Tuesday April 13, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series opened for the 2010 season at the Thompson Speedway last weekend with the Icebreaker 150 that carried a race purse of $87,231. Thirty seven Modifieds including southern invader Burt Myers were on hand. Bobby Santos III showed his determination early as he was clearly the fastest in practice despite blustery winds and a cool temperature. Santos was a little more than a half mile per hour faster than Rowan Pennick. Myers, who had never laid eyes on the Thompson Speedway before, ran close to 60 laps in practice and was clocked 29th fastest at the time.

The NASCAR Modifieds qualified as the sun was beginning to go down. Bobby Santos III, in his first time out in the Mystic Missile, put the Bob Garbarino owned mount solidly on the pole for the Icebreaker. The third generation racer turned a fast lap of 18.418 seconds (122.163 mph) in qualifying for Sunday’s 150-lap season-opener. That lap surpassed the previous Whelen Modified Tour qualifying record at Thompson set by Eric Beers at 18.429 seconds (122.080 mph) prior to the 2008 World Series. Chris Pasteryak was the second-fastest qualifier on Saturday at 18.470 seconds (121.819 mph) followed by Ron Silk (18.514/121.530), Mike Stefanik (18.596/120.994) and Burt Myers (18.603/120.948). Ryan Preece, Doug Coby, Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink and Eric Berndt rounded out the top 10 qualifiers.

Following qualifying, a redraw of the top-10 cars saw Santos also draw the No. 1 spot. He was joined on the front row by Coby, and the second row consisted of Stefanik and Berndt. Myers drew fifth.
It was a dream come true for Bobby Santos III as he all but cleaned house at the Thompson Speedway Icebreaker. Starting from the pole, Santos led 91 laps of the 150 lap Whelen Modified Tour opener. The Ron Hutter engine in the Garbarino Mystic Missile never missed a beat as it provided ample power when Santos nailed the accelerator. Santos took the lead for the final time during a restart on lap 119. After running side by side with Ryan Preece, who was in the Boehler Family No.3, for almost a lap Santos pulled ahead as they completed lap 120. The race, which produced seven caution periods for 26 laps, went green from lap 119 on. In the end, Santos finished a little more than a quarter secon ahead of Preece. Mike Stefanik, who led from lap 70 to 101, finished third. Stefanik was in contention the entire race. Ted Christopher and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Christopher led from lap 61 to 69 after inheriting the lead when almost the entire field pitted for fuel and tires following a lap 57 caution. Christopher, who gave way to Stefanik after a lap 69 restart, elected to pit for fresh tires after James Civali hit the turn two wall on lap 96. Christopher took on both rear tires and a right front. His charge back to the front of the field fell short. Rowan Pennink, Chris Pasteryak, Ron Silk, Eric Goodale and Eric Beers rounded out the top 10.

Southern invader Burt Myers ran in the top ten during the first half before having transmission problems which hindered his efforts. Needless to say he finished 14th, on the lead lap, at the finish. While not to happy with his finish, Myers remained upbeat as he greeted hundreds of fans in the pit area after the event. Myers, who made himself available, hit a Public Relations Home Run. Myers stated that he likes Thompson Speedway very much and is looking foreward to returning when his schedule permits.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will next race in the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 25.

In other action at Thompson, Keith Rocco, running for a new team at Thompson for the 2010 season and the defending track champion, was back to his old and winning ways as he scored a victory in the first race of a weekend twin bill for the Sunoco Modifieds on Saturday night. Rocco and Ted Christopher swapped the lead position in the late stages but the young gun was able to dust the veteran in the end. The Super Late Models were the second of the twin bill on Saturday. Defending divisional champion, Derek Ramstrom bested the strong field of Super Late Models in convincing fashion.

Ted Christopher had to use his experience on restarts to score a victory in the Sunoco Modified feature event on Sunday. Defending champion, Derek Ramstrom swept the twin bill for the Super Late Models while Rick Gentes scored Late Model honors. Shawn Monahan bested a strong field of Limited Sportsman competitors to score the victory. Another champion, TIS Modified ace Brian Sullivan made a statement with an opening day victory. Leo Defevers opened Day Two of the Icebreaker with a victory in the Mini Stock Division.

