up his first DARE Stock feature win of the 2006 season.
In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Willie Hardie, of Stafford Springs, battled with Lloyd Agor for several laps before taking the lead on lap-25. Once Hardie was in the lead, he was never headed as he picked up his second win in the last three weeks to put himself in the thick of the SK Modified championship race. Curt Brainard led the first 11 laps before giving up the lead to Agor on lap-12. Agor then led until lap-25, when Hardie took over. Rounding out the top-5 behind Hardie was Agor, Jeff Baral, Chris Jones, and Eric Berndt. It was a bad night to be a points leader, as Woody Pitkat, Todd Owen, and Frank Ruocco all experienced difficulties during the race, relegating them to poor finishes and tightening the championship battle. Pitkat only completed 8 laps before retiring, Ruocco lost a radiator in an accident and lost 5 laps before getting back on track to finish 17th, and Owen finished 18th after his crew had to repair a broken driveshaft. In the chase for the SK Modified championship, Frank Ruocco holds a 14-point lead over Eric Berndt, 536-522. Willie Hardie is third, 16 points behind, Todd Owen is fourth, 22 points behind, and Jeff Malave is fifth, 28 points behind.
The Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to a mid-evening shower and was able to complete only part of their program before track management was forced to call a halt to the racing and pull the plug around 9pm after thundershowers moved in. The Sportsman completed their first scheduled event with Billy Gertsch winning followed by Dwayne Dorr and Ed Puleo. The Legends completed their feature with Michael Gervais winning. The Modified feature had 12 laps completed when the rains came. Tom Fox was leading over Shawn Monahan, Dennis Gada, and Jeff Pearl.
It looked like there would be racing at the Waterford Speedbowl at least until June of 2007 as Terry Eames was given an extension to the foreclosure proceedings that were impending on the property in which the Speedbowl is located. Eames stated that Harvey Industries, a supplier of windows and doors, was looking to purchase eight of the Speedbowl’s 38.75 acres. Eames at the time had $1.6 million in debt hanging over his head. In a somewhat related matter, driver Ken Voite’s Defective Premises suit against Eames was scheduled for pre-trial conference on January 18th of 2007. There was a movement underway to buy Eames out which was stalled at the time.
NASCAR suspended Kevin Grubb indefinitely because he refused to submit to a random drug test following the Busch Series race at Richmond International Speedway. Kevin Harvick was the Nextel Cup winner at Richmond.
Ten years ago in 2011, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Canada for the first Tour event to be run out of the country, the Delaware 150 at the Delaware (Ont.) Speedway. Erick Rudolph earned his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 21 Means 21 Pole Award Presented by Coors Light Saturday in qualifying for the inaugural Delaware 150. Rudolph, from Ransomville, N.Y., posted a fast lap of 17.585 seconds (102.360 mph). A slim field of 18 cars was on hand. Many competitors who are tour regulars including Mike Stefanik, Woody Pitkat, and Ron Yuhas jr felt that it was not cost effective to make the long haul to Canada. Also missing was Ted Christopher.
Ron Silk appeared to have a game plan that even a 48-minute rain delay could not derail. He patiently waited for the right moment and won the Delaware 150. In the tour’s inaugural race beyond the borders of the United States, Silk started from the outside pole position and held on to that track position until it was time make his move. That time came with a Lap 107 pass of Erick Rudolph, who led the race’s first 106 circuits after earning his second career pole position. From there, it looked as if it was going to be smooth sailing for Silk behind the wheel of the Eddie Partridge No. 6 T.S. Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet. By Lap 132, he built a 1.222-second lead on Rudolph, but a spin in Turn 4 by Rowan Pennink brought out the caution flag and allowed weather into the equation.
Pennink’s broken oil line forced NASCAR officials to display the red flag to allow the clean-up crew easier access to the spill which trailed from Turn 1 all the way into Turn 3 on the half-mile track. In the meantime, rain began to fall on the track. The weather coupled with the clean up sent the cars to pit road on Lap 143. After the weather delay, Silk survived two green-white-checkered finish attempts before beating Doug Coby to the finish line. Todd Szegedy picked up third followed by James Civali and Eric Beers in fourth and fifth, respectively. Eric Berndt, Justin Bonsignore, D.J. Kennington, Jaime Tomaino and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top 10.
