RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail; Tri-Track Open Mods At Seekonk, PASS North & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Tri-Track Open Modified Series (TTOM) was originally scheduled to be run this past Saturday at the Seekonk Speedway but because of adverse weather conditions was pushed back to Sunday. It was well worth the wait as the Venditti family and the Tri-Track crew had a beautiful fall day in which to race and close out the 2018 season with 43 tour type Modifieds.

Fresh off his recent Race of Champions victory at the Lake Erie Speedway in Northeast, Penn and his victory in the Octoberfast 150 at the Mahoning Speedway in Leighton, Penn, Matt Hirschman came to the Seekonk Speedway with victory on his mind last Sunday. Hirschman used an unorthodox plan to get in the event and it worked!

His plan was to not qualify and get in the event with a provisional. Prior to qualifying Hirschman learned that he was one of three drivers eligible for a Provisional. His main objective was to not wear out his tires and go non-stop in the main event while most of his competition would have to pit for fresh rubber.

Starting scratch in the 27 car field, Hirschman methodically worked his way through the field to the front. Hirschman used a lap 61 restart to get by Chase Dowling for the lead. Ron Silk moved to second past Matt Swanson on a lap 84 restart. A lap 98 caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, but Hirschman was able to hold off the charges of Silk. Chris Pasteryak did an outstanding job as he finished third. Dowling and Anthony Sesley rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth included Les Hinkley, Brian Robe, Anthony Nocella, Todd Patnoad and Keith Rocco.

Rocco started on the pole and led the first 37 laps before giving way to Dowling. Dowling led until lap 60. From there on it was Hirschman all the way for the win and series championship.

Ryan Morgan ended his season on a high note as he survived some rough stuff in his pursuit of the victory in the 50-lapper for the Late Models as part of the Haunted Happening. Seekonk Speedway regular and 2018 Late Model champion Ryan Kuhn took the early lead from pole sitter Mark Hudson while Morgan and Vinny Arrenegado, Jr. battled for third.

On lap 44, Morgan dove low on Kuhn in a bid for the lead. The two make slight contact. Morgan got the edge and the lead. Kuhn tried the crossover move; to no avail. Kuhn stayed glued to the bumper of Morgan in the closing laps. On lap 49, Kuhn, in a last-ditch effort, dove to the bottom of Morgan coming out of two, tried the outside groove out of turn four; again, to no avail. Morgan was able to hold on for the victory over Kuhn.

The Pro All Star Series Super Late Models made their inaugural appearance in the Haunted Happenings at Seekonk Speedway. Like their counterpart Modifieds, a series championship was on the line. At the end of the 150-lap event, Travis Benjamin of Belfast, ME, was holding the checkered flag and DJ Shaw of Center Conway, NH had secured the championship. Reid Lanpher of Manchester, NH, Nick Sweet of Barret, VT, Curtis Geery of Waterboro, ME, and Derek Griffith of Hudson, NH, completed the top-five in the event.

Congratulations to Megan Fuller on her Rookie of the Year honors at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Being a rookie driver in any division can be a daunting task but for Meghan Fuller, the 2018 Street Stock season at Stafford Speedway proved just the opposite. The Auburn, MA native began her rookie campaign at Stafford with only 3 previous Street Stock starts under her belt but that didn’t slow her down. Fuller scored her first career Stafford win in the second race of the season and she was a championship contender for the entire season before finishing second in the final Street Stock standings and taking home the R.A.D. Auto Machine Rookie of the Year honors in her #2 Propane Plus Chevrolet.

In addition, Congratulations to Bryan Narducci on his winning Rookie of the Year honors in the SK Lites. The 2018 season at Stafford Speedway saw Bryan Narducci come very close to a fairytale ending to his rookie season in the SK Light division. A graduate of the Wild Thing Karts, Narducci moved up to the SK Light division after 2 seasons and 6 wins in Stafford’s Limited Late Model division. Narducci was bidding to become the fifth driver in Stafford’s SK Light history to win both the championship and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season but he ended 2 points short of winning the championship. Narducci will take home the R.A.D. Auto Machine Rookie of the Year honors and the $500 bonus that goes along with the award.

On a sad note, a New England legendary Modified car owner and builder, Bobby Judkins, passed away last week after a battle with Parkinsons Disease. Judkins built the famous 2x Modifieds that carried Billy Harman, Eddie Flemke, Gene Bergin, Ronnie Bouchard and Jerry Marquis to hundreds of wins. Judkins was a master of setting up fuel injection on Chevrolet engines but was best known for bring the Ford Pinto to NASCAR Modified racing. With the help of Jack Arute, NASCAR made the body legal for competition. Judkins was most proud of his grandson, Ryan Preece, who recently secured a ride in NASCAR’s top division, Monster Cup, on the Joe Gibbs race team.

It was also sad to hear that Québec Modified competitor and gentleman Denis Giroux had passed away. He had a brilliant career collecting wins across the northeast and was probably on his way to NASCAR stardom when a violent crash ended his career in 1974 at the Stafford Motor Speedway Spring Sizzler. Denis spent the last few years in a Quebec nursing home after battling the somber side effects of that 1974 crash when he hit the first turn wall.

On the speedway stock market scene this week, all three speedway stocks were down as was most of the stock market in general. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 4.06 to 32.96 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.11 and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.05 to 2.11. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 1.06 to 51.05 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco Energy Transfer) dropped 1.60 to 15.46 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.07 to 20.34. The auto manufacturers ended the week on a positive note. Ford went up 0.48 to 8.98, Toyota went up 0.98 to 117.30 and General Motors went up 1.45 to 32.65. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 7.62 to 172.23 and Lowes dropped 5.81 to 93.78. In big team sponsor stock action, McDonalds went up 5.85 to 173.34 and Coca-Cola went up 3.12 to 165.90 while Target Department Stores dropped 0.08 to 81.94, Dow-Dupont dropped 5.49 to 52.00, Porter Cable-Stanley Works dropped 7.88 to 110.21 and Fedex dropped 9.27 to 210.53.

On the tube this week:
Wednesday, October 31
4:00 AM, NCWTS Martinsville race re-air, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
8:00 PM, NCWTS Martinsville race re-air, FS2

Thursday, November 1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

Friday, November 2
2:00 PM, MENCS Texas practice, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, MENCS Texas qualifying, FS1
8:00 PM, NCWTS RaceDay, FS1
8:30 PM, NCWTS Texas race, FS1

Saturday, November 3
6:00 AM, NCWTS Texas race re-air, FS1
3:30 PM, MENCS Texas final practice, NBCSN
4:00 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
4:30 PM, NXS Texas race, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NXS Post Race, NBCSN

Sunday, November 4
11:30 AM, Classic NASCAR – 1998 Daytona 500, FS1
12:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
2:30 PM, MENCS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:00 PM, MENCS Texas race, NBCSN
7:00 PM, MENCS Post Race, NBCSN
7:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
10:30 PM, Glory Road – NASCAR Goes Road Racing, NBCSN