The Waterford Speedbowl made a lasting impression with Southern invader Burt Myers. With the exception of eight SK Modifieds running on the lead lap when the race was stopped at the end of 12 laps, the remainder of the 23 starters were wrecked or disabled to the point where they were out for the night. Myers was one of them. There were eight cautions in the first six laps which made the rough and tumble action at the Bowman-Grey Stadium seem tame. Race Director Tom Fox ended the agony when he called for a red-checkered finish. Defending division champion Ron Yuhas Jr. was declared the winner, followed by Justin Gaydosh and Tyler Chadwick.

In other action at the shoreline oval three-time defending Late Model champion Bruce Thomas Jr. held off a late-charging Tim Jordan over the last three laps to win his first feature of the season. Other winners were Josh Galvin (Street Stocks) and Danny Field (Mini Stocks).

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and Whelen Engineering, Inc., announced an extension that will see Whelen remain as the entitlement sponsor for three of NASCAR’s developmental series through the 2019 racing season.

The extension means Whelen, which became an entitlement sponsor in 2004, is the longest running current entitlement contract for any of NASCAR's series.

Last weekend saw the Mad House come to the Thompson Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl. Mad House is a reality TV show that focus' on the racing and drivers at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. Burt Myers, one of the stars of the show, raced at both tracks. Prior to heading North to compete Myers was an honored guest on the weekly radio program, Gary Danko's Speedway Line Report. Myers, a third generation racer, stated that he feels that the NASCAR Modifieds are the heart of NASCAR racing. His race shop includes two complete Troyer Modifieds, one that used exclusively at Bowman-Gray. As far as the reality show goes, Myers stated that it was business as usual at his shop and in general, the show was 90% accurate. When questioned about the aggressiveness of Junior Miller, Myers stated, "we would let it go if he would". The bad blood between Miller and the Myers family goes back to a motor deal between Gary Myers, Burt's dad and Miller, that went sour years ago. On the subject of Ted Christopher, Burt stated "I like Ted, he's a good guy". Myers added that Christopher didn't volunteer any tips on the Thompson Speedway. "He did tell me to get off Rt.395 at Exit 100." He found out later that exit 99 was the Speedway exit.

Mad House has portrayed Modified Racing on a short track the way it is. Despite the rough stuff the program has been good for the Modifieds. It is a true family sport and the show

The New London Day reported that Waterford resident and Late Model driver Dillon Moltz is about to get the biggest shot of his 18-year-old racing life. Moltz, who drives in the Late Model division at Stafford Motor Speedway, was one of 12 drivers selected to participate in the Richard Petty Driver Search April 26-29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Moltz, and 11 others were picked from a pool of thousands of applicants from across the country.

Moltz, who was third in the Late Models at Stafford last season with a division-high five wins, will have a busy week. After the season opens at Stafford April 23-25, he'll fly to Charlotte Sunday night and begin a week of racing on Monday. After that, he'll come back home and be ready for another full weekend at Stafford.
The winner of the competition will get a fully-funded ride in a Petty car in an ARCA race at Pocono Speedway on June 5. The competition will put the 12 drivers in four different cars and test each one in car control and knowledge, track management, mechanical knowledge, speed and other categories.

In some sad news, Speedway Illustrated Magazine has ceased operations.

A tip of the hat to NASCAR with the announcement by NASCAR and VERSUS of the broadcast schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tours in 2010.

VERSUS’ first NASCAR race will feature the Whelen Modified Tour’s annual appearance at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on July 31 and the first Whelen Southern Modified Tour broadcast will be its stop at historic Bowman Gray Stadium on Aug 7 in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Riverhead event will air on Wednesday, August 4, at 7:00pm. The re-air date is Sunday, August 8 at 11:00pm. The Bowman Gray event will air on Wednesday, August 11 at 7:00pm and re-air on Sunday, August 15, at 11:00pm.

VERSUS’ on-air schedule will include nine races between the two Tours with the premiere one-hour race telecast airing on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET. All races will air again the Sunday following the initial telecast.
“NASCAR is very pleased with the relationship that has been developed with VERSUS to carry Modified racing to its loyal fan base,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations. “The time slots for the broadcasts are very fan-friendly, and this schedule includes some great venues in which to introduce VERSUS viewers to NASCAR Modified racing.”

