Tuesday April 18, 2006

By Phil Smith

Diego Monahan became the first driver to win in all four NASCAR Waterford Speedbowl divisions – Mini Stock, Sportsman, Late Model and SK Modifieds last Saturday night. Monahan passed his brother Shawn with only three laps to go and held on to win Saturday night’s SK-Modified feature. Monahan followed his brother, the only other leader, for 27 laps before making the outside move. Chris Pasteryak finished third and was followed by Don Fowler and Ron Yuhas Jr. Rookie sensation Jeffrey Paul finished sixth. Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval were Late Models: Joe Perry, Sportsmen: Dwayne Dorr and Mini Stocks: Richard Brooks.

The True Value Modified Series had their season opener at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH las Saturday. There were 33 Modifieds on hand. Kirk Alexander took the win over Andy Seuss, Dwight Jarvis, Ed Dachenhausen and Rob Goodenough.

The Whelen Modified Tour Series was off last weekend but their southern counterparts were on the prowl at the Caraway Speedway in Ashboro, NC. Junior Miller took the win over L. W. Miller, Tim Brown, Ted Christopher, Brian Crammer and Gene Pack. Christopher, in the Brady Bunch entry led the first 98 laps of the 156 lap feature and was forced to back off when a tire was losing air. Christopher managed to tough it out as he finished with only seven pounds of air in his right front. Chuck Hossfeld found himself planted in the wall on the 13th lap when he attempted to pass Michael Clifton on the outside.

Mike Stefanik currently sits in an all too familiar spot, in the Whelen Modified Tour Series point lead. Stefanik, who won the season opening IceBreaker at the Thompson Speedway on April 9 isn’t sitting on his laurels as he knows there is some stiff competition headed his way from Chuck Hossfeld, Reggie Ruggiero, Ted Christopher and Tony Hirschman who followed Stefanik at Thompson. The Modifieds head for the Stafford Motor Speedway on April 30 for the 35th annual Spring Sizzler.

Among those looking to get back into the swing of things is Jerry Marquis. A former series champion, Marquis was out front and cruising in the lead with Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile when, on lap 47, his throttle stuck wide open, slamming him into Thompson’s unforgiving concrete wall. Thanks to all the NASCAR mandated safety devices plus the new design Troyer shock absorbing chassis snout and the Kirkey seat Marquis emerged from the wreck unhurt. The car and all its running gear was destroyed. Marquis felt like someone worked him over with a baseball bat but is expected to be back in top form in time for the Sizzler. Garbarino has a spare mount ready to go.

In Whelen Modified Tour Series news, it appeared that Whelen was unhappy over the fact that only 14 races made up the 2006 tour. NASCAR turned up the heat to appease the series sponsor as they signed Jennerstown and Holland Speedways plus they are working on a yet to be named 17th date.

Jennerstown PA Speedway promoter Larry Mattingly stated that NASCAR approached him about reconsidering running a Whelen Modified Tour Series event in 2006 after he wouldn’t spring for a reported $65,000 purse. After some negotiation a deal was made and a date was set. Mattingly feels that selling a Modified race outside of New England is difficult to say the least. A $40,000 purse is more realistic as Mattingly states that no one is standing in line to get a date. To make it cost effective for competitors NASCAR needs to find a way to make up the $25,000 the promoters can’t afford to pay. The events at Jennerstown and Holland NY will be 100 laps rather than the normal 150 laps. The competitor will use less fuel and tires for somewhat of a savings. The travel costs are the same. The purse is reduced. Mattingly added that Jennerstown holds 8,000.

Fan recognition is a big factor in drawing crowds, especially outside of New England. Had NASCAR been more aggressive in the past in getting the Modifieds on television maybe that wouldn’t be an issue now. Don Hawk stated that the 2007 -2011 television package with the Speed Channel will contain 25 dates per year for touring series events. Hopefully some of these will find their way to the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Hawk has been sincere in his efforts so far. In a somewhat related matter NASCAR is currently in discussion with Dodge to extend their sponsorship contract for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series.

