Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1949, Ben Lalomia was the feature winner at the Buffalo Civic Center in New York. Tim Holt was the winner A Seekonk.
Sixty five years ago in 1954, rain washed out the scheduled racing on Wednesday at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. The shoreline oval ran on Saturday night with Ray Moran taking the Sportsman 25 lapper.
Sixty years ago in 1959, George Janoski was the Friday night winner on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Don Collins was the Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Other winners at the Connecticut shoreline oval were Dick Beauregard in the non-Fords and Lou Caso in the Bombers. Billy Clarke was the 100 lap Class A winner at Seekonk. Dick Machado was the Cadet division winner.
Fifty five years ago in 1964, Bill Wimble took the Friday night win on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. It was Wimble’s tenth win at the Connecticut oval. Pete Corey finished second with Ron Narducci, third. Manny Dias was the Saturday night winner at Norwood. Maine transplant Jerry Dostie was the 25 lap Modified feature winner and Bill Staubley was the Bomber winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. At Seekonk, Dave Dias was the Class A winner.
Fifty years ago in 1969, Smokey Boutwell made it two in a row at Stafford as he won the final Friday night program of the season. Fred DeSarro finished second and was followed by Dick Elliot, Leo Cleary, Bill Slater, Jack Malone and Dick Watson. Albany-Saratogo ran a 100 lapper and it was none other than Rene Charland taking the win over Dick Clark, Dick Fowler and Lou Lazzaro. At Norwood on Saturday, Leo Cleary showed the kids the fast way around as he took the win. Bob Baccioce finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Eddie Flemke. At Airborne it was Dave Gaul over Guy Chartrand and Jerry Cook and at Islip, Billy Spade won out over Jim Hendrickson and Herbie Hulse. Newt Palm won at Waterford. Thompson closed out the weekend with a 100 lapper. Bugsy Stevens won a classic duel with Smokey Boutwell. Cleary finished third and was followed by Perk Brown and Ralph Hop Harrington. Brown, from North Carolina, raced weekly in New England in order to be near his son who was in the Navy and stationed at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island. At Seekonk, Ronnie Bouchard scored one of his earliest career wins as he took the top spot in the A division feature. Hank Goff was the B division winner.
Forty five years ago in 1974, Charlie Jarzombek had quite a weekend on Long Island. Riverhead ran twin features on Wednesday night and he won them both. At Freeport on Friday, he recorded a second behind Fred Harbach and at Islip on Saturday he recorded another second, this time behind George Wagner. Bob Potter was the winner at Waterford. In other weekend action, Maynard Troyer won the Lancaster 200 over Geoff Bodine and Ron Martin. At Fulton’s final on Sunday, Troyer had to settle for second behind Bodine. George Murray was the Class A winner at Seekonk.
Forty years ago in 1979, the annual Thompson 300 was on tap and drew 146 modifieds. Geoff Bodine in the Richard Armstrong No.1 led four times including the last 96 laps to win the longest event on the schedule for the modifieds. Maynard Troyer finished second and was followed by Leo Cleary who came all the way from a 37th starting spot. John Rosati finished fourth and was followed by George Kent, Gomer Taylor, Wayne Anderson, Bugsy Stevens and Brett Bodine. Rusty Ball won the non-qualifiers race. The event drew 10,500 spectators. Richie Evans who won the night before at Shangri-La was in the hunt at Thompson until losing an engine and ended up 24th.Seekonk ran their final program of the season. Eddie StAngelo took the win over Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens.
Thirty five years ago in 1984, Brian Ross took the lead on lap 192 of the 250 lap Pocono Race of Champions and went on to take the biggest win of his career. Brett Bodine finished second and was followed by Corky Cookman, George Brunnhoelzl, Mike McLaughlin and George Kent. The event drew 109 modifieds and 130 Street Stocks. Scott Poirier won the Street Stock championship. Waterford and Riverside rained out. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Harry Gant took the win. Randy LaJoie won the Saturday Busch North event.
Thirty years ago in 1989,Tony Hirschman won the 250 lap Pocono Race of Champions but a dark cloud hung over the speedway as New York state driver Don Pratt lost his life during the running of the event. Brian Ross finished second and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero, George Kent, Mike McLaughlin, Jamie Tomaino and Mike Stefanik. It was also a big day for Brian McCarthy who beat out Tony Sylvester to win the 40 lap Street Stock-Late Model Stock event. Saturday night racing at Riverside Park rained out.
