RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: Fourth Week Of June

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1946 twin events at Seekonk were won by Eddie Casterline and Bob Blair.

Seventy years ago in 1951 Moe Gherzi, fresh off his Saturday night win at the New London-Waterford annexed a 25 lap Modified win on Wednesday night. The shoreline oval fell victim to rain on Saturday night. Leo Cleary was the Sportsman winner at Seekonk.

Sixty five years ago in 1956, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl was preparing for their season opener. The track had been for sale but there were no takers. Parker Bohn was the winner at Old Bridge with his GMC 6cyl Modified. Pete Frazee won a companion event also. Ralph “Hop” Harrington was the Sportsman winner and Joe Rosenfield was the non-Ford winner at Seekonk.

Sixty years ago in 1961 Ernie Gahan made it two in a row on the dirt in Friday night action at the Stafford Speedway as 4000 fans looked on. Ron Narducci finished second with Jim Koehler, third. Bill Slater was a little off his game as he finished fourth. Slater got redemption on Saturday night at Norwood as he beat out Eddie Flemke and Bobby Sprague for the win in the first of the twin 50’s on tap Eddie Flemke won the nite cap over Fats Caruso and Ernie Gahan. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl raced on Friday and Saturday nights. Dick Beauregard, the driver they loved to hate, won on Friday night with Ted Stack taking the win on Saturday night. Ed Moody made it six in a row in Bomber competition as he won on both nights. Bruce Chapple was the Class A winner at Seekonk.

Fifty five years ago in 1966 Rene Charland took the high road to Catamount and scored a win. Wild Bill Slater took on the New York gang and walked away the Friday night winner at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Jerry Cook finished second with Gaston Demaris, third. Dennis Zimmerman and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five. Ernie Gahan took the win on the dirt at Stafford. Cook stepped it up a bit as he won at Fonda on Saturday night over Ron Narducci and Bill Wimble. Bobby Sprague took a popular win at Norwood on Saturday night. Rain washed out the features at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl after qualifying was completed. Fred Astle Sr took the Class A feature at Seekonk. The Utica Rome Speedway ran a 100 lapper on Sunday night with former NASCAR Sportsman Champion Rene Charland taking the win. Eddie Flemke finished second with Frank Mathalia, Cook and Wimble rounding out the top five.

Fifty years ago in 1971, Friday night action at Malta rained out. Winston Barrows led 29-1/2 laps at Stafford only to be passed by Bugsy Stevens in the last corner of the 30 lapper. Bob Melnick finished third with Hop Harrington, fourth. At Fonda it was Lou Lazzaro over Dave Lap and at Islip, Ed Brunnhoelzl Sr beat out Bob Park. Jack LeCuyer won the main event at the Riverside Park Speedway. Tom Vining, Charlie Centinaro and Bob Stefanik followed. Action at the Waterford Speedbowl saw Ed Barton take the win over Jiggs Beetham, Seabury Tripler, Daring Dick Caso and Don Bunnell. Dickie Doo Ceravolo was the Sportsman Sedan winner. George Summers made it three in a row at Seekonk. Fred DeSarro and Len Boehler made the trip to Utica-Rome on Sunday and came away the winners. Ron Narducci finished second and was followed by Dave Lape and Jerry Cook. Fonda hosted the All Star League on Wednesday, which saw Lou Lazzaro take the win.

Forty five years ago in 1976, Fred Harbach scored a one-two punch as he won at Riverhead on Friday night and again at Islip on Saturday. At Riverhead, Jim Tyler finished second with Greg Sacks, third. At Islip, Don Howe finished second with Tyler, third. Geoff Bodine took the win at Stafford and at Riverside it was Bob Polverari over Bob Stefanik. Dick Dunn put the Al Gaudreau No.3 in victory lane at Waterford. Sleepy Knapp was the late model Grand American winner. Don Dionne scored at Seekonk. Ronnie Bouchard broke Geoff Bodine’s win streak at Thompson on Sunday.

