RPW Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago, in 1950, Ralph Moody won a scheduled modified race at Thompson.
Fifty five years ago in 1965 promoters Al Gerber and Irv Fried paved the legendary Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway, a dirt oval since 1926. Pete Zanardi, a close friend of Bill Slater, wrote the following: Jim McElreath won in a champ car on June 20 and again Aug. 8.
The Modifieds got their chance in the $23,000 National Open Oct. 12. Gerber and Fried brought the National Open to Langhorne in 1951 and very soon it was seen as “the poor man’s Indianapolis.”
A few tons of asphalt wasn’t going to change that. Sixty-two Modifieds lined up behind pole sitter Dutch Hoag. Ron Lux set fast time, but Dutch Hoag’s guaranteed starter status put him on the pin. A number of tracks sent “guaranteed starters” to Langhorne, a key in the event’s stature.
Bill Slater survived a multitude of crashes to carry away the gigantic trophy. The final 20 laps were especially crazy. Coming from 18th, Slater, in the legendary V8, led only the final two of what turned out to be 128 laps because of the reds and yellows. “Langhorne demanded a reliable car and it demanded patience. The race was 100 miles and I was determined to finish it,” Slater told Zanardi. Unsure of where he was in the late stages, he recalled suddenly becoming aware of having to pass Herbie Tillman. “At that point, I didn’t remember him passing me, nor did I remember my passing him.” He got it done in the backstretch.
Slater and owners Bob Vitari and Vic Bombaci were enjoying a sensational season. NASCAR modified stalwarts; they had scored major wins at Norwood (Mass.), Thompson (Conn.), Malta (N.Y.) and Oxford Plains (Maine) and chased Ray Hendrick home at Trenton (N.J.). “Money was the reason we went to Langhorne,” recalled Slater. “Those guys operated like a business and we went where the money was.” Reliability and patience were factors. Fortune also played a part. Hoag, who had won three opens on the dirt, was heading for another when rain brought out the red flag with 80 laps complete. Hoag’s dominance was interrupted by another red flag seven laps later. Slater had to be getting weary at that point. He had left Langhorne late Saturday (after qualifying) and flown to Boston where he was battling for the championship at nearby Norwood Arena. After driving a borrowed car to second (and the championship), he drove back to Langhorne “in a ’59 Chevy with 300,000 miles on it” in time “to get a couple hours of sleep.”
Hoag got away again, but suddenly his engine soured. Freddy Adam inherited the lead, but his luck was equally bad. The advantage fell to Tillman. Slater sneaked past with two laps left and accepted what was a controversial and contested victory. Stan Ploski also got by Tillman to claim second. Dick Havens and Tommy McAndrew rounded out the top five. Bugsy Stevens, in his first ROC start, finished 33rd. The win capped off a $49,000 season for the V8.
Forty five years ago in 1975, the season came to an end at Martinsville. Geoff Bodine took the win with Bugsy Stevens, second. Satch Worley finished third and was followed by Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, Ronnie Bouchard, Maynard Troyer and Fred DeSarro.
Forty years ago in 1980, Martinsville’s season ender was a 250-lap event. Richie Evans ducked by Greg Sacks on lap 144 of the 250-lap contest as he finished out the year with a win, the 350th of his career. Ronnie Bouchard in the Dick Armstrong No.1 finished second and was followed by Geoff Bodine and Brian Ross.
Thirty five years ago in 1985, George Kent won the World Series at Thompson. Mike McLaughlin finished second with Jeff Fuller, third. Richie Evans finished fifth and wrapped up the 1985 National Championship. Little did anyone know but popular champion would be dead just four days later when his car would slam into the third turn wall at Martinsville. In Winston Cup action at Rockingham, Darrell Waltrip took the win. Brett Bodine was the Grandnational winner.