Twenty five years ago in 1994, the Pocono Race of Champions was gone from the Pocono Raceway and was scheduled to run at the Flemington Speedway later in the year. The only action in New England was at Waterford where Mike Gada won a 40 lapper at Waterford over Phil Rondeau, Jerry Pearl and Mark LaJunesse. It rained at Riverside and Riverhead. In Winston Cup action at Dover Rusty Wallace took the win under caution, out of gas and with a flat left rear tire. It was also at Dover that Johnny Benson got his first Grandnational win.
Twenty years ago, in 1999, Hurricane Floyd washed out the time trials for the Busch North Series and Featherlite Modifieds at Loudon. At race time on Saturday, 60,000 spectators jammed the front grandstand to watch the best New England had to offer. Tony Hirshman took the lead with five to go in the 100-mile event and went on to record the win. Mike Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Reggie Ruggerio and Ed Flemke Jr. Brad Leighton won the Busch North event. Ted Christopher started 35th and finished second. In Winston Cup action at Loudon, Joe Nemacheck scored his first win.
Fifteen years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire for the weekend. Forty-one cars were on hand for the second of two events at the one-mile oval. Ted Christopher, who won the July race took the pole with a speed of 128.173 mph. Taking the outside pole was Reggie Ruggiero at 126.990 mph. Rounding out the top five were Todd Szegedy, Tony Hirschman and Donnie Lia. Mike Christopher, runner-up to his brother in July qualified 24th. Steve Park in the Joe Brady No.00 qualified 19th.
Rain on Friday and Saturday forced NASCAR to re-schedule the event to Monday. Those who stayed more than got their money’s worth, as once again the Modifieds were the best show of the weekend. Ted Christopher made it two for two at Loudon in 2004 as he drove to a convincing almost full straightaway win. Because of Monday being a workday only about 6,000 fans were on hand. Five cautions before the half way mark slowed the early going. The first caution came on lap 3 when Richie Gallup hit the backstretch wall. The second caution flew for Fred Vordermeir when he spun on the front stretch. Caution 3 was for Nevin George who spun while running fifth. George also brought out the fourth caution when he hit the inside wall in turn four on lap 27. The fifth and final caution was for Ron Silk who lost an engine. Christopher’s only challenge came from Mike Stefanik on lap 22 when he made a strong charge but was unable to out power Christopher. Stefanik later spun and was never a factor after that. Todd Szegedy finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman, Donnie Lia, Tom Cloce and Chuck Hossfeld. Eric Beers, Zack Sylvester, Ken Barry and Doug Coby rounded out the top 10.
NASCAR officially announced that Whelen Industries would be the title sponsor of the Modified Tour Series in 2005. NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter officially welcomed the lighting manufacturer and indicated that it’s a good bet that the Modifieds will get more television time in 2005 and hinted that the Modifieds could very well be returning to Martinsville. The 2005 schedule is usually announced at the awards banquet in November. Present title sponsor Featherlite Trailers would remain involved in the series as they would sponsor the Most Improved Driver award and a year ending award of $3,000 to the driver that wins the most races.
Ryan Moore, the 21year old son of Kelly Moore signed a driver development contract with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Moore, who would still compete in the Busch North Series when his schedule permits, would do testing and a limited Busch Series schedule in 2005.
Busch North scribe Alan Claffie stated that a meeting was held with series owners and drivers at Loudon where they were told a new series title sponsor was expected to be announced plus short track purses would be doubled in 2005. Point moneys would be paid out three or four times a year and professionally installed car bodies would no longer be needed as individual body panels would no longer be blended to one another. A fifteen-race schedule was almost complete and Claffie alluded to the fact that Seekonk, Waterford and Beech Ridge in Maine would not be on the schedule.
The Dodge Weekly Racing Thursday night Thunder at Thompson fell victim to heavy mist that blanketed the Connecticut area most of the day. The cancellation solidified current Sunoco Modified point leader Todd Ceravolo a hefty payday in the NASCAR New England Regional Dodge Racing Series. Point leaders, as of September 19, would gather in Nashville, Tenn. later in the year for awards distribution. Ted Christopher, the point leader at Stafford was the apparent winner of the series title. Dick Wolf, who raced at Lee USA in New Hampshire had closed dramatically in recent weeks and had got the attention of NASCAR. It seems that the Speedway has been “helping” Wolf with his title attempt. Wolf finished third on September 10 and was basically out of the title hope. Then, it seems Lee Officials disqualified the first and second place finishers and elevated Wolf to the No.1 spot which may have displaced Christopher from the standings lead. NASCAR did not release the standings as of Thursday as those in charge wanted to investigate what happened at Lee and make sure everything is on the up and up. In the past it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out when a track was helping their guy out. It’s a big deal to be the track where the champion comes from and track operators have been known to show a little favoritism at times if their guy needed it. Hopefully NASCAR will straighten this situation out. In addition to Christopher, Ceravolo and Wolf, Jeff Struck who raced at the Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania, Aaron Fellows who raced at the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH, Vinnie Annarummo who raced at Seekonk Speedway in Mass, Eddie Reed who raced at Waterford, Bob Gahan who raced at the Star Speedway in New Hampshire and Bub Bilodeau who raced at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine were in the top tier of the New England Regional standings.