Forty years ago in 1981, Mr.Leo Cleary in the Rollie Linblad No.48 took on the best in the business at a special open competition event at Westboro on Wednesday night. It was no cakewalk as Cleary had Ronnie Bouchard breathing down his neck at the finish. Geoff Bodine finished third and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero, Jeff Fuller and Tom Baldwin. Friday night at Stafford, Richie Evans, fresh off a win at Holland on Wednesday night, romped home the winner over Bob Polverari and Brian Ross. Polverari was later disqualified because of an illegal rear end gear. Other Friday night winners were Punky Caron at Monadnock, John Blewett Jr at New Egypt and George Kent at Spencer. Saturday night, Russell “Butch” Perry scored a popular win at Waterford over Joe Tiezzi and Dick Dunn. Ray Miller took the top spot at Riverside and George Kent made it two for two on the weekend as he won at Shangri-La. Double modified features were on tap at Seekonk. Eddie St Angelo and Leo Cleary shared top honors. Tom Baldwin won a 100 lapper at Islip and Roger Treichler made it two in a row at Lancaster. Danbury fell victim to rain. Richie Evans was the winner at Thompson on Sunday night over Corky Cookman, Bob Fuller, Greg Sacks and Carl Pasteryak.

Thirty five years ago in 1986, the Modified tour was at Waterford for a Wednesday night 100 lap event. Mike McLaughlin started on the outside pole and led all 100 laps to take the win. Corky Cookman finished second and was followed by John Rosati, George Kent and Jeff Fuller. Friday night racing at Stafford and Spencer rained out. Ed Flemke Jr was the SK Modified winner at Waterford on Saturday night. Bob Potter finished second and was followed by Mark La Junesse. Mike McLaughlin made it two for two on the weekend as he put the Sheri Cup No.12 in victory lane at Riverside on Saturday night. Mike Stefanik finished second. Leo Cleary got his fourth win at Seekonk and at New Egypt it was Wayne Anderson over Jerry Cranmer.

Thirty years ago in 1991, the Featherlite Modified Tour was at Riverhead for a Wednesday night event. Hometown favorite Mike Ewanitsko had victory in sight until his engine expired on the last .Waiting in the wings was Ricky Fuller who went on to take the win. Jeff Fuller finished second and was followed by George Brunnhoelzl, Dan Jivenelli and Ewanitsko. The Busch North Series was at Stafford on Friday night. Mike Stefanik took the win. SK Modified action saw Steve Chowanski beat out Bo Gunning and Bob Georgiades. At Waterford on Saturday, David Gada held off veteran Jerry Pearl for the win.Rick Young finished second. Reggie Ruggiero got his fifth at Riverside over Rick Young and Wade Cole. Jamie Tomaino returned to his old haunts at Wall Stadium to take a win while Chris Young won at Riverhead. Ted Christopher was the top dog at Thompson as he had more than enough for Richie Gallup, Bo Gunning and Mike Christopher. Jerry Marquis went north to Monadnock and proceeded to click off another win. Dwight Jarvis finished second with Kirby Monteith, third.

Twenty five years ago in 1996, the modified tour was at the Lee Raceway in New Hampshire. Rick Fuller took the win over Mike Stefanik, Tim Connolly and Jan Leaty. The event drew a good crowd but raceway owner Red MacDonald felt that overall it was a loser and hasn’t had the Modified Tour back since then. Lee does run unsanctioned modified events from time to time. At Stafford, John Anderson won out over Bo Gunning and Tony Sylvester. Todd Ceravolo became a surprise winner at Waterford on Saturday night. Eric Berndt was leading the final lap when his transmission imploded, forcing him to slow. Ceravolo went on to take the win and was followed by Don Fowler, Mike Gada, Jim Broderick and David Gada. Fran Principi scored his first ever Modified win at Riverside Park and Quinn Vollegraph won at Riverhead. A Busch North Series event, scheduled for Sunday at Nazareth was rained out and run on Monday. Steve Park took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 85 of the 100-lap event and went on to take the win. Kelly Moore ended up second and was followed by Tom Bolles and Dale Shaw.

