RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trails; Troubles After The North-South Shootout & More…

Column By: PHIL SMTIH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Good Lord giveth and the Good Lord taketh away. That pretty much describes Burt Myers situation after he was stripped of his recent victory at the North-South Shootout at the Hickory Speedway in North Carolina.

According to Speed51, Myers’ tires failed a laboratory inspection. The disqualification gave the victory in the event to Andy Seuss of Hampstead, N.H. Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass. was moved to second place and Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, N.Y. was moved to third. According to the Speed51 report, the tires of Myers, Seuss and McKennedy were all laboratory tested.

Myers continually thanks the Good Lord for his successes evidently had a lapse in his judgement. “I know that in life God’s in control,” Myers said. “I know that everything happens for a reason. But I also know that god give’s us enough power to make our own decisions. In the last race, I made a bad decision that ultimately cost us the win. In racing, there is extreme pressure to win and be successful, and I cracked. As owner and driver, I want to accept sole responsibility for the actions of my team. I want to apologize to my family, my crew, my sponsors and my fans.” Myers added, “I want to end by saying, congratulations to Eddie Harvey and his team on their win in the North-South Shootout.”

The Stafford Speedway held its 50th annual Champions Banquet this past Friday night. Top honors went to SK Modified Champion #50 Ronnie Williams, Late Model Champion #92 Tom Fearn, SK Light Modified Champion #55 Teddy Hodgdon, Limited Late Model Champion #6 Jeremy Lavoie and Street Stock Champion #89 Zack Robinson.

Ben Dodge and Matt Buckler served as the Masters of Ceremony. The 50th annual Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Champions Awards Ceremony recognized the top-10 points finishers from the SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, and Street Stock divisions as well as honoring the track champions. Special awards that were presented during the evening’s festivities were Most Popular Driver Awards, NAPA Auto Parts Parts Rookie of the Year, R.A.D. Automachine Rookie of the Year, and the UNOH Youth Achievement Award. Meghan Fuller was recognized as the winner of the RSMPCO.com Street Stock Triple Crown and NAPA Auto Parts was recognized for their fund raising efforts for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

The NAPA Auto Parts Rookie of the Year awards were presented to Andrew Molleur from the SK Modified® division and Ryan Fearn from the Late Model division. Taking home R.A.D. Auto Machine Rookie of the Year honors were Steven Chapman in the SK Light division, Kevin Crosby in the Limited Late Model division, and Adrien Paradis, III in the Street Stock division. The winners of the Most Popular Driver Awards were Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® division, Tom Fearn in the Late Model division, Sami Anderson from the SK Light division, Alexandra Fearn from the Limited Late Model division, and Meghan Fuller in the Street Stock division. The UNOH Youth Achievement award was won by Street Stock driver George Bessette, Jr. New for the 2019 season was the RSMPCO.com Street Stock Triple Crown. The RSMPCO.com Triple Crown awarded $4,500 in bonus money to the top-10 finishers with Meghan Fuller taking home the winner’s share of $1,000.

The 2020 Stafford Speedway racing schedule has been set and with 22 events. The calendar is focused on weekly racing with a mix of special events. All 5 of Stafford’s NASCAR weekly racing divisions will compete weekly starting in early May and running through mid-September. In total 122 feature races are scheduled to be held on the half-mile in 2020.

The season will kick-off at the 49th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® Weekend, April 24th-26th. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be on hand to compete in the annual 200 lap event. The Modified Tour will return to Stafford twice more throughout the season for the traditional Stafford 150, held under the lights Friday, August 7th, and the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final scheduled for September 26th and 27th.

Each of Stafford’s 5 weekly racing divisions will have at least one special event in 2020. New for 2020, The Firecracker extra distance Street Stock race will be held on July 3rd in conjunction with an Independence Day Celebration including Fireworks. The SK Light Modified drivers will compete in the 4th Annual Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night, a 40 lap event, on Friday, July 24th while Stafford’s rough and tough Late Model division will run a 50 lap event on Friday, September 4th. Stafford’s Limited Late Models will get their night to shine with a 25 lap race Friday, June 19th. Stafford’s weekly headline division, the SK Modifieds®, will have 2 special events in 2020 headlined by the 7th Annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K, a $5,000 to win 100 lap SK Modified® race. New for 2020 is the return of the Senators Cup, a 50 lap race last held in 1979. The SK Modifieds® will run an extra 10 laps Friday, August 14th to determine who will take home the Senators Cup trophy. Past winners include Richie Evans, Geoff Bodine, Bugsy Stevens, and Ed Flemke. The speedway will run 4 open modified events in 2020, One per month starting in May. The Open Modifieds run their first event of the season May 15th, and will return June 12th for the Twisted Tea Open, July 10th for the Bud Light Open, and August 21st for the Lincoln Tech Open. Each event will be 80 laps and will feature a live pit stop with the option to change 2 tires. Ronnie Williams, Keith Rocco, Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale, and Tommy Barrett have each scored Stafford Open 80 wins to date.

New for 2020 will be a Super Late Model event scheduled for Friday, May 31st. Rules, race format, and entry information will be released in the coming weeks.

Last Sunday, the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway celebrated Keith Rocco’s eighth NASCAR Sunoco Modified title. Not since the mid-70’s when Fred DeSarro and Geoff Bodine dominated the track has any single driver accomplished the fete of Rocco. Rocco, who has 63 wins at Thompson has a career total of 279 wins which also include 67 victories at Stafford and 150 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Woody Pitkat finished in the runner-up spot, while Todd Owen, Troy Talman and Ronnie Williams finished the top five. In the Late Model division, William Wall’s sixth-place finish in the finale earned him the title by a mere four points, capturing him the crown for the second time in the last four years. Behind him, Rookie of the Year winner Derek Gluchacki, who scored his first career victory in the finale, settled for second, while Mark Jenison was third. Woody Pitkat, who earned a division-high three wins, was fourth, and Matthew Lowinski-Loh fifth.

Bryan Narducci quickly is becoming one of the top rising driving talents in the country, as the Colchester, Connecticut, driver sealed his second straight NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III national championship in 2019. In addition, Narducci celebrated Thompson’s SK Light Modified title after earning seven wins in 10 races and scoring victories in 11 of 15 for the division over the last two years. Narducci will celebrate his NASCAR crown in Charlotte, North Carolina, next weekend. Behind him in the final SK Light Modified standings, Albert Ouellette, Wayne Burroughs Jr., John O’Sullivan and Nathan Pytko rounded the top five. Third generation driver Kyle Gero wasn’t going to let anyone take the Limited Sportsman title from his grasp, as the Uncasville, Connecticut, native earned his first career title in a consistent season. He didn’t visit Victory Lane but won by five points over two-time champion Shawn Monahan. The path for Gero wasn’t an easy one, but his top five finishes, and clean nose, helped him officially celebrate the crown on Sunday. Shawn Monahan was second, followed by Ryan Morgan, Corey Fanning and Jason Chicolas.

In a Mini Stock finale that went down to the final lap of the season, Doug Curry captured the Mini Stock title, and celebrated an emotional night at the banquet. Curry lost his father just after the Sunoco World Series and dedicated the championship to him. His path to a first championship at Thompson came in his first year of competing at the .625-mile track. The Michalski brothers, Steve and Scott, tied for second, while Jared Roy and Russ Barboza were fourth and fifth.

Two mid-week, open-wheel shows in just over one month are just part of a plan for a major 75th anniversary season at Seekonk Speedway in 2020. Under the direction of the Venditti family since 1946, the season will officially open with NASCAR opening day on May 3, 2020.

Open Wheel Wednesday will return for the 16th annual event on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 – with the Tri Track Open Modified Series, NEMA Lite Dave Steele Memorial, and the first-ever 350 S.M.A.C. (350 Supers, Super Modified Atlantic Charter) race at Seekonk set to create a true open-wheel summer showdown. The action doesn’t stop there – as the ISMA Supermodifieds return to Seekonk to help spearhead The Boston Louie Classic – a second show on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 – with the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites Boston Louie, a staple event for the winged warriors in New England. “We are excited to add the 350 Supers to the schedule and keep the NEMA Dave Steele classic as part of the Open Wheel Wednesday tradition,” Ed St. Germain, Seekonk’s Director of Business Development, said. “We are also looking forward to showcasing the Boston Louie event on another great midweek show with the return of the Supermodifieds. The Supermodifieds haven’t been here in a while and it should be a great show for our dedicated fans.”

The Modifieds are no stranger to Open Wheel Wednesday — for the past 15 years, drivers from across the East Coast have rolled to Seekonk chasing a $10,000 victory prize. Major modified names like Donny Lia, Matt Hirschman and Doug Coby have accomplished the task, and everyone will be chasing the check again next season. Seekonk Speedway’s full 2020 schedule of events will be announced in the coming months.

Tyler Reddick won his second consecutive Xfinity Series championship by snatching the lead away from Cole Custer in a spirited season finale Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Reddick and Custer traded the lead three times in a single lap with Reddick finally surging his Richard Childress Racing entry to the front for good with 18 laps remaining.

Reddick is the first to win consecutive Xfinity championships since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011 and 2012 and ninth driver with multiple titles. Rene Charland had four consecutive NASCAR National Sportsman titles.

In NASCAR Monster Cup racing at Homestead, Kyle Busch casually collected the championship flag from his team and did a slow, subdued celebratory lap. The most polarizing driver in NASCAR had just won his second Cup title and wanted his true fans to enjoy the moment with him. Martin Truex finished second. Ryan Preece finished 25th.