The Stafford Motor Speedway was quiet on Friday night. Championships in all three NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series divisions had been settled. Ted Christopher with eight wins in 18 starts is the 2004 SK Modified Champion. In addition to being the top winner Christopher was the most consistent with18 top 10s. Christopher actually ran in 19 events but was disqualified on May 14, after finishing third, as his car weighed in with too much left side weight. During mid season from July 2 to August 6 Christopher was on a tear as he won five in a row, bring his lifetime feature win total at Stafford to 79. During the final weeks of competition Christopher has become unhappy with the way track officials have treated him and has made it known that he will not participate in the speedway’s awards banquet. Finishing a distant second to Christopher is Todd Owen. Ryan Posocco, with five wins has a lock on the Late Model championship and Kevin Gambacorta with one win is the DARE Stock champion. The speedway published their official ruling on the September 10 actions of Chris Jones. Jones is now under indefinite suspension and is not allowed on speedway property.
Heavy rain at the Waterford Speedbowl forced the track management to pull the plug on Saturday night’s races. Eddie Reed Jr. and car owner Flash Gordon Rogers were extremely happy with the rain-out as it locked them into a first tier finishing spot in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series, New England Region and a healthy payday at seasons end. Reed led defending SK Modified champion Dennis Gada by 12 points. As he does at Thompson, Corey Hutchings led the Late Model standings at Waterford. In addition to his nine wins at Thompson, Hutchings has five at Waterford.
The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, NH this past weekend. The Busch Series had a week off. Qualifying was rained out and points set the field. Jeff Gordon was given the pole starting position and Jimmie Johnson, the outside pole. Kurt Busch took the win after leading half the event. Matt Kenseth finished second with Dale Earnhardt Jr., third.
Chris Economaki, editor of National Speed Sport, reported that NASCAR and the people within have donated generously to the political campaign of President George Busch. Five members of the France family that owns and controls NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation had each donated the maximum allowed $2,000. NASCAR President Mike Helton sprung for $1,000 plus $500 to the Republican National Committee. On the competitive side, Teresa Earnhardt gave $2,000 to Bush. Darrell Waltrip and Dale Jarrett also gave. Three members of the Hendrick family gave $4,000 to Democratic candidate John Edwards.
On a sad note, Ray DeLisle, a former competitor at the Waterford Speedbowl in the 50’s and 60’s, passed away.
Ten years ago in 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the New Hampshire 100, which carried a purse of $166,917. Forty Modifieds were on hand for qualifying.
The Penthouse, the Firehouse and the Jailhouse all had their separate stories at Loudon. In the Penthouse was Ryan Preece who earned the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light with a lap of 127.692mph. Also in the penthouse was car owner Eddie Partridge who watched with pleasure as his two drivers, Ronnie Silk and Keith Rocco qualified their cars in second and third place. It was Rocco’s first time at the New Hampshire mile. Rounding out the top five was Eric Beers and Doug Coby. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Glen Reen, Erick Rudolph, Bobby Grigas III and Mike Stefanik. Current points leader Ted Christopher qualified 14th.
In the Firehouse was Donny Lia, the June New Hampshire winner. Lia’s car, the Mystic Missile, caught fire during practice and suffered severe damage that prompted to an emergency run back to the Mystic River Marina where an all night session was put in to make the necessary repairs. According to car owner Bob Garbarino a loose fuel line was the culprit. Unable to qualify, Lia was forced to take a provisional, which would place him in 34th starting spot in the 40 car-starting grid.
In the Jailhouse was part time Whelen Modified Tour Series driver Frank M. Ruocco, The Hartford Courant reported that Ruocco, who is also a weekly competitor at the Stafford Motor Speedway, was charged in a federal indictment on Wednesday, September 16, with obstruction of justice for trying to hide records of a scheme to illegally double the cost of removing contaminated soil from a New York construction site. Ruocco, Jr; his company, Earth Technology; and employee Boris A. Tomicic, 37, of West Hartford, also were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering for billing the unidentified New York developer at inflated rates. Tomicic was not accused of obstruction.