Twenty Years ago in 2001 Ted Christopher made it three in a row at Thompson on Thursday night. Curt Brainard finished second. At Stafford on Friday night, Jim Williams in the Donut car took the victory over Lloyd Agor and Chuck Docherty. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Richmond. Tony Hirschman took the lead with 31laps to go and walked off with the lion’s share of the $93,168 purse. Mike Ewanitsko finished second with Jan Leaty, Mike Stefanik, Ken Wooley and Ed Flemke JR rounding out the top five. Eric Berndt got his fourth win at Waterford and Bill Park took the top spot at Riverhead

Fifteen years ago in 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to the Thompson Speedway on Thursday where they shared top billing with NASCAR’s Busch East Series (formerly Busch North Series). Forty-four Modifieds were on hand on a humid and sultry night. Jimmy Blewett was the Busch Pole sitter. The re-draw for starting positions saw James Civali pick the pole with Eric Beers picking the outside pole.

Eric Beers, in the Boehler Racing Ole Blu, took the lead on the start with Ed Flemke moving into second spot. Beers led the first 42 laps until Ronnie Silk spun out in Turn 2 to bring out the first caution. After the restart on lap 45, Eddie Flemke went to the front by passing Beers two laps later on the front-stretch. A multi-car crash in the backstretch brought out the second caution on lap 48 and didn’t restart until lap 56. Among those eliminated was Jerry Marquis who expressed his displeasure of Jamie Tomaino’s patience. Also eliminated were Matt Hirschman and Tony Ferrante Jr. Flemke remained out front until Todd Szegedy passed him while working lap 65. Szegedy’s lead didn’t last long before another crash occurred in the backstretch to bring out the third caution that lasted from lap 66 to lap 74. Reggie Ruggiero lost control and triggered the crash. Eliminated in that crash were Ted Christopher and Chris Pasteryak. Chuck Hossfeld also lost many laps while his crew made repairs to damage sustained. Szegedy led the final restart and was untouchable from there. Flemke finished a strong second and was followed by Civali, Beers and Tony Hirschman. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Ruggiero, Steve Whitt, Ron Yuhas Jr and Ken Barry. Twenty-one of the original 35 starters finished on the lead lap.

Matt Kobyluck won his first NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race of the season, and took over the series point lead. He took the lead when Sean Caisse suffered drive train failure after leading the first 13 laps. Caisse, the former point leader, was scored 28th and last in the field. Brian Hoar chased Kobyluck to the checkered flag, less than half a second behind, with Charles Lewandoski recording a career-best third place finish. Mike Johnson was fourth, Bryon Chew fifth, and Mike Olsen sixth. Dave Dion, Jamie Aube, Ruben Pardo, and John Salemi completed the top ten.

The Thompson Speedway ran their Double Trouble program last Thursday night despite the threat of showers. Jeff Malave muscled his way to a convincing win in the Sunoco Modifieds. Malave took the lead as he entered turn one on lap six and held off repeated challenges from Tom Cravenho who ended up settling for second. Woody Pitkat was extremely strong as he traded spots with Cravenho on numerous occasions but in the end settled for third. Jimmy Blewett and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five. Jeff Zuidema won the 30-lap Pro Stock feature. Dave Trudeau held off Salem’s Corey Hutchings to win the 25-lap Late Model feature. Eddie Puleo of Branford, CT made it two-for-two taking down his second straight Limited Sportsman feature victory. The win; however, was not an easy one as Keith DeSanctis gave it all he had in the closing laps. DeSanctis got alongside Puleo briefly but had to settle for second. Rick Blanchard took down his second straight Mini Stock victory. Ron Rixham had enjoyed an early lead but in the late stages of the 15-lap Mini Stock feature the former divisional champ began to feel the pressure. After a short battle, Rixham relinquished his lead to Scott Michalksi. The lead quickly changed hands again with Blanchard taking over control of the event. Michalski took his place in second while Shelly Perry, true to form, came on strong in the waning laps to claim third. Rixham had faded to fourth at the checkers ahead of Andy Publicover. Roger Larson, Jr