The race was slowed due to caution a season-high 13 times. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads to familiar territory for its next outing to take on its counterparts from the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour on Sunday, Sept. 11 at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in the UNOH Showdown. Each tour will have a 125-lap feature event followed by a 50-lap exhibition event with competitors from each tour pitted against one another.
It looked like Ted Christopher and crew chief Brad LaFountaine had kissed and made up as the Hartford Courant reported that the Ed Whelen No.36 will make its return to the Whelen Modified Tour Series at the Thompson Speedway in the UNOH Showdown. Both Christopher and LaFountaine were at the top of their game and when this condition exists there are differences of opinion. Car owner Ed Whelen shut the team down when the in-fighting got out of hand.
In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway track owner Don Hoenig was forced to cancel the event due to the adverse conditions created by Hurricane Irene. The track property incurred little damage but the big problem was no electricity. There is a generator on site but it is unable to handle the entire electrical load that is required.
The Stafford Motor Speedway began the month of September with a new face in victory lane at the conclusion of the SK Modified feature. Woody Pitkat nailed down his first win of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Corey Hutchings picked up his first win of 2011 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Cipriano scored his fifth win of 2011 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, D.J. Burnham picked up his first career victory in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande picked up his division leading 5th win of the 2011 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Curt Brainard took the lead at the drop of the green with Brian Sullivan and Sean Foster locked in a side by side duel for second. Side by side behind Brian Sullivan and Foster was Nichole Morgillo and Dan Avery. Sullivan got cleared of Foster for second with Avery taking third. Glen Reen was now into fourth and Woody Pitkat was up to fifth with 8 laps compete.
Brainard held the lead until lap-9 when Sullivan went to the front, but his lead was short lived as Avery moved to the front on lap-10. Pitkat moved into second behind Avery with Eric Berndt moving by Sullivan to take over third place. Pitkat quickly moved by Avery to take the lead on lap-12. Berndt got by Avery for second place on lap-17 while Pitkat continued to lead the race.
After a trip through the grass that lost his several positions a few laps earlier, Ryan Preece was charging his way back towards the front of the pack as he moved into sixth on lap-18. Berndt pulled to the outside of Pitkat and the two cars began to run side by side for the race lead with Pitkat able to keep Berndt behind him at the start/finish line.
Berndt made the pass for the lead on lap-22 as Preece went by Todd Owen to take over fifth place. The order was now Berndt ahead of Pitakt, Avery, Glen Reen, and Preece. The top-5 remained unchanged until lap-33 when Preece moved by Reen for fourth place, but Reen came right back and took the spot back. Preece made another pass on Reen for fourth place on lap-37 in turns 1+2 and this time he made the pass stick. As the cars came back around and down the frontstretch, Reen made a run back to the inside of Preece and the cars touched wheels with Reen climbing Preece’s tires, which launched his car into the air for a split second and the caution came out as Reen’s car was showering sparks as it made its way back to pit road.
Back under green, Pitkat charged into the lead with Berndt settling into second. Todd Owen made a great move to get up to third with Preece behind him in fourth. Pitkat lead Berndt to the checkered flag by less than a car length to score his first victory of the 2011 season. Rounding out the top-5 behind Pitkat and Berndt was Owen, Preece, and Brainard.
Among the missing were Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher, the division’s biggest stars. Rocco was suspended from competition for one event following his crash with Eric Berndt on August 26. Christopher was at the Oswego Speedway competing in a SuperModified event. Rocco’s car was in competition with Berndt doing the driving. Christopher finished seventh at Oswego.