Ruocco, who is 96 points behind Ted Christopher in the SK Modified point standings, was out on bail and finished sixth at Stafford on Friday night.
Ron Silk passed Reggie Ruggiero on the backstretch of the last lap and held on through Turns 3 and 4 to earn the victory in the New Hampshire 100. Silk, swapped the lead with Ruggiero three times and ran bumper-to-bumper in the last 10 laps, with Silk surviving the battle. Ruggiero settled for a fourth-place finish after getting shuffled three spots on the last lap. Donny Lia crossed the line second followed by pole winner Ryan Preece and Mike Stefanik finished fifth. Lia entered the race third in points but his car caught fire during practice on Thursday and he was not able to qualify. After starting at the rear on Saturday with a provisional, Lia was involved in an early accident and went down three laps. He was the “Lucky Dog” beneficiary during three subsequent cautions, and rocketed toward the front for a runner-up finish. Keith Rocco, who was making his first start at New Hampshire finished 33rd after dropping out with mechanical problems.
The race featured 17 lead changes among eight drivers, and was slowed by 11 cautions. It was Silk’s fourth career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win and his first at New Hampshire. According to NASCAR, The New Hampshire Modified race on SPEED did a 0.5 TV rating. The show aired Saturday, September 19th, 1:00-2:31pm, total households- 349,000; total viewers- 442,000.
In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Ted Christopher made a mad dash from Loudon, NH, after qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event to win his sixth Sunoco Modified feature event of the season at Thompson and his second in a row. Christopher edged out fellow Modified Tour competitors Rowan Pennink, Keith Rocco, and Woody Pitkat to take down the victory. Mike O’Sullivan scored his third Super Late Model victory of the season to bring the chase to the championship to single digits. Cam McDermott had a good point night as he scored his second win of the season in TIS Modified competition. Rick Gentes returned to his winning ways in the Late Models while Sean Monahan scored the victory in the Limited Sportsman division. Steve Michalski earned his second Mini Stock victory of the season.
Christopher drove by pole sitter Dave LaCroix in the first turn of the first lap and never looked back. At the finish, Christopher took down the win over Pennink. Rocco had to settle for third over Pitkat and Bert Marvin. With the finish, Rocco gained two points over his nearest competition, Pitkat. Rocco has a four-point advantage over Pitkat going into the final point race.
The sparks flew between Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher at Stafford on Friday night. Keith Rocco took his fifth victory of the season in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Dillon Moltz took his fifth win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Membrino, Jr. took down his second win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Norm Sears took down win number two of 2009 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, and Stephanie Berardi scored her first career win in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with two caution periods in the first two laps of the event. On the lap-3 restart, Keith Rocco moved by Matt Gallo to take the race lead. Richie Pallai, Jr. was third, Ted Christopher was fourth, and Todd Owen was in fifth. Christopher quickly moved into second behind Rocco, with Gallo, Pallai, and Woody Pitkat making up the top-5. Rocco held the lead until lap-10 when Christopher moved by. The next lap saw the caution come out for a spin by Sean Foster that collected several cars including Gallo, Joe Allegro, Jr., Kirk Zervas, and Wade Mattesen.
Christopher continued to lead back under green with Rocco, Curt Brainard, Pallai, and Chris Matthews making up the top-5. The top-5 ran in line for three laps before Pallai moved into third and Pitkat moved into fifth on lap-15. Christopher would continue to hold the lead until lap-20 when Rocco went back by to retake the lead. Rocco’s lead was short lived as Christopher was able to move back by Rocco on lap-23 to take the lead back. The caution came out with 24 laps complete for a spin by Christopher Jones and slowed the action at the front of the pack. Christopher took the lead on the restart, but Rocco would move back out front several laps later on lap-30.
Rocco’s move for the lead opened the door for Pitkat to also get by Christopher, dropping him back to third place. But Christopher took the spot back from Pitkat on the next lap and set his sights on getting the lead back from Rocco. Christopher got the lead on lap-35 and looked like he had a car to hold off Rocco for the win. On the final lap, contact between Rocco and Christopher, a bump and run, moved Christopher up the hill in turn 3, which gave Rocco enough room to take the lead and the race victory coming off turn 4. After the checkered flag, Christopher slammed Rocco in turn 1, sending Rocco around and himself into the turn 1 wall. Pitkat finished third behind Rocco and Christopher, with Pallai and Owen rounding out the top-5. Christopher, who was the point leader and Rocco were suspended for one race because of their actions.