In addition to Riverhead, the Whelen Modified Tour broadcast schedule will also include August dates at longtime Modified strongholds Stafford ( Conn. ) Motor Speedway and Thompson ( Conn. ) International Speedway as well as the last two races of the season, also at Stafford and Thompson. The Whelen Southern Modified Tour broadcast schedule also includes the August date at Caraway Speedway (Asheboro, N.C.) and September races at Langley (Va.) Speedway and Tri-County Motor Speedway ( Hudson , N.C. ).

VERSUS’ schedule, combined with SPEED’s coverage of seven races between the two Tours, means that that nine of the 14 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races will be shown on national television in 2010 as well as seven of the 10 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour events. It was previously announced that SPEED would air seven races between the two Tours.

SPEED will broadcast Whelen Modified Tour events from Martinsville Speedway (June 6), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (June 26), Lime Rock Park (July 3), Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 18) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 18).

In TV land this weeks viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday at 10:00am with NASCAR in a Hurry. NASCAR: What’s the Deal? with Jimmy Spencer follows at 10:30. At 6:00pm espn2 hosts NASCAR Now. At 7:30 its back to Speed for NASCAR Race Hub. At 8:00pm Speed has Race in 60: NASCAR Sprint Cup Subway Fresh Fit 600 at the Phoenix International Raceway. On Wednesday at noon Speed has a complete replay of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Subway Fresh Fit 600. NASCAR Now at 5:00pm on espn2 and NASCAR RaceHub on Speed at 7:30 round out the day. Thursday's viewing gets the green at noon with the NASCAR Nationwide Series Replay on Speed of last weekends Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at the Phoenix International Raceway. At 6:00pm Speed has the April 3 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event that was run at South Boston, VA. Rounding out the day is NASCAR Race Hub at 7:30pm. Friday's viewing begins at 10:30am on Speed with Motorweek. At 11:30am the action moves to espn2 for NASCAR Nationwide Series final practice for the O’Reilly 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway. At 1:00pm its back to the Speed Channel for Sprint Cup practice at the Texas Motor Speedway. At 2:30 its back to espn2 for Nationwide Series qualifying at Texas. Sprint Cup qualifying follows at 4:30pm. Trackside on Speed follows at 6:30pm. At 7:30 Speed presents the ARCA Racing Series Rattlesnake 150 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Rounding out the day is a NASCAR Hall of Fame Special at 9:30pm. Saturday's viewing begins at 11:30am with a one hour segment of NASCAR Live at Texas. Sprint Cup practice follows at 12:30 for 2-1/2 hours. At 3:00pm the action shifts to espn2 for the Nationwide Series show that will lead to a 3:30pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O’Reilly 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Sundays viewing begins at noon with a 2 hour RaceDay at Texas. At 2:00pm FOX goes live with a one hour pre race show that will lead to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Samsung Mobile 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Rounding out the weekend on Sunday night is The SPEED Report at 7:00, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm.
The NASCAR Southern Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was run at the South Boston Speedway in Virginia on Saturday night, April 3, will be shown on the Speed Channel on Thursday, April 29, at 6:00pm. This week on Thursday night, April 15 at 6:00pm will be the recent Late Model event that was run at South Boston, VA on April 3.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene two of the three speedway stocks finished the week on the positive side. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.64 to 15.95 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.10 to 2.25. On the negative side was the International Speedway Corporation which dropped 3.41 to 26.49. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.05 to 4.05 while fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped0.11 to 30.65. Tire supplier Goodyear was also down as they dropped 0.01 to 12.87. With the exception of Ford which went up 0.09 to 12.72 the car makers were down for the week. Toyota dropped 1.07 to 79.92 and General Motors dropped 0.02 to 0.55. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.87 to 33.25 and Lowes went up 1.09 to 25.63. With the exception of Coca-Cola which dropped 1.66 to 56.79 the major team sponsors had a fairly good week. Dupont went up 1.28 to 39.19, Target Department Stores went up 0.54 to 55.67 and Aarons Rentals went up 0.46 to 34.26.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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