RPW Exclusive: Looking Back A Bit With Phil Smith – Third Week Of July

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Sixty five years ago in 1953, Joe McNulty was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Eccleston was the non-Ford winner. Freddy Luchesi was the Saturday night Sportsman winner at the shoreline oval. Bud Matter was victorious in the non-Fords.

Sixty years ago in 1958, Ray Moran won the Wednesday night Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Stack was the non-Ford winner. The Saturday night Modified feature winner saw Moran again in victory lane. The event was actually run on Aug 2 because of rain. Dick Beauregard was the non-Ford winner.

Fifty five years ago in 1963 Charlie Webster was the winner of the 25 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Kenny Shoemaker was the Friday night winner on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway.

Fifty years ago in 1968, modified action started on Thursday night at Catamount Stadium where Bugsy Stevens took the win. Stevens carried his winning ways over to Stafford on Friday night where he beat out Fred Harbach for the win. Smokey Boutwell, Fred DeSarro and Frank Faria rounded out the top five. At the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Lou Lazzaro out dueled Phil Spiak for the win. Jerry Cook finished third with Ken Canestrary and Pete Corey rounding out the top five. Lazzaro made it two for two on the weekend as he also won at Fonda on Saturday night over Cook and Dave Lape. Roland LaPierre Sr. was the Saturday night winner at Norwood Arena, Lee Osborne was the winner at the Fulton Raceway and Johnny Cambino took the win at Riverside Park. Maynard Troyer scored his first of 66 wins at the Lancaster Speedway in western New York.Bill Scrivener was the 30 lap Modified feature winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. K.Davis was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Don MacTavish took the double point win at Thompson on Sunday night and at Utica-Rome, Rene Charland hit pay dirt as he took the win over Lou Lazzaro, Sonny Seamon, Richie Evans and Ray Sitterly.

Forty five years ago in 1973, Richie Evans went two for two as he won at Malta on Friday night and at Utica-Rome on Sunday. All racing on Saturday night with the exception of the Waterford Speedbowl was washed out. Dick Watson made it two in a row at the shoreline oval. Marshal White was the Grand American Late Model winner. Jerry Cook finished second at Malta and was followed by Fred DeSarro, and Ronnie Bouchard. At Utica, Sonny Seamon finished second and was followed by Cook and DeSarro.

Forty years ago in 1978, Geoff Bodine made it three for three in Yankee All Star action as he won a Wednesday night 100 lapper at Thompson. Fred DeSarro, Leo Cleary and Joe Howard followed. At New Egypt, Jerry Cook took the win over John Blewett JR and Fred Harbach. Stafford ran twin 35’s on Friday night and to no ones surprise, Geoff Bodine won them both. Riverhead Raceway saw Greg Sacks win out over Charlie Jarzombek. Saturday night at Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard gave Geoff Bodine a traffic lesson as he took the top spot and broke the winning streak of the big red machine. At Westboro, it was Leo Cleary over Roland LaPierre JR and at Waterford, Glynn Shafer and Joe Trudeau finished one-two. Jim Tyler won at Islip and Richie Evans beat out Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside. Ronnie Bouchard beat the master, Eddie Flemke, at Thompson on Sunday and at Utica-Rome, Geoff Bodine settled for third behind Richie Evans and Jerry Cook. Also on Sunday, Maynard Troyer won his 25th and 26th features of the year at Perry Speedway.

Thirty five years ago in 1983, Thompson ran on Wednesday with Richie Evans taking the win over George Summers and Corky Cookman. Friday night at Stafford saw Brett Bodine in victory lane with Mike Hornat, second. At New Egypt it was John Blewett JR and at Riverhead, Don Howe took the top spot. Spencer Speedway action saw Richie Evans in the winners circle with Jan Leaty and Mike McLaughlin rounding out the top three. Lightning Larry Lanphear got a well deserved win at Waterford on Saturday and at Wall Stadium it was Tony Hirshman. Islip ran a 200 lapper and it was Tiger Tom Baldwin across the line ahead of Fred Harbach, Bob Park, Richie Evans and Jim Spencer. Eddie StAngelo won at Seekonk and Stan Greger took the win at Riverside Park. In Winston Cup action at Nashville, Ronnie Bouchard was the pole sitter but was sidelined with motor trouble. Dale Earnhardt took the win over Darrel Waltrip and Tim Richmond.