At the Waterford Speedbowl Woody Pitkat carried his winning ways over to the shoreline oval as he won the Thunder on the Sound SK Modified event. Pitkat brought his Thompson car, the No. 00 of Jimmy Paige. Starting mid field, Pitkat drove a smart race and was in the right place at the right time. When Todd Ceravolo encountered fuel delivery problems while leading with 17 laps to go in the 150 lap event Pitkat was in the cat bird seat, ready to pounce. Once in the lead Pitkat was never headed. Ceravolo, driving a car owned by Harry Rhaume, rebounded to finish fifth. Pitkat, who got the jump on the final restart ahead of Diego Monahan, ran unchallenged the rest of the way. Ted Christopher raced by Monahan but had nothing left to throw Pitkat’s way. Monahan held back Rob Janovic for third, while Janovic rebounded from a late pit stop to take fourth
The event was one of eight features as part of the track’s Thunder on the Sound program, presented by the Connecticut National Guard. The win, carrying a $5,000 payday, was Pitkat’s first at the Speedbowl and came in just his second career start in the SK Modified® division at the track.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, John Fortin continued his hot streak by winning again, which further reduced points leader Justin Bonsignore’s point lead. Bonsignore had a lot on his plate as he headed to Canada for the Whelen Modified Tour Series event held there following the Riverhead event.
In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action, New Englander Andy Suess held off the field in a 14-lap dash to the checkered flag to win the Newport News Shipbuilding 150 in NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action on Saturday at Langley Speedway in Virginia.
Seuss started from the outside pole position and fell back early, but he battled back to take the lead on Lap 129 and led the rest of the way. A debris caution on Lap 132 set up a sprint to the finish that he was able to manage in his No. 11 Phoenix Pre-Owned/Triad Auto Sales Chevrolet. John Smith crossed the line in second followed by Thomas Stinson, who led a race-high 88 laps, in third. Polesitter and defending tour champion Burt Myers finished fourth while Jason Myers finished in the fifth position. A light field of 13 cars was on hand.
In the annual Labor Day Modified Classic at the Oswego Speedway in New York, Chuck Hossfeld ran a smooth, heady race, avoiding all the tangles that shortened the field to just 10 finishers. The Ransomville, NY driver was rewarded with a $6,500 winner’s check in a hectic green-white-checkers finish.
Both Tony Hirschman and Jimmy Zacharias lost top-three finishes when they tangled on lap 198. Daren Scherer pushed Hossfeld to the finish, but had to settle for second. Lee Sherwood, Kyle Ebersole and Earl Paules completed the top five.
Otto Sitterly could not have waited any longer. The New York driver passed teammate Mike Lichty on the last turn of the final lap to win the Budweiser International SuperModified Classic at the Oswego Speedway. It was the only time Sitterly led in the 200-lap race, which is the top event of the year in supermodified racing.
Carl Edwards recovered after a pit-stop penalty early in the race and held off Kyle Busch to win the Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday night. With the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee bearing down on Georgia, NASCAR postponed its Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway until 11 a.m. Tuesday. Jeff Gordon won the rain-delayed NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his third victory of the season and 85th of his career.
In some sad news, passing away was Raymond “Hully” Bunn, 91, of Bristol. His passion for racing spanned over 60 years. He won the first 100 Mile Langhorne National Open for Modified Sportsman Stock Cars, which is now known as the Race of Champions. He also won the first race ever held at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York. His winning spirit on the racetrack carried through to him professionally as owner of B&M Machine Shop and B&M Gem Shop, as well as a proud member of the 7th armored division commanded by Gen. Patton during World War II.
Five years ago in 2016, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Oswego Speedway on Saturday night. Doug Coby literally cleaned house. Coby had never taken a lap around Oswego Speedway before Saturday. He hadn’t even seen it in person before he arrived at the historic upstate New York track in the morning. It didn’t take the three-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion long, though, to find the fast way around in his No. 2 Dunleavy Repair/A&J Romano Construction Chevrolet. Coby led twice for a race-high 121 laps en route to capturing the Toyota Mod Classic 140.
Saturday’s win was the fourth of the season for the Milford, Connecticut, driver, and his first since July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coby extended his championship points lead to 20 over Justin Bonsignore, who finished third, with four races remaining. Timmy Solomito finished second. After Bonsignore, Rob Summers and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five. Chuck Hossfeld, filling in for Jimmy Blewett in the No. 4, finished sixth. Rowan Pennink was seventh, followed by Chase Dowling, Ron Silk and Craig Lutz.