The weather was cool but the action was hot at the Waterford Speedbowl as the track hosted Cystic Fibrosis Night and completed its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race program with a first time winner and great battles in all the divisions taking center stage. Dennis Gada returned to victory lane in the SK Modifieds and Dennis Botticello ended a lengthy hiatus to Speedbowl Victory Lane in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models. Walt Hovey Jr. won his fourth Street Stock event of the year, Allen Coates checkered his seventh NEATV Truck Series race, and Ian Brew won his first ever Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race.
After the pre-race Cystic Fibrosis festivities, seven-time Speedbowl champion Dennis Gada of Salem used his pole starting spot to move to the SK Modified race lead when the green flag came out. Jeff Pearl moved to second with Rob Janovic Jr. in third. Tyler Chadwick moved inside Jeffrey Paul for fourth on lap six. Contact in turn one of lap 15 left Glenn Pressell III slowing to bring out the first caution flag.
On the restart Gada jumped out over Pearl. Janovic moved in to challenge Pearl for second on the inside. Out of turn two on lap 16, Pearl and Janovic got crossed up triggering a chain reaction behind. Pearl and Janovic were able to continue through, however several cars made contact behind drawing the second caution when they stacked up into turn three. Gada again got out front over Pearl on the restart. Pearl began to look for a way around Gada. Janovic raced third and Chadwick in fourth. Keith Rocco was a man on the move, pressuring Tom Abele Jr. for fifth after starting from last after a qualifying race wreck. Ron Yuhas Jr., contending for the championship with Rocco, sat in seventh. Rocco made the move inside Abele on lap 23, advancing his way to the top five.
Up front Gada opened up a one car length lead over Pearl when Joey Gada spun in turn two with seven laps remaining. The restart was more of the same. Gada, Pearl and Janovic occupied the top three spots. Rocco moved up past Chadwick and immediately set his sights on Janovic, racing outside for third when caution came out with three laps remaining for Jeff Gallup and Rich Hammann who came together. Gada survived the final restart to go on to his second win of the year. The win is his 64th career at the shoreline oval. Pearl took second and Janovic held off the challenges of Rocco for third. Chadwick completed the top five. Rocco was able to sustain his points lead over Yuhas with his finish.
Dick Ceravolo continued to show a slight improvement in his condition. A slight infection continued to put reconstructive surgery on hold. He continued to be in an induced coma, now in its fifth week.
The Charlotte Business Journal reported that Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports Inc. filed suit against the city of Concord and Cabarrus County in North Carolina claiming they have failed to follow through on incentive agreements related to improvements at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and a nearby drag strip.
In Sprint Cup racing at New Hampshire International Mark Martin took the win over Juan Pablo Montoya.
Five years ago in 2014, The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park returned to oval track action on Thursday night featuring twin 20 lap Sunoco (SK type) Modified features. Keith Rocco scored a one-two punch as he clearly had the dominate car to win both features, his 15th and 16th of the year in the Northeast.
Rick Gentes won the Late Model feature while Corey Hutchings took down the win in the Limited Sportsman division. Dave Trudeau picked up the Mini Stock win.
Rocco took the lead from Ryan Preece for the final time at lap 20 in the first feature, and took it away from Todd Ceravolo in the second one. In both races, Rocco went to the checkered flag unchallenged.
Tyler Chadwick took the early lead at the drop of the green in the first 25-lap feature, but caution quickly emerged on lap two when Todd Ceravolo spun in the middle of turn one and two. Chadwick held off Cam McDermott on the restart, but a multi-car wreck on the backstretch put them under caution before the lap was over. McDermott took the lead on the restart and held off a three-wide challenge in turn four to keep it at the line. On the following circuit, Preece drove up on McDermott’s bumper before dropping to the bottom groove to claim the lead in turn three of lap four. Kerry Malone moved into second and attached himself to Preece’s bumper. Rocco settled into third, but soon inherited the second position when Malone blew up on the front stretch at lap 14.
Preece and Rocco brought the field back to green with a tight door-to-door battle through turns one and two. In the middle of turn three, Rocco pulled ahead by a slight advantage, but lost it to Preece when they crossed the line. The battle continued and the duo swapped the lead several times before Rocco settled in out front at the wave of a caution flag on lap 17. Preece cleared Rocco on the restart to assume the lead, but Rocco drove back out front in turn four. Preece reclaimed the lead before the lap was over, but Rocco wasn’t done and drove back out front on lap 20. This time, however, Rocco opened up a five car length advantage – the largest over Preece for the night. Rocco continued to pull away over the last couple of laps and took down the victory in the first of dual 25-lap features. Preece settled for second with Danny Cates, third. Cam McDermott and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five.