Thirty years ago in 1988, Jerry Pearl was the Friday night SK modified winner at Stafford. At Monadnock, Reggie Ruggiero won his fifth. At Waterford on Saturday, Moose Hewitt won, at Riverside it was Stan Greger, Riverhead belonged to Wayne Anderson and Tioga belonged to Randy Hedger. On Sunday, it rained at Thompson.

Twenty five years ago in 1993, Ted Christopher won the Winston 100 SK Modified event at the Stafford Speedway on Friday night. He was followed by Tom Tagg and John Anderson. At Waterford on Saturday, Bob Potter got his 91st career win at the shoreline oval and at Riverside it was Stan Greger over Bobby Gee. Riverhead ran the Richie Evans Memorial with Bob Park taking the win over Don Howe and Tom Baldwin. In Winston Cup action at Pocono Dale Earnhardt was the winner.

Twenty Years ago in 1998, Stafford had the No-Bull 100 scheduled. On the start, the speedway set off fireworks, which apparently spooked the drivers as half the field piled up in the first turn. While the wreck was being cleaned up, the rains came and washed out the event. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Lee Raceway. Ed Flemke JR took the lead from Doug French on lap 81 of the 150 lap event and never looked back as he went on to take the win. Mike Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Tim Connolly, Mike Stefanik and Jamie Tomaino. At Waterford on Saturday, Ted Christopher took the lead from Todd Ceravolo on lap 49 of the scheduled 100 lap event and went on to score a convincing victory. Ceravolo finished second and was followed by Mike Gada. Twin 35’s were on tap at Riverside with Jim Broderick and Bob Polverari taking the wins. George Brunnhoelzl JR ended a long dry spell with a win at Riverhead. The IRL and Busch North Series were at Dover Downs. A very light crowd of 25,000 made the place look empty. As an insult to the Busch North competitors, Jim Spencer was brought in as a crowd draw.

Fifteen years ago in 2003, the Featherlite NASCAR Modified Tour Series converged on the New Hampshire International Speedway for the New England 100, which was run in conjunction with NASCAR’s Winston Cup, Busch Racing Series and Busch North Series. Forty-one Modifieds were on hand for the event, which carried a purse of $148,275, up $9,450 from 2002. Tony Hirschman took the Busch Pole with a speed of 127.654 mph. John Blewett III, just a tic off at 127.628 mph, was the outside pole sitter. Nevin George was third fastest and Ted Christopher, now using Ford power was fourth. Rounding out the top five was a big surprise in the form of Tom Cloce. Todd Szegedy, Chuck Hossfeld, Charlie Pasteryak, Tom Baldwin and Ricky Fuller rounded out the top ten. Only 1.06 mph separated the top ten. A year previous, modified car owner Bob Garbarino, owner and operator of the Mystic River Marina in Mystic, Connecticut, was ready to end his long tenure as a car owner. Garbarino, who had built and owned Modifieds since the mid 1960’s had lost his driver, Tim Connelly and his sponsor, Tidy Cats. Plus the fact he was fed up with NASCAR and the way they were treating the division. A few days before the 2002 Thompson Speedway Icebreaker Chuck Hossfeld came on the scene and since then Garbarino had had renewed interest in the sport he loved and supported for so long. Hossfeld was not well known outside of his native New York State and after a short stint in a Craftsman Truck owned by Jack Roush, resigned himself to the fact that he would spend the rest of his racing life at the Lancaster Speedway and other western New York ovals. Thanks in part to the Colton family; Hossfeld was hooked up with Garbarino. At Loudon, Hossfeld started seventh and never led a lap until the last one. Hossfeld, with the precision of a surgeon, executed a last lap pass by John Blewett III and Todd Szegedy to win the top spot in the event. Originally a 100-lap event, the distance was extended to 103 laps after Ricky Fuller became involved in a crash on lap 96. Szegedy had to settle for second at the finish. Blewett finished third with Jerry Marquis and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top five. For his efforts, Hossfeld collected $14,000. The announced crowd of 21,000 got to see what had to be the best race of the weekend which saw 11 official lead changes. Had it not been for the last caution, there were only two for 13 laps; Hossfeld would have had to settle for fifth or sixth. John Blewett III and Mike Stefanik were contending for the lead at that point. Because of a long green flag period from the start to lap 87 only eight of the original 41 starters were on the lead lap at the finish.

