RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail: Turkey Derby, Schedule Releases, & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The northeast outdoor racing came to an end this past weekend with the running of the Annual Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium in New Jersey.

Dave Sapienza, a five year veteran of the Whelen Modified Tour Series, has bounced off his share of walls and only had seven top fives in 75 races. He put all that behind him as he scored an upset victory in the season ending classic at the Jersey shore. Jimmy Blewett ran second to Matt Hirschman most of the race, but the two tangled with about 30 laps to go in the 150 lap event.

The finish: Dave Sapienza, Zane Zeiner, Ron Frees, Blake Barney, Jimmy Blewett, Matt Hirschman, Derek Hopkinson, Chas Okerson, Keith Rocco and Matt Swanson.

NASCAR announced it’s 2019 Whelen Modified Tour Schedule and the Stafford Motor Speedway announced their 2019 schedule last week.

The 16-race Whelen Modified Tour visits seven states and features the return to Wall Stadium Speedway in Wall Township, New Jersey. The tour has run three events at the high-banked third-mile oval, most recently in 2007. For the third straight season, the Whelen Modified Tour will kick off at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway. The race on Saturday, March 16, will precede the return of the tour to Virginia’s South Boston Speedway. Following the southern swing, the tour will kickoff the New England racing season as the headliner for a pair of landmark Connecticut race weekends: the 46th annual Icebreaker weekend at Thompson Motorsports Park on Sunday, April 7, and the 48th annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler on Sunday, April 28.

One of the highlights of 2018 was the inaugural Musket 250, a $25,000-to-win extra-distance championship event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Dowling took advantage of a clash between Bonsignore and former tour champion – and 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver – Ryan Preece in the final turns of the final lap to score his first win and claim the biggest winner’s purse in tour history. The 2019 race at New Hampshire will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21. The Whelen Modified Tour will also be part of the Monster Energy Series weekend at the “Magic Mile” with its championship points event on Saturday, July 21. The annual all-star race for the tour will be held on the 1.058-mile speedway on Friday, July 20.

Other schedule highlights include Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway which will host the tour on Saturday, June 1. The tour’s trip to upstate New York and Oswego Raceway will be part of the track’s 63rd Annual Classic Week with the Toyota Mod Classic 150 presented by McDonald’s. Riverhead Raceway will host a pair of races: Saturday, July 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7. The Mods will not be returning to Bristol or Langley.

The championship will conclude with the traditional races at Stafford and Thompson. First will be the 47th Annual NAPA Fall Final weekend at Stafford on Sunday, Sept. 29, followed by the crowning of the 2019 champion at the 57th Annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing on Sunday, Oct. 13.

Stafford released their 2019 racing schedule which consists of 22 events including 11 special events. For the 48th consecutive year, the season will kick-off with the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler on April 27th and 28th and will finish with the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend, both highlighted by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

The Friday night weekly racing program is set to begin on Friday, May 3rd with the return of Best Friend Friday and will continue for 20 straight weeks ending Friday, September 13th with First Responder Friday. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make 3 stops at the Stafford, CT half-mile April 27th and 28th for the NAPA Spring Sizzler, August 2nd for the Stafford 150, and September 28th and 29th for the 47th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final.

Multiple new events dot the 2019 calendar including an additional Open Modified 80 event scheduled for Friday May 10th. The open modified division will compete a total of three times in 2019 with the Twisted Tea Open 80 and Bud Light Open 80 returning to the schedule on June 14th and July 12th respectively. Also new for 2019 is the Street Stock Triple Crown, a 3-event series with events to be held Saturday of NAPA Spring Sizzler and Fall Final weekends as well as Friday, June 21st. Points will be kept and a triple crown champion will be named. The Modified Racing Series will make their one and only stop at Stafford August 30th for the 10th Annual Lincoln Tech 80.

On the speedway stock market scene each speedway stock had separate outcomes. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.55 to 17.69 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.34 to 43.19 while Dover Entertainment finished where they started at 1.98. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 1.55 to 57.32 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.19 to 22.54 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.57 to 14.23. The auto manufacturers had a positive week. Toyota went up 2.75 to 19.71, General Motors went up 0.18 to 35.93 and Ford went up 0.08 to 9.13. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 8.17 to 168.85 and Lowes dropped 5.44 to 87.81. In the area of big team sponsors stocks Coca-Cola went up 5.81 to 199.78 while McDonalds dropped 5.06 to 181.93, Target dropped 12.93 to 67.35. Dow-Dupont dropped 2.76 to 56.43, Fedex dropped 3.29 to 323.40 and Porter Cable Stanley Works dropped 4.25 to 125.94.

On the tube this week:

Wednesday, November 28
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net

Thursday, November 29
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub – Best of, FOX Sports 1
8:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
9:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Show, NBCSN
11:00 PM, MENCS Awards show, NBCSN

Friday, November 30
1:00 AM, NASCAR the Decades – the 1990s, NBCSN
1:30 AM, NASCAR the Decades – the 1990s, NBCSN
2:00 AM, NASCAR the Decades – the 1980s, NBCSN

Sunday, December 2
5:30 AM, How It’s Made – Impact Wrenches, NASCAR Cars, SCIENCE Channel
9:00 AM, How It’s Made – NASCAR Car Bodies, SCI
12:30 PM, How It’s Made – NASCAR Engines, SCI