RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; “It’s Bristol Baby” & So Much More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – In what started out as a quiet week in racing circles in New England ended up in a fire storm.

Internet racing news site Racedayct broke the news that former New London-Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames had been hired in general manager type of position at the Thompson Motorsports Park, which would include overseeing events on the Thompson Speedway oval, though his exact role is still to be defined.

Track ownership is currently mounting a restructuring of management at the facility that includes bringing on Eames and also partnering with the venue management group Comcast Spectra. The track’s deal with Comcast Spectra management is expected to begin on January 1, 2019.

Track owner Jon Hoenig said he could not comment at this point about any staff changes happening at the facility. Eames also said he could not comment on the situation at this point.
Eames is expected to be in his new role at the facility before the next NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event at the track, which is scheduled for Sept. 9.

RacedayCt sources have also confirmed that current Thompson Speedway general manager Josh Vanada will leave his position with the track within the next month, though he will remain involved with organization of the final two NASCAR Whelen All-American Series events in 2018.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Bristol Motor Speedway last Thursday. The Bush’s Beans 150 was the 11th race in the fight for the championship and it marked the third race in the month of August for teams.

Justin Bonsignore scored his ninth career pole, fourth of the season and third at Bristol in qualifying for the Bush’s Beans 150. Bonsignore’s lap of 14.876 seconds (128.986 mph) around the 0.533-mile oval put him on the pole. Patrick Emerling, who posted the fastest lap in practice earlier, qualified second with a lap of 14.942 seconds (128.417 mph). Timmy Solomito placed his No. 16 Starrett Tools Racing Ford third in qualifying with a time of 15.027 seconds. A field of 21 cars attempted to qualify.

Bonsignore started from the pole after posting the fastest time in qualifying but lost the lead on lap one to Emerling. From there, Bonsignore’s difficult climb back to the front of the field came to a close just after the mandatory halfway, break where teams changed their Hoosier tires.

He re-took the lead on lap 90 from Timmy Solomito, and never relinquished the top spot, cutting through lapped traffic while Chase Dowling tried everything to make a move to the lead in search of his first tour win.

Dowling chased Bonsignore across the line and finished second. Rob Summers finished third, while Patrick Emerling, who led 52 laps, finished fourth. Five-time and defending series champion Doug Coby faded in the final circuits and rounded out the top five.

Sixth through tenth included Ronnie Williams who was sixth, followed by Dave Sapienza, Rowan Pennink, Burt Myers and Eric Goodale.

Seventeen of the original 21 starters were running at the finish. Among those who failed to finish were Woody Pitkat who had electrical problems and Ken Heagy who lost an engine. Melissa Fifield’s had power steering problems as she went fifteen laps before parking it.

The next stop on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is at the Oswego Speedway in New York on Saturday, September 1. The Bush’s Beans 150 is scheduled to air on NBCSN on Wednesday, August 22, at 6:00 p.m.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday officials postponed the Call Before You Dig event because of impending rain.

On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, track management took on Mother Nature but, in the end, the state of Connecticut won as they shut down the racing at midnight because of curfew.

At one time the track was all but under water because of heavy rain but after a gallant effort by the track crew most of the night’s program went on.

Keith Rocco, the all time winner at the Speedbowl went pole to pole in the Valenti Modified Racing Series 100 lapper. When qualifying heat races were canceled because of potential bad weather, the practice times were used to establish the starting lineup. That meant Rocco started the race on the pole.

The win also took Rocco to a career overall total of 259 wins which include 150 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 60 at Thompson and 49 at Stafford Speedway. Dylan Izzo, making his first Valenti series start, finished second. He was close enough to the leader to make an occasional inside move against Rocco. He could not get past him, however.

Long Island N.Y.. driver Dave Schneider finished third, followed by Mike Holdridge, who was inside the Top 5 for the second half of the race, and Ken Barry, who got as high in the standings as second before falling back late in the race.

Three other races were able to be completed Saturday after a four-hour rain delay. Rob Janovic thundered past Matt Gallo with 16 laps remaining en route to his second SK Modified win of the season. Jordan Haley came from behind to win the 25-lap Mini Stock race and a $200 bounty. Aaron Plemons led every laps in the Super X-Car event.

Features for the Late Models, SK Lite Modifieds, Mini Stocks and CT Pro 4 Modifieds were unable to be run because of Saturday’s lengthy rain delay and will be rescheduled.

In the SK Modifieds, Matt Gallo was second and Diego Monahan, in his first start of the year, was third. Shawn Monihan was fourth.

An altercation with 16 to go between Todd Owen and Kyle James eventually forced both drivers to the sidelines. Owen finished ninth and James was disqualified.

That incident lifted Janovic into the point lead by 10 over Owen and 16 over James.

It was Janovic’s 33rd career win, lifting him into a tie with Don Bunnell for 31st place on the all-time Speedbowl list.

A special 100 lap open competition event paying $5,000 to win was held at the Claremont Speedway in northern New Hampshire on Saturday night. A restart with 19 laps to go gave Ron Silk a long-awaited chance to challenge Les Hinckley for the lead, which he did.

Silk snagged the lead while Hinckley battled a tight racecar on the first laps of the restart. Hinckley’s car did come back in the final laps, as he hounded Silk with some bumper taps over the final three laps. But Silk was stout enough to hold on and claim the $5,000 check in his fourth win overall in 2018.

Of the 17 original starters only ten finished on the lead lap. Les Hinkley finished second with Todd Patnoad, third. Chase Dowling and Russ Hersey rounded out the top five.

Sixth through tenth were Tommy Barrett, Dana Smith, Brian Robie, Jeff Murray and Kirk Alexander.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Jonathan Brown won the 150-lap race and finished second in the points behind Burt Myers, who finished sixth in the race and won his third straight series championship. It is the ninth time in Myers’ career he has won the Modified Division title.

Coming into the final weekend of the year, Myers needed only finish inside the top nine if Brown won the race to first in the points race.

Racing at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island was rained out for the eighth time. Next up is their Wednesday Night NASCAR special this Wednesday August 22nd.

On a sad note, Ed Clark, New England Antique Racers founder passed away at the age of 78 on Aug 11. He followed his father George Clark’s footsteps by serving as a NASCAR technical inspector and official from 1960 to 1982. Mr. Clark was also a Navy veteran who served onboard the USS Tarawa CV-40 from 1956 to 1958.

On the speedway stock market scene this week, two of the three speedway stocks had positive week endings. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.41 to 18.00 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.20 to 44.25. Dover Entertainment finished where they started at 2.15. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 1.47 to 62.17 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.03 to 22.93 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.27 to 24.01. The auto makers had a down week. Toyota led the downward plunge as the dropped 0.95 to 123.28. Ford dropped 0.19 to 9.55 and General Motors dropped 0.21 to 36.38. In the home improvement sector, Lowes dropped 0.33 to 97.98 and Home Depot dropped 0.74 to 195.56. The big team sponsor’s stocks had a good week. McDonalds went up 2.47 to 161.15, Coca-Cola went up 14.10 to 174.81, Target Department Stores went up 0.33 to 83.04, Dow Dupont went up 0.65 to 67.79, Fedex went up 5.18 to 246.94 and Stanley Works Porter Cable went up 2.15 to 141.39.

On the tube this week:

Wednesday, August 22
3:30 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, Fox Sports 1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Bristol NBCSN

Thursday, August 23
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

Saturday, August 25
12:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Road America qualifying, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NXS Road America race, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Camping World Series qualifying, Fox Sports 2

Sunday, August 26
2:00 PM, RaceDay NCWTS, FS1
2:30 PM, NCWTS Canada race, FS1