The Stafford Motor Speedway took advantage of the dry weather as they ran the 12th annual American Sleeve Bearing Late Model 100 on Friday night. Ryan Posocco was the big winner of the 100-lapper, recovering from an early race spin to drive back through the field under a prolonged green flag run. Todd Owen was the winner of the SK Modified® feature, while there were two first-time winners in the SK Lights and DARE Stocks. Richie Pallai, Jr. captured his first career win in the SK Light feature, while Lori-Jo Rzeszutek scored her first career victory in the DARE Stock feature. The Limited Late Model feature was tentatively rescheduled to next Tuesday, July 4th due to time constraints. In the 100-lap Late Model feature, Ryan Posocco ran down the leaders under a long green flag run, and then inherited the lead when race leader Scott Foster, Jr. broke a transmission on lap-88. Ed Ricard led the first 40-laps of the race with Tom Fearn taking the lead from Ricard. Fearn held the lead until lap-59 when Foster moved to the front. Posocco had spun on lap-16 after contact with Brad Boissonneault, and he had moved back into the top-5 at this stage of the race under green flag conditions. Foster held the lead until his transmission gave out on lap-88, which handed the lead to Posocco. Posocco pulled away from second place on two subsequent restarts to take his first Late Model feature win of the 2006 season. Jim Peterson took second, with Mark Lewis third, Tom Butler fourth, and Todd Owen fifth. In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Todd Owen charged past Curt Brainard on the outside groove on lap-9 and then he held off a determined challenge from Frank Ruocco over the final 10-laps to take his first SK Modified® feature win of the 2006 season. Willie Hardie finished third, with Jeff Baral and Kenny Horton rounding out the top-5.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Tom Fox all but cleaned house as he won the Pepsi-300 100 lap SK Modified event. Fox wore out Rob Summers and then held off Dennis Gada as he recorded his first win of the year. Summers faded to third spot in the closing laps. The 100-lap Late Model segment went to Allen Coates, making his season debut. Joe Godbout III won the 50-lap Mini Stock feature while Dwayne Dorr ruled the 50-lap Sportsman haul.

NASCAR announced that they had lowered the age to 16 to those who intend to compete in the Whelen Modified Tour Series and Busch East. The Modifieds were part of a rain shortened practice session at the New Hampshire International Speedway last week. Thirteen Whelen Modified Tour teams showed up for the NHIS Open Test session. Among those were seven rookies including Danny Sammons, Glenn Tyler, Anthony Sesely, James Civali, Kenny Horton, Matt Hirschman and Jon McKennedy. Veterans that appeared for the test session were Rob Summers, Todd Szegedy, Zach Sylvester, Donny Lia, Nevin George and Todd Bodine. Because of the fact that rain cut short the session the Bahres refunded each team’s $500 payment plus provided free food for the competitors.

Tony Stewart won the Pepsi 400 Nextel Cup event at Daytona. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the Busch Series winner.

Ten years ago in 2011, the Whelen Modified Tour ended it’s Spring Break when the boys of summer went “up country” to the Monadnock Speedway for the Monadnock 200 at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. The event had originally been scheduled for Saturday but a pending bad forecast pushed the date back a day.

Todd Szegedy showed everyone why he is still someone to watch on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Szegedy, the 2003 tour champion, started from the pole and led every lap to win the Monadnock 200 Sunday for his 15th career tour win and first since August of 2010. With his win Szegedy became the fourth different winner in as many races this season on the tour and it was his first top-five finish of the season. Szegedy held off Justin Bosingnore who followed in second while Matt Hirschman was third. Ron Silk was fourth and James Civali completed the top five.Defending race winner ted Christopher finished sixth with Mike Stefanik seventh and Ron Yuhas Jr. eighth. Erick Rudolph and point leader Rowan Pennink completed the top 10.

The race was slowed six times for cautions which kept Szegedy’s average speed down to 48.491 mph. All yellows were for spin-outs. Bryon Chew spun on lap 2, Wade Cole on lap 38, Andy Seuss on lap 48, Ed Flemke Jr on lap 85, Doug Coby on lap 106 and Richie Pallai on lap 154. There were 28 cars on hand. Sixteen of the original 28 starters finished on the lead lap. According to reports the event drew a respectable amount of fans.

Defending series champion Bobby Santos had somewhat of a lackluster day. After starting thirteenth, Santos worked his way to ninth by lap 100 only to have his tires give up as he faded to 15th by lap 130 and was lapped by lap 153. Saved by the Lucky Dog provision Santos managed to salvage a 15th for the day.

The Stafford Motor Speedway attempted to run the Inaugural Lincoln Tech Modified Racing Series event but to no avail as rains brought the racing action to a halt after 32 laps had been completed. The SK Modifieds were also victims of the wet stuff. Both events will be run on Friday, June 29. Keith Rocco was leading when the event was stopped.

The big story of the night was the fact that Ted Christopher was not allowed to compete in the Modified Racing Series event because the engine in the Joe Brady #00 was deemed illegal. The Hartford Courant reported that Series motor inspector Bob Carrita said car owner Joe Brady tried to “blatantly bend the rules”. Evidently “someone” installed material in a cylinder that would give a faulty reading when compression tests were conducted.

Before the rains came Stafford support classes got their features in. Picking up feature wins were Keith Rocco in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Membrino, Jr. in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Shawn Thibeault in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In action at the Waterford Speedbowl Defending track and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Keith Rocco returned to Victory Lane, picking up the checkered flag in the night’s SK Modified® feature. Jason Palmer picked up a career first win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division. The two Street Stock feature races were swept by defending champion Al Stone III. Glenn Colvin won the Mini Stock race. Other winners on the night included Paul Luggelle and Dana Dimatteo in their respective NEMA Lite and Legends Cars features.

Rocco led the SK Modified® field to the green flag in their 35-lap feature looking to end a string of finishes outside the top-five, including two 17th place finishes. Nichole Morgillo, Kyle James, Jeff Pearl and Tyler Chadwick raced to the top-five positions behind Rocco in the opening laps. James was the first to pull out of line, challenging Morgillo’s outside on lap-3. After three laps of pursuit, James moved into the position for good in turn three. Pearl followed suit and was in third when the field completed lap-7. James quickly chased down the lead Rocco briefly gained over the field and looked ready to mount a challenge. Pearl ran alone in third while Rob Janovic Jr. and Chadwick made up the top-five as the race moved past halfway continuing under green flag conditions. The first caution finally slowed the torrid pace on lap-21 when Diego Monahan cut a left front tire and stopped on the track in turn three. Rocco got a great jump over James on the restart. Pearl filled the gap to James’ inside and the pair spent five-laps battling for the spot before Pearl finally pulled ahead. Rocco was slowly able to stretch his advantage over Pearl as the race wore on. The interruption on lap-21 proved to be the only one in a cleanly competed event. Rocco checked out to the win by several lengths over Pearl at the checkered flag. He wired the field for his fifth win on the year and cut into Pearl’s point lead. James held off Janovic to take third position with Chadwick finishing in fifth.

In the Southland at the Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, Lee Jeffreys and Burt Myers won twin 25 lap Modified features.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Wayne Anderson took the NASCAR Modified feature win.

In Nationwide Series racing, Justin Allgaier was coasting to the finish and a near-certain victory – then he ran out of gas. In the end, NASCAR officials ruled Reed Sorenson won a chaotic, disputed overtime finish in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Road America.

In Sprint Cup action, Kurt Busch’s impressive turnaround continued with a dominating run at Infineon Raceway, where he earned his first career road course victory and his first win of the season.

Five years ago in 2016, Modified car owner Mario Fiore passed away on Thursday, June 23, after a hard fought four year battle with cancer. Fiore, who owned and prepared a NASCAR Modified for many years and had over 200 wins to his credit, was 65. Among his many drivers were Gary Coultiri, Reggie Ruggerio, Greg Sacks, Jimmy Blewett, Rick Fuller, Tom Cravenho and Jerry Marquis. Fiore was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2012. Fiore retired as a car owner early in 2001 after a win at South Boston Va. His only Whelen Modified Tour Championship came in 2000 with Jerry Marquis.

Fiore was a long time car owner and was well known throughout New England with his #44 car. Fiore won track championships at tracks throughout New England. The Fiore no. 44 had a long run of success with Reggie Ruggiero. Together, Fiore and Ruggerio won track championships at Riverside Park in 1979, 1984, and 1988; Monadnock Speedway in 1979 and 1988; and Stafford Motor Speedway in 1983. They also won often at Thompson Speedway. Fiore was the winning owner in the 1987 Race of Champions at Pocono International Raceway, a two-time winner at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway, and a repeat champion of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.

In weekly Friday night racing at Stafford, the Arute family honored the memory of long time Modified car owner Mario Fiore by extending the SK Modified® feature distance from its customary 40-laps to 44-laps. The SK Modified® feature also paid out an additional $44 per finishing position in his memory.

Ted Christopher served up a one-two punch as he won both the SK Modified 44 lapper and the Valenti Modified Racing Series 80 lapper. Other winners at Stafford included Kevin Gambacorta who recorded his second consecutive Late Model feature win, Joe Graf, Jr. who was a first time career winner in the SK Light feature, Paul Arute took down his third win of the 2016 season with a last lap pass, and Trace Beyer who scored his first win of 2016 in the DARE Stock feature.

In the special 44-lap SK Modified® feature event in honor of Mario Fiore, Christopher held off Ryan Preece to the checkered flag to pick up his first SK Modified® win since the 2014 season. Rowan Pennink finished third, with Woody Pitkat and Matt Galko rounding out the top-5.

Christopher and Jon McKennedy served up a see-saw battle on the closing stages of the VMRS 80 lapper. With 6 laps to go, McKennedy was right on Christopher’s back bumper. McKennedy hounded Christopher and he took the lead in turn 3 on lap-77. Christopher came right back in turn 1 on lap-78 as they were navigating their way around a lapped car and he retook the lead from McKennedy. McKennedy made a strong move through turns 3+4 on the final lap to get back to Christopher’s bumper, but he couldn’t make a pass as Christopher took the checkered flag for his second win of the night. McKennedy finished second with Dave Etheridge, third. Keith Rocco and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five.

Ted Christopher is the Staffords all-time winningest driver with 123 feature wins.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action shifted to the Riverhead Raceway on eastern Long Island last Saturday night. Timmy Solomito piloted the No. 16 Diversified Metals /R.B. Enterprises Ford to the win in the Riverhead 200. To get to Victory Lane Solomito had to hold off Justin Bonsignore in a green-white-checkered finish that capped a wild night on the historic quarter-mile. It was a Riverhead sweep of the podium, as Bonsignore settled for second and Donny Lia came home third. Jimmy Blewett, who had to drop to the rear on the start for making changes after qualifying, charged his way up to fourth. And Dave Sapienza rounded out the top five. Max Zachem finished sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Chase Dowling, rookie Matt Swanson and Doug Coby

Earlier in the day, Coby won his fifth Coors Light Pole Award in six races this season. Coby led a race-high 81 laps but spun after contact with Bonsignore as the two battled with Solomito for the lead on Lap 196. Coby salvaged a 10th-place finish and maintained a 17-point lead over Max Zachem. There were 27 cars on hand.

Twin 25’s for the SK Modifieds were the main attraction at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Joey Gada won the first SK Modified feature of the night and Keith Rocco topped the field in the second for the division. Other winners at the shoreline oval were Ray Christian III who won the Late Model feature, Chris Meyer who was the winner of the Limited Sportsman feature, Wayne Burroughs Jr. who was victorious in the Mini Stock feature along with Dana DiMatteo who topped the field in the Legends feature and Robin Berghman who won the New England Pro Four Modified feature.

Rocco continued to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco’s win in the SK Modifieds brought his track win total to 125 wins. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 221 wins which also included victories at Thompson and Stafford Speedways.

The NASCAR Modifieds ran twin 25s at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. Jason Myers led a caution less 25 laps to claim the checkered flag in the opener. Brother Burt Myers finished on his bumper in second with Brandon Ward, third. Randy Butner won the nite cap over Daniel Yates and Junior Miller.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Tony Stewart was not going to be denied on Sunday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway in California. Stewart lost the lead to Denny Hamlin during Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 in turn seven on the final lap, only to muscle his way back around Hamlin in turn 11 to emerge with the lead and score his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory since 2013.

Last year, 2020 The Stafford Motor Speedway began their 2020 racing season on Friday night with a new twist. The state of Connecticut mandated no more than a 25% attendance of fans be in the grandstand. Stafford holds 10,000. The 2500 allowed tickets went quick. In a bold move Stafford put its racing program on Pay per View. The newly offered option will be produced in-house by Stafford Speedway with management splitting the proceeds from the venture approximately 50-50 with track competitors. The bottom line is, about 25 percent of the price paid for the broadcasts will be returned directly to the track competitors.

The Stafford Speedway broadcasts were distributed through the SpeedSportTV Network. Paul Arute said that through the agreement with SpeedSportTV the track will keep 50 percent of the revenue from broadcast purchases. Arute said about half of that income will then be funneled directly back to teams participating in each event. Stafford Speedway. TV events will be priced at $20 for regular Friday night racing events and $30 for Open Modified and Pro Late Model events. Broadcasts will be available for all events at the track in 2020 except for those involving the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour which will be covered by NBC’s TrackPass.

For anyone who travels over 50 miles the Pay per View is good option. Friday being a workday makes traffic heavy plus the fact that gas being over $2.00 per gallon the $20 spent for Pay per View is affordable for a family of four!

In a non-related item, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has approved a comprehensive action plan to allow fans to attend the rescheduled NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, Aug. 2. The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN, Sirius XM NASCAR radio and PRN affiliates worldwide at 3 p.m. ET. The grandstands and suites at “The Magic Mile” will be open to race fans subject to social distancing requirements and additional health and safety protocols. The rescheduled Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 will be the largest fan event in New England since the onset of the pandemic.

In opening night action at Stafford before a sold out crowd, 126 cars lined the paddock area with Keith Rocco taking the SK Modified® feature, Wayne Coury, Jr. in the Late Model feature, Jonathan Puleo in the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar in the Street Stock feature all becoming the first drivers to reach NAPA Victory Lane in 2020 at Stafford.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Ronnie Williams and Todd Owen went side by side for the lead at the green with Williams getting clear on lap-2. Michael Christopher, Jr. was third in the early laps with Cory DiMatteo moving into fourth and Keith Rocco was fifth. Rocco and Owen swapped the lead until lap 34 when he took it for good. Stephen Kopcik made a move to the inside of Woody Pitkat on lap-38 to move into third. Williams followed Kopcik by Pitkat to take fourth and drop Pitkat back to fifth. Sixth thru tenth were Mikey Flynn, David Arute, Matt Vassar, Michael Christopher, Jr. and Joey Ternullo, Jr. Rookie contender Bryan Narducci, finished 12th.

The win also took Rocco to a career overall total of 280 wins which which include 68 at Stafford Speedway, 150victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl,and 63 at the Thompson Speedway.

It appeared that the Stafford Motor Speedway management team hit a home run with its new Friday night format. The 2500 allowed attendance was a sell out as well as a great participation of Pay per View fans. The competitors are happy as they get a bonus from the TV money!

The Whelen Modified Tour never publicizes its purses. The Monadnock event will pay a winner’s purse of $6,000 with $3,250 to be paid for second and $2,600 for third, with a total purse of more than $40,000. Any cars that don’t qualify for the race will still earn $500 if they pre-registered early and $300 if they registered day of the event.

Pocono Raceway became the first track in NASCAR history to hold three national series races on the same day. Round 2 at Pocono went to Denny Hamlin. Hamlin seized the spotlight, specifically in Victory Lane when Pocono had to set up lights after the race ended in the dark. Hamlin topped Kevin Harvick on Sunday night to win the second Cup race of the weekend at Pocono Raceway and flip the result of the opener. The 1-2 finish out of each driver is a clear sign two of the best drivers in the game are poised again to make a championship push.

The rain wreaked havoc with the third NASCAR race of the day at Pocono. Brandon Jones opened the day with a win in the Truck series race, and Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity event. Harvick snapped an 0-for-38 drought at Pocono, taking the checkered flag Saturday at one of two tracks where victory had eluded him.

June 10, 1972 Fred DeSarro, who was an early retiree at Malta on Friday night, took the top spot at Stafford on Saturday night making it three in a row. Eddie Flemke finished second with Bugsy Stevens, Bob Santos and Denis Giroux rounding out the top five.

Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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