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Tuesday April 24, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                           
 

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series got the green flag last Sunday at the Thompson Speedway as a near capacity crowd watched James Civali sprint to victory in the 150 lap Ice Breaker. Civali took the lead on lap 109 after running wheel to wheel with John Blewett III for several laps. A late race wreck which involved Reggie Ruggiero set the stage for a green, white, checkered finish on lap 152. Chuck Hossfeld got two late race gifts as it looked like he would end his day in fourth spot. With seven laps to go the green flew after a caution. Civali led the field followed by Richard Savory, Ron Yuhas Jr, Hossfeld and Ruggerio. As the field exited turn two Ruggerio went low, passing Hossfeld and Yuhas. Ruggerio, trying to get back in line after the pass, clipped Yuhas and they both ended up hitting the back stretch wall. While the track crews were cleaning up the mess and the field was circling under caution Savory suffered a flat tire and was forced to pit, thus handing the runner-up spot to Hossfeld. Savory ended up 17th. Following Hossfeld was Ronnie Silk, Jimmy Blewett and Matt Hirschman. Sixth through tenth were Tony Ferrante Jr, Carl Pasteryak, Jon McKennedy, Bob Grigas and Zach Sylvester in the Mansfield, CT based No77 of Curt Chase.

Ted Christopher, who started on the outside pole, was the early leader as he passed pole sitter Savory in turn three before the field completed the first lap. Christopher led until a lap 23 restart when Don Lia shot by in the second turn. Lia apparently planned to go non-stop without a change of tires as almost the entire field pitted for tires during a caution on lap 71. It proved to end up being a bad decision as his tires lost their grip by lap 97 when he gave way to Civali. Lia remained in the top five despite fading fast. His undoing finally came on lap 137 when he spun out and was never a factor after that. Lia ended up 20th, four laps down. Christopher also had a bad day as he was collected in a wreck on lap 99 and ended up in 27th spot at the finish. Defending series champion was never a factor as he was eliminated after losing a wheel on lap 33 after making contact with Jerry Marquis. Stefanik ended up 34th.
The Whelen Modified Tour heads for the Stafford Motor Speedway this coming weekend for the Annual Spring Sizzler.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly action ”Showtime” Jimmy Blewett , driving the Eddie Partridge No.12 was victorious in Sunoco Modified action. Rick Gentes doubled up in Icebreaker Late Model action (also winning last Saturday). Jeff Connors of Ellington , CT won the Pro Stock field while Keith DeSanctis won the Limited Sportsman division and Leo Adams was victorious in the TIS Modifieds. Andy Publicover scored the win in the Mini Stocks.

In Sunoco Modified action, Todd Ceravolo held the early lead over Woody Pitkat. A pack of hungry drivers, Jimmy Blewett, Keith Rocco, and Tommy Cravenho, were bearing down on the leaders. Slight contact between the lead duo opened the door for Jimmy. Blewett, who grabbed the second spot before the caution flew for Roland Bergeron. After a false start, racing resumed with Ceravolo retaining his lead. Contact between Pitkat and Rocco send Rocco hard into the turn two wall. Jimmy Blewett was able to take over the lead once racing resumed. A single lap later contact between Cravenho and Bert Marvin sent Cravenho spinning. A chain reaction accident claimed the cars of John Catania, Buddy Charette, and others. Marvin was sent to the rear for his involvement in the accident. Jimmy Blewett continued to lead Ceravolo and now his brother John when racing went back to green. Pitkat and Kerry Malone sat inside the top five. Pitkat was getting racy with John Blewett while the leader had his hands full with Ceravolo. The top four cars began to get some distance on Malone in fifth. Just after halfway, the caution flew when Harry Rheaume and Marvin made contact. Both cars were able to continue. On the restart, Jimmy. Blewett and Ceravolo were side by side for the lead; meanwhile, things got messy from third position on back. Pitkat and Marvin both sustained extensive damage in the melee. Also involved was third-running John Blewett. The battle for the lead continued when the race resumed. While Jimmy Blewett and Ceravolo began to distance themselves from the rest of the pack, Kerry Malone headed down pit road, relinquishing the third spot.