Coby qualified second behind Coors Light Pole Award winner Bobby Santos, and led the first 61 laps on the .625-mile oval. After pitting and coming out 11th, he quickly worked his way back up through the field and took the lead from Rowan Pennink on Lap 91. Coby beat Solomito to the checkered by .812 seconds. With his 21st career win, Coby moved into sole possession of seventh place on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour all-time wins list. He is seven behind Mike Ewanitsko.
A light field of 21 cars were on hand. The smartest decision of the race had to be that made by Melissa Fifield who chose to stay home and avoid the continued embarrassment of being told to park it for going too slow!
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track on Saturday, Sept. 10, for the AnytimeRealty.com 150 at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its third and final visit of the 2016 season to Stafford Motor Speedway for the 7th Annual VMRS 80. Taking the checkered flag was Jon McKennedy after a dramatic unfolding of events over the final laps of the race. Both Woody Pitkat and McKennedy had the wick turned up to full as they were running their fastest laps of the race in the closing laps. McKennedy was slowly reeling Pitkat in and with 2 laps to go, the margin was .399 seconds after Pitkat was nearly a full second ahead.
The race complexion changed drastically with 78 laps complete. Ted Christopher and Richard Savary got together with Savary bouncing off the wall while in turn 1, Pitkat was going by the lapped car of Colbey Fournier when they made contact as the caution was coming out for Savary in turn 4. Pitkat had a flat right front tire and he had to come to pit road for a new tire, which put McKennedy and Pennink on the front row for the green white checkered restart. McKennedy took the lead with Pennink and Gallup behind him. The caution came out again for a multicar spin in turn 4 involving several cars to set up another green white checkered restart.
McKennedy took the lead with Pennink sticking right with him. Jeff Gallup was third with Dave Etheridge in fourth. Pennink couldn’t get close enough to McKennedy as McKennedy took down his first VMRS win at Stafford. Gallup finished third with Etheridge and Dylan Kopec rounding out the top-5.
In regular Friday night NASCAR racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway taking feature wins were Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature, Josh Wood in the Late Model feature, David Arute in the SK Light feature, Cliff Saunders in the Limited Late Model feature, and Tyler Trott in the DARE Stock feature.
For Rocco the win was three-fold. It was his fourth anniversary married to Cassie Ceravolo, it stretched his win streak at Stafford to 12 years running and it was his 43rd overall victory at the track. It was no easy task as he diced it out with Ted Christopher for the victory. Steven Kopcik finished third with Dan Avery fourth and Rowan Pennink fifth.
Congratulations to David Arute in garnering his first SK Lite win. Arute is the son of Stafford CEO Mark Arute and the grandson of the late Jack Arute.
The action shifted to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Ronnie Williams picked up his first career SK Modified feature victory Other winners were Tony Membrino Jr. who won the SK Light Modified feature; Keith Rocco who won the Late Model feature; Al Stone III who won the Limited Sportsman feature and Jacob Perry won the Mini Stock feature.
Williams made the pass for the lead out of turn four coming to the checkered flag. Ted Christopher finished second. Matt Galko finished third with Tom Abele Jr. and Diego Monahan rounding out the top five. Rocco got his fourth consecutive victory in the 30-lap Late Model feature. It was the seventh victory overall. The 14-year old rookie Jacob Perry got his second consecutive victory and third win overall in the 25-lap Mini Stock feature.
Keith Rocco who recorded one win in the Late Model division at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and one in the SK Modifieds at the Stafford Motor Speedway brought his Waterford track win total to 133 wins. The wins also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 232 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 43 at Stafford Speedway.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Martin Truex Jr. held off Kevin Harvick to score his second victory of the season and his first in Darlington’s Labor Day classic. Elliott Sadler held off a furious late-race challenge from Denny Hamlin to win Saturday’s VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Darlington Raceway. Ryan Preece recorded a career high tenth place finish.
Last year, 2020, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was scheduled for Thompson on Wednesday night but was postponed to Thursday because of impending rain. On Thursday there were 29 cars on the line for qualifying. Doug Coby was the top qualifier as he turned a lap in 19.055 sec. Justin Bonsignore was second fastest withCraig Lutz, third. Patrick Emerling and Eric Goodale rounded out the top five.