Rain played havoc at the Stafford Speedway for the second week in a row. In Wednesday night Thunder action at Thompson, threatening weather didn’t deter the overflow crowd of 9,500 that came out to see Winston Cup stars Tony Stewart and Jimmie Spencer. After a match race, which Stewart won the defending Winston Cup champion entered the regular Sunoco-SK type modified event, started in the rear and won that. Stewart took the lead from Bo Gunning on lap 23 of the 30-lap feature and never looked back. Gunning finished second and was followed by Bert Marvin, Matty Adanti, Ted Christopher, Eric Berndt, Todd Ceravolo and Kerry Malone. Other Wednesday night winners were GeGe Gravel in the Pro Stocks, Woody Pitkat in the Late Models, Shane Michalski in the Mini-Stocks and Keith DeSantis in the Limited Sportsman. At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night, Winston Cup drivers Jim Spencer, Steve Park, Dave Blaney and Sterling Marlin made a special appearance to mingle with the fans, sign autographs and compete in an exhibition race. Crowd estimates of 4500 to 5000 spectators made it the most successful event in 2003 at the shoreline oval. Ron Yuhas Jr. ended a long dry spell as he won the regularly scheduled 35 lap SK-Modified feature as he beat out defending track champion Dennis Gada for the win. Jeff Pearl finished third and was followed by Rob Janovic and Ed Reed Jr. Among those on hand to greet the Winston Cup drivers was former track champion and now retired Bob Potter. Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval were Diego Monahan in the Late Models, Sean Curtis in the Sportsman and Richard Brooks in the Mini Stocks. Winston Cup and Busch Racing Series qualifying at Loudon was rained out. Martin Truex made a big impression when he won the Busch North Series event. It led to him getting a ride in a DEI car. David Green won the Busch Racing Series event and Jimmie Johnson conserved his fuel and took the win in the New England 300 over Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth.

Ten years ago in 2008, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour moved to the Spencer Speedway in Williamson, N.Y for its sixth race of the 2008 season. Matt Hirschman reached Victory Lane for the first time in his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career after he led 79 laps and won the Mason Farms 100. Hirschman, who won the second of two 25-lap heat races earlier in the evening, led four times throughout the 100-lap main and was the car to beat all night. After Mike Stefanik had moved through the field and took the lead on lap 89, the veteran was caught up in an accident coming out of Turn 3 and Hirschman took back a lead that he would never relinquish. Hirschman’s first victory came in his 45th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start. Ronnie Silk was the runner-up to Hirschman in the race which marked his third top 10 finish in a row. Chuck Hossfeld, who won the first heat race, came home third, and has yet to finish outside the top five in six races this year. Jimmy Blewett followed Hossfeld across the finish line while Stefanik wound up fifth. They were followed in the top 10 by Glen Reen, Todd Szegedy, Wade Cole, Danny Sammons and Bobby Grigas III. The finish was the best of Reen’s rookie season. Hirschman received a paltry $3,700 for his efforts.

Earlier in the evening Williamson native Jan Leaty captured the Coors Light Pole Award following group qualifying, but suffered a crash on the first lap of the main and could not continue. From many reports it appeared that it was the scene of a lot of follow the leader racing. Nine caution periods kept the competition to a minimum. With six races in the books.
The True Value Modifieds were at the Lee USA Speedway last Friday night. Ed Dachenhausen took the win over Les Hinkley, Mike Holdredge, David Pinkham and Joe Doucette. A sparse field of 20 Modifieds were on hand.

The Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program took a night off as the speedway prepared for The Pepsi Full Fender Frenzy, which featured the NASCAR Camping World East series, the Pro All Star (PASS) Pro Stocks, and Thompson’s Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions. Trevor Bayne of Knoxville, TN, had never seen Thompson Speedway before Saturday night when he left he was a winner at the country’s oldest paved racetrack. Conversely, veteran Rick Martin of Westport, MA, a long-time campaigner at the Speedway took top honors in the visit by the Pro All Star Series. In regular weekly competition it was Pete Yetman of Peru, MA, scoring a commanding victory in the Late Models; Joe Arena of Bristol, CT, earning a career first in the Limited Sportsman division; and Danny Fields of Deep River, CT taking his second Mini Stock feature win of the season. Following a review of race procedures PASS officials announced that they had stripped Rick Martin of his victory in Saturday’s event at Thompson. Martin took the checkered flag as the winner of the event but PASS officials announced Monday that second place finisher Ben Rowe of Turner, Me. has been declared the winner and Martin was dropped to second place in the running order. Officials made the decision to penalize Martin for jumping the final restart of the event.

The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted the 5th annual CARQUEST Extreme Tuesday program plus their regular Friday night program last week. Chris Perley scored his third ISMA Supermodified feature victory at Stafford in five years by winning the 50-lap feature, Bobby Santos, III was the winner of the 30-lap NEMA Midget feature, and Norm Wrenn was the winner of the 25-lap Pro-4 Modified feature event.

On Friday night, it was Whelen Event Night at Stafford. Kenny Horton was victorious in the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Ryan Posocco drove to his second consecutive Late Model feature victory, Chris Bakaj scored his first career victory in the SK Light Modified feature, Sean Foster returned to victory lane in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood scored the victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event.

In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, it was Kenny Horton outdueling Doug Coby, Keith Rocco, and Zach Sylvester in a fast and furious finish. Chris Jones led the first lap before Horton moved to the front on lap-2. Rocco and Coby got by Horton at the half-way point of the race, which set off a series of lead changes and jockeying for position at the front of the field. Coby and Rocco contested the lead with Horton getting by Rocco for second place on lap-26. Rocco would move back by Horton for second and he took the lead from Coby on lap-32. Rocco’s pass for the lead allowed Horton to follow Rocco past Coby for second place. Horton moved to the inside of Rocco in turn 2 and contact from Coby shot him into Rocco’s car with Rocco going around. The race stayed under green as Horton took the lead with Coby and Sylvester behind him. Horton was able to hold Coby off to the checkered flag to record his first win of the 2008 season. Coby finished second with Sylvester, Pitkat, and Bolles rounding out the top-5. Rocco, after being knocked off the pace, finished 20th and lost his Stafford point lead. Ted Christopher finished sixth and now has taken an unofficial four-point lead in the track’s SK Modified standings.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco won the 35-lap SK Modified feature. Other Feature winners were Vin Esposito (Late Model), Al Stone III (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock), and Jason Palmer (Legends).

Pole-sitter Wendell Dailey led the charge in the 35-lap SK Modified feature before nearly spinning and allowing Ed Reed Jr. and Keith Rocco to pass. Chaos ensued with twenty-three laps remaining when after a restart second-place Reed violently slammed the turn-4 wall in a multi-car crash that involved several other frontrunners including Doug Coby, Tyler Chadwick, and Ron Yuhas Jr. No injuries resulted from the red-flag incident, though the Reed mount was severely damaged. Rocco again assumed the lead after battling with Jeff Paul, later fighting-back the charges of both defending champion Rob Janovic Jr. and Jeff Pearl to score his third victory of 2008.

Kyle Busch added another Nationwide Series victory winning the Dollar General 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Busch took the lead on the 95th lap, held it until a pit stop on the 149th and then regained it five laps later for the remainder of the 200-lap race on the 1.5-mile track. Busch, the Sprint Cup points leader with six victories, won his fifth Nationwide race of the season. Denny Hamlin, who started 41st, was second. Brad Keselowski was third. The events that take place normally on Thursday evenings at Thompson, Friday at Stafford and Saturday at Waterford fall under the umbrella of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series.

When Jimmie Johnson passed Kyle Busch for the lead with 16 laps remaining, Busch went on the team’s radio and declared, “Race over.” But that’s not how it turned out in the Lifelock.com 400 in Joliet, Ill. Not this year. Johnson was pulling away and sailing toward his second Sprint Cup win of the season until a late-race caution for David Gilliland’s blown engine set up a two-lap race to the checkered flag. That opened the door for Busch, and the 23-year-old plowed through it after the restart for his seventh win.