The final dash to the checkers found Jimmy. Blewett gaining some breathing room over Ceravolo. Dave Salzarulo and Danny Cates had great finish runs. Tommy Cravenho and Jo. Blewett had stormed back through the pack and put on a great show battling for the fifth position. At the finish, Jimmy Blewett scored the win over Ceravolo and Salzarulo. The rookie Danny Cates finished fourth in only his second Sunoco Modified start. John Blewett, who had won at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey on Saturday night, recovered to finish fifth.

Down on the Connecticut shoreline the Monahan brothers packed a one-two punch at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday evening, claiming the top-two slots in the 35-lap SK Modified feature. It was Diego prevailing, but only after an intense battle with older brother Shawn during several late-race restarts.

Other winners were Rob Summers (True Value Tour Modifieds), Tim Jordan (Late Models), Al Stone III (Sportsman), and Phil Evans (Mini Stocks).

Congratulations to Middletown CT native Middletown native Joey Logano who won a NASCAR Grand National Series event Thursday night at Phoenix International Raceway. Logano is a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing and could very well be the next Jeff Gordon.

In TV land this week and for the remainder of the season NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will be in the 6:30pm time slot seven days a week. This weeks viewing begins on Tuesday on the Speed Channel at 9:30am with Back in the Day with Dale Earnhardt Jr featuring the 1974 and '75 Southeastern 500 that was run at Bristol, TN. On Wednesday at 4:00pm Speed presents the USAR Hooters Pro Cup,, Naturally Fresh 250, that was run at the South Boston Speedway in VA, on Apr 14. At noon on Thursday last Friday night’s NASCAR Busch Series Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 run at the Phoenix International Raceway will be re-shown on the Speed Channel. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Replay of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 also from Phoenix International Raceway follows at 3:00pm . Speed goes live at 2:30pm on Friday with NASCAR Nextel Cup practice from Talladega , Alabama . NASCAR Live from Talladega follows at 3:30 followed by another hour of practice at 4:00pm . Another episode of Trackside at Talladega goes at 7:00pm followed by live coverage of NASCAR Busch Series qualifying from Talladega.at 8:00pm . At midnight , the Speed Channel will show Friday’s ARCA RE/MAX Series Kansas Lottery $150 Grand from the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City , KS . Saturday’s viewing begins at 11:00am with NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the Aaron’s 449 at Talladega . At 2:30 the action switches to ABC for the pre-race show which leads into the NASCAR Busch Series Aaron’s 312. The action switches back to the Speed Channel at 5:30 for the pre-race show that leads into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 which gets the green at the Kansas Speedway at 6:00pm. Sunday’s action begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Now on ESPN2. At 11:00am on the Speed Channel NASCAR RaceDay: previews the Aaron’s 449 at the Talladega Superspeedway. The action moves to FOX at 1:30 for the pre-race and live flag to flag coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Aaron’s 449 at Talladega . On Sunday evening the Speed Channel has The SPEED Report at 7:00pm , NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm .

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.07 to 51.80. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.41 to 39.98 and Dover Downs went up 0.29 to 5.69. Nextel/Sprint went up 0.51 to 20.44 while Sun Oil (Sunoco) dropped 2.36 to 72.39. Goodyear was also down as they dropped 0.67 to 32.51. DIRT Motorsports took their biggest jump in months as they went up 0.15 to 1.90. In the drug sector, Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.35 to 28.67 and Pfizer went up 0.30 to 26.97. The home improvement sector had a big week as Home Depot went up 1.32 to 39.21 and Lowes went up 0.88 to 32.02. The parcel carriers also had a good week as Fedex went up 1.12 to 109.03 and UPS went up 2.51 to 72.82.

The board of directors for the International Speedway Corp. approved spending an additional $39.6 million for capital projects. With the approval, the board expects to spend $80 million to $90 million for a number of improvements at Darlington Raceway, including repaving the racing surface and aprons, constructing a new infield access tunnel, installing concrete pit stalls and other renovations. The improvements are expected to be completed in time for the facility's 2008 Nascar Nextel Cup and Busch series weekend.

The company also announced that William C. France, William P. Graves and Christy F. Harris were re-elected and Morteza Hosseini-Kargar was elected to the board by ISC shareholders. All terms are for three years.


That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com


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

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