The regular weekly divisions had an extremely poor turnout. There were only four Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds. Two of the four finished on the lead lap! Keith Rocco recorded the win over Troy Talman. Todd Owen was third and Steve Reich was fourth. The SK Lites weren’t much better as only five were on hand. Josh Carey took the win. There were six Mini Stocks. Jared Roy took the win. There were ten Limited Sportsman. Ryan Waterman was the winner and there were 15 Late Models. Woody Pitkat went pole to pole for the win.
The poor turnout of cars for the weekly racing series reflects the feelings of formerly loyal competitors to the track. Since last winter when third generation track promoter Jonathan Hoenig announced the purses for all weekly racing divisions would be cut. The folks from PASS who promoted the event were caught up in the stigma created by Hoenig.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour provided plenty of drama especially in the late going. Ron Silk got the benefit of Ryan Preece running out of gas with victory in sight on lap 148. Preece, who started seventh, took the lead from Silk on lap 145. Kyle Bonsignore hit the wall on lap 146. While the field circled under caution the fuel tank on the Eddie Partridge #6 ran dry forcing Preece to coast to his pit. Preece, totally dejected, exited his car and sat on pit wall. It was a bitter pill to swallow! Preece was credited with 19th at the finish. Justin Bonsignore finished second. Starting in second spot, Bonsignore chased pole sitter Doug Coby for 66 laps before taking the lead. As Coby faded, Bonsignore and Silk swapped the lead until lap 146 when Preece took command. Under a green-white-checker beginning on lap 150 Silk jumped out in front followed by Craig Lutz and Bonsignore with Jon McKennedy and Chris Pasteryak in tow. Lutz got shuffled to 12th position after a tangle on the backstretch on the final lap. At the finish it was Silk followed by Justin Bonsignore. McKennedy who came from starting scratch, finished third followed by Pasteryak and Coby
Dave Sapienza finished sixth and was followed by Ronnie Williams, Anthony Nocella, Matt Swanson and Tyler Rypkema.
The Stafford Speedway gave their Late Model division top billing with their extra distance Late Model 50 feature event. Tyler Leary scored his first win of the 2020 season in the biggest Late Model race of the season, outlasting defending Late Model 50 winner Ryan Fearn to the checkered flag. In other feature racing action, it was a night of back to back winners as Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature, Derek Debbis in the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand in the Limited Late Model feature, and Chris Meyer in the Street Stock feature all repeated their wins from one week ago.
In Late Model action, Leary and Ryan Fearn were side by side for the lead back under green with Fearn taking the lead by a nose at the line to complete lap-45. They were dead even to complete lap 46 before Fearn got loose on lap-47 which allowed Leary to get clear in the lead. Fearn recovered in second, just in front of Saunders, but he was a full second behind Leary. Leary took the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2020 season. Ryan Fearn finished second with Saunders, Tom Fearn, and Paul Varricchio rounding out the top-5.
In the 40 lap SK Modified feature Keith Rocco made it two in a row. Rocco dodged numerous wrecks including a close to one hour delay to repair the fence in turn three. Todd Owen, one of Rocco’s top competitors saw his hopes go south as he sailed into the turn three fence after contact with Marcello Rufrano.
After a delay to repair the turn 3 wall, the race resumed with Rocco and Chase Dowling dueling side by side for the race lead. Cory DiMatteo came up to third and was right behind the two leaders but had no room to make a pass. Rocco got clear of Dowling on lap-19 with Ronnie Williams back up to fourth after his earlier mishap and Matt Vassar was fifth. Tony Membrino, Jr. spun in turn 2 to bring the caution back out with 21 laps complete and David Arute was sent to the rear of the field by NASCAR officials for making contact with Membrino.
Rocco took the lead on the restart with DiMatteo briefly taking second before Dowling took the place back. Williams was on the outside of Dowling challenging for third on lap-24 and he made the pass on lap-25 to take second. DiMatteo was fourth in line behind Rocco, Williams, and Dowling with Stephen Kopcik up to fifth. The caution came back out with 27 laps complete for a spin in turn 3 by Troy Talman and DJ Burnham.