Five years ago in 2013, Doug Coby, driving the Wayne Darling-owned Seekonk Grand Prix modified, dominated Open Wheel Wednesday at the Seekonk Speedway as he won the 100 lap main event which paid him a cool $10,000 on an extremely hot night which saw temperatures in the mid 90 degree mark. The only other leader of the event was Todd Annarummo. They shared the front row for the start, and Annarummo jumped to the lead with Coby on his bumper. Three lead-changes later, Coby roared home for the the win just ahead of Les Hinckley with Annarummo, Matt Hirschman and Anthony Nocella in pursuit.

Hinckley had started fifth and worked his way toward the front, holding third from laps 28 through 81. Annarummo took his lead and ran 26 laps at the front with Coby in pursuit. Coby made an early, outside bid on lap 5, but Rob Richardi and Kevin Iannarelli got together in turn one. It was the end of Richardi’s evening as the field relined for the green. They went door to door at the front and Coby bid on the outside for the front, but Annarummo held him off. Lap seven saw another bid on the outside and then Coby dropped under for the pass, only to have the door slammed in his face. Hinckley eased into fifth place on lap fifteen and nabbed onto Tommy Barrett’s bumper. Another lap and Barrett had been deprived of fourth. By lap 18, Annarummo was leading Coby, who was on his bumper, Todd Ceravolo, and Hinckley. Eric Berndt looped out of turn 3 to bring out caution. Annarummo and Coby lined up again with Ceravolo and Hinckley at their backs. At the green, they were wheel-to- wheel, trading the lead down the backstretch and door-to-door as they came to the stripe again. Coby gained the lead out of turn two and by lap 27, he had the front to himself with Annarummo behind him. Hinckley had come around Ceravolo for third. This trio would dominate the front three positions through the end of the feature.

With 20 laps remaining, top four finishers had been established. Hinckley pursued Coby big time, but was unable to get to the lead. Nocella managed to ease past Ceravolo into fifth. Rounding out the top ten were: Nocella, Jimmy Zacharias, Steve Masse, Ceravolo, Barrett and Jon McKennedy.

A big part of the evening was the induction of Bugsy Stevens, Ronnie Bouchard and George Summers to the Seekonk Speedway Wall of Fame. Their names were placed along side of speedway founder D.Anthony Venditti and his wife, Irene Venditti.

Matt Gallo stood out as the only first time winner in a sea of repeat winners in Thursday Night Thompson Thunder. Gallo took down the victory in the Sunoco Modified portion of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series card. Repeat winners included Glenn Boss in the Late Models, Cam McDermott in the Lite Modifieds, and Scott Michalski in the Monster Mini Stocks. Larry Barnett and Jesse Gleason each won 20-lap Limited Sportsman features.

Gallo took the lead of the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature event from his outside front row starting position and never looked back. He led every lap en route to his first career Thompson Speedway win.

In some distressing news, Racedayct, an internet racing news site, reported that there would be no Ice Breaker in 2014 at Thompson and possibly no weekly short track racing at the northeastern Connecticut oval in 2014 as the track will be under going major reconstruction in order to accommodate sports car racing. Third generation Thompson Speedway general manager Jonathan Hoenig stated that plans were in place to build a new 1.7-mile road course at Thompson Speedway. The road course would incorporate the current .625-mile oval track. Hoenig said the plans are for the road course to be operational by June 2014.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ted Christopher scored his 100th career SK Modified win, an 80 lapper, which was also his second win of the year at the Arute family oval. Christopher was one of five drivers to take home a $300 bonus from Xtra Mart Convenience Stores as Xtra Mart put up a total of $1,500 that was divided evenly among the top-5 finishers. In other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Adam Gray continued his hot 2013 season with his third win in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Jay Goff scored his first win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light feature, D.J. Burnham was victorious for the second time in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande took his first win of the year in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

Christopher kept Doug Coby behind him all the way to the checkered flag to pick up the victory. Eric Berndt finished third, with Danny Cates and Keith Rocco rounding out the top-5. Each of the top-5 finishers took home a $300 bonus from Xtra Mart Convenience Stores, who put up a $1,500 bonus for the race.

