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Tuesday April 15, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

As of this Friday, two days remain until the The True Value Modified Series begins on Sunday, April 20 at the Lee USA Speedway in Lee , NH . The Stafford Motor Speedway hosts the Annual Spring Sizzler on April 26-27.

Dennis Gada, gunning for his seventh SK Modified Championship at the Waterford Speedbowl was the master of the re-start as he won the $5,000-to-win Waterford SK Modified “150”, the centerpiece of the 10-division Modified Nationals which including extra-distance events for the Speedbowl’s Late Model, Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions. The Northeastern Midget Association, Pro4 Modifieds, AllStar Race Trucks, Allison Legacy Cars and NEMA Lites were also on tap. A huge field of SK Modifieds, 34, were on hand for the event that began the 58th consecutive season of auto racing at the shoreline oval. In Saturday time trials Gada was fourth fastest behind Doug Coby, Kenny Horton and Matt Hirschman. Based on a draw among the top qualifiers Coby started on the pole with Horton, outside. Hirschman started third. Gada started eighth.

At the drop of the green Coby jumped out into the lead. His time on the point was short as Gada bolted into the top spot on lap eight and survived numerous re-starts to take the win, his 58th. The top prize of $5,000 was well earned. Kenny Horton ran second for most of the event until 19 laps to go when his tires gave out, forcing him to spin. Coby moved into second spot but lost it to Frank Ruocco on a lap 148 restart. Ruocco ended up second with Coby, third. Jimmy Blewett, who pitted for tires on lap 51 was the odds on favorite to make a run for the win but his efforts fell short as he had to settle for fourth spot at the checker. Jeff Pearl rounded out the top five.

In other weekend racing action at the shoreline oval, it was defending champion Bruce Thomas picking up right where he left off in 2007, winning the 50-lap Late Model feature. Thomas passed early leader Ron Yuhas Jr. with 29-laps remaining and seemed to be cruising to an easy victory until SK Modified regular Keith Rocco closed. His first time-ever behind the wheel of a Late Model, Rocco dogged Thomas to the finish, executing a last-ditch effort at the stripe to overtake the winner. Rounding-out the top-5 was Ron Yuhas Jr., Marc Curtis, and Ed Reed Jr.

Al Stone III held off defending Sportsman champion Dwayne Dorr for the win in the 30-lap Sportsman feature. A close finish, Dorr was right on the winner’s bumper during the final circuits. Dave Trudeau, Chris Douton, and Joe Curioso completed the top-5.

Defending champion Ken Cassidy Jr. led the majority of the 30-lap Mini Stock feature, only to be passed by Randy Churchill with three circuits remaining. A restart closed the field for the final time on lap twenty-seven. Churchill nipped Cassidy at the finish by less than a fender. Chris Williams finished a close third followed by Phil Evans and Lou Bellisle.
In the 25-lap Northeastern Midget Association feature, Randy Cabral got out in the lead early and cruised to a commanding victory over Joey Payne, Greg Stoehr, Adam Cantor, and, Erica Santos.
The Waterford Speedbowl now moves into it’s regular Saturday nigh schedule beginning this week.

In some good news, Ron Mentus who pens a column in the auto racing trade paper Area Auto Racing News, reported that Jerry Robinson and his Waterford Speedbowl partners are nearing completion of financial and legal details to purchase the track and once and for all get it out of the hands of Terry Eames. Mentus alluded to the fact that the deadline to close the deal is April 26, a week from this coming Saturday. He stated that Robinson feels confident that no further snags would develop. This move will put racing at the shoreline oval on solid ground. Robinson also told Mentus that the track has purchased 6,000 aluminum grandstand seats which hopefully will be erected in time for the 2009 season.

In order for the Speedbowl to survive and thrive the management needs to promote the facility. Promoting does not mean just sending out news releases and opening the gates, the management needs to send their representatives out into the surrounding towns and spend a few bucks on advertising to make potential fans aware that there is a track nearby and auto racing is conducted there! Last weekend’s Nationals, which was not advertised in any of the local papers within a 25 mile radius, drew less than half a grandstand of fans. What a shame as the racing was great.

The Stafford Motor Speedway will host its first on track action of the 2008 season this coming Saturday, April 19 with an open practice session in preparation for the season opening 37th Annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST scheduled for April 25, 26, & 27. For the first time ever, the open practice session will be open to Whelen Modified Tour cars. The practice will also be open to all divisions scheduled to race at Stafford in 2008, which includes: SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light Modified, Limited Late Model, DARE Stock, Camping World Series East Division, ISMA Supermodified, NEMA Midget, and Pro-4 Modifieds. Tickets for "The Greatest Race in the History of Spring" are available and on sale now at the Stafford Motor Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $35.00 for adult General Admission, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 & under are free. Reserved seating is $38.00 for all ages. All tickets cover both Saturday and Sunday admission to the Sizzler. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available.

In TV land this week NASCAR television viewing will be limited to a Nationwide Series event in Mexico City as the Cup Cars and Trucks have the weekend off to observe Passover which takes place this coming Sunday, April 20. Viewing begins Thursday at noon with a re-play of last Saturday nights NASCAR Sprint Cup Subway Fresh Fit 500 that was run at the Phoenix Intl. Raceway. The action moves to ESPN2 on Friday at 4:00pm for the Nationwide Series final practice from Mexico City . At 6:00pm NASCAR Now on ESPN2 sums up the days racing news. On Saturday, ESPN provides coverage of the IRL IndyCar Series Indy Japan 300 from Motegi , Japan at 3:00pm . At 1:30 pm the Speed Channel provides live coverage of the ARCA RE/MAX Series Prairie Meadows 250 from the Iowa Speedway in Newton , Iowa . On Sunday ESPN goes to Mexico City for live coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Mexico 200 at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez. On Sunday night the Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00 and NASCAR Confidential at 8:00 . Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain follows at 9:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week just about everything with only a couple of exceptions was down for the week. Of the three speedway stocks only Dover Downs showed a positive ending as they went up 0.15 to 6.16. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.81 to 25.01 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.50 to 42.04. NASCAR Cup sponsor Nextel dropped 0.05 to 6.47 while second division sponsor Nationwide went up 1.23 to 49.00. NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil (Sunoco) dropped 0.81 to 51.45 and Goodyear dropped 1.08 to 25.50. Coca-Cola dropped 2.22 to 56.55 and Dupont dropped 0.17 to 49.33. Target Stores dropped 0.70 to 51.97 while Aaron’s Rentals dropped 0.92 to 21.25. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.62 to 28.17 and Lowes dropped 0.27 to 23.99. The parcel carriers were the most volatile. Fedex dropped 3.97 to 92.90 and UPS dropped 3.52 to 70.89. Last but not least, World Racing Group (DIRT Motorsports) showed a no change as they finished up where they started, at 0.30.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891 . Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is 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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