Rocco took the lead back under green with Williams slotting into second. Dowling was third with Kopcik and DiMatteo side by side for fourth and Vassar in sixth. Vassar took fifth and with 10 laps to go, he took fifth from DiMatteo with Rocco still leading Williams, Dowling, and Kopcik. The caution came back out with 33 laps complete as Owen had made repairs and rejoined the field only to hit the wall coming out of turn 2 and collected the cars of Max Zachem and Talman.
Rocco took the lead again on the restart with Kopcik pulling alongside Williams for second. Just behind Williams and Kopcik was DiMatteo with Dowling in fifth. Kopcik’s car dropped off the pace on lap-38 as he pulled to the high land and let the field pass by before heading to pit road. Williams couldn’t get close enough to Rocco as Rocco scored his second consecutive and fourth win of the 2020 season. DiMatteo came home in third with Dowling and Vassar rounding out the top-5.
Keith Rocco’s victory at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night gave him a Grand Slam, three for three, for the weekend. Rocco keeps rolling along at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he continues to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco recorded one in the SK Modifieds at the shoreline oval bringing his track win total to 152 wins, 91 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 victory also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 288 wins which also include 152victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 64 at Thompson and 72 at Stafford Speedway.
The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island celebrated their 70th Anniversary on Saturday with a 70 lap feature. Tom Rogers took the win over Dylan Slepian, John Fortin Jr and Dave Brigati. It was Roger’s 59th career win at the historic quarter mile facility.
Before arriving in the winner’s circle Tom stopped his car in turn two in front of a grandstand side memorial set-up for George Worthington Sr. and Jr. who passed away within 48 hours of each other last week. Rogers exited his car and climbed on top of the wall waving one final checker flag for the deceased father & son who watched the races from that vantage point. Ardent fans of Riverhead Raceway Worthington Jr. along with his wife Mary were killed in a NH motorcycle accident Friday 8/28. George Sr. perhaps from in part from a broken heart died some 48 hours later.
On a sad note, Officials from Long Island Eastern Raceway announced Sunday that because of continued restriction due to the COVID-19 global pandemic the Sept. 19 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event that has been scheduled at the track has been cancelled. In its place, Riverhead will host a 150-lap Modified race on Sept. 19 to replace the Whelen Modified Tour event. Riverhead is still unable to allow fans in for events but does have a pay per view that allows fans to see the events.
Riverhead was originally scheduled to host two Whelen Modified Tour events in 2020, with the first scheduled for June 20. The June 20 event was postponed earlier this season to Oct. 17. Track operator Tom Gatz said Riverhead management is still optimistic they’ll be able to host the Oct. 17 Whelen Modified Tour event.
August 21, 1971 George “Moose” Hewitt, driving the Freddy’s TV No.23 took the win at Stafford on Saturday night over Hop Harrington, Freddie Schulz, Ed Yerrington, Leo Cleary and Bob Santos. Gene Bergin who was looking to make it two in a row, lost an engine in practice. The NEMA Midgets payed a visit and it was Lou Fray taking the win. Dick Wright scored another Mini-Midget win. Hewitt started sixth and took the lead from pole sitter Ernie Caruso on lap nine. Among the missing were Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens who were at the Islip Speedway on Long Island for a 300-lap event at the tight 1/5-mile oval. DeSarro took the win with Stevens third behind Long Island Kingpin Jim Hendrickson. Stafford was well represented at Trenton on Sunday as there were eleven Stafford cars and ten Stafford drivers in the field. Ronnie Bouchard, 22 years old at the time, finished second in the former Jack Tant coupe that was owned by Dick Armstrong. Ray Miller started 30th and finished seventh. Ernie Gahan, 13th, Tom Sutcliff, 15th and Billy Harman, 19th, were other top finishers.
Lady luck was not on the side of Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro. Stevens was the second fastest qualifier in the Sonny Koszela Log Roller Corvair. Stevens was leading the event on lap 34 when his engine blew. Later in the event Stevens drove relief for DeSarro and ended up crashing in the dogleg. Lou Austin and Moose Hewitt also fell out due to mechanical woes. 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!