The Waterford Speedbowl saw Todd Ceravolo end a long dry spell as all his cards fell into place for him to record the SK Modified win. Ceravolo hinted that his career as a driver may be coming to a close. At 49 years of age the electrical contractor is still highly competitive but is being realistic as time is ticking by. Ceravolo will become a grandfather in the coming months. His son-inlaw, Keith Rocco finished second with Tyler Chadwick, third.

The Speedbowl beat an early rain shower before returning to NASCAR racing on Saturday evening after a scheduled week off. The track’s INEX racing divisions were vaulted to the spotlight, landing two race winners a spot in a national event for each the Bandolero and Legend Car divisions. Defending Legend Cars champion Paul Kusheba of Monroe won in a photo finish in a great race while Anthony Marvin of Colchester won the Bandolero feature. In addition to Ceravolo picking up his first victory of the year in the SK Modifieds®, two-time Street Stock champion Al Stone won his second race of the year in that division while Ken Cassidy Jr. picked up his fifth Mini Stock victory. Randy Churchill Jr. rounded out the night’s winners, scoring his fourth SK Light Modified race honors.

The 35-lap feature race for the SK Modified® division saw the return of a familiar name to the winner’s circle at the track. Ceravolo, the 1997 track champion, took his first win since the 2010 season after running a nearly flawless race. He was patient in the opening laps as the running order settled in as Frank Mucciacciaro took the race lead from pole sitter Nichole Morgillo to lead lap-1. Joe Gada held third behind the top two with Ceravolo rounding out the top four cars.

With Morgillo tailing Mucciacciaro, Ceravolo pulled out of line and made a power move under Joe Gada take third on lap-5. The first caution flag came out a lap later when a three-car battle for eighth position resulted in Adam Gada sliding through the turn four infield kicking up moisture and debris onto the race surface. Following a false restart attempt, Morgillo slid into the turn one wall after a second attempt to restart the race on lap-6.

Ceravolo lined up outside of Mucciacciaro when the race was able to restart cleanly. He spent two laps on the outside racing hard for the lead before tucking in line behind Mucciacciaro. A lap later, Ceravolo dove inside Mucciacciaro in turn three to lead the way on lap-9. Once clear of Mucciacciaro, Ceravolo pulled away to a large lead as the race ran without further incident the rest of the way.

Behind Ceravolo action was red hot as Mucciacciaro held back the advances of Tyler Chadwick, who took third from Joe Gada on lap-12. Keith Rocco followed Chadwick to fourth position. They joined Mucciacciaro in a tight three-car battle for second position that endured for several laps. As the trio put on a spirited battle Ceravolo continued to pull further ahead. On lap-23 Chadwick found the momentum to barrel underneath Mucciacciaro in turn three, bringing Rocco with him as they advanced to second and third.

Out front, Ceravolo was untouchable. Rocco pestered Chadwick until he finally made the move to his inside down the front chute on lap-27, taking away second. Over the final eight laps Rocco tried to run down Ceravolo, however the lead was too much. As Ceravolo went on to his 22nd career win at the track, Rocco wound up second and Chadwick third. Mucciacciaro finished in fourth and Craig Lutz took home fifth.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series had a week off to re-group from the recent event in Loudon. Many of those who compete in the Whelen Modified Tour Series are concerned what will become of their series especially if the Thompson Speedway is under construction for some or all of 2014. Thompson currently hosts four events. To lose four events would be devastating to the series. The Whelen Modified Tour Series is currently made up of 14 events. If Thompson remains closed for the entire 2014 season it could very well spell the end of Modified racing as we know it!

The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine. With 22 cars on hand, Rowan Pennink started 16th, battled his way to the front to take the lead on lap 76 of the 100 lapper and despite being dogged by Richard Savory, recorded the win. Savory settled for second with Tommy Barrett, third. Max Zachem and Anthony Nocella rounded out the top five.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Burt Myers, led all the way in the first of two 25-lap races for the Modified Division and registered a season-best sixth victory. Danny Bohn won the second Modified race.