Without a doubt, Rocco had the field covered as he took the lead from Todd Ceravolo on lap 14 and never looked back. Ceravolo held on for second with Preece, third. Shawn Thibeault and Max Zachem rounded out the top five.
Action was at a fever pitch at Stafford on Friday night as Rowan Pennink made it three in a row in SK Modified competition. Pennink and Ryan Preece had been slugging it out from the early going and were headed for a photo finish when Ted Christopher entered the mix on the final lap which allowed Pennink to take the win. Pennink and Preece had taken the white flag and were racing side by side going into turn three when Christopher gave Preece an upsetting bump which caused him to momentarily lift. Joey Cipriano came through to finish second, with Preece, Christopher, and Todd Owen rounding out the top five. NASCAR National Championship contender Keith Rocco finished sixth. Nicole Morgillo completed her third week of competition at Stafford and finished 12th. Based on a three week handicap she should be starting at or near the front this coming Friday night.
Also scoring wins on Friday night were Adam Gray who scored his fourth win of the year in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Jay Goff who scored his first win of the year in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Hayes locked down his fourth win of the season in the 20-lap Ltd. Late Model feature, Alexandra Fearn scored her second win of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature, and Cory DiMatteo scored his third win of the season in the 20-lap Legend Cars feature.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburg, NY for a 100 lap event. Justin Bonsignore in the Art and Kenny Barry No. 21 took the win over Tommy Barrett JR and Chris Pasteryak.
Word had it that one of the Modified Tour’s most prominent teams will not be in competition as they are in the process of regrouping so as to be ready for Loudon on September 20. Car owner Bob Garbarino said that the decision to not participate in the upcoming Riverhead 200 was based solely upon trying to break the team’s run of bad luck this season. His No. 4 entry, driven by Donny Lia, had been unable to finish six of the 10 tour races this year, including five of the last six. Four were due to accidents and two the result mechanical failures.
“Hopefully we’re just going to break the chain of bad luck, that’s really all there is to it,” Garbarino said. “We’ve got to find a way to get rid of this. We’ve got to do something to shake ourselves up here.” Garbarino has participated on the Whelen Modified Tour since it was established in 1985, and his No. 4 has started in every race since the beginning of the 1989 season.
In an unrelated matter a 13.5 acre parcel of land directly across the street from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway will go on the auction block on Saturday, Sept 20th at 10:00am. Suggested opening bid for this property which has 600 feet of frontage on Route 106 is $275,000.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval ended up getting skunked by the weather man. The National Weather Service predicted high winds and heavy rain for southeastern Connecticut for Saturday night. Needless to say it was humid and uncomfortable in the Waterford area on Saturday night but no rain fell until after midnight. On a sad note, Don Bachand who was one of the original drivers of the Mystic Missile at Waterford passed away.
In Modified racing in the Southland, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series was at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. Burt Myers took the lead from points leader Andy Seuss on the restart of a green-white-checkered finish attempt and held on for his second consecutive win of the season and 13th career victory. It was Myers’ first victory at the .455-mile banked asphalt oval since the series’ second event there in April 2005. Seuss, who entered the event looking for his fifth consecutive win at Caraway dating back to last season and 11th of his career, was forced to settle for a runner-up finish. He was followed by Kyle Ebersole, David Calabrese and Danny Bohn. Luke Fleming, J.R. Bertuccio, Bryan Dauzat, Daniel Speeney and Gary Putnam completed the top 10.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island the scheduled twin 30 lap NASCAR Modified features were replaced by a single 40 lapper because of impending rain. Jason Agugliaro scored his second win of the season over Ryan Preece, Tom Rogers Jr, Kyle Elwood and Ron Silk.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Brad Keselowski routed the Richmond field, leading all but 17 of the 400 laps en route to his fourth victory of the season. Kyle Busch led every lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ Virginia 529 College Savings 250, and held off rookie points leader Chase Elliott late in the race to score his record 22nd win from the pole.
Last year, 2018, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. After enduring adverse weather conditions for hours the competitors, raceway staff, NASCAR and many loyal fans hung in there. The event took the green flag at 9:41pm. Justin Bonsignore took the lead from Timmy Solomito on lap 133 and went on to score his sixth career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win at his home track, sweeping the two races at the New York oval in 2018. The victory was the seventh in the first 13 races of the season and his 19th career in Whelen Modified Tour competition.