Weekly racing competitors at the Stafford Motor Speedway got a big shot in the arm last Friday, April 14, when it was announced that NESN, New England's most watched sports network, announced the addition of NASCAR New England to the network's summer programming line-up. NASCAR New England, hosted from Stafford Motor Speedway, is the only NASCAR authorized regional television program in New England. The 15 episode series, which covers Stafford's Dodge Weekly Racing Series, will make its NESN debut on Saturday, June 3rd at 4:00 PM. Television coverage will enable Stafford competitors to sell themselves to potential sponsors. A tip of the hat to the Arute family and the entire Stafford management for making this happen! NESN is owned by the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins and delivered to over 3.9 million homes throughout the six state New England region. NASCAR New England will be hosted by ABC Sports' Jackie Arute. Now in his 22nd year as a reporter for ABC and ESPN's auto racing and college football coverage, Arute also serves as President at Stafford Motor Speedway. Arute will be joined by series regulars, Ben Dodge, Matt Buckler, Andy Crane and Kim Hart.

The Stafford Motor Speedway will host its first on track action of the 2006 season this coming Saturday, April 22 with an open practice session in preparation for the season opening Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST scheduled for April 28, 29, & 30. The practice will be open to all divisions scheduled to race at Stafford in 2006, which includes: SK Modifieds, Late Models, SK Light Modifieds, Limited Late Models, DARE Stocks, Busch East Series, ISMA Supermodifieds, NEMA Midgets, Pro-4 Modifieds, and ARTS Truck teams. Whelen Modifieds will not be allowed as the Saturday date is inside a seven-day window of the Spring Sizzler window.

In TV land, this week’s viewing begins on Thursday at noon when the NASCAR Busch Series, Pepsi 300 which was run last Saturday in Nashville, TN is re-run. Later in the day, at 8:30, Speed presents on a same day, taped delayed broadcast at 8:30pm of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying for the Subway Fresh 500 in Phoenix, AZ. Friday’s action begins at 5:00pm with NASCAR Live! from Phoenix International Raceway. Live action on Speed continues at 5:30pm with NASCAR Busch Series Qualifying for the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 in Phoenix. NASCAR Nextel Cup final practice follows at 7:00pm. Another segment of NASCAR Live! from Phoenix airs at 8:00. The action moves to FX at 8:30pm for the NASCAR Busch Series PRE-RACE SHOW followed at 9:00pm with the NASCAR Busch Series, Bashas’ Supermarkets 200. If you are up late on Friday night check out "Around the Track Race Review" on Fox Sports New England. Saturday’s race programming begins at noon with NASCAR Live! from Phoenix International Raceway. NASCAR Raceday, previews the Subway Fresh 500 at 6:00pm. The NASCAR Nextel Cup, Subway Fresh 500 from Phoenix, AZ gets the green at 8:25pm on FOX. SPEED News Sunday at 7:00pm wraps up the weekend’s events. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain goes at 9:00p.m.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a negative noteSprrdway Motorsports went up 0.30 to 37.55 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.85 to 48.76 and Dover Downs dropped 0.04 to 6.05. Nextel had an off week as they dropped 0.34 to 26.04. Sun Oil went up 1.45 to 81.00. Featherlite Trailers dropped 0.01 to 4.99 and Dirt Motorsports dropped 0.10 to 3.55. In the drug sector Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.47 to 24.04. Pfizer was also down as they dropped 0.18 to 24.50. In the home improvement sector Lowes dropped 1.03 to 64.29 and Home Depot dropped1.00 to 41.12. The parcel carriers also had an off week as Fedex dropped 2.13 to 114.85 and UPS dropped 0.17 to 81.60.

The International Speedway Corp. increased its annual dividend to 8 cents per share, from 6 cents per share last Thursday, April 13. The dividend is payable on June 30 to shareholders of record on May 31. Also, the company said five members of its board of directors, Lesa France Kennedy, Larry Aiello, Jr., J. Hyatt Brown, Edward H. Rensi and Thomas W. Staed, have been re-elected to a three-year term.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail  

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