In Modified action in upstate New York, Matt Hirschman won the 63rd annual Sunoco Race of Champions at the Oswego Speedway which sits on the shore of Lake Ontario. Eric Rudolpf finished second with Chuck Hossfeldt, third.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island the careers of three drivers who each enjoyed success at Riverhead Raceway before losing their lives to the sport were honored Saturday in the 77-lap Baldwin, Evans, Jarzombek Memorial modified event.

Charlie Jarzombek, began his racing career in 1962 and compiled a record 63 wins at Riverhead. A member of the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame, Jarzombek won 187 feature events during a 25-year career. He passed away in 1987 when his car hit a retaining wall at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Jarzombek earned the nickname, “Charging Charlie” for his hard-charging and aggressive driving style. Jarzombek was a five-time Riverhead Raceway NASCAR modified champion, which ties him with Wayne Anderson and Don Howe for the most all-time at the track.

Tom Baldwin won 11 times at Riverhead and spent 20 seasons (1985-2004) on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He passed away after an accident at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in 2004.

Richie Evans, from upstate New York, experienced much success on Long Island tracks. He won 17 races at Islip Speedway and two at Freeport Speedway. The last win of his career came at Riverhead in August 1985, two months before a fatal practice lap crash at Martinsville Speedway.

A 77 lap feature was run in their honor. Taking the win was Howie Brode. Ron Silk finished second with Tim Solomito, third. Dave Sapienza and Dave Brigati rounded out the top five. Ryan Preece finished sixth.

Joey Logano held off Sam Hornish Jr. to win the NASCAR Nationwide race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, leading a sweep of top two spots for Roger Penske after the owner asked him to drive the No. 22 car on a rare weekend off for the Sprint Cup series. Logano, the lone Sprint Cup regular in the race, earned his second Nationwide win of the year and No. 20 for his career. He also won at Dover in June. Sam Hornish held on for second

Last year, 2017, The Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action on Friday, July 21st with the Exit Realty Modified Touring Series making their second visit of the 2017 season to Stafford for the Lincoln Tech 100 with Stafford’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions joining them in feature action. Taking down weekly feature wins on the night were Ted Christopher, who drove with a broken right hand, in the SK Modified® division, Tom Fearn in the Late Model division, David Arute in the SK Light division, Ryan Fearn in the Limited Late Model division, and Zack Robinson in the DARE Stock feature.

The Exit Realty Modified Touring Series made its second visit of the 2017 season to Stafford for the Lincoln Tech 100. Taking the checkered flag was Jon McKennedy, who in the process took a clean sweep of the two Modified Touring Series events at Stafford this season. ) Woody Pitkat finished in the runner-up spot with Richard Savory, third. Tommy Barrett, Jr and Mike Holdridge rounded out the top five.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper, Christopher took the lead on a late restart with Todd Owen all over his back bumper. Keith Rocco was third with Dan Avery and Mike Christopher, Jr. side by side for fourth with Ronnie Williams in sixth. Owen and Christopher touched wheels going into turn 1 on lap-38 with Christopher maintaining the lead. Owen made one last ditch effort on the outside coming to the checkered flag but Christopher was able to beat him to the checkered flag in a wild finish. Rocco finished third with Avery and Christopher, Jr. rounding out the top-5.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire for twin 50 lap events. Dan Meservey Jr, of Brewster Massachusetts, and 22-year old Troy Talman of Oxford, Massachusetts, were the victors in the 14th annual summer race at the 3/8th mile racetrack.

In the opening 50-lap event, pole-sitter Dylan Rock took command for 46-laps and appeared to be on his way to his first career victory but a late race caution flag on lap-45 brought Rock back to the rest of 23-car field for creating an exciting finish.

When the race restarted, Meservey Jr, worked the outside of the 17-year old Rock, slipping by on the re-start of the 47th circuit to go on to notch his first win. Rock settled for a well deserved second, team car and Donnie Lashua was third, with current point leader Anthony Nocella fourth, and Jeff Gallup fifth.

In the second race, like the first, the pole sitter took command the only difference being Talman wired the field. The 22-year old driver fought off everything thrown his way including six caution flags. Geoff Gernhard, Carl Medeiros, Jr, Lashua, and Gallup chased Talman to the finish.
There were 23 cars on hand.