After qualifying was rained out, Bonsignore started from the outside pole position after the field was set by practice speeds. Bonsignore didn’t have the car to beat in the early laps as polesitter Doug Coby was at the point for the first 64 laps.
But, when Coby spun from the lead off turn two on lap 65, Bonsignore found himself in the middle of a battle with fellow hometown favorite Timmy Solomito for the win. After chasing the back bumper of Solomito’s No. 16 Starrett Tools Ford, Bonsignore made his move on lap 133 and was not going to be denied. A final caution flag on lap 152 gave Solomito one last chance, and he was able to lead the field across the line on lap 159. But, just one lap later, Solomito slid back and Bonsignore took control.
Chase Dowling, who is still looking for his first career Whelen Modified Tour win, scored his eighth podium finish in 54 career starts as he finished third. Coby, who spun from the lead early, rallied through the field and finished fourth. Dave Sapienza, who ran as high as third spot before a crash on a restart, came back to finish fifth. John Fortin was sixth, followed by John Beatty, Shawn Solomito, Chris Pasteryak and Rob Summers.
There were four caution periods for 29 laps. Eighteen of the original 24 starters were running at the finish. There were only 24 cars on hand. Among those who failed to finish were Gary McDonald who dropped out on lap 160 when he crashed. Melissa Fifield quit after 25 laps, her excuse this week was ignition problems. Melissa has had numerous problems since she has followed the Modified tour, the biggest problem is the lack of downward travel in her right foot. Riverhead regular Ken Heagy had rear end problems while Tom Rogers Jr, Matt Swanson and Cory Osland crashed out of the event.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the Street Stock division took center stage with the extra distance R.A.D. Auto Machine Street Stock 30. George Bessette, Jr. took down the extra distance win while other feature winners on the night included Michael Christopher, Jr. winning his second race of the season in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn scored his 12th Late Model win of the year and in the process clinched the track championship, Bryan Narducci made a last lap pass on Marcello Rufrano for the second consecutive week to score his fifth win of the season, and Ryan Fearn won his fourth Limited Late Model feature of the season.
In the 40 lap SK Modified feature, Christopher, driving a car driven by his late uncle Ted, cruised to his second feature win of the 2018 season with Woody Pitkat coming home second. Chase Dowling edged out Glen Reen by inches at the line for third with Ron Williams rounding out the top-5. Keith Rocco saw his hopes for a repeat championship all but disappear when his car suffered a left front flat tire on lap 3. Because of the fact that he stopped on the track to bring out the caution he was given a one lap penalty for drawing an intentional yellow flag which placed him 15th at the finish.
In the SK Lite feature, Bryan Narducci made it two in a row and fifth overall for the season after an almost mirror image performance of the win he scored a week previous. Narducci use the high line in turns 1+2 on the final lap to get a good run going down the backstretch and going into turn 3 he pulled alongside Marcel Rufrano. The two cars drifted up the track in turn 4 with Narducci emerging with the race lead and the ultimate win. Andrew Molleur also got by Rufrano in the final corner to come home second with Rufrano, Mark Bakaj, and Ted Hodgdon rounding out the top-5.
According to Greg Narducci, Bryan’s uncle, With this win he locked up the NASCAR National point standings for Division lll and the NASCAR UNOH YOUTH Achievement Award! Stafford still has 2 races left for their Points, which he’s leading by 26 points.
On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl they too had their problems with the weather as on and off showers slowed the progress of the racing program. Valient efforts by the track crew made it possible for the races to be run.
Andrew Molleur held off Keith Caruso and John O’Sullivan to claim a win in the Bubby Brouwer Memorial, worth more than $1,500. The race was sponsored by Race Choice. There were several other amazing accomplishments Saturday. Doug Curry whirled past Charles Canfield on the final lap to win the 25-lap Mini Stock feature. Jason Palmer thundered around Anthony Flannery on the last lap to capture the 30-lap Late Model race, Mike Blaskey and Peter Bennett continued their duel in the 25-lap Legends feature. Blaskey was able to take down the win by just 0.040 seconds and Kyle James started eighth, blistered through the field in just 23 laps to win the 40-lap SK Modified feature. Jason Chicolas opened up a big early lead and held off Al Stone down the stretch to collect his third Sportsman win of the season.
The spotlight, however, was on Molleur who was able to win the most lucrative SK Lite race in Speedbowl history. Paul French led the first seven laps and then Brett Gonyaw took over the lead, Molleur, however, was sifting his way through the field and moved into second by lap 20. After a caution came out midway through the race, Molleur was able to rocket past Gonyaw to take the lead with 22 laps to go.
James started eighth in the SK feature but he didn’t stay there for very long. It took him 23 laps to take the lead from Todd Owen en route to his seventh win of the season.
James did most of his passing on the outside as he sizzled his way into the lead. Owen was second and Molleur was third.
James was able to increase his point lead to 16 over Rob Janovic Jr.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series ran on Saturday night at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Scarborough, ME. That event ran head to head with an open competition event at the Claremont Speedway in Claremont, NH also on Saturday night. Due to the confliction both tracks suffered poor car counts. Beech Ridge had 18 cars while Claremont had 13.
At Beech Ridge, 16-year old Sammy Rameau, of Westminster, MA, started ninth is an 18-car field, passed race leader Andy Shaw, of Center Conway, NH, on lap-43, and went on to his second career win in Valenti Modified Racing Series action. Anthony Nocella, who started 13th, moved into second with 15-laps remaining but Rameau hung on to the top spot, to post the win. Richard Savary, who started 18th, finished third, followed Tony Ricci fourth, and Cameron Sontag.Rounding out the top ten were, Woody Pitkat, Andy Shaw, Jacob Perry, T.J. Bleau, and Mike Willis Jr.
At Claremont, Ron Silk passed Russ Hersey on Lap 65 to win the Open Modified 75 event. Silk took home $3,000 for his efforts. Hersey finished second while 2017 track champion Dana Smith was third. Brian Robie and Brad Babb rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Andy Jankowiak, Dana DiMatteo, Jeff Gallup, Les Rose and Jeff Murray
The Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway returned to action on Sunday with a full program of racing on the 5/8 mile oval. The racing program included Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds (2-20 lap races, 1-10 lap sprint), Late Model (25laps), LTD Sportsman (20laps) and Mini Stock (15laps).
The first segment for the Sunoco Modifieds put drivers in an inverted order based on championship points with the lowest driver in points starting on the pole and the driver on top of the standings starting in last. Points leader Keith Rocco quickly moved his way into the top five in the opening laps of the first segment while Marcello Rufrano, Kyle James and Joey Gada held down the top three for the first half of the segment with Woody Pitkat and Rocco in tow. Pitkat would work his way up to second by lap 16 but couldn’t find enough to get past Marcello Rufrano who took the first segment easily. The win was Rufrano’s first career victory in the Sunoco Modified which had the young driver speechless in victory lane.
The second segment inverted the finishing order of lead lap cars from segment one and quickly saw one of the best in the business take the lead early as Todd Owen quickly worked his way to the front where he remained for the first half of the race with Kyle James on his tail in second and Keith Rocco settled in third. James closed Owen’s lead to around a car length with five laps. James made one final push in the final corner of the final lap using a lapped car as a pick but Owen managed to score the victory by a nose. After the two points paying races Keith Rocco takes a comfortable lead into the World Series weekend in October. The reigning champ is looking to win his third division title in a row.
When the accrued points for the 20/20 shootout were tallied the final 10-lap segment saw Kyle James as the man to beat for the overall crown with five points while Marcello Rufrano entered the final segment with seven points and Keith Rocco and Todd Owen had an accumulated eight points. The driver with the lowest points total accrued after the final segment was to be crowned the 20/20 Sprint champion. Todd Owens and Keith Rocco started the race up front based on their speeds from segment one while Kyle James settled in fourth for the opening laps. Those positions put Owen and James in a tie for least points accrued and they stayed that way through the final lap. Since the two drivers were tied at the end of the race Todd Owen was awarded the overall victory for the second year in a row for finishing higher that Kyle James in segment three.
In other action at Thompson, Shawn Monahan all but wrapped up his second consecutive championship in the division with his fourth win of the season, Tom Carey III won the Late Model event and. Wayne Burroughs scored his fourth victory in the Mini Stocks.
NASCAR’s Monster Cup and Xfinity divisions were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where it rained all weekend forcing the races to be run on Monday with a sparse crowd looking on. One year after settling for second in a chaotic, crash-marred race last year, Keselowski redeemed himself by earning his second straight major win and finally giving team owner Roger Penske the elusive Brickyard win.
The 2010 Cup champion got past race leader Denny Hamlin on the second-to-last lap and beat Erik Jones to the finish line by 0.904 seconds. Hamlin finished third. He also won the Xfinity race. Ryan Preece, driving a Joe Gibbs entry, crashed out of the event.