Thirty years ago in 1990, Jeff Fuller won the World Series 75 lapper at Thompson Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Ricky Fuller, Tom Bolles and Doug Hevron. Ed Ballenger was the Super Modified winner, Ted Christopher beat his brother Mikey in SK action and Ricky Shawn was the late model winner. David Gada won a season ending 60 lapper at Waterford
Twenty five years ago in 1995, the Race of Champions was run at Flemington. John Blewett III led the last 20 laps to take the win over Billy Paunch and Todd Gray. Rick Zacharis won the rain shortened AAA-TAR-SK race, which was checkered after State Police stopped the event, which was being run in the rain. Ken Wooly finished second. Steve Whitt won the Street Stock-Late Model race. Tom Fox and Dan Turbush were fighting for the win when they tangled on the last lap. Fox was put last for dumping Turbush. Brad Boisoneault stated later that Turbush hit just about everyone in the field including Fox, three times, and deserved to get dumped. Poor weather kept the crowds down which necessitated that competitors were paid by check. The checks were bad and bounced like balls. From then on, competitors have avoided the Race, which at one time was the most prestigious modified event run. In other weekend action, Tucker Reynolds Jr. won the modified portion of the Lee Octoberfest.
Twenty years ago in 2000, Nascar Featherlite Modified Tour Official Bill Brice was severely injured after being hit by a car near his place of business. George Kent won the Race of Champions on Saturday at Oswego. Ted Christopher finished second. It was also World Series weekend at Thompson. Sixteen Thousand plus spectators were on hand for the two day event which featured the Featherlite Modifieds which would run 125 laps for a purse of $63,511.Jerry Marquis and Reggie Ruggiero were in contention for championship honors. Mike Ewanitsko led the first 63 laps until getting taken out when Tony Hirschman lost it on a restart. Ewanitsko hit the wall with such force that he suffered a broken elbow. The ensuing wreck also collected Marquis and Ruggiero. Marquis suffered body damage and Ruggiero received extensive suspension damage. When all was said and done, Tom Cravenho took the win over Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher and Hirschman. Marquis finished fifth and sewed up the series title. Ruggiero finished a distant 12th.Eric Berndt was the SK Modified winner. The Race of Champions was run the night before at Oswego with George Kent taking the win over Ted Christopher and Ken Wooley. On a sad note, NASCAR Craftsman Truck driver Tony Roper died from injuries received in an accident at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Fifteen years ago in 2005, based on the fact that the forecast for the weekend was for more rain the World Series was cancelled again. The decision was made at noon on Friday which should have saved both competitors and fans wasting the time and fuel to travel to Thompson. In a combined statement from NASCAR Director Don Hawk and speedway owner Don Hoenig the World Series had been rescheduled to following weekend and would become a two day program. The Thompson Speedway also changed their admission prices for this event, considerably lower than previously advertised. For this event Adult General Admission is set at $35, Juniors 6-14, $10 and Pit Admission is only $45. The only downer is that the Whelen Modified Tour Series will lose the make up event that was originally scheduled to run on Saturday. If NASCAR has their Team Player of the Year award this year it should definitely go to Bill Roth of the Waterford Speedbowl who has once again changed the date of the Town Fair Tire Fall Finale so as to avoid a conflict with the World Series at Thompson. The Waterford Fall Finale was scheduled for November 4-5-6. There would be no conflict with the North-South Shootout and no conflict with the Thompson Flea Market. Waterford’s admission for adults was $30, Youths $5 and pits with license is $40.
Eddie Partridge and the gang at T/S Haulers in Riverhead, NY were in the process of restoring the 1982 Troyer Modified that was owned by Ernie Wilsberg and won every major race that year. With Greg Sacks behind the wheel, that car cleaned house wherever it went. Partridge also owned and maintained the Modifieds and SK Modifieds that were driven by Jimmy Blewett.
Clint Bowyer won his second Busch Series race of the season, rallying from deep in the field to win the Sam’s Town 250 at Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn., Saturday. Jeff Gordon held off Tony Stewart in a three-lap dash to win the Subway 500 on Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, his first victory since May 1. Stewart, meanwhile, dominated early and took a 15-point lead over third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson in the Chase. The yellow flag came out a track-record 19 times, and 113 laps were run under caution. The call came with the 13th caution on lap 343 after a spin by Casey Mears. Told to stay on the track, Gordon assumed the lead when he and five others didn’t follow the other top contenders onto pit road. Also staying out were the Roush Racing trio of Greg Biffle, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth. Stewart came off pit road seventh. Stewart had dominated to that point, leading 283 of 343 laps, and he made quick work of the first six cars and seemed content to wait for Gordon to fade. Gordon was racing on tires more than 50 laps older than Stewart’s, but instead pulled away. Gordon held the lead through three more restarts to win by .235 of a second.
Ten years ago in 2010, In action on the Connecticut shoreline the Waterford Speedbowl the Fall Finale wrapped up the 2010 season with two days of qualifying and racing. Qualifying for the Budweiser Modified Nationals and ACT-150 events was completed. Ted Christopher took the Bud Pole Award for the $5,000 to win SK Modified® race setting a fast lap of 14.061 seconds in time trials. Five feature events were also completed on the day with Wayne Coury Jr. found the winner’s circle in the Outlaw Stock race while Allen Coates was the winner of the Trucks in competition for the race. Speedbowl Mini Stock champion Ken Cassidy Jr. took the checkered flag in the Outlaw Mini Stock feature. Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday champions Charles Beal and Dan D’addario took down wins in the Super X and X-Car features, while Nick Sweet from was the Allison Legacy Series race winner.
In Budweiser Modified National time trials, Christopher tied the previous division record lap to take the $500.00 bonus. He bested Shawn Solomito, Jeff Rocco, 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Keith Rocco and defending event winner Ron Yuhas Jr. The top-20 cars were qualified by time with 2004 track champion Ed Reed Jr. winning the consolation race. Reed was qualifying the car for fellow racer Justin Gaydosh who will start scratch in the event. Seven-time track champion Dennis Gada took a past champion’s provisional to enter the 150-lap race which would start all 27 cars that were on hand.
ACT Tour Late Model qualifying was also complete, setting the stage for their 150-lap season ending event. Speedbowl regular Joe Curioso, series leader Brian Hoar, and veteran racer Jean-Paul Cyr were the qualifying event winners.
Ron Yuhas Jr saved the best for last as scored a convincing victory in the Fall Finale on Sunday. Keith Rocco finished second with Diego Monahan, third and Jeff Pearl, fourth. Ted Christopher rounded out the top five.
In other action at the shoreline oval Joey Polewarcyk Jr cleaned house as he lapped all but the top five finishers of the original 28 starters. Brian Hoar of Williston, Vt. finished second with Glen Luce of Turner, Me, third. Shawn Monahan was the apparent winner of the Street Stock feature but was disqualified when he refused tech inspection, handing victory to Al Stone III. Dana Dimatteo recorded his first career win at the Speedbowl in the 25-lap Legends Cars feature.
The strategy for the Yuhas-piloted, Murphy owned #4 prevailed in the end. “I kind of sat back once we got back up to third. Keith and Teddy were going back and forth, so I just saved my stuff to put myself in contention for the end.”
Rocco had winning on his agenda headed into the event, so second was a little bittersweet for the national champion. “Yuhas came in for tires. If we were all on the same playing field, we would have been the car to beat. But that’s the risk you take when you’re up front and don’t come in.” The second generation racer enjoyed his run with Christopher. “That was fun. I was just having fun there trying not to use up all my car battling, but it was a good show for the fans”.
There were 17 cautions that slowed the 150 lap event. The “Big Wreck” occurred with 60 laps to go when Todd Ceravolo made contact with the backstretch wall and collected a group of cars. The best move of the day for Yuhas, however, came with 60 laps remaining.
While there was Thunder along the shore at Waterford the D.Anthony Venditti Classic was taking place at the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. The Modified Racing Series was on hand, 35 cars strong. Qualifying heats were won by Jon McKennedy, Richard Savory and Lou Mechalides. Jon McKennedy won the 100 lap contest and was followed by Todd Annarummo, Steve Masse, Ken Barry and Dave Berghman. Les Hinckley, Ryan Preece, Max Zachem, Jack Bateman and Louie Mechalides rounded out the top ten.
McKennedy held off the constant challenges of Savary for the first 70 laps. Annarummo, moved to second on a restart following a red flag situation due to a severe glare problem caused by bright sunshine that created a safety hazard for competitors. When the race resumed, Annarummo pressured McKennedy to the finish but was unable to get by the race leader.
Dave Darling took the lead of the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial Pro Stock race coming off turn 4 of the eighth lap and held the lead position for the remainder of the hundred circuits of Seekonk Speedway’s one-third mile bullring. He had started third, behind polesitter Russ Hersey. Hersey nabbed the lead off the green flag from Ryan Vanasse (who started the outside pole) and led through the first eight laps. Hersey clung to Darling’s rear bumper for the remainder of the race, providing a difficult affair for the winner. Darling’s margin of victory was just a half-second over Hersey.
The New York State based DIRT Modifieds had their big weekend at the one mile track at the Syracuse Fairgrounds. Billy Decker dominated the Salute to the Troops 150, the feature event Saturday. He won the race for 358-modifieds for the third year in a row and now has a total of 23 wins including qualifiers during Super DIRT Week. Decker started on the pole, led 87 of 150 laps.
Stewart Friesen became the first Canadian driver to win the big-block feature during Super DIRT Week on Sunday as he held off hard-charging Jimmy Phelps for the victory in the SEF 200. Friesen, 27. of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, won the race on speed and fuel economy, managing to go 132 laps on a tank of gas, which is unprecedented at the Syracuse Mile. Phelps finished second followed by Jimmy Horton, Kenny Tremont Jr., Ryan Godown, Vic Coffey, J.R. Heffner, Danny Johnson, Rick Laubach and Keith Flach. The win was worth $50,000.
Kyle Busch thanked his crew members after his record-extending 12th Nationwide Series victory of the year at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. Kevin Harvick might be ready to fire all of his. Busch took advantage of two bumbling stops by Harvick’s crew and rallied from a pit-road miscue of his own Saturday to win for the fourth time in his last five starts at the California track
Tony Stewart was the Sprint Cup winner.
Five years ago in 2015, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closed out their season at the Thompson Motorsports Park Thompson Speedway. Thirty four cars were on hand. Doug Coby took home the Coors Light Pole Award. A lap of 18.566 seconds (121.189 mph) secured Coby his 10th career pole. Timmy Solomito qualified second and Ted Christopher was third. In addition, taking the pole Saturday at Thompson earned Coby a $12,500 award bonus to be split with his crew chief Phil Moran thanks to Doug Dunleavy of Dunleavy Truck and Trailers.
Just as the Modifieds began their pace laps a snow squall descended upon the speedway. The threat of snow did not hinder Doug Coby’s efforts. Coby clearly dominated the event as he scored his seventh win of the season and with it, the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship. Coby took the lead on the back chute on lap one and held it until pitting on lap 90. Patrick Emerling and then Justin Bonsignore swapped the lead until Coby took control for good with five laps to go. Following Coby and Bonsignore at the finish was Timmy Solomino and Todd Szegedy. If there was an award for determination it should go to Woody Pitkat who finished fifth. Pitkat was a front runner at the start but by lap 15 his day took a downward spiral. After losing power he was rear ended by Eric Goodale. In the process he lost two laps. After his crew made repairs and a couple of Lucky Dogs, Pitkat found himself inside of the top ten by the half way mark. His Hammer Down style of racing got him back to finishing fifth when the checkered flag waved. Sixth through tenth were Patrick Emerling, Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher, Chase Dowling and Donny Lia.
Fall came on strong at Thompson as fans and competitors were greeted with blustery 45 degree weather. First up was the Limited Sportsman division which saw Corey Hutchins take the win while Scott Sundeen beat out Larry Barnett for the division championship.
In the Sunoco Modified (SK type) 30 lapper Ryan Preece recovered from an early race falter to take the lead and eventual win from Woody Pitkat with two laps remaining. Pitkat lost the battle but it was Pitkat garnering the championship, his second of the weekend. Kerry Malone finished third with Ted Christopher and Ryan Morgan turning in a strong run to round out the top five.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the World Series at Thompson with 29 cars strong. Qualifying heats were run on Friday night with Keith Rocco, Woody Pitkat and Eric Berndt scoring wins. The Valenti Modified Racing Series crowned its champion as well in Woody Pitkat who started on the pole for the 50-lap feature and ran in the top three for the duration of the event to clinch the title. Pitkat only needed a top three finish to best Chris Pasteryak for the championship and after starting on the pole Pitkat’s victory was seldom in doubt. Pasteryak gave it his best shot, finally cracking the top five after a lap 35 caution, but Pitkat held on strong and finished second in the event to Keith Rocco to claim his first Valenti Modified Racing Series title. The championship is also a first for car owner Peter Kulessa. Rocco’s victory brought his career total to 210 wins. Dave Ethridge finished third with Jon McKennedy, fourth. Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five.
The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park crowned it’s first of fourteen champions that would be named over weekend as the track kicked off the biggest racing weekend in New England on Friday, October 16th, the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing, presented by XtraMart. Friday’s racing action featured the first feature event of the weekend, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model season.
Brian Tagg recovered from early race set backs, working his way to fourth, one position behind Keith Rocco, which would have secured him the championship. With less than two laps to go Rocco made a big move to pass Jeff Smith for second, putting himself two spots ahead of Tagg and in position to win the Late Model championship without winning a single event on the year. With the biggest move of the night, Tagg, who would not be defeated, passed Smith on the final lap to claim third place and win the championship by a single point, while Larry Gelinas went on the win the race. The event also marked the final race for Danielson, CT native, Glenn Boss, who finished fifth.
The second night of the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing weekend saw eight champions crowned over the span of nine feature events throughout the evening with the centerpiece of the night’s racing action being the long awaited return of the American Canadian Late Model Tour (ACT) for the first time since 1992.
The 100-lap feature saw some of the best Late Model drivers in both the United States and over the border in Canada take to the track as the series crowned it’s latest champion, Wayne Helliwell, Jr., and saw the possible end of a storied career for one of the series most successful stars. While Helliwell took home the big trophy at the end of the night the race itself saw a victory for Brian Hoar who scored his 42nd career victory in the series and capped off the night with a major announcement. “I’m just really excited,” said Hoar who expanded on his record setting series-high win total. “It’s been a really emotional road for me the past couple of weeks because I made the decision to hang the helmet up for a while. This is it for a little while.”
Other Saturday winners at Thompson were NEMA Midgets, Randy Cabral, Mini Stocks, Louis Belisle, North East Street Stocks, Ed Puleo, New England Trucks, Bert Oullette, New England Pro Four Modifieds, Dave Richardi and Lite Modifieds, Tony Membrino.
Sunday winners, in addition to the Whelen Modifieds and the Sunoco Modifieds were Corey Hutchings in the Limited Sportsman, Dave Shullick in the Super Modifieds and Scott Bigelow in the NEMA Lites.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup competition at the Kansas Speedway, Matt Kenseth led a race-high 160 laps in a race he needed to win to clinch a spot in the Eliminator round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but contact between Kenseth and Logano with four laps to go sent Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota spinning. Logano held off Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson on a green-white-checkered restart to score his second win in a row.
Kyle Busch overcame a pit-road speeding penalty, damage to his Toyota Camry suffered when he hit pieces of a SAFER barrier during a late-race yellow flag and a green-white-checkered finish to win the Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
Last year, 2019, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series closed out their 2019 season with the running of the Annual (57th) World Series at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway. Forty one Modifieds were pre-entered prior to the start of the weekend. The speedway grounds resembled a small city with hundreds of campers and tents in place for the weekend’s racing grand slam.
The speedway came alive on Friday morning. Very limited practice sessions took place before rain wiped out the entire day and night schedule. The Whelen modified tour entry list saw two drop-outs, Chase Dowling in the Tomaino car and Burt Myers.
Andrew Krause, driving the No. 24 Supreme Manufacturing Chevrolet, posted a fast lap of 18.893 seconds (118.527 mph) on Saturday afternoon to score the pole ahead of the Sunoco World Series 150 at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. His previous best qualifying effort was a second at his home track, Wall Stadium Speedway, in May. Justin Bonsignore, who trailed Doug Coby by 19 points, was second in qualifying and joined Krause on the front row. Coby, who was looking for a sixth Whelen Modified Tour title, qualified third.
Patrick Emerling and Chris Pasteryak were fourth and fifth, respectively. Ron Silk was sixth, followed by Bobby Santos III, Craig Lutz, Woody Pitkat and Timmy Solomito.
Justin Bonsignore won the season-finale 150 lapper, his sixth victory of the season, which helped him close the gap to just eight in the championship standings. Even though he came up short of his second consecutive Whelen Modified Tour title, Bonsignore scored victories in three of four races at Thompson this season. Ron Silk finished second, while Matt Swanson, Bobby Santos III and Woody Pitkat finished the top five. Eric Goodale was sixth, followed by Coby, Chase Dowling, Rob Summers and Timmy Solomito.
Bonsignore was the dominate driver as he led 138 of the posted 150 laps. Coby started third and never led a lap, but during a red flag for a multiple-car crash on lap 12, received some crucial information over the radio from a fellow competitor. Woody Pitkat told Coby’s team the left-rear tire looked low on air pressure, and he was right. Coby pitted during the caution, changed the tire, and restarted deep in the field. It wasn’t long before he was back up inside the top 15, positioning himself where he needed to be to keep his points lead.
There were six cautions for 31 laps. The first caution flew on lap six for Chris Pasteryak who spun on the front stretch after being nudged by Timmy Solomito. Both continued but Pasteryak was eliminated on lap 56 when he suffered front end damage after getting together with Andrew Krausefor the fifth caution. Pasteryak ended up 32nd and Krause, 33rd. The second caution flew on lap 11 when Kyle Bonsignore triggered a nine car wreck between turns three and four. Bonsignore took a trip off the backstretch on to the infield grass. He shot up on the track between turns three and four, collecting JR Bertuccio, Andy Jankowiac, Mark Bakaj, Gary Putnam and Ken Heagy to name a few. It was during this caution and ensuing red that Coby pitted to change a left rear tire that was going soft and during an interview with Dave Sapienza he indicated that Bobby Santos III would drive for him on limited occasions in 2020. Joey Mucciacciaro spun in turn 1 on lap 38 to bring out caution no.3. The fourth caution came on lap38 when Anthony Nocella lost an engine on the front stretch and hit the wall hard. Nocella escaped unhurt. The next caution came on lap 66 when Kyle Bonsignore and Calvin Carroll collided in turn three. The final caution flew on lap 102 when JR Bertuccio stopped on the track after an accident in turn four.
All tolled there were twenty six of the original 40 starters running at the end, seventeen on the lead lap. Tommy Catalano finished 11th and was followed by Craig Lutz, Kyle Soper, Sam Rameau, Kyle Bonsignore, JB Fortin and Blake Barney on the lead lap. Tom Rogers Jr finished 18th, one lap down. He was followed by Dylan Slepian, Chuck Hossfeld in perhaps his last race before retirement and Andrew Molleur.
It was a great day for racing. The crowd was not packed but ample to say the least. The 65 degree temp was ideal. Mike Stefanik was given a pre-race tribute thanks to his family and the Koszela family.
In some sad news, Timmy Solomito announced on FaceBook that Flamingo Motorsports (No. 16) would be shutting down following the World Series. Solomito stated that car owner Eric Sanderson & his wife Diane Reynolds Sanderson were retiring from racing. During his tenure at Flamingo Solomito recorded 9 wins, 6 poles and 1,300 laps led.
In other Sunday action, the Sunoco (SKtype) Modifieds were first up with a 30 lapper. Todd Owen started on the pole and held off first, Ron Williams and in the end, Woody Pitkat, to take the win. Williams was an early contender but was parked by officials after he ran Owen up the track and triggered a big wreck. Mike Christopher finished a strong third with Troy Talman, fourth. Keith Rocco drove a conservative race to finish fifth and wrapped up the division title, his fourth in a row and eighth overall. It was Rocco’s 17th NASCAR sanctioned SK Modified championship between three tracks in Connecticut, Stafford, Waterford and Thompson.
Shawn Monihan scored his fourth win of the year in the Limited Sportsman division but it was Kyle Gero who won the war and the championship. Gero, a third-generation racer is the son of Mike and Kim Gero and the grandson of George “Moose” and Jayne Hewitt. Gero finished fourth behind Monihan, Ryan Morgan and Cory Fanning. Megan Fuller was also a contender but was eliminated in an early race tangle on the front chute.
Jon McKennedy didn’t have a Mod tour ride but more than made up for it when he won the ISMA SuperModified 50 lapper. McKennedy dedicated his win to his dad who passed away recently. Randy Cabral was the NEMA Light winner.
Because of the fact that rain washed out all of the scheduled features for Friday night racing went way into the evening hours on Saturday as the final checkered flag fell at midnight, ending an extremely long day.
Bryan Narducci put the icing on the cake as he won the 20 lap SK Lite feature in the closing moments. Albert Ouellette did his best to block Narducci but to no avail as the division champion went to the outside as they came off the fourth turn on the final lap. Ouellette attempted to dump him into the wall but Narducci kept control and sprinted to the checker. Ouellette finished second with Alexander Pearl, third.
Narducci’s year included a NASCAR National Championship, Track Championship at Thompson and winning 15 out of 30 races entered.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series 50 lapper provided some great competition as Ronnie Williams took the win over Chase Dowling, Craig Lutz, Todd Owen and Joey Cipriano.
Other Saturday night winners were Derek Gluchacki in the Late Models, Rob Riccardi in the Pro 4 Modifieds, Eddie MacDonald in the Granite State Pro Stocks, Jonathan Bouvrette in the ACT Late Models and Ben Seitz in the NEMA Midgets.
Among those on hand Sunday was former NASCAR National Modified Champion Carl Bugs Stevens who was signing autographs and greeting his many friends and fans.
Congratulations to Dr Dick Berggren who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan 31 As a distinguished broadcaster. Berggren, is one of the three originators of the Spring Sizzler at Stafford. He began his broadcasting career at the Star Speedway in New Hampshire and at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. He is best known as a pit reporter for NASCAR Cup racing on national television. He was also the editor of Stock Car Racing and the Speedway Illustrated Magazines. He has also been a prime mover of the Northeast Motorsports Museum in Loudon, NH.
In some follow-up news, internet racing site RaceDayCt reported the pilot of the plane that crashed in 2017 taking the life of local short track racing legend Ted Christopher was not certified to fly at the time of the crash because of medical conditions dating back more than a decade.
Pilot Patrick Dundas had his flight certification denied by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2007 according to a report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. Dundas, who was 81 years old at the time of the crash, had a history heart issues that first put restrictions on his flying in 2002 and ultimately were the cause for his medical certificate to fly to be declined in 2007 by the FAA.
Christopher was killed on Sept. 16, 2017 when the single engine 1964 Mooney M20C he was a passenger in crashed in North Branford. Christopher was 59 years old at the time of the crash.
The NTSB released its Aviation Accident Factual Report publicly on the crash on Tuesday, Oct 9. A further extended conclusive report is expected at a later date. The NTSB investigation reports “Loss of engine power” as the defining cause of the crash.
The closing laps of Sunday’s Billy Whittaker Cars 200 capped a drama-filled NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway, where Mat Williamson had enough fuel to charge to the checkers while the car that was closing fast did not.
A late caution set up a shootout to the checkered flag. Williamson, a 29-year-old from St. Catherines, Ontario, was in front with an even younger Anthony Perrego and the sport’s winningest driver, Brett Hearn, closing hard. Then, on the last lap and hoping to pounce on Williamson, former winner Tim Fuller swung around Hearn in turn two, then Perrego’s machine suddenly ran out of fuel and slowed as Williamson raced under the checkers with Fuller in second and Hearn third. In a breakout season for Williamson, winning his first $50,000 Billy Whittaker Cars 200, joining Stewart Friesen as the only Canadians to win the race.
In NASCAR Cup racing, Ryan Blaney beat Ryan Newman in a door-to-door race to the finish line to win Monday at Talladega Superspeedway and advance to the third round of NASCAR’s playoffs. Blaney’s first win of the season came as he was desperately trying to remain in title contention.
The all new book, The Asphalt Modified History of the Stafford Motor Speedway from 1967 to 1986 is selling fast. Among those featured in the book is Ray Miller who ran on the dirt surface and the asphalt surface the entire time. He recorded 14 wins including three 100 lap events. The book can be purchased thru the Stafford web site or at the track, Coastal181 or thru Amazon.com.