As he has done many times in the past Keith Rocco went two for two at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. The Berlin, CT driver captured his third SK Modified feature of the year in four starts. Rocco made it look easy as on a restart. Rocco was battling Plainville, CT’s Ted Christopher. Rocco simply out muscled Christopher on the outside and cruised to the win in the 35-lap main. Christopher settled in for second on his debut at The Bowl in 2017. Rounding out the top five were Kyle James, Todd Owens and Rob Janovic Jr. The win put Rocco’s win total to 140 at the shoreline oval. The wins also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 240 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 43 at Stafford Speedway.

In the Late Model feature it was a little bit easier for the Berlin, CT resident. After the Late Models held group qualifying, with the top five being inverted. When the field lined up for the 30-lap event it was Rocco sitting on the pole. Once the green waved it was all Rocco as he led every lap and took down his second Late Model event of the year.

Other Saturday night winners were Ken Cassidy Jr in the Mini Stock event, Joey Ternullo in the legends, In the 25-lap SK Lite feature it was Andrew Molleur taking his first career Lite win and Adrien Paradis taking the 25-lap Limited Sportsman event.

Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway 15-year old Dillon Steuer of Bohemia won the longest NASCAR Modified race on the 2017 Riverhead Raceway schedule topping the Islip 300. Saturday night the soft spoken teenager very well could have won the shortest race of the year when he was leading on lap 27 when the rains came putting halt to the scheduled 40-lap NASCAR Modified event. Steuer at the time of the rain and 45-time career winner Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead were entangled in a torrid race for the lead with the youngster collecting his second career triumph.

Down in the south land, at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC on Saturday night, a 100 lapper was on tap for the Modifieds. Jason Myers qualified fifth and Burt Myers was sixth in time trials, but after each driver redrew for spots Jason Myers drew the pole and Burt Myers drew second. There were 10 cautions during the Modified race, including one on the second lap. Burt Myers overtook Jason Myers on the restart on lap 7, but after the third caution on lap 11, Jason Myers regained the lead on the restart three laps later and never looked back.

In Friday night racing at the Caraway Speedway Burt Myers won both ends of the scheduled twin 50’s. While the results were the same for the driver from Walnut Cove, NC the races were drastically different. Myers started the evening by winning the Precision Built Spindle pole position, which earned him the front starting spot in the first feature. While he was challenged early by Tim Brown and survived a couple of late-race restarts, it was a flawless run for Myers as he led every lap to victory. Rounding out the top five was Danny Bohn, Jeremy Gerstner, Tim Brown and Gary Putnam followed Myers across the line.

In a blind draw in victory lane, Myers drew an inversion of six cars putting him on the outside of the third row for the start of the second 50-lap feature. Bobby Measmer Jr. started on the pole and led the first eight laps before yielding the top spot to Gerstner, closely followed to the front by Myers. By the mid-point in the race Gerstner opened a margin and appeared to be enroute to his second-career series win; that was until Myers charged late. With 10 laps remaining Myers was all over Gerstner and with four laps to go he charged to the outside into turn three. Off turn four Myers was in the top spot and never looked back. Gerstner settled for second, Measmer was third with Brown and Brandon Ward completing the top five.

Kasey Kahne survived a crash-marred Brickyard 400 on Sunday for his first NASCAR Cup victory in nearly three years. The Hendrick Motorsports driver won under caution in the race that took more than six hours to complete, finally finishing in fading light after 167 laps and double overtime.

Brad Keselowski was second. Afterward, Kahne went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s infield medical center. Series officials didn’t say what he was being treated for but other drivers said the temperatures inside the cars topped 130 degrees. A very sparse crowd witnessed the event.

William Byron’s first trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway ended with an unforgettable finish.

After taking the lead with 15 laps left, the teenage rookie used some savvy moves and a little luck Saturday to hold off the hard-charging Paul Menard for his third NASCAR Xfinity Series win in less than a month. The margin of 0.108 seconds was the narrowest in race history, and he did it by successfully blocking the 2011 Brickyard 400 winner for the final two laps while dealing with a troublesome tire for the final 20.

That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI.